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. dusty Says:

    dilauded moriphine is the most floaty I’ve ever been, not by choice. A few steps away from death in a few ways. That same Carini is on the test link for the webcast. My little A frame in the hood ain’t got the juice. Laginitas Sucks is out now. Look the the red bottle caps. Pliny clone.

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    fuck Levi

    and his hatred of the green popcorn

    little D’Angelo Voodoo pre show much at EZ Luongo’s

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    never had to ask my girl to do a drug

    but never letting her hold the bottle or bag, or stash or whatever is the first lesson learned

    she will cash it. and you will pay for it with an evening you will never forget.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    What the deal with the green astroturf all over the garden? Any thoughts.

    Are they preparing to stage a runaway golf -cart marathon? Hmmm…

  5. sumodie Says:

    MiA, i knew what you meant, still gave me a chuckle

    Out the door, look out NYC!

  6. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Don’t get on the wrong side of Lebanon Levi RL. He’s a bad, chubby man.

  7. SillyWilly Says:


  8. roberto luongo Says:

    2012 fuckin blew BTW!

    some hot Phish at least. fuck this fuckin year.

  9. roberto luongo Says:

    I think you need some SW. good idea.

  10. SillyWilly Says:


  11. LukasChuck Says:

    Runaway golf cart marathon?

  12. Boris Says:


  13. roberto luongo Says:

    fuck SW. wish I was out there man. would love to rage it with you kids.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Been kickin it with Rob and Stash. You and K have been missed.

    Big summer ahead of us.

    Meatstick for robear

  15. joe Says:

    met silly briefly yesterday. I can’t believe that kid from last night is radical willy. That Lazy Lightening Carini video puts you in that space very well.

  16. LukasChuck Says:

    Palmer, you beat me to it and I sure hope so! Lawn Boy > Kung > vibration of life.

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    so people (actors?) on turf with lawn chairs and playing badminton?

  18. roberto luongo Says:

    just by accident D’Angelo Voodoo rolled into Sly Riot Goin on

    fuckin seamless. such a huge influence on that albums sound.

  19. joe Says:

    birds of a feather? (out on the lawn?)

  20. MiA Says:


    The market loves Phiscal Cliffs.

  21. Willowed Says:

    They must be actors. All are wearing green and white.

  22. Al Says:

    Here’s Trey explaining us his Rig (pro-shot)

    happy new year to you from Germany!

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    Just cooked a big pasta dinner for the fam, all well in the place, looking forward to getting into this webcast and getting crunk tonight with the bb. Let’s do this. Nascar go cart styleeeeee.

  24. roberto luongo Says:

    damn why didn’t ya’ll tell me there were hot fuckin chicks chillin pre show

    I miss trippin at phish NYE good music or not. fuck.

  25. roberto luongo Says:

    had to make sure my internet wasn’t still stuck on the site I was watchin earlier

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