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. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    dick’s will have HUGE expectations to live up to for sure

  2. marcoesq Says:

    Disease has those quasi-Moby Dick, quasi-Woman from Tokyo jams until Trey goes fuckin rockstar and crushes the room

  3. RoosterPizza Says:

    The last 5 minutes of DWD are gold.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    18min mark of the DIsease kinda has that Gorge RnR heavy metal reprise that just goes nuts

  5. snow Says:

    Mike’s through Piper on 12/31 was great from the couch.
    But the golf theme didn’t work that well cause they didn’t play the songs with special sauce. Lot of filler.
    That’s why NYE seems like a bad music value. The band seems to get consumed by the NYE stunt. You get lots of phishiness but it’s a lot for them to pull off a stunt and explore.
    I’ve heard multiple reports that the Gorge is a lock for Aug 3rdish, so you should be safe gdad.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    7 Below would have worked also in the golf themed set. Just sayin.

  7. MiA Says:

    I thought that too Palmer.

  8. ren Says:

    What up @Palms!….a little surprised at no 7 below or It’s Ice….too obvious I guess

  9. voopa Says:

    Heard that during the webcast marco…half expected Meatstick next.

  10. MiA Says:

    “all jokes aside though Fish and Trey locked in for some old school drummer and guitarist chop chasing in that Piper”

    Yep. The most hooked up of the night IMO.

  11. Dorn76 Says:

    The Wedge had some Sriracha

  12. ren Says:

    When do peeps start booking flights to Denver? 😉

    Seriously though

  13. BNCB Says:

    Thx for reminder Ren. I need to reserve a room.

  14. ren Says:

    Already had the talk with the wife….and she likes Dicks…just the thought of Dicks gets her excited.

    Would appreciate any help/advice the more experienced Dickers have on making it a successful trip. Sounds like most people had rooms….no camping? Don’t have a problem booking flights now either….even with cancellation insurance (just in case) still cheaper than waiting….right?

  15. BNCB Says:

    My favorite was bitching all set 1 on the 30th. Then getting face melted set 2.

  16. IrieWalton Says:

    Talkin’ about reservations, if anyone gets any inside info on the hopeful Gorge dates, please let me know as I wanna lock down a yurt.

    In terms of Dicks, I can’t recommend that Embassy Suites in Aurora enough. Free shuttle to/from venue (5 minutes away); free happy hours each night; free huge made-to-order breakfasts; chill staff. All for $100 a night for a large 2 bedroom suite (king, pull-out couch, kitchen, etc).

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    i love this 12/28 Bowie. as far as 3.0 goes not sure you’ll find a better version that touches on that manic energy Bowie can deliver. nice to see them nail/tweak the ending as well. idk, i really like it.

  18. ren Says:

    Sounds pretty good to me @Irie…..you have resies made yet?

  19. marcoesq Says:

    First respin of Reba, wonder if it sounds any better on tape. I was just very excited to see it. only my 3rd in this era

  20. MiA Says:

    Tzara’s had a nice place he got through AirBnb/Homeaway sort of place.

    Think I’ll do that this year over the Westin. Although had a great deal, and lots of great dining/food from where we were. So there is that too.

    Can’t believe you can’t bring in your own bottle of wine into a restaurant in Colorado. Boo.

    But you can bring something else now.

  21. roberto luongo Says:

    that day we all were running through 94 Bowies has scarred me against the song. it’s in the penalty box with Mike’s until it gets the real treatment

    I’m a big fan of The Warwick in Denver

    pretty cheap. 4 different sized and priced rooms. balconies on every room. roof top pool. kinda old so not too pricey but still nice.

    my Denver spot.

  22. roberto luongo Says:

    Denver is CHEAP!!!!!

    one of it’s best selling points. can do an entire 3 night run for the price of lunch in NYC of SF

  23. IrieWalton Says:

    Not yet, Ren.

    Holding out hope for a large Cascadia Nation Run (PDX>Gorge>SEA). If that doesn’t pan out, I’ll see you fools at Dick’s.

    I really hope that Red Light gets their act together this year being the 30th Anny and all and releases those dates well in advance. A majority of the fanbase isn’t in their teens/twenties anymore and can’t just drop everything with only a month’s notice.

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Yeah, flying to Miami would still be a cheaper NYE run for me than driving NYC. Shit gets pricey. Used up 150,000 Hilton points to stay nearby MSG for 3 nights.

  25. IrieWalton Says:

    Time to see what all the hype is about this 12/30 Set II.

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