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. ren Says:

    You said you were bringing the jams with you @Palms!!!!

    Was in the PERFECT headspace for last night(able to dial it in well with the first 2 nights practice)…felt like a continuation from the afternoon yoga/meditation session my crew had in our living room. The darkness used to have the potential to truly scare me…but last night it was all bliss…ear to ear grin eyes closed most of the show just drinking it in.

  2. jtran Says:

    crunchygroove set 2 not working for me


  3. BNCB Says:

    Jtron app not working.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Disease thru Carini is scary good.

    Ghost, Sand, and Light are going to crush tonight

  5. jtran Says:

    ahh thanks bncb. that sucks

  6. BNCB Says:

    Awesome Slave and Hood last night. Slave just crushed. Treigh was smart. Never let it get quiet enough for the crowd to drown it out.

  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Get ready for a healthy dose of TTE at 12 AM!!!!!!

  8. BNCB Says:

    Watched Miner the whole time last night. He enjoyed set 2 to its fullest. Set 1 I could see him approaching the ledge. Fact.

  9. gavinsdad Says:

    Ren – seems like you exist. tonite would be the nite to make an intro to Robear or Mitch at the fishman side WW table.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I think they should kick it off with Sand tonight. Start it off right.

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    nye show sand?

    ::shakes fist at luther and the world!::

  12. voopa Says:

    I cling like a lizard to the side of the cliff

  13. Luther T. Justice Says:

    And the first Ride Captain Reprise for BNCB!

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Carini and his lumpy ass head tried to get us last night

  15. gavinsdad Says:

    CDT opener tonite

  16. ren Says:

    Oh i exist all right …questioned it for about an hour last night though.

    Really regret not making some BB meet-ups happen…house full of guests and wife that is finally getting IT made it pretty difficult. Lame excuses….wish I was in the building tonight to change that…would be just me and the Mrs. We’ll see what happens.

    Rage on for the rest of 2012 BB!!!…from wherever you are, be it couch, the ghost of fire ring past…the gurgling synapses of your mind baby nursureys…wherever

  17. Guyute711 Says:

    Jennifer Dances second set opener.

  18. Luther T. Justice Says:

    A dark type 2 Jennifer Dances

  19. Dorn76 Says:

    Headed home after night 2, and still can barely get my head together. Loved my time in NYC. Perfect end to a pretty good year.

    Thanks for the write-ups, Miner. Not sure how you do it.

    Glad I didn’t buy the webcast, that Carini would have been tough to see and not feel. Pumped for all of you that got to experience that.

    12/31 is a weird day. Nothing cosmic about it, but the psychic power we place upon the idea of the “New Year”, combined with the head full of New Year’s run Phish makes for an interesting day.

    Listening to Sand>QT from Big Cypress on the way in to work def helped.

    Think I’ll delete my FB today.


  20. SillyWilly Says:

    If your name is Esther…your on call to be sacrificed to the Dark Lords of Phish

  21. BNCB Says:

    Everyone can party here today. Sunny smoking deck.

    Successful mind baby for third show kid last night.

  22. ren Says:

    @silly ….you mean the guy in the dress, the old man in spectacles, Mr.Qouff in his hot pants and the goofy ginger when you say “dark lords”….right???

  23. roberto luongo Says:

    Lovie Smith gone. great fuckin news.

    the light is growin brighter.

  24. DryIceFactory Says:

    I: Llama, The Sloth, Possum, Torn and Frayed, Gotta Jibboo, Heavy Things, The Wedge, Axilla I, Chalk Dust Torture>Rift, Character Zero

    (Type II finished Character Zero to close the set)

    II: Mike’s Song->2001>Weekapaug->After Midnight->Weekapaug Reprise

    III: Birds of a Feather->Tweezer Reprise>ALS>Light->Ghost, YEM

    E: Wilson, Quinn the Eskimo, Frankenstein

  25. roberto luongo Says:

    as much as I want to dig Slave just never got into it

    have trouble diggin tunes I can teach BNCB how to play on guitar over morning OG tubes

    but def can complete a nice monster show perfectly

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