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. Dr Pronoia Says:

    aaaaaand just brought wifey to urgent care with a 102 fever

    looks like it may be solo couch tour NYE for me

  2. DryIceFactory Says:

    Fun show. 1st set felt like it was setting the table for a potentially monster 2nd. Unfortunately the boys just never pulled it together. I mean the had only played 3 songs like 45 minutes into the set. I mean COMMMMOOONNNNNN MAAAYYYYNE!?

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    i’m still upside down

  4. BNCB Says:

    Night 3 Set 2:

    Phish saves New York

  5. roberto luongo Says:

    just cuz I like to bitch

    would have loved DWD > Carini > 20 yr later

    not a big fan of the heavy rawker but dig it when used to kind of come down after the jamming. in the middle kinda chopped up the psych rock

    but still a massive 3.0 segment

  6. DryIceFactory Says:

    ^DIF loved it. I was demanding a sacrifice during the tribal jam in Carini. My only “gripe”? They should have finished the set in the darkness. #Line was forced out of Carini and they should have just spaced it into a 2001.

    Leave it to me to complain about one of the best shows of the year. A kid can dream though right?

    II: DwD>20YL>Carini->2001, Hood
    E: Slave, SoL

    ^That is something I make up in my dreams right there.

  7. Marcoesq Says:

    Wow, that was it. Still getting my thoughts together. Great times.

    Back to reality now. Everyone have fun tonight

  8. BNCB Says:

    Just my luck. App not working. Send Silly Willy down for breakfast bagels.

  9. Esteban Says:

    Great post, Miner. Last night’s entrance into the storage shed was overdue and very welcome.

  10. neemor Says:

    Dr. P, nice popint about the emotional balance.
    And that dense Antelope peaked and raged appropriately.
    Fitting for MSG 2012.

    There is nothing like the sound of 19,000 jaws hitting the floor when a massive Round Room puddles into the Manhattan gutters. Nothing.
    Struck me during that super-slow 20YL in the time warp that was the third quarter…Garden was completely in the palm of their hands.

    Never heard Fish breathe like he did in that Carini jam, where his expanding in-and-out-of-consciousness playing created the greater whole. The Garden flexing at its seams.
    Sick as shit and totally payed off as the band settled in to for journey.

    Man that was fun.
    Great time, great people, nice to see familiar faces. Love you guys.

    Have a fun, safe time tonight and I hope to see you guys in 2013.

  11. roberto luongo Says:

    funny Dry Ice

    I thought some late set 2001 Funk where the backwards Julius was would have been perfect to blow the set out over the top also

    sure she will get dropped tonight

  12. BNCB Says:

    The girls are snoozing. I have sore feet. Jah Bless. Need Murray’s bagels.

  13. roberto luongo Says:

    great set though. first of the run that really worked for me. hot phish.

    laterz kids. get some work done.
    before getting down for some Charles Bradley soul tonight

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    and a schmear!

    Luther – speedy recovery to you bro.

    Miner – glad you got a piece. same goes for everyone else. little bit of a sting having only caught 12/29 but that’s life and hope i catch some of this action in 2013.

    looking forward to a new year. for those in the building tonite hold it down, make the most of it, get down, etc etc etc.

    (and i’m fully deleting my facebook account in a few minutes…it’s been 3 or more years…emancipate yourself from mental slavery and all that)

  15. neemor Says:

    RIP Gdad’s FB.
    Got some great photos and watched the kids grow there.

    Sending great thoughts, Luther.

  16. ren Says:

    Still reeling from last night and so glad they brought the darkness.
    Wife got home and clearly still has the hook in her and wants to figure out a way to go tonight.

    Wonder if last light will have been the ONE when all is said and done….or if NYE will shine brightest….happy for those who will find out first hand.

    Cash/tradeables for 2 tix 😉

    Paulny123 -at- geeeeemail

    Enjoy your respins today e’rebody!

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    that was mind fuck Phish last night. Super fun evening. Great seeing everyone. Raged the show with Willowed, Silly, and Xpun in the 200 level Page side.

    Picked a helluva show to bust out the mind baby. Happy to see the psychedelic circus that took place on stage, was not in my head only.

    Hope everyone made out of there in one piece.

  18. gavinsdad Says:

    you make beautiful mind babies @palmer

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sorry I missed ya Neemor.

  20. BNCB Says:

    Well, nothing left to do but drop a big ‘Meatstick’ for me.

  21. TheSloth Says:

    MiA hit me up at theslothbb at g m re downloads.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Rob- We were cracking up thinking about you during Ride Capt. Ride

  23. BNCB Says:

    Dan Kanter in attendance with a laminate. Brown nosing has its privileges!

  24. BNCB Says:

    Palmer, every run. Meat-Ride. Captain-Stick. My Phish nightmare

  25. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Thanks for the well wishes y’all!

    This run’s Tweezer & last night’s 2nd set are helping with recovery fo sho. I hope they bring some more tonight. Screw New Years pranks & hoopla. Let’s keep it dark & heavy on the mindfuckery.

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