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”

  1. Spasm Waiter Says:

    What’s up gang? all cool here. Painful hangover this AM. 1 Sweet Action, 2 Bluepoint Toasted Lagers, and 2 Brooklyn IPAs. That’s not putting up big numbers even… Getting old I guess.
    Great write up Miner. Boys came with INTENT on 29th. Beautiful music with the boys hooked up from the get go. Must have been awesome to be in that room. The launch into the Ice jam is fucking badass! What a great song Gumbo is. They really played it perfectly and then a great, original jam on the end. The band’s happiness, excitement and energy really comes through on every re-listen.

    @Sumo- That Jerry sire is really cool. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Spasm Waiter Says:

    December 1960- “Jerry is discharged from the Army only months after joining, on the basis of “lack of suitability to the military lifestyle.”

  3. 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.

    It was like the scene in Happy Gilmore, and Trey was Shooter dressed in black making out with a Gene Simmons masked grandmother.

  4. btb Says:

    I have the worst experiences with Brooklyn beer. Haven’t tried the Black Ops, but everything I have form them is just so mediocre. I’m starting to think it’s me…had Blast! last night and I just don’t get it.

    Spinning the 29th for the 1st time since MSG. Psyched

  5. Pitts Says:

    Sunday. Night. Band.

  6. Kevin Says:

    btb – So youre moving to Cleveland? Where are you moving from. I can give you a few good reccomendations for beer spots here.

  7. tela's_muff Says:

    Disease>Carini everything i look for in Phish. so many great Carini’s tough to pick a best version but MSG has that sinister rhythm that kicks it over the top. Waves for a breather, all day.

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    “After winning it in a settlement with the Grateful Dead, Doug Irwin auctioned off Tiger for $850,000 in 2002 to Jim Irsay—owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts.”
    Never knew this.

  9. tela's_muff Says:

    and i have nerd love for that little ambient noodle they do before the Disease.

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    If all you are going to do is benchmark every show against the Tahoe Tweezer, you’ll soon find yourself a cliche of a shadow of a joke, if others haven’t found that already.

    Jazzfest isn’t in the past, it is in our future. Oh wait, It’s both. hmmmmm

    Not a slight, but a perspective…could be the wrong one for the right person. 😉

  11. btb Says:

    that DWD jam has so much patience…that’s the shit that sends me twirlin

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ” we wrote that”….. SPinal Tap reference by Trey… Had me cracking up.. Saw that movie 500 times in college

  13. MiA Says:

    12/31/99 Mike’s Groove for breakfast. Badass the way they are supposed to be.

    It’s no Tahoe Tweezer though. Or maybe it is. Hmmmmmm…

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    With that tela. I love that shit. Wish they’d start a set for 20 minutes like that.

  15. btb Says:

    Kevin – Nah, bra. I already live in Cleveland. Chagrin Falls area…I’m just looking at buying a house in Tremont or Ohio City to MOVE CLOSER TO DA BEER!! Ha

    Where you live man? I thought I was the only BB’er on the great north coast!

  16. MiA Says:

    “Jazz Odyssey”

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ” free form jazz exploration”

  18. btb Says:

    Good call Palmer…

    Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like – I’m really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it’s sort of in between those, really. It’s like a Mach piece, really. It’s sort of…

    Marty DiBergi: What do you call this?

    Nigel Tufnel: Well, this piece is called “Lick My Love Pump”

  19. tela's_muff Says:

    @Bingo – they did a little Jam>C&P to start set 2 of 7/1/11. i agree, all second sets should start out with some amoeba jamming

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    don’t get me started….

  21. sumodie Says:

    The Filth

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Three bars, three beers last nite. Love Philadelphia for its variety.

    De Ranke Bitter > smuttynose brown > Troegs perpetual to cap it

    @btb – I was never a Brooklyn brewery supporter (I much prefer sixpoints offerings) but I was def ok with their brown ale on draft.

    Phish: too much goddamned music. Totally overwhelmed. Been doing repeat listens of Gorge 11 roggae and RNR. Soaking them in.

  23. Spasm Waiter Says:
    Hipster Beer skit. BTB will get a laugh.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ve definitely been there

  25. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hangover is not condusive to my new workout regime. Gonna try to do this… soon.
    Sorry for repost above.

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