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. angryjoggerz Says:

    BB rocks.

  2. Robear Says:

    I think Butter is the big winner here. He took this NYE run, in the moment for what it is at the time, not what it was, what it will be,or what he hoped it would be. Hats off, my friend. I’ve tried to stay away from comparing 3.0 to different eras, just to itself. I realize even that is limiting myself and the experience.

    Thanks Butter. Next show? Can’t wait. (imagine huggiebear with Bart Scott voice)

  3. butter Says:

    @Aquaman – word and word

    @Silly – you should pick an East coast team for reasons Aqua mentions

    youll be able to live and die with it, that keeps it interesting without putting $$$ on it

    from my bro that i did NYE 95 with, as we were walking around Manhattan after this years gig – and after witnessing a Phish kid in a flyers jersey get punked as hard as possible without getting his ass beat

    “werent they arguing about sports last time we were here”

  4. joe Says:

    China thc levels probably still higher than what the late 70’s Northeast hockey crowd enjoyed. T-minus 1 hour to the weekend for me. Echoing butter’s thoughts and returning them as well. I’ve tried to incorporate some of the positive philosphy spread around here into my own life during a very trying year at home. Even though I’m probably doing it wrong, it’s helped my ‘happiness’.
    Now I’m just left to ponder whether or not my lack of outward ambition is a vice or a virtue. Think trey was playing the sloth for me at msg and manchester…

  5. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    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.”


    After moving to Denver in 97, I drove around town sporting a Wings car flag for about a week after they raised the cup. Never been flipped off/yelled at so much in my life.

    Check this out for some truly insane Gretzky hockey stats…

    Hockey hijack over…

  6. Robear Says:

    I, too, see Willy a Red Wings fan. Here’s my hockey haiku

    Blackhawks one and done
    Had their moment in the sun
    Back to Red Wings’ bitch

  7. butter Says:

    Huggiebear FTW

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Normally coming off a run like this I’d be totally disappointed, but for some reason I don’t really care this time. Maybe cuz I’ve seen 31 shows now, or because almost all of the 13 shows I saw this summer were HOT. I mean, I wish I came home with tons of new music to spin, but I still had a ton of fun, and have those Hampton shows to burn out. I’ll forgive Phish this time. And they put out the Piper video, so they still know what’s good.

    Thems be my thoughts on the run.

    On another note, the Leafs sure know how to build a good hockey team (cough Boston Bruins).

  9. Robear Says:

    Dancing fool got a happy ending in the Big Apple?

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  11. William H. Bonney Says:


  12. Gavinsdad Says:

    Butter – I like what youve got goin on. Friends and family and music gatherings. This is what we’ve dedicated ourselves to for many years. Keep bringing the light friend.

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Df – you’re that dude too. Mild mannered wiseass. Great seein u as always.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Hopefully some more 95-00 releases soon.

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Word gdad, see ya soon most likely.

  16. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Joe well then I’m glad for u…nothing better than years of suffering rewarded with greatness. Just wouldn’t count on winning for the next 5-10 years…not usually how sports work with a salary cap…

  17. Gavinsdad Says:

    Let’s will these bethel shows into reality.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    hells yes

  19. butter Says:

    imagine Bethel is like the opposite of MSG space wise??

  20. Robear Says:

    Butter, I can’t seem to get that ” bloom” step down with the coffee…..

  21. butter Says:

    @dancin – nice bumpin into you briefly, look forward to kickin it more one day

  22. butter Says:

    really Robear? is your water too hot? it should be less than boiling

    you just pour a small amount on to wet all the grinds and wait a few min

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    definitely butter

  24. InAMinute Says:

    Thanks to the end of all that fing negativity. I felt like I was on the green board the last few days. Still my favorite Phish song…

    What’s better than Trey pelting sands at the end of this?!?

  25. Aquaman Says:

    NOVA commence.

    Headspace achieved, syrah in hand.

    “I would not be burned, but rather give myself to science. I felt that I could help.”

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