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. Mike in Austin Says:


  2. phoammhead Says:


  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    y’all sound like the locals round here

  4. kenny powers Says:

    hey phoamm! one of these days i’m coming to Asheville, and MiA one day i’m coming to Austin, and Lycan one day i’m coming to Hattiesburg

    for fuck’s sake

  5. Calpain Says:

    Howdy BB, just catching up on comments the past few days and getting back to work after the nice break.

    Everything to be said about the run, has been covered here, I think.
    I was in the building for 28 and 29 (thanks to the kindness of fellow BBers).

    The first night had me really hypothesizing the contours of the run, and how the flow of energy/ideas/communication between the band and crowd would manifest.
    It was great to see how that played out and I was loving every minute of it, whether it was in the flesh or on the screen.

    Also, the Feynman link recently posted is a must see. After seeing that a few months ago I was in awe at how well he described existence.
    Combing my love for nature/science/philosophy, etc…
    Maybe have to spin some Brian Eno.

    Been chipping away at Miner’s book, such a great work!

  6. phoammhead Says:

    yes, KP!

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    you are welcome here any time kp

  8. Calpain Says:

    KP, no pole dancing in a party bus this time around?


  9. ReidIcculus Says:

    Anyone have a feeling there will be a Festival around 12-12..?

  10. kenny powers Says:


    great meeting you brah!

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    Always a spot in Austin. Come down for sxsw!

  12. thedayman Says:

    chef jerry, too funny:

  13. joe Says:

    the twist out of piper is pretty swanky too. not all is lost. When’s the next show? (and I think I need to Party, capital P style, with Kenny P. seems so mild mannered anytime I’ve seen him)

  14. William H. Bonney Says:

    “FWIW, I don’t think Trey thinks about the shows nearly as much as we do. ”

    No doubt, I remember read a interview of them saying they don’t even talk about what they just played after.

    Either way like any great performer or athlete, good game or a bad game just have to move on for the next one.

  15. Aquaman Says:

    Whats up my people?

    Quick fly by posting.

    @KP I am so sorry meeting up didn’t work out. Having to work each day of the run and making it to NYC just in time to make it to the seats greatly hindered my preshow experiences this run. Plus not going 12/29 for the Miner book meetup…..well I feel like a chump. But life gets in the way sometimes. Not seeing you, AW and willowed was a major fail on my part.

    Spent some time today with 12/30 set one. Now believe me inget every point Miner make about this set. But a funny thing has been happening to me on relisten. Normally I am so into the show that I leave feeling a set was great and later find out that maybe my goggles were strapped on a little too tight during the show, and a set will fade on me over time.

    But with 12/30 I left knowin I saw a flub fest. But on relisten

  16. Aquaman Says:

    (whoops iPhone slip)

    The set, esp quinn and sand, just aren’t that bad. I guess sometimes I jut don’t mind the straight ahead guitar shred fest, as Sand was, in the first set.

    So I am ammending my original take on this set fromtotally weak to weak in sppts just fine in others.

    Am I alone?


  17. kenny powers Says:

    @ Aqua

    it’s all good man, we’ll just have to make up for it at Bethel in May!!!

  18. jdub Says:

    You’re not alone Aqua. The set got off to an interesting enough start. Punch to start a show in MSG is as good as gets, it wasn’t perfect but it set a tone. And Caspian in the 2 slot worked quite well for me.

  19. jdub Says:

    America! Nice getting down with ya in the city @kp

  20. stapes Says:

    Fuckin America.

    Anxious for some dates to be announced. I know its early.

  21. Mike in Austin Says:

    I never sat down Aqua. Good call on the show. Aqua gets my thumbs up for having the busiest day of his year the next day and properly raging it.

    That was not gross.

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    Tonight is a two glass of Cabernet night.

  23. stapes Says:

    Tonight is night 3 of no alcohol night. Gotta lose this gut. Some vino sounds good.

  24. Aquaman Says:

    Any Caspian that gets left on the floor for dead, like no notes being played, only to zombie back to life to a raging close is OK in my book

    I know right? People were lined up at the door at 9:45 AM to buy, buy, buy. Heck I was still spun. So I plugged in some Beatles and sold, sold, sold. “I’m old enough to know better”, but I won’t “cry baby cry”

    USA! Everyday!

  25. tzara's Says:

    What’s your cab, MiA? We’re having Thai tonight, so I might go dry. Orrr, perhaps a Huet Vouvray may do the trick.

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