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. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Don’t have to sneak to get up a floor

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Oh right never mind

  3. voopa Says:

    Oh good one PB, missed that (actually phish.net missed it).

  4. joe Says:

    I guess I didn’t look hard enough.

    Mr. P – how did the kid with your buddy enjoy his first show?

  5. roberto luongo Says:

    Have fun in there kids

    If ya hear from me don’t mind shit. I’ll be schwillin.

    Probably stream first 2 sets and then hit Charles Bradley.


  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I haven’t heard from them yet Joe. Not sure what that means. Lol.

  7. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Well, this is happening.

  8. butter Says:

    Vid is sickness Palmer. Thanks. Just took me from depressed from missing Carini > feeling the New Years gift of it all. Mind = melted from that alien Mayan death march thingy

  9. butter Says:

    The floor and stage is AstroTurf ‘d in green


  10. sumodie Says:

    MiA at least likes my online personality even tho we’ve met in person..? ;0> I’d be suspicious of the reality me too (I already am)

    That Dick’s 20YL warped me & took over my body. Was laughing at myself as i couldnt stop the bizarro dance antics. Loved last night’s too but i wasnt possessed in quite the same way

    Def ready to get warped tonight, been waiting 3 whole shows now

    Met a college buddy for lunch at 5 Napkin Burger (the same one who caught the Stones at Barclays) & he presents me with a bottle of 16y/o Lagavulin scotch, yum!

    Then we hit the Matisse exhibit at the Met (didnt impress me) and a couple other exhibits

    Resting at the aerial pad before cabbing it down to Madison Square Park for the buckey ball

    And then IT begins….

    Happy New Year!

  11. sumodie Says:

    Joe, sounds like you raged it proper last night! Great to see you & happy new year to u & yours

  12. voopa Says:

    This Carini jam is it. Fan-fucking-tastic.

    A great year for Phish, but it was a tough one for me. DUI, illnesses, robbery, putting a pet down, job changes…glad to see this one end. Still can’t believe I pulled through, really.

    Have a great one everyone, we’ll be celebrating the close of this year tonight for sure!

  13. Willowed Says:

    Webcast purchased
    A few nice bottles of wine ready
    Dipping into some extras left over from last night
    I am ready for couch tour
    Bring IT

    Going to try to sneak some fun into my wife’s wine. Get her loosy goosy for tonight. Is that wrong of me?

  14. Luther T. Justice Says:

    This will be your year voopa.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Crazy me just volunteered to work tomorrow.

    Might as well start the New Year off right.

    Enjoy the show tonight kids. Take care of each other.

  16. MiA Says:

    I felt like I only got to meet you for a little bit Sumo. I just didn’t want to be presumptuous and say “I know Sumo” sort of thing.

    Would have enjoyed talking more.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  17. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Go for it Willowed!

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:


    I advise against it. your call.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    It’s not illegal to drug your own wife.. is it?

  20. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Willowed- Funky Cold Medina?

  21. tela's_muff Says:

    Carini is magic.

    Very excited for tonight. Old school Phish crew in the house. Feeling great about 2012 Phish
    Have a great night at the show or on your Couch

  22. vegas wolfmans Says:

    waddup bb- Just returned from the land of the midnight sun for the holidays and haven’t listened to a lick of the run. Downloading first 3 now. Glad to hear they went deep last night. Seems the stage is set for them to bring the pain this evening. Happy 2013.

  23. roberto luongo Says:

    100% willowed

  24. phlorida phan Says:

    Enough with the phish talk, amish mafia on discovery channel ftw!

  25. Willowed Says:

    I’m kidding. I would never do that.

    I’ll ask if she wants to get dirty, if she says no, then I’ll consider it.

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