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. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    I’d suggest the Red Wings although I wouldn’t put a trip to Detroit in your “place I must visit” list unless Phish rolls back that way. They always seem to throw down in the hand…

  2. butter Says:

    @Palmer @Tzaras @manatee @Leo Weaver @ KP @Silly

    some more folks i’d like to thank for keepin it real the past few years on here

  3. joe Says:

    Still cool.

  4. butter Says:

    @Voops, i forgot lots in my thank you


  5. butter Says:

    @Joe @BK @bigjig @treasurereprise @sel j @lutherjustice @dancinfool

  6. William H. Bonney Says:

    If the Isles left L.I that would be a huge blow for hockey, those old school isles teams won some cups. But I guess they want a new venue like every other team with crappy outdated shed.

    @Silly Fried chicken is of one of the four food groups….just have get your stomach toughened up alittle. Some hot sauce should help…..

    last thing the Bruins need is more band wagon fans…I mean really come on Boston is a baseball town…nobody I know from boston gave a crap about Bruins until they started winning…now I can’t get them to shut up about them, how they have been fans since they were born blah blah blah…..not saying anything about u Joe for all I know u were going we they sucked but just getting tired of the front running chowder heads, your goalie is 40+ so enjoy your run….having said that they are playing some great hockey right now but that don’t mean much come playoff time…

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    ha no you are right..

    South has terrible eating habits.

    Its why MS has the obese record

    Was just saying, dont think that eating like that is an ancient rite lol

  8. butter Says:

    @AJ @Telas

  9. butter Says:


    check out how fat South Africa has gotten

  10. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Silly in that case maybe San Jose would be a good choice…

    anyway Hockey is hands down the best sport to see in person…does not translate as well to TV…….

  11. William H. Bonney Says:

    If fired chicken makes u fat look out China…KFC #1 customer base

  12. fee4zy Says:

    @angryjoggerz – China tour – YES!

    @Silly – I’m an old school Rangers fan, so I’m not the best to ask, now is not a bad time to be a Rangers fan, not always the case recently. My first pro sporting event ever was a Rangers game @MSG – Ron Dugay, Guy LaFleur, ah the days of mullets and missing teeth – hell half of them didn’t wear helmets!

    @butters – what’s with the lovefest?


  13. William H. Bonney Says:

    bitter bolts fan…….lost again we suck on the road and our 40 year goalie is not playing well this year at alll………….argghhhh…..lot of home games coming up so still chance to get back in the mix…but really need to get a goalie.

  14. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Silly at least IU is back great looking young squad….playing mich. on espn 2…second half just starting…check back after the game….

  15. joe Says:

    yeah, lifelong fan (not just saying that), could skate when I could walk, etc. etc. But it was a carry over since I’m an old fuck from the Bobby Orr years and my dad loving hockey, etc. . goalie may be on the back side of the mountain, but is still the best in the league and we have the best young backup in the league ready to take over. team is going to be really good for the next 5-10 years. only makes us more insufferable

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    oh i see where i stand with you @butter


  17. joe Says:

    Learned what weed smelled like and all the swears I know going to bruins games in the late 70’s

  18. butter Says:

    @fee4zy – just trying to take this feeling i have and do something with it

    this place and Phish and friends that we share this magic with are just so special and unique

    nothing screams this more than going thru the transition from tour or a run back to ‘real’ life

  19. butter Says:

    @Lycan shouldn’t you be at band practice or something 🙂

  20. sumodie Says:

    I somehow think seeing Phish in China would not be the same experience as say a Tahoe, CA

    Weed grows wild in China’s Yunnan Province! (though I should add that the THC levels leave something to be desired)

    On my first spin thru MSG (can’t dissect anymore)

  21. sumodie Says:

    hey, butter, Happy New Year -glad to read that NYC was good to you!

  22. fee4zy Says:

    Weed in China is a joke. They used to literally burn the weeds and the smell was lovely. I stuck with the hash there, much more effective.

  23. alf Says:

    below the baseline is indeed $$$. spun it earlier today.

  24. butter Says:

    back at ya sumodie !!

    missed ya this time, but hopefully catch up at Bethel or Vegas ( hopeful )

  25. Aquaman Says:

    I’ll give a thank you right back at you, Butter. You are always quick with some wisdom and perspective, from a heady angle of course.

    Try this at home: go outside and shout “Let’s go red wings!” at the top of your lungs. If it feels right, then we on the red wing tribe welcome you. Especially if someone in your neighborhood yells back with a good, F You.

    Yep still keeping myself out of Babylon by way of managing a wine store. I make much less money, but I am infinitely happier.

    Speaking of, there is some argentine syrah calli my name as I think I am going hit the pipe, grab a glass and stay up late to watch NOVA-killer volcanoes. I’m not only a wine nerd but a nerd, nerd as well.

    Go science! And America!


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