Opening the Freezer

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

On the first night of their highly anticipated 2012 New Year’s Run, Phish stepped onto the Garden’s stage and stunned their audience with an era-defining rendition of “Tweezer,” invoking the improvisational spirit we witnessed in Denver just months ago. Showing no signs of rust from their extensive off-season, the guys backed up the night’s monstrous centerpiece with highlights of “Wolfman’s Brother” and “David Bowie,” not to mention rock solid play throughout the show. Watching the band play with such polish and confidence on the first night of the run brought unbridled enthusiasm not only for the music that went down, but for the limitless possibilities that the next three nights now contain.

Official 12.28 Print (J.Flames)

Following a straightforward opening set, less a stellar “Wolfman’s” closer, Phish could hold back no more and tore open the universe at the start of the second with a free-form, to-die-for “Tweezer” that needs to be heard to be believed. The band connected the many movements of this masterpiece with a criminal smoothness, resulting in an ego-less and sophisticated musical adventure that is beginning to define the new contour of Phish jams. Harnessing the egalitarian improvisational gusto unveiled in the Rockies over Labor Day weekend, Phish played a jam in which nobody dominated while different members stepped up to lead throughout. Courageous, utterly refined, and woven with meticulous precision, this “Tweezer” proved that the music of Denver was no mile-high fluke, but a legitimate turning point in the course of the band’s modern chapter. Trey’s playing, a topic deserving of its own paragraph, was defined by both confidence and cooperation, leading when he saw fit and stepping back just as effectively in other parts of the jam. Moving from a soaring beginning to a bass-led, bliss-laden middle, onto an more minimalist, melodic section before finishing in a profound sonic convergence, this fully-realized jam brought a bit of everything into the mix, vividly illustrating why we go to such lengths to see Phish perform. Astounding in every sense of the word, “Tweezer” was the stuff of musical reverie and provides a gem of 2012 that can only be rivaled by Dick’s “Light.” And if this happened on night one of the run, there is unquestionably more to come. Wow!

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Though this spine-tingling exploration stole the show, there are other points of note as well, first and foremost, the guitar showcase of one Trey Anastasio. Shining bright all night long, Trey played masterfully in all milieus without ever dominating jams. Assertive yet deferring at the perfect times, Trey’s leadership stood out around every corner in both sets. With scorching solos in “Maze” and “Theme,” carefully integrated offerings in “Stash” and “Twist,” dirty, rhythmic swank in “Wolfman’s,” and minimalist guidance in “Bowie,” Trey’s discerning aesthetic was a huge takeaway from the first night at MSG. Armed with a seemingly limitless arsenal of evolved techniques, he was up to any task last night, and something tells me the next three nights won’t be any different. It has been a long journey for Trey to reach this point of proficiency in the modern era, but he has truly arrived once again.

Improvisationally speaking, “Wolfman’s” and “Bowie” provided the other high points of the night. Using the former as a first set closer, the guys took “Wolfman’s” in a more original direction than they have in recent memory. Splashing into atypical funk textures, they passed through “stop-and-go-ish” type jamming before moving further away from structure and into a seductive exchange in which Trey infused the progression of “Little Drummer Boy.” The whole band immediately picked up on the holiday spirit, as they integrated the song into the jam without ever losing the groove. Then, on a dime, they melted right back into the funk. But instead of jumping to the song’s ending, they guys infused a blues build into the jam that creatively returned them to “Wolfman’s.” Taking a bow and moving into setbreak, this piece got their creative juices flowing after a high-energy opening frame—and you know what happened next.

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Closing the second set, “David Bowie” provided the other musical high point of the show. The band united in a gritty conversation that built in intensity throughout, giving the audience a glimpse into the song’s ethos. A sinister tone pervaded the jam and the intricate exchange never lost momentum, as Phish stamped a strong conclusion on the night with a revitalized version of a song that has lost its way in recent years. In between “Tweezer” and “Bowie,” the guys sandwiched some intense jamming with “Maze” and “Twist,” but neither moved outside of the box.

