Some Good Points, Some Bad Points

This year’s New Year’s Run was up and down. Actually, it was up to down, peaking on the first night and then gradually declining in musical quality, but for a spike on for 15 minutes on the 30th. For today’s look back at the MSG run, lets look at some of the best, and no-so-great moments.

Good Points

1)  “Piper” 12/30 II

12.30.11 M.Stein)

From my perspective, this jam was head and shoulders above the rest of the Holiday Run. In a show in which Trey and the band struggled to stay on the same page, during “Piper,” something clicked. As the guys broke form, it was like they morphed into different musicians—ones that were suddenly on fire. For the duration of this journey, the band explored many modern textures, evoking the sounds and styles of 2011, while pushing forth into original territory. “Piper” likened a sparkling oasis of creativity amidst a desert of quality Phish jams from the 29th to the 31st, and it is the only piece of music from the run that can flirt with the upper echelon excursions of the year.


2)  “Carini -> Tweezer” 12/28 II

12.28.11 (Michael Stein)

After reinventing the song during Fall of 2010, Phish stayed inside the box with “Carini” in all but one version this year (Essex, Vt). Thus when the band flipped the jam from the menacing to the melodic upon a dime, the audience was ready for action. In the only other truly transcendent jam of the run, the band came together into a gorgeous and cohesive collaboration. Soaring into the stratosphere, Phish had our hearts tied to the music, when, in the midst of things, and totally in rhythm, Trey hinted at “Tweezer!?” On the first night? Indeed! He continued to lay down the opening lick within the mellow groove of “Carini,” and the band formed a near seamless segue around him. “Tweezer,” itself, provided a swank, laid-back staccato funk fiesta that turned out to be the most significant groove-based piece of the run. A quality version with stellar four-part jamming, this smooth-turned-crunchy “Tweezer” completed a musical couplet that was the other keeper of MSG.


3) “Cities” 12/28 I

12.31.11 (M.Stein)

Relistening to this jam in the car yesterday, I was struck by how long the band explored out the fourth song of the show. Amidst more abstract textures, Trey responded to Mike with a funk pattern, hooking the band and audience in the first “moment” of the run. Mike directed the beginning of this jam, while Trey got a chance to stretch out several styles in what turned out to be one of the more interesting jams of the run. Regardless of the fact that “Cities” ended rather abruptly, any time Phish throws down an 11 minute creative jam at the top of the show while passing through multiple feels, that’s pretty much a win.



Bad Points

1)  “Ghost” 12/31 II

12.31.11 (G.Lucas)

After colossal versions of “Ghost” highlighted the second sets of New Year’s Eve in both ’09 and ’10, when the band oozed into the song during the central frame of this year’s holiday show, a distinct sense of anticipation gripped the room. A void of groove-based playing throughout the night was about to be filled by the third, consecutive New Year’s Eve “Ghost” throwdown— or was it? Instead of flexing their funked out or creative muscle, the band played a generic, guitar-based rocker that was completely underwhelming. With nary an original measure, Phish methodically moved through a straightforward and uneventful jam before moving into another improv-less, head-scratcher, “Sneakin’ Sally.”

2)  12/30 Set I

NYE 2011 Logo

A legitimate argument could be made for Set I of the the 30th as being the lightest and most uneventful set in New Year’s Run history. For real. Not only did the band not attempt anything creative, Trey botched almost every song to the point that it was obtrusive to the overall performance. And Phish, as a whole, didn’t play very well at all. Add a setlist that was hard to believe anyone, let alone, Trey would piece together, and you’ve got a genuine frame of “Phish Lite.” Even “Sand,” one of the focal points of the year, transformed into a flat, one dimensional, guitar-only piece. There have been some weak sets in the Holiday Run history, but none quite like this. This one was bunk.

3) “Axilla” 12/30 II

12.30.11 I (E. Battuello)

When Trey and company struggled with the entire opening section of this song, the “record-scratching” flub was indicative of the band’s lack of communication—largely with their guitarist—throughout much of the 30th.  A complete mess, this was one of those times you glanced at your friends with that pained look on your face in jest, because this one really hurt the ears. Ironically, moments later, the guys pulled it together to play the jam of the run in “Piper.”


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631 Responses to “Some Good Points, Some Bad Points”

  1. dorn76 Says:

    sorry for double email Marco. Weirdness in the webz

  2. lumpyhead Says:

    hey so what’s the final consensus here? Trey thinks MSG wants rawk, basically?

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    well then. enjoy, marco!

