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. butter Says:

    @Miner – i was thinking Cities was deep too for the 4th slot, while at the show

    28th had a few WTF moments, Free, Glide, Cities being taken out, and the Tube encore

    also thought Bouncin was random wtf after NICU, but just writing that NICU, Bouncin is probably a combo used many times in the past

    @sumodie – no way in hell he chops it up, not even 10% of what the average bb’er does

    lost my mind just a couple of times

    spinning h/ws Gin for the first time and some fresh og tubes

  2. bob dylan Says:

    Was trying to go. May have agreed to a girlfriend fam function before I had knowledge of said show.

    I for one find the chillum hold for a j to be annoying. Never can get enough of a hit. Then again, between the dirty assholes I help at my job and the poles in the subway I think I’m protected against everything by now. My sick days are always sick-cations. (2nights of the msg run for example)

  3. bob dylan Says:

    ^re Apollo concert.

    Plus the site didn’t give enough details as to how many people it can hold or how to get the free tix.

  4. Mike in Austin Says:

    I don’t get sick. I have an 18 Constitution over here. But a 9 Charisma. Still take my sick days though. Just jinxed myself probably.

    Chillum J hold is easy, and cooling the smoke off a bit is the key.

  5. angryjoggerz Says:

    you kids and your jazz cigarettes

  6. GorgeSand Says:

    Funniest moment at MSG came when I was sitting on the can…and me being a huge ‘Cuse hoop fan…someone walks by and yells “LETS GO ORANGE!” F’n hilaaaaarious. 16-0 baby. Although ABSOLUTELY NO love from ESPN in any way shape or form. Oh, and I loved the Sand on 12/30!

  7. sumodie Says:

    4 song acoustic set by Tinariwen at NPR:

    (repost from jtran this morn)

    spinning now, sounds great

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    Fantastic stuff w/ Richard Feynman

  9. butter Says:

    shout out to bb’ers who helped me spiritually grow over the past few years too

    AW, Sumodie, Gavinsdad, Mr. Completely, Robear, Halcyon

    i’m know i missed a few, but keep doing your thing in 2012 and dont take yourself to seriously

    set goals and eat vegetables

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    The photography is stunning.

    All of them together.

  11. TreasureReprise Says:

    @butter – I thought the goal was to eat more vegetables?

  12. butter Says:

    and remember with success comes complacency

    keep on keepin on

  13. butter Says:

    see that circle of giving that occurs when you eat your goals 10 times a day @TreasureReprise 😉

  14. TreasureReprise Says:

    i’m slowly backing away from that comment…..

  15. kenny powers Says:

    “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”


    thanks for the Tinawiren rec! speaking of Malian music…i should upload this vinyl rip i just grabbed of Ali Farka Toure and this other guy…it’s instrumental, extremely relaxing, and the sound quality is rediculous. Perfect reading music.

  16. sumodie Says:

    A thoughtful take on Phish and its fan base (no, it’s not really about NYE):

    and don’t miss the comment section (you’ll see why)

  17. bob dylan Says:

    “chillum J hold is easy, and cooling the smoke off a bit is the key.”

    I cool it better when I take a drag then inhale a second later. With the chillum hold I have to just breathe in which for me is hotter and the hit is thinner.

  18. sumodie Says:


    (I didn’t get it till I heard kp say it in nyc. Unfortunately the key part is to say it like he does, which I fail at)

    great chillin with you in the big a, kp. hope you had a fun nye!

  19. kenny powers Says:

    here it is

    in heavy ass rotation over here

  20. kenny powers Says:

    AMERICA Sumo!!! right back atcha. i spent NYE at my aunt’s watching TV nursing a lost voice. Did i tell you i stayed up till 6:00am after dancing to P-Funk with strangers at a bar after we parted ways.

    Holy speedy rolls.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I just found a voicemail on my phone from you KP. I think it was right before you went out “dancing”. Hysterical!

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    Great link sumo. Well written.

  23. kenny powers Says:

    Haha Palms, i remember that – that was the stage where everyone had gone home but i was still amped to the 9’s and looking for the party.

  24. kenny powers Says:

    MiA – rock on brother. America.

  25. phoammhead Says:


    good seeing you at miner’s party

    sounds like you tore it up!

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