Red Phish? Blue Phish?

12.31.10, MSG (George Estreich)

With Labor Day weekend in the distant past and the Holiday Run only two weeks away, the question that now descends on the Phish community is “What band will show up at MSG?” Last year was the first modern New Year’s Run without a Fall Tour behind it, and the guys played the most uninspired batch of shows in memory. It is hard to imagine Phish repeating 2011’s debacle, but as Trey has recently busied himself with TAB and his Broadway musical, “Hands On a Hardbody,” it’s impossible to predict how much preparation will go into this run and what will result.

One might cite Dick’s phenomenal playing as a sure signpost to December greatness, but that was the same feeling we all had last year. Following a stellar three nights in Colorado—and a whole lot of time off —Phish arrived at MSG and went through the motions for most of 2011’s year-end extravaganza. Aside from 12/28’s “Carini > Tweezer” and 12/30’s “Piper,” the band produced nothing of lasting value over four nights last year. Could it happen again in 2012? I shudder at the thought. With the community coming to the Big Apple from all corners of the nation and beyond, one has to believe the band won’t disappoint again. Right? On the heels of their most impressive year of playing in the 3.0 era, Phish should rightfully come to New York with intent to punctuate 2012 in fashion.

MSG 2012 Unofficial (Branden Otto)

In 2009 and 2010, the band played a fall tour which didn’t leave them with such a massive chunk of downtime before the end of December. Subsequently, both of those runs has plenty of lasting highlights and even a some whole shows that were up to snuff. The 29th, 30th, and arguably the 31st of 2009, and the 31st, January 1st of 2010’s, and arguably the 30th, all held up as complete shows. But only the 28th of 2011 could hold a candle to any of them. Without practice and with no fire whatsoever, the band stumbled through the final three nights of ’11 with, virtually, zero risk-taking. This wasn’t the Phish we knew in any era of their career; this was a bunch of guys getting paid without trying much of anything.

It would be not like our musical superheroes of botch two Holiday New Year’s Runs in a row, and if I were placing a wager, I definitely wouldn’t bet against them. I’ve got to imagine that they know last year’s MSG run profoundly sucked and they will be back to prove a point this time around. It may simply come down to putting in some time in the practice room. Rumor was that they skipped any preparation last year and the results were glaring. Thus, I doubt they will repeat that folly. As Phish steps onto the nation’s biggest stage on the most celebrated nights of the year to usher in 2013, the year of their much ballyhooed 30th Anniversary, one has to think that the guys will mean business. But any speculation won’t give us the answer. As Bob Marley once sang, “Time alone – oh, time will tell.”


Jam of the Day:

Carini > Wolfman’s” 12.28.98 II

A MSG gem that is begging for the LivePhish treatment.


286 Responses to “Red Phish? Blue Phish?”

  1. Multibeast Says:

    Thanks for sharing the MSMW 12.07 link…I was at the show. Had a blast. Definitely considered parts of the show very ‘challenging’. The place was packed and the crowd stuck with them throughout the show. Watching scofield work was amazing.

    If anyone is interested you can stream their Scarlet cover from 12.07:

  2. bob dylan Says:

    Just come early and catch action at bk bowl with us.

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    ya i think I only have a new years from DF Miner

    buying 7 scalp tix just isn’t sitting well with me (me and the lady)

  4. kayatosh Says:

    Multibeast: some of it is challenging/avant garde but most of it is palatable jazz funk. Love how there’s discernible propulsion to it while also having that jagged push and pull feel.

    scarlet bags is $$$. scar theme>4 way jazz funk jam w/ edginess>scar theme>jam reprise>slowed down scar theme

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    May have 2 single 200s for the 30th u can have and a 28th 200 as well

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    Actually, prob 2 28ths as well

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    thanks man. let me chat up the lady this evening. I’ll hit you up if we decide to go. i keep putting off this last minute decision.

    def gonna come up with something tonight. final decision time. I’ll hit you up later when we get a definite no/go.

    laterz kids
    meeting with some economist douche. fun stuff.

  8. Multibeast Says:


    They definitely were channeling The Meters funk at times when they stepped away from the jazz fusion…loved how they went in to Tosh’s “legalize it” after Scarlet. I’m not familiar with their newest studio album, which in many ways made me appreciate the tracks pulled from A Go Go. pretty much have that album memorized.