If the band had just played “Tweezer” and walked off stage, it would have been plenty to satiate much of the Garden’s crowd last night. But supporting the monumental jam with high-energy selections and two bounce back jams in a couple of classic vehicles, Phish delivered a very strong opening course to their four night extravaganza. And as we look forward to nights two, three and four, the questions are out the window and only excitement remains.

I: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army of One, Tube, Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman’s Brother -> The Little Drummer Boy -> Wolfman’s

II: Tweezer -> Maze, Twist* > Theme From the Bottom, Fluffhead, David Bowie

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Good Times Bad Times

*Little Drummer Boy teases and quotes

12.28.12, MSG (G.Lucas)

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525 Responses to “Opening the Freezer”

  1. roberto luongo Says:

    Was still impressed you got the tweez and wolf night 1

    But post show I watched the dicks light video to verify. The band just doesn’t have that late tour swagger after so much time off.

  2. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Local bagel spot is crawling with w00ks.

    I ain’t even mad.

  3. marco esquondoles Says:

    unbridled enthusiasm lolololol

  4. roberto luongo Says:

    Seems like everyone else loved set 2

    May have to spin it again today. Might be that beer Yall like so much I was schwillin last night

  5. HarryHood Says:

    Still looking for a code if someone can hook me up……

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Snoozy and rusty up until Tube for me. From then it felt that the band was in synch and ready to jam.

    Set II flowed great. Theme Fluff worked real nice in the context of the jams surrounding them. Tough to beat the 6 song set II these days.

    Great show to kick off the run. I liked it better than Night 1 last year @ Shred. Superior Tweezer.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Mike was super annoying in the first half of the wolfmans jam. He better cut that shit out. Rey to the rescue.

    Who’s GA west tonight?

  8. Dr pronoia Says:

    Wolfmans and tweez>maze will definitely merit lots of post run respins

    Tweez was more guitar led than I remembered at the time. No complaint there. Trey was on

    Tonight’s the difference maker tho. Is this an ’11 situation?

  9. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Maze had some crazy Page action too

  10. marcoesq Says:

    D/ling now, can’t wait to spin Tweez.

    Just started snowing here in the city, monster 7 Below tonight!!

  11. [Not Tom] Says:

    Some of you tweeters that I follow need to post some snowy pics of MSG

  12. sumodie Says:

    Snow’s a falling in the big apple!

    Hard to disagree with the more critical observations since i’m looking at night 1 as part of the whole run

    I think we’re in for a stronger run than the last two years, and last night confirms that

    But no matter what i’m gonna rage the room in the moment

    Had no real crowd issues last night, aisle mostly clear, few annoyances left shortly after arriving

    Yeah, no more easy going movement around the garden, those days are gone. Thankfully security still chill tho

    Big fat fluffy flakes!

  13. Kaveh Says:

    Snow here, in Brooklyn. many extras were floating around outside MSG last night?

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    To get off my lazy ass and hit the moma today or not to? Hm

  15. Dorn76 Says:

    Feel like I got the monster Gin jam I was looking for, but smack in middle of a Tweezer!


    Watching snow from a corner cafe in the city.

  16. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Agree w sumo that the Moma has the worst crowds. Artier than thou

  17. alf Says:

    hit the museum of reclaimed urban space instead


  18. bob dylan Says:

    Man the PHiSH fan base keeps it going.

    Bieber and busta do drummer boy at rock center.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    moma has the best crowds. so many hot, foreign girls.

  20. BNCB Says:

    All the woman that skipped Phish are at the MOMA.

    I reek.

  21. BNCB Says:

    DF! Great minds! I’m here now and can confirm.

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha exactly bncb. a lot of them are better to look at than the art. may be there in a few hours.

  23. snow Says:

    cant put my finger on why but that maze was the first one from 3.0 that I found engaging.
    the wolfman’s reminded me of the AC Light-teca with the two melodies being played against each other and then resolving them.
    And tweezer was awesome. Of course it would be since Aw didn’t go.

  24. snow Says:

    so was the tweezer jam peak completely original? It seemed very familiar. I kept thinking they were transitioning into something else like Guy Forget but it stayed in that riff through the peak.
    Theme also seemed sweet.

    I’m calling practiced btw. Wolfmans and Tweezer both had to b worked out previously to some extent.

  25. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    @ snow

    Maze from PNC was engaging as hell

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