Exploring the Edge

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

One night after focusing exclusively on songs, Phish came out on the 30th and threw down the gauntlet with 40-plus minutes of the darkest, most abstract, menacing music they have played in this era. Starting with a long-form “Down With Disease” and featuring a centerpiece “Carini” that immediately vaulted into the upper echelon of all-time jams, the meat of last night’s second set was some of the most patient, potent and exploratory improvisation we have heard from the band in ages. Methodically sculpting mind-expanding soundscapes, the guys showcased larger-than-life music ripped from my wildest fantasies. Stellar versions of “Slave” and “Harry Hood” resolved a second set that sent everybody to the exits with overwhelming satisfaction having bore witness the musical sorcery we quest for night after night.

12.30 Official (J. Flames)

After experiencing the colossal sequence of “Disease” > “Twenty Years Later” > “Carini,” one had the innate knowledge that something special had happened in Madison Square Garden. The band had delved deeply into the dark side of the universe they have rarely visited in this era, and done it with overwhelming success. The musical Siths showcased spellbinding control of the room while taking their audience on a thrilling ride through supernatural netherworlds. When all was said and done, and the band moved into “Number Line,” it was as if they had released the crowd from an eerie hypnosis, bringing us back to the reality that we were attending a paid concert on earth rather than an alien ritual on the fringes on the galaxy. Such is the almighty power of the Phish.

When “Disease” led off the second set, everyone knew a musical journey was in store, but nobody could have predicted just how far out the band would travel. Exiting song structure into a minimalist and melodic exchange, the guys’ poise was immediately evident, and as when they migrated into a slow and murky groove, their intent to push musical boundaries became abundantly clear. As the band smoothly moved into the occult, Trey guided them with an uncompressed tone and ferocious intent, bringing the music into an eerie milieu in which it would stay for quite some time. As they progressed from one section of the jam to the next, the music only became deeper and more expansive, finally pushing into a space-laden realm when one might have guessed they were winding down. Phish crafted complex, layered textures that enhanced the music’s mystical feel, and as they took a turn for the home stretch, Mike’s laser-like, envelope filtered leads brought the jam into a sinful groove, evoking the feeling of an extraterrestrial death march. Dripping into “Twenty Years Later,” Phish landed on a song that congruently fit the sinister vibe of the moment, and when they soon revved up “Carini,” things wouldn’t get any lighter.

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

What happened next was nothing short of transcendent perfection. Words cannot approximate the staggering soundscapes that Phish birthed from “Carini” last night. On the 15-year anniversary of its US debut in the same building, the band produced a jam fans will be listening to for eternity. Descending from a ferociously imposing groove into music so eccentric, abstract, and eerily profound that it would floor the most psychedelic juggernauts in the history of improvisational music, Phish exhibited pure creation on the richest, darkest, and most abstract level. This jam was something else all together, fusing sounds that spanned the tribal to the futuristic—a pioneering vision of the scope of the human psyche. Any attempt at a more comprehensive description of this music would do no service, as it could not come within light years of its cutting-edge innovation. Just grab some headphones and bask in the sound, because this was the absolute business.

Following their Odyssean three-song voyage that comprised most of the second set, Phish passed through a couple of rocking selections in “Number Line” and “Julius” to ground the audience before closing things out with one of the most passionate versions of  “Slave to the Traffic Light” we have heard in recent years. Filled with elegant guitar licks of glory, this uplifting piece served as divine deliverance from mysterious lands far, far away.

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Though this set certainly earned the band a token encore, instead, they came out and played one of the best versions of “Harry Hood” we have heard in this era. Lively and dynamic, Trey led the band through a rendition of their seminal classic that popped from note one and peaked with a purpose—the way “Hood” is meant to be played. The level of communication on display throughout the night spilled right over to the encore as the band backed up the set closing “Slave” with the most exquisite exclamation point in their catalog. A “Show of Life” denouement closed the books on one of the finest nights of Phish in 2012, and as the band bowed and looked out at the audience, who returned their gaze with admiration and awe, they saw that it was good. It was very, very good.

1st set notes: A tight, well-played first set featured a quality song selection, boasting some semi-rarities in “Ya Mar,” “Horn,” and “My Friend, My Friend,” as well as a bustout of “Ride Captain Ride.” But regardless of what happened in the first set, the story of the show unfolded after intermission.

I: Runaway Jim, Cities, Divided Sky, Back on the Train, Ride Captain Ride, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Horn, My Friend, My Friend > Run Like an Antelope

II: Down with Disease > Twenty Years Later > Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line, Julius, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Harry Hood > Show of Life

12.28.2012, MSG (Graham Lucas)

1,130 Responses to “Exploring the Edge”

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  1. Shred Says:

    Thanks G-d they finally dropped a great set on 12-30 in msg.

  2. Dr pronoia Says:

    Yup that good

  3. Christian Says:

    I would have killed to see this second set.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    Nice read.. Sounds like it got thick in there.. There was a definite feeling of determination in those jams, a kind of powering through vibe.

