The Return of the 29th

12.29.13 (Jake Silco)

12.29.13 (Jake Silco)

The 29th of December holds a special place in Phish lore. For several years in the mid to late ‘90s, this date yielded many of the band’s most prolific exploits and most outlandish shows of their respective New Year’s Runs. After a standout showing on December 29th of their comeback year in Miami, Phish had played a couple of genuine stinkers on this date in 2011 and 2012, after skipping it all together in 2010. Needless to say, the hallowed date of the 29th had taken a hit in pantheon of Phish dates. Within these more recent years, the guys had made a practice of knocking the first show of any given tour or run out of the ballpark. On 12.28 of both 2011 and 2012, Phish kicked off their MSG run with high quality performances that were, arguably, the best two-setters of their respective runs. But when the band came out on the 28th of this year with a fairly straightforward show, the entire run picked up a different trajectory. And so did the potential of the 29th.

12.29.13 (J.Silco)

12.29.13 (J.Silco)

The opening set possessed a palpable energy right from the start, as “Moma Dance” and “Rift” persuaded our souls to ignite. “Roggae” and “Sparkle” provided two quasi-rarities early in the game, and two of Wingsuit’s well-loved songs “The Line” and “555” gave a fresh feel to the set as a whole.  Between the two songs, “Stash” led the band into their first jam of the night, one who’s ominous vibe provided a foreshadowing of what was to come. “It’s Ice” and “Gumbo” both featured enhanced improv—mostly between Page and Trey—and continued to raise the creative bar of the show. A searing rendition of “Walls of the Cave” punctuated the most complete first set of the run, while setting the table for the band’s most impressive playing of the year.

The opening 35 minutes of the second set, simply put, was a Phish fantasy; a deranged, indoor Eden, the likes of which we haven’t visited in quite some time. Straight up, “Down with Disease > Carini” was the stuff of legend. Not only were both jams developed and completely realized in concept, they contained lock step jamming and mind-bending creativity that covered a massive amount of the Phish spectrum. “Disease” traveled with criminal smoothness from its rock platform into a consciousness-altering ambient journey that was drenched in majesty. Melting into a dark, drone soundscape, the band showcased utter patience in allowing this excursion to unfold one note at a time. In the depths of the void, Trey unleashed mystical leads that cut through the darkness and formed a soulful peak. And then, in a genius maneuver, Fishman changed the shape of jam as he kicked into an upbeat rhythm, an idea that Trey jumped onto instantly. From this point, the band, collectively, worked their way back into an uptempo groove and seamlessly merged back into “Disease,” bringing the house down with their artistic triumph. But instead of basking in the glory, Trey wasted no time at all, morphing the final note of “Disease” into the first note of “Carini!” Ummm, yeah. The 29th was back.

12.29.13 (J.Silco)

12.29.13 (J.Silco)

Following the most prolific year of its career, with standout versions popping up almost every time played, “Carini” was the jam everyone was waiting for at MSG. Having gone in so many different directions in 2013, “Carini” had become the newest open-ended adventure, and its last three versions of fall were all highlights of the year. After scripting one all-time jam in “Down with Disease,” Trey was feeling IT, picked his moment, and went for another in “Carini.” And boy did he succeed.

When Phish are improvising at their highest level, their jams can reach a staggering fluidity in which every note is in the perfect place with a purpose—almost as if rehearsed. In their peak moments and passages, the band is able to compliment each other with such an airtight proficiency, it is as if they are controlled by a single mind. MSG’s “Carini” is one of these jams. Stylistically divergent from “Disease’s” multi-tiered jaunt into ambient space and beyond, this “Carini” was a clinic in evil, larger-than-life dance groove. Gritty, spacious and demonic, this jam evoked both the sound and feeling of vintage late-‘90s MSG Phish. The Garden—literally—shook with the intensity of sound and energy during “Carini,” a jam that united the band and audience like none other of the run. This was the filth, the gnar, the straight dope, the business, the bees knees—pick your colloquialism, because they are all true. Phish was locked and loaded with a comic book level of superhuman power, and they demolished this jam like the mechanical monster of lore. In the jam’s final sequence, used his Echoplex to create a dramatic and distorted delay pattern with which he nearly crumbled the foundation of New York’s legendary round room. This “Carini was one of those experiences in which time froze; one where you’ll always remember where you were and who you were with when it went down. This was a memory of a lifetime.

MSG 2013 (A.Nusinov)

MSG 2013 (A.Nusinov)

At this point in the show, Phish had dropped two consecutive first-ballot, Hall of Fame jams in a row, and upon the ending of  “Carini,” Trey began “Waves!” Had we all died and gone to heaven? One couldn’t have predicted such a move, when a ballad or rocker seemed like the more probable call. But this was the 29th at MSG and the band was neck deep in an all-time performance—Trey wasn’t gonna’ let song calls throw off the night. A gorgeous, jamless version of “Waves” provided the ideal cool down from the set’s opening fireworks, and the end of the song melted into the beginning of “Twist.” It was clear that the guys were going to see this set through.

Instead of their usual late-set ballad, Phish popped into “Golgi” to bridge the main event to its closer, “David Bowie.” A focused and intricate version took several twists and turns before arriving at the song’s final peak, and when the guys, collectively, nailed the last note of the song—and of the six-song set—they put down their instruments, stood before us and bowed. But in all reality, we should have been bowing to them.

