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. lumpyhead Says:

    MiA, I don’t care for the sake of MSG and everyone who experienced it… That’s all great, and you know more than anyone that I’m about as positive about Phish as it gets…

    I only ask for the sake of the future… lots of travel time tweenxt tour stops and myself on the west coast now…even more than in Texas. I would just rather get UIC 2’d than ATL 2’d…

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    no sore throat, was feeling fine then…. flash barf!

    May be something I ate, there was a potluck at work yesterday. Feeling better now that I am totally empty.


  3. butter Says:

    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.

    That’s awesome Bingos

    Alpharetta Light Up Kids

  4. phoammhead Says:

    ^food poisoning? shit comes on fast and furious and usually lasts 24 hrs or less

  5. Mike in Austin Says:

    You are Lumpy. Sorry about the tone of my post, didn’t mean to be such a dick. Guess I’m getting tired of the “Phish didn’t play fantastically” drama.

    I think always has been that back end of tours are usually stronger than front end of tours. And in 4 shows, one is going to be meh.

  6. angryjoggerz Says:

    Probably. I like to say the phrase “flash barf”

  7. albert walker Says:

    I’m fighting a mild case of Wook flu also

    Hopefully one of these Oakland wax packages I just got will help

    Go with some blue dream honeycomb
    Follow with some sour diesel taffy

    Love the cheezy labels. Medical use only bitches.

    Luckily I got the Wook flu

  8. albert walker Says:

    You haven’t heard what death sounds like til you hear my Wook flu cough after clearing a tube of wax

  9. phoammhead Says:

    but, with all that flash barf you usually feel shitty for days . . . sorry, aj.

  10. phoammhead Says:

    i’m hardly smoking these days because of the hack it causes when i do

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    Quit talking sick. Ugh.

    This is why one should only consume things at a show that you carry in your own pockets.

    I don’t need my lips on anything anyone else has had their lips on.

  12. albert walker Says:

    I always start with the chillum spliff grip at shows but end up being lazy and forgetting

    From now on that’s the only way ill roll
    No mouth contact is Def key

  13. albert walker Says:

    Everyone at work has kids too and are always bringing their shit around

    Little kids are worse germ carriers than wooks it seems

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    chillum spliff grip should be like a PSA.

  15. angryjoggerz Says:

    I just got you all sick reading this. Enjoy the barf.

  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    Kids are fingering each others mouths at preschool and licking doorknobs. Of course they bring home crap. Then the parents get it, and infect others.

    Cute, but they all look like disease carriers to me since I don’t have one.

  17. lumpyhead Says:

    ‘fingering each others mouths and licking doorknobs’

  18. angryjoggerz Says:

    Im trying to not get my kid sick, so she is probably giving me the gasface.

  19. butter Says:

    Might have got a cold sore reading this page

  20. kenny powers Says:

    geek driveby deal alert

    Boardwalk Empire season 1 Blu-Ray

    56% off @ Amazon right now ($34.99)

    as you were

  21. kenny powers Says:

    Show of Life still chokes my ass up.

  22. phoammhead Says:

    trey flubs in stash very noticeable and crowd seems to react in a wtf is happenin’ kinda way

    sorry, i havin’ a hard time getting over it

  23. lumpyhead Says:

    Thank you KP

  24. sumodie Says:

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

    Please say there’s a BB’er going who’ll report back…..?

  25. sumodie Says:

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

    No matter what Trey thinks we want at MSG, I’ll still be there next year if they keep NYE in the Big A. Someone around here mentioned a MSG staffer hinting at PHMSGNYE over the next two years….who knows tho

    FWIW, I don’t think Trey thinks about the shows nearly as much as we do. Sure, I bet he recognizes that things were off, but no way he over analyzes it -on to the next musical…er…Phish project that is

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