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. roberto luongo Says:

    Divided was a total mess last night. could tell Tory was done. barely took a solo.

    that was the biggest botch of the run IMO. but fuck divided anyway.

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    and will post again

    play a Ya Mar solo Troy!! used to be some of my favorite tasty melodic jazz work you’d ever toss at us.

  3. MiA Says:

    drinking, etc. Me too.

    Yeah, I enjoyed the first set Tela’s. MFMF is always welcome to me.

    I saw a mess of ’99 shows. Same thing.

    Seems people (esp Phans) don’t really remember the shows they actually attended (and how boring most first sets are) but they want to romanticize the past. OPT I’m looking at you.

  4. roberto luongo Says:

    interesting song selection and a rippin closer is all 1st sets every were

    the massive one’s you’d get maybe a surprise big jam or that rippin opener

    Reba, Gin, and Stash the mid set treats

    never much action in any of this.


    was a pretty killer set I though

  5. roberto luongo Says:

    but for me last night Cities and Mar are two potential
    will they? style songs that both got clipped

    BOTT got a bit funky. and Trey did run through a pretty fiery template old school style jazz rock Antelope.

    not terrible. probably not much respin value either though.

  6. roberto luongo Says:

    Page lookin up from his keyboard to see what all the screaming was about during Reba bliss jam silence really does say it all

    few asshats throw up some glowsticks and the crowd goes nuts

    why weren’t they focusing on Tory and Fish like you’re supposed too?

    ADHD band for a ADHD crowd. 3.0’d.

  7. gavinsdad Says:

    I should do one of those listen to every show I went to in order type of projects. I’m sure it’d be eye opening but I also think my highlights would be the same ones I can think about off the top of my head.

    New haven 93 nye run
    12/29 and 12/30 97
    Ball and went and Oswego
    Pnc 99 and 00
    Brooklyn 04

  8. tela's_muff Says:

    I think my headspace was properly festive so I just wobbled around and missed any technical slips.

    Disease>20yl>Carini. I think Miner pretty much nails the epicness of this trio. Alongside other trios like C&P>Light>Sally, GA>Caspian>Light, Sand>Ghost>Piper, absolute greatness.

  9. xpun Says:

    OSO 1 for tonight. 54oh- 81oh-oh762

  10. MiA Says:

    Hook xpun up. Good guy.

    I have listened to all the shows I attended. I loved the “theatre” stuff the most, probably because I remember the venues so well. So unique.

  11. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ Tela’s – if you were surrounded by a good crowd and had good brews, then your headspace would have been in perfect condition to glaze right over what was the throwaway set of the run. I wish I’d been at your place instead of mine so I could have enjoyed it the way you did.

    happy new year to you and B.

  12. roberto luongo Says:

    my tube and bubbler got a serious cleaning during set I

    vacuumed a bit also

    perfect set up for the dabbing and clouds two start set II

  13. [Not Tom] Says:

    to this day I still have not listed to one show I attended, Walnut Creek ’98 (the year after the rain storm show). Don’t think I even have a copy of it.

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    I liked set 1 too, was fun and Ocelot and Antelope were hot… also a Ride Captain Ride fan. It was the first set, they are always sort of like that imo. I mean, not at Dicks, but usually.

  15. roberto luongo Says:

    I’ve spun every 3.0 show I’ve attended but only a couple prior. most have been the released SBD’s.

    not a big AUD guy. too much work. so much of the 94-96 shit sounds shitty anyway.

    thinkin bout spinnin the 97 west coast run this week up from PHX to the Gorge. only one I’ve ever heard on tape is the PHX show.

    would be fun to start spinnin some of the earlier stuff I caught.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    just spun yamar. nothing ground breaking, but a keepable version.

    also spun the LxL. same as above.

    happy new year, everyone.

  17. henry Says:

    Wonder if we haven’t seen light yet because they’re intentionally saving it for tonight or if they are anxious to play it after the song-defining version from Dick’s

  18. Dr Pronoia Says:

    What a show to be so close for

    May not be able to relisten for a while

    Happy new years to those going, and see the rest on the couch

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    light is tonight. love that disease is off the table. maybe a DWD reprise tonight.

  20. voopa Says:

    RL- Listen back to Ventura for sure if you never have. Other highlights on that run are the first Shoreline Limb, that huge YEM, Gorge Melt, DWD->Tweezer, and from Gorge night 2 Twist->JJLC, Simple, Taste.

  21. angryjoggerz Says:

    I think it would be sort of refreshing if they just didnt play Light. I love the tune, but it has gotten plenty of treatment, why not take something else out for a swim with the space whale?

    Hey, why not just have a Ghost>Makisupa>Have Mercy>2001 set?

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    have not heard or seen a note outside of my sat nite show. movies w wife tonite then home by 11 for kids and ball drop. never saw a single phish NYE show but been to many NYE runs. glad i got a taste on sat. still SUPER curious about how tonites show will play out.

    hope everyone gets what they need.

    (fb account permanently deleted…will stifle all withdrawl with bubba and deathstar)

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Interesting stage set up for tonight.


  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    aj how about another attempt at waves

  25. GhostPhunk Says:

    happy new year everyone. see you next summer.

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