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. marcoesq Says:

    The explanation of why no more Ghost loop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsVZzgdklpM&feature=player_embedded#t=781s

    Don’t love how Jiboo got to keep it, though

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    So I had to call in sick this morning. Fighting off the wook flu.

    Sitting down to the board and reading Xpun’s post. It just hit me.

    just started crying.

    If everyone could have seen Xpun after that NYE show…He was surrounded in an aura of joy and no one – not even the bouncer at Pig N Whistle – could stop from smiling around him.

    I’ll take away our favorite saying from that night, Matt: “We got the fuck down.”

  3. ghostofsoam Says:


  4. marcoesq Says:

    Good explanation of the Storage jam and it openeing their minds again

  5. marcoesq Says:

    Explains why it sounded like the theramin during that SPAC Light>Twist. It’s that TC Echo that he just started recently using

  6. xpun Says:

    Willy. That bouncer was HUGE no way I wasn’t staying on his good side;)

    So much fun after the show. Remember that crazy Australian kid? What the fuck did he even say? He was feeling it though just had a few too many. Girl w tits out at diner. Crazy guy next to us talking about doing coke and karate chopping midgets. The world was alive around us. Great to soak it in with you. And that pimp ass fur coat that everyone was excited about. Hahaha. Great memories glad to share them w you.

  7. xpun Says:

    Obviously have a lot of video to catch up on soon. Far back and gone at New Years so need to see prank as well. Didn’t even get the golf theme to the songs until reading here yesterday.

  8. SillyWilly Says:


    running into gdad’s boys, Chris and Tommy, in front of the hotel at 3 AM. Nothing to say except for “Us, too.”

    New York City: The City of Get-Down.

    The shiny shoes. And then the guy without the shiny shoes stopping. Us wondering if he was going to trade for the shoes then and there. Deal falls through. Guy says: I tried to buy them with straight cash. Goddamn right I need those shoes.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    anyone buy any fly socks during the run?

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    Stash’s girl, Latisse, did you proud, Kaya.

    rocked a skirt with an orange sock and a blue sock.

    older phish dudes were hitting on her left and right.

    this one dude just drops: “You have a great ass.”

    Latisse without blinking: “It’s the socks, bro.”

    cracked me up.

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Page nails a dude with a golf ball: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOGsim7nEzc&feature=player_detailpage#t=106s

  12. kayatosh Says:

    thanks for posting that trey rig video. very interesting.

  13. kayatosh Says:

    will: nice.

  14. xpun Says:

    Damn board ate my post. There goes my perfect year

    But loved the shoes. The horn lady and every other character we met that night

    Latisse was that old friend you just hadn’t met yet. Great girl. Tons of fun. Always smiling.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    xpun: you do all 4 nights? in any event, sounds like you rocked it right.

    LxL from night two contains a brief blast of inspiration.

  16. Dorn76 Says:

    Gonna be fun around here when our host checks in…Reading back on his Twitter he’s pumped up. Saying this run held 2-3 of the top 5 best jams of the year.

    Phish Bikini Gals grace the “lawn” pre-show 12/31 MSG:


  17. btb Says:

    that LxL is underrated. Treyzor peaking on his descending runs was amazing in person. Shit spun me.

  18. MiA Says:

    Sounds like such a good time.

    They could come out and play Saturday Night Specials and I’d still go just to hang with all you kids.

    NYC is the perfect environment for shenanigans.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    12.29 Gin is not to be tossed. inspired rock jam — $$.

  20. roberto luongo Says:

    we have short memories

    Cinci Twist
    Dick’s Light
    Dick’s Undermind
    Dick’s Chalkdust
    Dick’s Sand
    Spac Piper
    Alpine Valley Light > Ghost
    BGCA Xeyed
    BBCA Light
    DCU Carini
    DCU Boogie
    DCU Sand > Kane
    St. Louis LxL

    I’m all down with lists but top 10 of 2012 will be tough!!

    Carini, tweezer, and dwd will def be in the disucssion no doubt though.

    but this year had some heat!!

  21. ren Says:

    @Kaya- I was feelin that Gin….can’t recall anything as stand-out except the last peak……when that energy hit it literally threw me into my seat….had to pull the reigns on my neurons/synapses a bit there. Not the most inspired…but powerful

  22. roberto luongo Says:

    Alpine Fee

  23. xpun Says:

    Trey rig vid is awesome. Loved the end when talking about monitors and positioning himself on stage to better hook up.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    spac Sally

  25. kayatosh Says:

    it’s all about listening.

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