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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Leave it to OPT. 12/30 was a bad show


  2. kayatosh Says:

    spinning a $$$ Simple right now — 10.26.96. page-a-thon. the chairman goes off and out.


  3. Dorn76 Says:


    Love this mkdevo kid

    Tweezer>Maze for the ages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O10G8UtmrO0

    Fri code: 240575711880

    Sat code: 153192462605

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    that Carini was Gorge RnR level. the Disease not to far behind. loved that set, and very nice version of Slave, and I liked that Hood. had a blast over here with the webcast.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Fun Fact: I was dancing next to Xpun.

  6. jdub Says:

    It’s like night and day up in here.

    We’ve been waiting for the darkness for a good while now and boy did they deliver. Carini was utterly haunting at its’ darkest. Had me in tears.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thanks Dorn, grabbed Saturday.

  8. SillyWilly Says:


    Figured the best way to start the day was with a G’Knight

    Upside down.

  9. Willowed Says:

    After raging the city for 2 nights I am calling today; National Lie on the Couch Day.

    I am tired.

    We raged hard. Great seeing so many BBrs.

    Lived the Gordo work at the beginning of the Slave jam.

    So bliss end out right now.

    See you boys on vouch tour tonight.

  10. sumodie Says:

    Yeah, the gorge rnroll has a worthy successor! Got my 20yl and that slave really grabbed me which doesnt always happen

  11. Willowed Says:

    Loved not lived.

  12. dusty Says:

    Glad everyone is getting the goods! Might be a ’95 type setup where NYE overshadows a great 30th nit. Either way I’m glad they are serving the meat on the bone. Get your smiles, fill your cups!

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    Put me in the Willowed school that teaches us that New York City needed that Slave to keep the gargoyles from staging an overthrow of human reality.

  14. BNCB Says:

    Some Dicks light swank section I’m either Disease or Carini last night. The part that pig song made into a ringtone for us.

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    nice Silly! Oskar’s represent!

    i can’t even begin to understand where OPT is coming from with that review. if you can’t get behind that Carini, at a minimum, there’s something wrong.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    so, i don’t need to grab anything from night 2? nada? really?

  17. jtran Says:

    glad you all got yours last night

    crunchygroove set 2 finally up for me. spinning the highlights before heading to explore some beaches here. last day on the baja.

  18. BNCB Says:

    We puft last night.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    i heard a shakedown st. quote in dwd last night.

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    kaya- Reba, Golden Waves is worth a listen IMO. Maybe Gin also.

  21. voopa Says:

    Kaya – Check RNR, Reba, Limb, Gin, GA>(Waves)>Caspian, 46.

  22. dusty Says:

    BG3 I heard troy bring back the die die in the darkness. Anything like that last nit? I might actually watch the webcast tonight which is saying a lot for jaded me.

  23. roberto luongo Says:

    dusty so far last night’s set II was the first to really click other than a sick tweezer and some nice moments in Wolfman’s.

    set I’s have all kinda been sloppy for me.

    but hey maybe shit clicked in set II and like others say we will get a rippin NYE show.

    12/31/2010 II was kinda hot. and we know about 12/31/95.

    we’re on the fence for tonight. go out and get hammered to some killer live Soul at Charles Bradley or get spun as shit in the crib and try to lose our shit watchin the webcast.

    tough decision.

  24. jdub Says:

    My women from Tokyo in that DWD as well. My dream sequence right there

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    Kaya – what voopa said re nite 2 and listen loud. They were definitely locked just not loaded.

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