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. Guyute711 Says:

    I did indeed miss Iron Man, I saw a portion of their loving tribute to Steve Miller though. That only made my night worse.

  2. kayatosh Says:

    jtran: roll w/ the DDavis auds. for all 4 nights; no codes necessary. They sound great.

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    hah. me trying to be more positive this year is already not workin.

    the run was perfect from my perspective. not bad enough for me to fear summer or kill my Dick’s high but not good enough to be pissed I missed it (just you Carini)

    anyway back to work
    hopefully that’s all my phish thoughts till summer

  4. Guyute711 Says:

    the run was perfect from my perspective. not bad enough for me to fear summer or kill my Dick’s high but not good enough to be pissed I missed it (just you Carini)

    Nailed it

  5. Dorn76 Says:

    Can we still have fun?

    Choosing CDT for the segue into 2013 says alot.

    The band we’ve loved for a long time is still here.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    “from the couch that whole first set just gave me the vibe from Trey
    this is where I am. it’s clean rootsier song based music. I’m having a blast it’s my band.”

    this was loud and clear from where I sat too .. throwing out garden party and then jumping into the much maligned possum was a clear sign .. then the roses with the Forceful ending chords; mikes -> Walk Away even had the same sort of feeling.

    Seems the band wants to be a rock band. Since they are a rock band, works for me. The fun thing for us is each night they kind of decide differently how that rock band manifests. It is easy to forget how rare that is in live music, but it is indeed not common.

  7. ghostofsoam Says:

    13-30 set 2 “blew up the garden”…..I can’t think of a better “new” phish song than 20 years later….love it love it love it…


    They stretched out a bit during GBOTT and I knew that Sunday night, the night for the heads, was on!

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    and hey – where’s the jaded fluffer at? 1/2 and still no review? What do we pay this guy for? #thissitesgonetoshit2013 8)

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    also honorable mention to the character 0 – go back to the video and watch the Bliss on Trey’s face as they come to the final baaah baaah baaah chorus. Dude just loves to rock. Fishman also flashes a great look as they wind down the tune.

  10. xpun Says:

    Finally a night in my own bed, my body is racked. What a run so glad to have caught it all. Had the best time raging on the 31st. Still too tired and so many things to process but just wanted to throw out a few thank yous for this weekend Oscar style.

    @spasm and @bob Dylan. For ticket hook ups. We were able to get everyone in our crew in every night

    @palmer and @willowed. Great to see you and take in that dwd/20tr/carini together

    @willys friends nick and heather for the awesome hotel room and putting up w me and my va friends.

    @bncb and stash and latice. Had the best day hitting the city w you on the 31st. The most friendly fun and laid back people you could meet.

    @mia who obviously wasn’t there but some well timed texts and phone calls. You’re a great guy and thank you for introducing me to the BB through our time in TT

    @soulshaking. Welcome buddy. Glad you got a taste of what a great community we have here. Good to see some shows with you again.

    @willy. I can’t tell you how much fun had this weekend. Having someone on the exact same wavelength as me as I was aglow on New Years was what I needed. From the floor night 1, early morning beer run, the pig n whistle, the tic toc diner and every second of New Year’s Eve I had the best time getting to know you. Have a great 2013

    Happy and healthy New Years to the BB. I met so many of you this weekend and enjoyed it all. Still haven’t met an ass on here. See you all in 13!

  11. ren Says:

    YES!….still here and probably capable of more than we can imagine. Tray (love that Gordo called that out as his stage sign LOL!) has a lot going on in that head of his…..we sometimes scoff at his meanderings into Broadway and other new territory….but I think we finally have confirmation that there is underlying Phish purposes to all of those moves.

    PHISH gas always blown minds….they will always blow minds as they have in the past….but there is some future mind blowing in store that we cannot even begin to understand right now…..at least thats how I’m choosing to look at all this. Individually the boys are all fine and good….but they have come to realize they will never be better apart than they are together.

  12. bob dylan Says:

    I love how refreshed a PHiSH run leaves me. Honestly makes me happier in life. Able to take the harshness of the city in stride. Even helped a bitter blind man into the apple store today “you going in to complain about battery life too?” “Nope, going into work to fix your stuff” “oops said that to the wrong guy huh” “no matter, we got you”

  13. BNCB Says:

    2013 is my 20 years later with Phish

  14. Jtran Says:


    ddavis etree link?

  15. BNCB Says:

    Garden Party > Possum > Roses made a perfect start as I was stuck at the WW booth.

    No mention of Phish in the New York Times. “Coldplay delivers in the usual way” made for a two page article.

    Couple I sat next to on plane completely blown away that Phish or any band can play 4 different shows in 4 nights.

  16. bob dylan Says:

    I read on twitter that Umphreys played 4 shows without all in time, bridgeless and another one of their classics I can’t remember. Getting quite a catalog

  17. marcoesq Says:

    Ray Lewis retiring after this playoff run. No surprise there

  18. kayatosh Says:

    jtran: for 12.31 and 12.30



  19. kayatosh Says:

    for 12.29 and 12.28



    dam this bowie is raw!

  20. TheSloth Says:

    @BNCB +1

  21. ren Says:

    Yeah @Kaya! Finally my Bowie didn’t get Mazed and my Maze didn’t get Bowied!!!


  22. ren Says:

    Really dug the intermission bit that Mike did during the webcast….had no idea all that was going on.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Trey saying himself on this rig video that he’s played the rockstar single coil, rather than the humbucker, more on these last 2 tours than ever before.


  24. marcoesq Says:

    Starts toying with Izabella on thsi video. I love this shit.

  25. marcoesq Says:

    Love the Diji/Crap

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