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. marcoesq Says:

    Wilson looked ill equipped to handle SF’s pass rush last night. 1-2 grounding penalties. Denver’s D is more passer friendly but I think they were shown the recipe to get after him. Take away a few bad calls and this game goes the other way.

    Seattle’s D is no joke, we know that. But their offense looks atrocious almost always, unless Lynch is busting out some 30yd TD run or Baldwin is making his 1 miracle catch a game.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    “interestingly enough, the Seahawks only played one team with an offense in the top 10, and that was the Colts, whom they lost to.”

    ^ Nice.. Tela’s breaks out the smack w/ facts to back it.. respect ( not that you don’t snow)…

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaepernick still had a chance to win that game, keep in mind.. On road,. bad calls against, 3 turnovers late.. His biggest weakness is pocket presence. He doesn’t feel the rush coming, hence the strip sacks….

  4. MiA Says:

    I like my Superbowls to be close and decided in the last minutes of the fourth quarter. In last 10 years…

    Patriots/Panthers 32-29
    Patriots/Eagles 24-21
    Giants/Patriots 17-14
    Steelers/Cardinals 27-23
    Giants/Patriots 21-17
    Ravens/49ers 34-31

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Jtran I’m just avoiding this place for the next 2 weeks

  6. MiA Says:

    I am so glad how Sherman is the excitement of the media as opposed to Bowmans injury and that horribly missed turnover call that was non-reviewable.

    I can’t watch it. Poor guy.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Jtran I’m just avoiding this place for the next 2 weeks

  8. Stoney Case Says:

    miner, you understand the difference in what i was saying? the butt slap and choke sign to an opponent you don’t respect is what i consider to be unsportsmanlike. no issues with the post game comments. has nothing to do with race, color or creed.

    or were you just addressing the people complaining about his comments?

    Scrappernick blew it. Happens. Brady played a poor game, by his standards.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  10. Stoney Case Says:

    MiA, the missed call on the roughing the punter is the bigger issue though, right? Lynch fumbled the ball and they turned it over on downs after the whiffed call on the Bowman strip, I think.

    the roughing the punter call really stunk. for one, it’s an easy call, you crash the plant leg and it’s 15 yds. Turned and said so to Stash as soon as they showed the replay. Seattle scored on that subsequent drive. Great game. Brady and the Pats kind of laid an egg, deeming the first game a near miss.

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Missing that turnover call after the Bowman hit literally added insult to injury. Awful.

    Refs made some bad, bad calls in that game but the 9ers also put themselves in the position to keep it that close. Kaep should’ve kept running it becuase the Hawks had absolutely no answer to that.

    And while we’re talking hot heads, what about Harbaugh?? Dude is a walking, spinning catastrophe. Boldin, BOLDIN had to calm him down last week. Now that’s saying something.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Have any of you guys ever tried reffing a pro sport? It’s not easy, stop crying.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    I hope the SB is close and the Hawks come out firing. They’re not really built to come from behind and if Manning comes out hot, watch out.

  14. tela's_muff Says:

    exactly @Stoney. and Sherman creates this hype himself. you want to shut the dude up, burn him on the field. I fully expect DMT to show that shit talking Chickenhawk what’s up. 😉 he can’t guard everybody. Seattle is about to see what’s up. Demarius, Decker, Welker, J.Thomas, Caldwell. good luck kid.

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    I once reffed Canadien Football. Couldn’t deal with the 3 downs. Quit and moved to NorCal

  16. marcoesq Says:

    “if Manning comes out hot, watch out.”

    I’m calling myself out for using one of the most cliche sports references.

    “They just need to score more points to be able to win this one!”

  17. MiA Says:

    And I’m sure you didn’t miss any obvious calls Stoney.

    “It was hard to see that guy crashing into the punter”

  18. marcoesq Says:

    Lot of Umphrey’s love floating around the Twitsphere

  19. MiA Says:

    Harbaugh got excited but a few of the times it was worthy.

    You really gotta go out and yell at the refs about not throwing a flag whentge ball didn’t go past the line of scrimmage?

    100% agree though. Kaep made a lot of bad decisions all game. I thought “there are a half a dozen QB’s where being down by 4 with 1:15 and the ball is perfect for them. Kaep is not one of them”

  20. William H. Bonney Says:

    Sherman having fun after last years wild card game…Big dude must have been scared came at him helmet on…

    “come see about us”

    ….seems to me you have to a chip on your shoulder to play in the league…

  21. marcoesq Says:

    If 2013 had ended after the 12/29 show, the year would’ve been bookended by Possum

    Phish thoughts

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Why not?

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    @Lycan. nice man. Electro 3 will do a lot for ya. Post your stuff man!

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    Talib= Talib Kweli

    Zorn= John Zorn

  25. marcoesq Says:

    Good lord

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