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. c0wfunk Says:

    last year post show I stumbled upon the 11/27/98 weekapaug. Mostly lost in the shuffle because of the Wipeout madness preceding, this was one insane paug journey complete with a breakbeat whilst trey goes arabian mad section. Check it out if you’re looking for 15 minutes of inspired upbeat energetic madness today.

    Cheers to all, be safe out there today and have a great new years eve.

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    but they clicked in a pretty big way set II last night

    confidence, swagger, crisp of Trey’s tone in his type I runs.

    just all around the band seemed to find the pocket finally.

    little bit of rust since summer. but I heard most of it start to fall apart last night.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    ‘last year’ .. aka last night. Not quite true, just yet.

  4. kayatosh Says:

    Thanks, guys.

    I have a feeling things get real nice tonight.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers.

    @miner – thanks for the right up. The 29th and last night were really good shows. To me, the 29th was more powerful overall. Two different contrasting shows, but tonight will be a great time!

    Happy New Year BBers!!!

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Charles Bradley sounds perfect.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    I’ll have to revisit the dw/d .. for some reason through most of it, it felt kind of forced as though the determination to jam was stronger than the inspiration of the moment. A few times I felt Trey start to stray towards a song but each time reel himself in and go with another idea. But none of them, to me, felt conspicuous – more casting about until he just started that vamp and purge then segued on to the dark 20 years later. Carini then felt like it started in a similar manner, but the release finally came with that eerie marching feel. Still a heavy feeling in the whole thing in my memory. The lightness of the second half was an interesting contrast, then Slave and Hood really provided a cathartic release. As a composition, the whole set really works together, though in the moment I wasn’t quite sure the space was working for me, from the couch.

    All notes from the couch and therefore secondary to first person accounts. I’m thrilled with those firsthand accounts reporting true cosmic breakthrough.

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I thought I was transported back to 12/28/98 last night. That Carini>Wolfs and the same dark, evil feel as last night’s set II opening trifecta.

    Glad to see the darkness return.

    Really hope they play Scents tonight. Such a great song that gets no love from the band anymore.

  9. ren Says:

    Got some codes for ya’ll. Come git ’em!!!

    28th: 127010279081
    29th: 856949067689
    30th: 481097841562

    Happy spinning! Keep a large bludgeon close at hand for the Carini

  10. [Not Tom] Says:

    Thanks very much Ren. And Phish benefited as well since I upgraded two the 28th and 30th to ALAC for an extra $5 each.

    Much appreciated bro!!!

  11. roberto luongo Says:

    DWD was good 3.0 Phish that had tastes of some of the better recent summer jams but def had a feeling it out and moving around vibe. I encourage this though. take some chances. seek some shit.

    Carini was full on new Phish. why I see this band these days.

    used to be to be blown away but Fish and Trey’s insane technical chops and insane useful psychedelic energy

    but now full band tonal improv space rock is Phish at it’s finest.

    Carini hit that space quite well.

    I hate Slave and the # line > Julius I would have been at the waterwheel

    but damn that DWD > 20 yr > Carini didn’t earn the price of admission

  12. BNCB Says:

    Fantastic piece of improv in Disease.

    R u kidding?

    Cow, it can’t all be high energy rockers.

    Mkdevo FTW

  13. roberto luongo Says:

    I have worthless thoughts though. unfortunately not in the building.

    that’s how I know Carini was epic. sounded sick even on TV.

    phish usually bores me on TV.

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    another spin on this Carini, and its so perfectly evil. new waters for Phish last night in this. legendary jam.

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    Crossroads tease at end of Carini?

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    New waters.

    2013 resolutions:
    Catch festi Phish

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Numberline> Julius made for a great opportunity to collect the shards of my face that were on the floor.

    Set flowed great IMO. Crazy dark-themed 40 minutes, some airy , happy guitar rock, and the cathartic Slave, Hood to send everyone home blissed.

    I even stayed for Show Of Life…

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Tela’s- Nice! I mentioned that to Willowed and Silly during the show. I thought it was coming. Nice catch. I forgot all about it.

  19. gavinsdad Says:

    eat more shards
    Wake up half hr earlier
    More tai chi
    More time w my kids
    More time w u kids

  20. [Not Tom] Says:

    I will say that last night watching the live stream definitely added to my enjoyment of Carini. Its a jam that will be an can be enjoyed by any phan even just listening to the playback, but hearing it live at the time is was thrown down is priceless. Getting to see the visuals along with it only adds to one’s enjoyment of it. Thanks Phish for broadcasting.

  21. roberto luongo Says:

    agreed Palmer. like I said subjectively I’m not a big Slave guy and my jade-o-meter is through the roof unfortunately currently so I only dug the DWD and Carini on TV (not a huge 20 yr later fan although nice fit in the darkness)

    but everything was played a lot more strongly and tighter with more swagger than the first 2 nights from a flow perspective.

    damn Slave lames me out for some resaon AGDE

    I could teach that shit to BNCB over morning OG tubes. does work though in the right set I have to admit as much as the song itself bothers me.

    def one of the hotter complete 3.0 sets no doubt.

  22. voopa Says:

    I heard that last night Tela’s.

  23. kayatosh Says:

    re. cow’s point

    early in the DWD jam it seemed trey was employing a faster tempo/less laid back style than the rest of his mates (I thought at the time: someone give red some chronic). Page was ready to go deep from the jump and his persistence saved that jam from being horsed.

    But that’s what made the jam incredible. it felt edgy, slightly forced early on and then there’s a discernible point in the jam where trey surrenders to the flow and it becomes a long form jam for the ages. need to relisten.

    and fishman is the man

  24. Willowed Says:

    Was there Steam licks flying around in one of the jams last night?

  25. kayatosh Says:

    not a huge slave fan, but last night’s was well-played and felt right in the context of the set. HH was also an ace version.

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