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”

  1. roberto luongo Says:

    that was one of my fav combos of 2012 Luther

    why no pharmies is on my resolution

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    man this Disease is pretty fuckin dope

    Loving Page’s work towards the end

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    being an opiate addict the dilaudid gives me tons of energy. my body just thrives on it. will start runnin around in circles. a little val to chill the buzz.

    can’t beat it. hah.

    my name is EZ Luongo and I am an addict.

  4. butter Says:

    I dig 20yr late a lot

    feel the song writing falls under “u gotta pay ur dues to sing the blues”, which was a long time coming for Trey & Phish

    2-4 times a year seems about just right

    If they put it in a 3 show rotation I may not dig as much

  5. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I can see why you loved it DL and why I need to not fall in love with it. Don’t want to start chasing this. But damn.

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Seriously, Carini!

    My daughter asked if the aliens about to land would be nice aliens.

    About to re-spin set 2 to confirm final answers

  7. xpun Says:

    Haven’t pregamed yet in a bar that hasn’t spun phish. Nuce

  8. sal good Says:

    That carini was straight up evil techno. John Digweed couldn’t dream up a more sinister sounding dance track then Phish did last night on the spot. They truly had us all in the palm of their hands drooling like deranged alien army men. I am sure it sounded great on couch tour, but the vibrations of the sound in MSG last night was outstanding. A deaf man could have heard the sound waves. That was the highest I have ever felt while completely sober. Amen! I am so glad that happened.

  9. gavinsdad Says:

    SalGood got a chunk

  10. butter Says:

    That seemed like a long long long 15 min Carini, no?

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Butter- check out this Carini video…just the jam. Lazy Lightning kills it.


  12. gavinsdad Says:

    Mia – check out Charlotte ’10 20yl. Nice dirty tail end morph into lizards then the FYF Carini. Very fun set for me and first time my ears perked up for 20yl

    Voops – isn’t mcGrupp a cliff tune?

  13. MiA Says:

    Better living through chemistry … until the chemistry kills you.

    If you really really really really love something. Don’t do it again.


    DWD has always been a “summer” song to me. First one ever at the Warfield, then a few days later at Laguna Seca.

    Always seemed to capture the smell of an outdoor show, weed, B.O. patchouli oil and girls in skirts and beach balls, IPA’s etc in a song. MiA’s version of “Good Vibrations”

    Hearing it at Clifford Ball was like … yep. Perfect.

    Opening of it at the Gorge in ’97 > Tweezer again … perfect.

    So when it starts up, every DWD I’ve ever seen comes back to me in a flood of memories all at once. All Ratatouille like.

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    Carini FYF 2001 yem was a nasty dance party Charlotte 10.

  15. MiA Says:

    I’ll do that Gdad. You always have good recs.

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    Of all the good diseases ive caught the Gorge 09 opener was the most fun. I almost shot into the River. Definite summer feel for me too.

  17. voopa Says:

    Close gdad but no, the other two cliff tunes are Forbin’s and Windora Bug.

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    ^ Nothing

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

    QUICK – can you get up to the main concourses from the GA? Or is it either/or?

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    Ok kids – have fun and enjoy the reset wherever you may be. I’m out w the wife for, whaddayaknow, dinner and a movie before coming home to ring in 2013 with my parents and kids.

  21. MiA Says:

    Toss up from Deer Creek 2000 and Pine Knob. Hard to argue with a DWD with a Moby Dick in the middle of it.

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    You can get up (and down) thru The back of The floor @duke. Take steps on easy flight to ww table in 100 level walkway (and Sixpoint sweet action on tap)

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Duke. Yes

    Xpun where you at?

  24. joe Says:

    Duke – we were stuck on floor once you get in the separate entrance. Maybe there was a way up but it didn’t seem easy to me.

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    ^one easy flight (sneak route f the escalators)

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