The 29th was a real deal, two-set Phish show that will stand among the best ever played at Madison Square Garden. Finally, the band dropped a modern-era MSG show that can hold up to those cassette and DAT tapes we wore to death back in the day! With world-class improvisation, an awesome setlist, creativity throughout and nary a lull, this show stood out not only witihin the run and the year, but within their 30-year career. Going into this MSG run, a distinct energy coursed through the community following an incredible Fall Tour. With so much momentum and with four nights to play, something monumental was bound to happen. And on the second night of the run—on a date that is now restored in the Phish universe—that something happened.

12.29.13 (Jake Silco)

12.29.13 (Jake Silco)

I: The Moma Dance, Rift, Roggae, Sparkle, The Line, Stash, 555, It’s Ice, Gumbo, Walls of the Cave

II: Down with Disease > Carini, Waves > Twist, Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie

E: Possum

746 Responses to “The Return of the 29th”

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  1. dorn76 Says:

    Oh, really?

  2. dorn76 Says:

    My first first. Mom’s basement in full effect tonight. Shame I missed the 29th this year. Cup was o’erflowing from the 28th and 30th.

    Chewing my nails already over Spring.

    Same as it ever was.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Moma opener kinda let’s you know it’s gonna be a throwdown.

    Nice write up Miner.

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    Moma opener kinda let’s you know it’s gonna be a throwdown.

    Nice write up Miner.

  5. jtran Says:

    Add mtv India to the list of things I pamp!

  6. jtran Says:

    Love this article too. And the 29th

  7. Stoney Case Says:


  8. Al Says:

    29th really strong Show. But I still believe the 12/31 was the strongest overall show of the run. I love the Carini but I think there are at least 2-3 better Deseases from this year. AC Carini still the 2013 winner imo.

  9. willowed Says:

    Bees Knees

  10. buddysmyles Says:

    I still havnt heard this show completely! I spun DWD>Carini on the app… Anyone have a code & need a NYE code? buddysmyles at da yahoooo

  11. Kevin Says:

    hilarious video wiyhe the line played over it

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    The cats ass

  13. chris Says:

    Al no way is the 31rst better. Take out set two of new years and youre left with fuego> light and yem. Set 2 is a nice moment of phishtory but is nothing extraordinary musically. It’s nastalgia in the truest sense. It’s a tribute to the band; a celebration, but it’s got nothing on a well rounded show with a couple of great jams. I can’t say they’re boundary pushing jams, but they’re top notch 3.0 phish and better than light and yem from New year’s.

  14. neemor Says:

    It was so good.
    Gave me the chills again, Miner.
    Let’s do it again next year…

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    The Chronicles of Gnarnia

    Al – which diseases were u feelin this year…Reading and??

  16. chris Says:

    This show didn’t have ‘the most impressive music off the year’. I would, at best, put the dwd> carini on equal footing with some of the great fall shows that also contained two big second set jams and I’d put it behind the tahoe tweezer. Nice setlist but nothing extraordinary about the first set either. Its up there with some of the better shows but because it was part of msg, New year’s on the east coast shouldn’t give it extra points and elevate it above a show like 11.1, which had a better first set and equally impressive set 2.

  17. RicksFork Says:

    Thanks Miner. This was my favorite show that I caught this year! Top to bottom it had everything that I look for in a show these days. Great write up. Off to spin Disease>Carini at the gym.

  18. sumodie Says:

    We laughed, we cried, we headbutted ourselves silly. IT was transfixing.

    I’ll always pine for those amazing seats that night: front row center rear stage

    Miner, thnx for another quality review that brings me right back to the moment

  19. sumodie Says:

    Apparently there’s loads of new content at the recently relaunched official site

  20. Dorn76 Says:

    Miner’s expressing an opinion, commenters are responding with FACT.

  21. btb Says:

    I loved that 12/29 set II. THAT was a PH show!

    Great beer that gets little pub

    That beer is fawkin delicious. RF you da man!

  22. RoosterPizza Says:

    Arizer arrives today…

  23. DryIceFactory Says:

    The opening 35 minutes of the second set, simply put, was a Phish fantasy; a deranged, indoor Eden, the likes of which we haven’t visited in quite some time.

    Not gonna lie, I lol’d at my desk. Dark whale meat, dark whale meat, DARK WHALE MEAT!!! Well done, Miner.

    7/25/03 Hood right now. What a way to kick off a long weekend.

  24. DryIceFactory Says:

    say it with me now… dark whale meat, dark whale meat DARK WHALE MEAT

  25. ren Says:

    29th definitely my favorite show of the run. Where it falls within the 2013 gets a little tougher for me. Also up there with my all time favorite shows since 1.0. Think this just speaks to the level of playing we’re seeing presently. I’m not really a ranker, but after almost 20 years of Phish my brain just seems to know when its going down and that definitely happened on this night. There are so many facotrs that contribute to a great phish show and experience. They all fell into place on the 29th and from the convos I’ve had with others MANY expereinced the same thing. There will always be dissenters, many of which likely weren’t there….but Phish is not a spectator sport.


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