    Anyone else hear page slip some dark drummer boy chords into slave? As the jam climbed and trey hit a dissonant sustain, page slipped it in , OK in a McCoy tyner kind of way.

  5. BigDeezy Says:

    Wow, is everyone still sleeping? I need to download this show ASAP. Thx Miner for the early morning review. I’m in Florida and was asleep by 10 last night. Lame in comparison to the wild night at Phish MSG. The lucky ones were inside last night. I miss that feeling of being inside a Phish show and knowing that there was nowhere else I wanted to be. That This was the best place to be in the world. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

  6. roberto luongo Says:

    Loved set 2

    Great Dwd. Multi thematic within similar styles of other top shelf summer 2012 jams

    Massive new original tribal space rock in carini. Thats why we go

    The rest I get bored with phish on tv easily so wasn’t really paying attention. But both that little Dwd ) 20 yr ) carini was why we go

    At work kids
    Fun shit

  7. Blooby Says:

    “The musical Siths showcased spellbinding control of the room while taking their audience on a thrilling ride through supernatural netherworlds.”

    It is writing like this that made me put down fantasy novels.

    While I enjoyed the webcast immensely, I was shocked at the crap harmony vocals in multiple spots, even by Phish standards. That being said, a fun show, even when dwelling in the ‘supernatural netherworlds.'”

    Mr. Mtiner, you are appreciated.

  8. Guyute711 Says:

    Hey Norv, You’re fucking fired!!!! Oh wait, they haven’t announced it yet. I will patiently wait here until it happens. Things need to go big tonight to solidify the run. Pretty good so far.

  9. KOOKS Says:

    This band is capable of anything they want and can easily do a great 25 minute version of Party Time if they want to. If They Want To.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I’m recovering from a surgery & I have to say that 2nd set sounds incredible on hospital drugs. Wow.

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    Dang Luther, what for?

  12. Vegan Mike Says:

    Great review, but surprised no love for the divided sky. Post-pause jam was as good as it gets.

  13. joe Says:

    Long journey back complete. Home and need sleep. Loved the show. Plenty of get down space on ga floor. I was tripping on the fact that I was standing in the same space that Jordan and Gretzsky performed. Working later instead of going again tonight up there in bad choices. Completely satisfied by last night though.

  14. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I went in to have a little thing removed from my leg & they discovered some pre- cancerous things hiding below the surface. They had to cut a 4 inch hole so I have nice, painful wound but it went good. But damn if it doesn’t hurt like a motherfucker.

  15. MiA Says:

    Vibes Luthur. Hope it was elective.

    Downloaded last night. Ready for the ears this morning.

    Great show.

  16. Guyute711 Says:

    Speedy recovery Luther. We need to see you out on tour in 13.

  17. [Not Tom] Says:

    IT happened like IT hasn’t in a while last night. Loved sharing my thoughts on the board last night. Especially at 10:47pm when IT happened in Carini. So glad i heard/saw that as it wasn happening – live Phish af its best. Really expected a Loving Cup encore. Hood was a nice surprise. Thanks Phish. And Mr Miner.

    Looking forward to watching tonight’s show with a Leo and Guyute.

  18. [Not Tom] Says:

    And glad you are on the mend Mid-west boy. Vibes.

  19. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    phish phish phish- i hope everyone has been enjoying the run. i think it has been wonderful. i have not been on here in a little while, traveling between philly and new york seeing friends, family, and phish.

    calpain and gdad- very nice meeting you both on the 23rd. i was very drunk- schwillybrosevelt.

    happy new year!

  20. Guyute711 Says:

    Good to hear you will be making it NTM. I am bringing some edible treats. Not precious edible but they should taste good.

  21. Dr Pronoia Says:

    vibes, Luther

    I could’ve left after disease last night I was so satisfied

    We were about 10 ft back from the rail for the first set, so it was hard to be objective about how good or not the music was, tho I liked the BOTT, yamar, and ‘lope a lot.

    We were a bit further back for set 2, but square in the lights sweet spot. It was majestic and scary, and completely what I needed to head into 2013 soul rejuvenated

    Happy for everyone in the building tonight, but I’m totally sated. I’ll be spinning the Tweezer, Disease, and Carini from this run for a long time…

    Also, as Miner noted, the slave and hood were perfect counterpoints to the darkness of the disease and carini. Great balance

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    Love the smiles from last night keep em rolling.

  23. MiA Says:

    I saw G$ edibles. Well done.

  24. Angryjoggerz Says:

    So fun watching on te couchcast. Got kinda out there, space sofa. Company closed today, cold chilling with a coffee and the Octonauts. 3.0’d

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    I need to crack into that thing to see if it came out right. My mother has been making them since 74. I have more food that didn’t make the internet yet too. Cooking/baking during Phish shows along with laundry and wrapping presents = I’m old.

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