A Sterile Saturday Night

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Shows like Saturday night’s at Madison Square Garden leave me scratching my head, wondering what, exactly, the band was intending to do. Following an opening night that laid the groundwork for a stellar run, the guys came out on one of the holiest days of the Phish calendar, 12/29, and barely attempted a lick of open improv. Following Denver’s revelation and a monumental “Tweezer” on the 28th, one had to expect at least a chunk of musical risk-taking on night two. But with one sonic body blow after another, they guys made it a point try absolutely nothing. There is no doubt that they played their songs quite well, and nobody can take that away from them, though we expect Phish to play their songs proficiently at this stage of the game. However, if we are calibrating shows by their level of cerebral engagement—music that enraptures one’s wildest imagination—12/29 was the least impressive of the year by leaps and bounds.

12.29.12 Official (J. Flames)

Before going any further, let me state—once again—that I go to Phish shows to see them jam; to witness the band weave musical memories in real time. If I wanted to listen to Phish songs, I could throw one of many CDs to happily meet that desire. But shows are supposed to be something more. Phish shows are the times when we have the privilege to be awed by the superhuman powers of the most magical musicians on earth. But there was nothing magical about last night at all. With little rhyme or reason, the guys sculpted a piecemeal setlist that possessed no direction or vigor whatsoever. I would love to write about the improvisational highlights of the show but there were none. Zero. Zilch. A few minutes of bland, quasi-connected, atmospheric funk out of “Golden Age” represented the band’s only attempt at any sort of jamming. Even songs like “Rock and Roll,” “Reba,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Waves” that almost always feature exciting improv were delivered in straight forward and unspectacular fashion. There were plenty of high-energy moments—specifically “Suzy Greenberg” and “46 Days”—but those are meant to be the supporting cast, not the lead actors.

The concern that now comes into play for this Holiday Run is whether the 28th will wind up as the best show of the run, just as it was a year ago. It felt like Dick’s provided a pivot point in the development of modern Phish. It seemed that the guys had their hearts rededicated to sophisticated musical experimentation, and that the “hit or miss” aspect that has annoyingly pervaded 3.0 was a thing of the past. But after last night’s song-based snoozefest, that all seems like wishful thinking. Perhaps the 29th was just a bump in the road, but by anyone’s standards, it felt virtually inconceivable that the band would pull out such a performance on Saturday night at the Garden. But they did. And there is nothing to do but smile, put it behind us, and comeback on the 30th for a massive bounce back night of improvisation.

I: Crowd Control, Mound, AC/DC Bag, Rock and Roll, Sugar Shack, Reba, Halley’s Comet > Limb By Limb*, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Bathtub Gin**

II: Golden Age > Waves > Prince Caspian*** > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Suzy Greenberg, Bug, Cavern, 46 Days

E: The Squirming Coil, Grind, First Tube

*Follow the Yellow Brick Road tease
**”Susie Q” quote from Fishman

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

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673 Responses to “A Sterile Saturday Night”

  1. Dr pronoia Says:

    So how long does the GA line in take? What corner is it on again? Any difference in security (basically none so far)?

    Need the details fellas

    Thinking ill be there around 7-7:30

  2. MiA Says:

    Phish always challenges some part if their audience.

  3. MiA Says:

    I challenge anyone to listen to this st Denis Reba and not dance.


  4. c0wfunk Says:

    ^i do. What do i care if those around me aren’t jamming

    therein lies a huge difference in goals. I’d rather a huge group peak than some headynspacejam most anytime. When cosmic 9th dimensional improve reaches that group peak it is the best. Tweezer in clt this summer was a good example of a recent experience like that where most everyone was onboard. But the true group peak that night happened during the composed mikes section.

    But space for space sake that loses half the room I’ll skip. That should be at home in yer living room.

  5. BNCB Says:

    Hoping for another club level miracle. Big ups to Kaveh for the awesome hook up. The middle ring we used to love got turned into the suites. It was nice to occupy that aisle.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Stop cryin pussies! Tonight’s the night.

    Hanging at Cafe 31 w willowed, Jdub, joe , and Halcyon. Come on down.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    Re Vegas wolfmans – I love it as much as the next nerd but its not what I’d want to hear every night.. I rarely choose to go back there. As I said earlier I’m used to you guys disagreeing. Its OK I’m not trying to convince anyone.. Like what you like but left me do the same please. I’m sure not taking this seriously so sorry if I offended. Was not my intention

  8. MiA Says:

    The loudest crying pussies are the ones not in the building tonight when they open “The Curtain With”

  9. sumodie Says:

    BNCB, G saw u behind us last nite but i didnt believe him. Good to hear Kaveh got in, he’s a chill cat to get down with

    hey kaveh! C u inside hopefully

  10. sumodie Says:

    ” Funny I was staring at that painting of the one eyed girls for like 20 mins then this super hot French girl stood next to me and I just stared at her for a while.”

    Lol, great mindfuck paiting. Japanese art exhibit was a nice surprisr, kinda the antidote after all that abstract art (which was also interesting)

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    Dick’s Undermind Vape Session

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Yeah sumo. it was the last exhibit i went to, had no idea it was there this year. was a little bored with the other stuff cuz it’s my 3rd time there in a row and 4th total, but that exhibit made it all worth it. some of that stuff was on par with some of the more famous surrealist art.

  13. butter Says:

    Palmer’s in tonite = big crosseye’d. He he, have tonite fellas

  14. InAMinute Says:

    @dr paranoia. Get in line by 7 and you should be fine. If you want to get closer up def get in line around 6:45. Corner of 8 and 33 is the enteance

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    No doubt Butter… No doubt

  16. sumodie Says:

    Guess it’s up to Joe & Halcyon on the floor to set Troy right tonite!

    As for Cactus, always dig his fashionista style but now he’s gooping up his hair with far too much product. G is convinced that Cactus is wearing makeup too, boo

    And what’s with him switching basses before Boogie? Dont recall him doing that

  17. Dr pronoia Says:

    Thanks InAMinute! Just what I needed to know

    Also heard its a tighter search, which is funny cuz I haven’t even broken stride at the other entrance the past 2 nighta

  18. Marcoesq Says:

    Had fun last night but no doubt disappointing. Reba was a bust, Halleys had some extra mustard before trey limb’d it. 2nd set blew out quick. Hoping for a reprieve tonight

  19. Marcoesq Says:

    Any extras around? Looking for 2 anywhere. M h o y t 1 3 at geemail

  20. Dr pronoia Says:

    Sorry we didn’t end up catching one another, Marco

    Maybe at WW at setbreak

  21. Marcoesq Says:

    Sounds good. Where is the booth? Didn’t see last night

  22. sumodie Says:

    One WW table is near section 103 in the concourse

  23. Dr pronoia Says:

    Yup bw 103 and 120. So behind the stage on the 100 level

  24. MiA Says:

    The Dr. Paranoia was a funny joke that needs some recognition…

  25. Marcoesq Says:

    Nice. I’m in sec103 tonight

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