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. snow Says:

    Phish in Vancouver would be awesome. I could be a decent host in Vancouver. I wanted to be a host for the Gorge but it’s not really a home show for me.

  2. joe Says:

    “The rest were just space assholes for being drunk and unaware of their fat bodies they were throwing around.”

    I wasn’t there on nye, but this probably describes me. Fuck it though, I came to dance. nobody bumped into me cuz I bumped them first I guess. sorry.

  3. ren Says:

    The diversity at shows has at times puzzled me…..white hat jocks that don’t even know how to pronounce introspection, high-fiving right next to “Hope” whose parents were legit 60’s/70’s hippies, who has a head full of L twirling away with little more than a handkerchief on.

    There in lies just one of the many mysteries of the Phish

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Fat couples at phish = annoying as fuck

  5. ren Says:

    Not a fan of flat brimmed chicks with sunglasses on trying to use my head as a tripod to take video on their phone…then stealing a sip of my beer from my chair cup holder just in time to get caught. True, she was cute….but needed to be set straight. A brief reprimand/explanation did the trick…was fine after that.

    Kids in general just different these days

  6. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Speaking of Canadians, I wonder how that mother/daughter pair from Ottawa are doing that I converted on 12/29

    I picture them telling all their Canadian friends about what craziness they experienced at the garden

    Btw – 12/30……still reeling

  7. sumodie Says:

    BobbyD was almost unrecognizable in his slick black jacket and respectable haircut. His gal must be quite the catch!

    Yeah, the band keeps saying theyre hitting the studio, cant believe theyd let their 30th anny go by without some new tunes to celebrate with

  8. sumodie Says:

    All the webcast videos of the band members explaining their rigs:


  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    where are the official photo albums from the 29th and 30th? i want a pic of me up front dammit

  10. sumodie Says:

    Scroll down for a numeric look at nye (setlist length, # songs played, wtc), plus a pic of the nye run posters assembled together:


  11. bob dylan Says:

    Oh shit that was awesome. Work meeting and my coworker was talking about the recent PHiSH shows and the old man in the room says “what did you do sit around with a big bowl?” The whole room erupted. I was like easy guy… He said a fish bowl??

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Only caught 28 and 30, but the Wolfmans , Tweezer, Bowie, disease ->Carini, Slave, And Hood is plenty to keep me satiated for a bit.

  13. bob dylan Says:

    Just read your comment sumo. I got lots of compliments. People were like “no hat?” First show in 3.0 without a hat. People were shocked. My girl wore her moms jumper from the 60s or 70s. Looked great on her.

  14. bob dylan Says:

    Damn Palmer, way to pick em.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Finally picked them right.

  16. joe Says:

    trey explaining his rig is a great video.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    sand>wedge, FLanE — $$$ segment

  18. butter Says:

    For sure: Festi 10, Dicks or other CO, CA, Gorge.

    Probably: NYE run

    Maybe: Midwest weekend

    Miner – what a run you’ve been on indeed!! We’ve def benefitted huge from all your dedication, so i Thank You for that.

    I’m sure you’ll be stoked about the balance you’ll invite into your life from not doin them all. I’m workin on getting faster Internet, in which case your always invited to my man cave for streaming… But something tells me we’ll still share the lights dropping plenty more times…

    Stoked to read your take on NYE

    hope everyone slays 2013

  19. butter Says:

    Way to pickem Palms

  20. snow Says:

    Well done Mr P. That’s some serious cherry picking there.

    :golf clap:

  21. snow Says:

    Well done Mr P. That’s some serious cherry picking there.

    :golf clap:

  22. BNCB Says:

    Miner and MiA, did u catch my ‘Jaded Noob’ photo on Instagram?

  23. MiA Says:

    Of course BNCB. Hilarious.

  24. halcyon Says:

    Happy New Year.

    Many thanks to all the BB’ers who helped make my only night and show of the year (12/30) in attendance so great. Great to see old faces and new ones from the board. Wish we could have gone to waterwheel to say hey to BNCB and Mitch, but with floor seats we were limited where we could go.

    12/30 was a great show. In my opinion the band locked in during Ocelot. Patience enveloped them allowing songs to open up. They found their muse, especially Trey. Definitely had to insert my brain back into my head after that DWD-> 20 Years -> Carini segment. Love that pulsing beat the band found during disease.

    Webcast was great. Kids slept, parents played. Friends, family, phish. Awesome.

    May 2013 be a great year for everyone. Thanks to all.

  25. MiA Says:

    DF’s shirt is awesome.

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