  9. MiA Says:

    yep, mia. high energy rock with zero risk taking is annoying. guyute mid set II is annoying. Chzero set II closer; loving cup encore is annoying. felt mailed in.

    Ha. Just didn’t take you for being an “annoyed by the band choices” kinda guy.

    Every Guyute post Walnut Creek in ’11 has been in Set II (or an encore). I don’t like Guyute, but since June of ’11 that’s when the band wants to drop it. Is it annoying? I don’t care if they play any song in the first or second set. I think most of the setlists are pretty predictable, minus Dick’s. They are a predictable band right now.

    28 Loving Cups (almost every single one, minus the Exile Set) were all either last song of Set II or an encore. 90% encores. The probability of going to a show and seeing Loving Cup encore is huge.

    And arguably every one of them is “mailed in.” Esp. when it’s the easiest call in any set.

    If you’re gonna be annoyed by loving cup encores, don’t waste your time with this band.

  10. Dorn76 Says:

    you’ll get a possum every show and you’ll LIKE IT

  11. ren Says:

    I LOVE me a Loving Cup encore…especially after a deserving show…great way to leave the building. Maybe I didn’t so much before I met my wife…but now that I have her at shows….and can remember what it used to feel like without her in my life…I’m very thankful.


    Not sure I’ve ever really expected much from encores

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    12/11/99 has a Possum encore. I’d buy that for a dollar.

  13. MiA Says:

    That said, I do not have a desire to hear the exact same jams repurposed gain and again. That the jams were becoming a recycled “Kill Devils Fall” type jam again and again was/is pretty weak. Granted.

    People are gonna be very critical of these 4 days I think. For good or bad.

    It really helps when they have a fall tour before their NYE run shows.

  14. MiA Says:

    The Loving Cup during the Exile set was NOT mailed in. That was phenomenal.

  15. ren Says:

    Maybe they’ll jam out POSSUM this run. Being creative and writing new material will clearly help their chops in the time between…but I’ve also got to beleib that it will affect setlist choice and the specific approach to each individual song as well

  16. kayatosh Says:

    and don’t miss MSMW’s Legalize It that follows the scarlet bagonias. $$$

    this 12.7.12 show is inspiring me to see MMW at the bluenote this week.

    pre sandy, we discussed the 12.12 early show. Since i teach the next morn i’d have to head home after the show 9hpow close is blue note to penn statuion?). It’d be cool to catch both shows on a given night. perhaps do both Thurs. ribot shows and the early fri. w/ bill evans? this would be a small fortune in tix, but well worth it. bar seats at 30 bones.

    any last minute MMW enthusiasts.

  17. snow Says:

    I keep forgetting that I like MMW. Thanks for the links kaya and Multi.

    Exile Loving Cup was a fucking blast. I really liked the big torches in the field. Need more of that.

  18. MiA Says:

    Especially during Mike’s Song … cool ….

  19. kayatosh Says:

    “If you’re gonna be annoyed by loving cup encores, don’t waste your time with this band.”

    ^^^ come on. don’t be silly. I can be annoyed w/ an overplayed rock cover and still be majorly down w/ the phish. I don’t see the contradiction. How about a SASS encore on 12.29 instead of cup?

    what’s this talk of new material? That’s exciting, if true.

  20. ren Says:

    With all thats been said…and this much time to prepare…I’ll be shocked if we can’t clearly see the premeditated intent. I doubt they’ll continue with the acronym idea….but there will be something that says “hey, we got the message…sorry for last year”…..more than just tight playing and a NYE prank. I know the band (read Trouy) likes to be spontaneous…but there is a lot to be said about what the structure of FUCKYOURFACE provided. It may sound weird…but sometimes its easier to realize your creativity with limitations that focus you in.

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @robear, you’re hitting MSG?!?!?!?!????

  22. thedayman Says:

    just got a pair of 28ths, just looking for a few 29ths now. hoping this can all come together..

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    there ya go aw, no excuses now!

  24. ren Says:

    TAB>new material/practice>TAB>new material>Summer Tour

    Get the creative juices and ideas flowing before Holiday Run…test out a few…let Trouy do his TAB thing again…come back and polish everything up to put tracks down….celebrate with Ter

  25. Gavinsdad Says:

    Please step up: whoever has stopped seeing the band after complaining about them the past 3+ years


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