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    Yeh I got it. I sent a response there.. but Thank you very much!

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    silly- thanks for re posting those links…

    Aj- thanks for those links!

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    AJ’s been putting up straight cash lately

    I’m trying to stay caught up, but some of them I want to spin over and over and over and never move on

  7. marcoesq Says:

    So, the setlist should REALLY read:

    Gotta Jiboo>Let’s Go Flyers Chant>Boo! Farmhouse

  8. Jtran Says:

    Piper > Twist

  9. Jtran Says:

    If anyone needs a code for any night email me

    jtranvt23 at gmail

  10. marcoesq Says:


    yous got mail for 12/28

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    “thought mike’s bass bombs would be the end of me that nite”

    11:06 into the Piper Mike drops the ICE-9 bomb. That thing fucked with my head a few times at UIC. Concession workers were hiding, it shook the building so much.

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Glad you are enjoying the drops. Why not another?

    The 3 Pieces – Vibes of Truth

    A great little album of jazz funk — and the only record we’ve ever seen by this group! The 3 Pieces may not have lasted long in the record business, but this rare album from 1975 has made them legends on the rare groove scene for years. The record was cut during the height of the jazz funk years at Fantasy Records — and it features Donald Byrd handling the production chores, in a similar manner to the style that he used with the more famous Blackbyrds, who were also recording for Fantasy the time. The record features loads of electric piano and ARP, plus some tight and smooth guitar, and a nice rolling groove that is very catchy. A number of tracks have vocals — in kind of a subdued soul mode — and tracks include the groove classics “Backed Up Against The Wall”, “Shortnin Bread”, “Concrete Jungle”, and “Vibes Of Truth”. And believe it or not, there aren’t any vibes on the album!

    01. I Need You Girl
    02. Backed Up Against The Wall
    03. Vibes Of Truth
    04. Shortin’ Bread (Trad Arr)
    05. Self Dealin’
    06. Concrete Jungle
    07. If Only I Could Prove To You
    08. Cool It
    09. Virtue

  13. marcoesq Says:

    Is it me or do you guys ALWAYS wonder, especially in downtown arenas, wtf the concessions people are thinking about the music?

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Late to the party today, so excuse me if this has been brought up.

    MG to playin Brian Eno’s landmark tribute to the NASA moon landings, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. Sounds like a WoW time.

  15. InAMinute Says:

    @ Marco – don’t you always just ask them? I love their replies…

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    I know what they’re thinking marco.
    In my mind : Who is this crazy white boy with the funky ass dance moves.
    In reality : Look at this dipshit wavin his arms around randomly.

  17. marcoesq Says:

    of course I do, its usually gold. I’m just talkin bout when they’re mid rawk/jam and you’re lookin around and see all the security peeps come out from the halls

  18. joe Says:

    I talked to the usher of my section on the 29th for a few minutes. He told me he was a dead head back in the day, which I took to mean I had the green light to puff even before the lights went down.

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    “hey so what’s the final consensus here? Trey thinks MSG wants rawk, basically?”

    @lumpy, I don’t think there is a “final” consensus. I also don’t care what the consensus is. I’m watching this Piper/Twist and Mike’s on Vimeo and having a great time again.

    Maybe the consensus is that Trey and Band could have been bigger and done better (based on previous performances in Summer of ’11.) Trey and the band may have been distracted due to Christmas and other projects. But still, there still are lots of gems in the performance.

    You didn’t tell me The Red Dragon was on here. Awesome. I still think I’m pulling pink boa feathers out of my clothes after that craziness of NYE2002.

  20. litteringandd Says:

    I will only tolerate Spanish Moon or neglected Remain in Light song signs in 2012. Im fixin to get all Arab Spring with these signs. Saw a Friday sign at MSG. Thats shit has got to go brah

  21. angryjoggerz Says:

    I have not gone more than 5 feet from my bed today. I havent even gone downstairs. Hell, I was just able to take a sip of water for the first time about an hour ago. Good times.

    I am not good at being sick.

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    I shared a room with you?! I’m doomed.

  23. lumpyhead Says:

    the piper is one of my favorite of 11. I also really like the bowie..hasn’t been much talk of it.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    That sucks AJ. No one wants the wook flu. hope you feel better.

    The best were the ushers/concession folk at Coney Island. When JayZ came out they all completely lost it. Like Elvis came on stage. They all busted out their cell phones and were calling their friends with huge smiles on their faces. Classic moment.

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    \Get well AJ. Now my throat if felling sore. Did you have that happen? I am super susceptible to the power of suggestion.

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