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. roberto luongo Says:

    chillin man. diggin through new music. diggin through old music. and making some shitty demo sketches of music for fun.

    Alice about a month old. doing well.

    hope everything still groovin your way man.

    epic AW cuts. hah.

    laterz kids. have fun.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    NFL looking into allowing medical marijuana…

  3. MiA Says:

    It was an unusual time signature. What was it?


    That’s right.

    And imagination.

  4. Dorn76 Says:

    “Gluten Free” should be a tee-shirt for all the neutered 3.0 versions of Free.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Well, I might not have to rent a hotel while I’m there. But that’s the dream Jerome. Feels like If I’ve already paid for the plane ticket, and I got a place to stay, then I’ll get more for my moneys worth if I stay.

    Vay Cay.

    -But basically, I think I’ll also save some money by not going to the fairgrounds everyday. Excited just to roll around the city during the week.

    But yes indeed on a meet up. thank ya kindly.

  6. ren Says:

    What up AW! Hope all is well with you and the family.

    One of these days It’ll be my turn to be on baby hiatus.

  7. marcoesq Says:

    Ha, dorn

  8. ren Says:

    Now we just need MrC to pop in for a bit

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    groovin aswell my man. Thanks for the music drops.

  10. btb Says:

    4/4 is my favorite time signature…so many possibilities 🙂

  11. ren Says:

    Now we just need MrC to drop by

  12. jtran Says:

    nice ren. been doing the elimination diet just for fun with my SLF and a friend (who is doing it for real, we’re just the support team). no gluten/soy/dairy for me and some other random stuff on the “exclude” list. supposed to be corn too but I failed there.

    been thinking when I come out of this I want to go gluten minimal too. Want beer and sandwiches, but fine with gluten free everything else. was nice to see the bread belly cut right down the past couple weeks!

  13. Dorn76 Says:

    Kinder, gentler, Daddier AW

  14. bob dylan Says:

    I’ve been high in those mountains. Sometimes it really is hard to get down. Spent a little time on the MOUNTain!

    The way you wrote it MIA (or copied it) he could have literally been super high up elevation wise. Or he was so high he was incapable of getting down. I like the double entendre.

  15. Dorn76 Says:

    “The Elimination Diet”

    Includes dancing to Tahoe Tweezer on blacktop.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    dusty was referring to Lots of recs I can throw your way. Where are you staying again? I know you said w/ a friend; hit me up w/ which neighborhood.

    What show was the Jazz Odyssey show MiA? Sounds awesome. Linkage?

    Roberto w/ the $$$ drive by. Legs is a fun cut; thanks for link. Glad to hear all is well in your world & w/ your gals. Alice D Millionaire. Nice!

  17. tela's_muff Says:

    “The Elimination Diet”
    Includes dancing to Tahoe Tweezer on blacktop.
    ^hahahha. good one

  18. MiA Says:

    I struggle with the part time gluten free approach. I don’t get it.

    Makes Gluten Free sound faddish.


  19. bob dylan Says:

    nice 46 second fade out there AW

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    @JG, &/or. we’ll trade rounds. 😉

  21. marcoesq Says:

    Awesome. Giving old @tomsestito23 a big follow now! Keith Olberman is the worst

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    12/29 Roggae is a beaut to these ears. How does it stack up against all time versions?

  23. marcoesq Says:

    “I struggle with the part time gluten free approach. I don’t get it. Makes Gluten Free sound faddish. Ugh.”

    I went GF for 6 months last year out of necessity. I sometimes had awful stomach problems which I attributed to gluten. My wife’s best friend is celiac for the last 30yrs that she knew of so I had a line into it. I ended up getting tested, got the clear and went back to some gluten (beer) but am much more mindful of what I eat now.
    There are definitely some people doing it for the wrong reasons but who cares, people could stand to eat a little less wheat in their diets. Need my beer though

  24. btb Says:

    I grew up a 90’s sportscenter kid w/ Patrick & Olberman

    dan patrick is clearly still the man. Olberman, not so much.

  25. MiA Says:

    During the Antelope Trey gives a description of the event.

    “leave town and walk towards the mountains in the distance, assume that you’ll be back by 10 O’clock, walk farther into the distance naively thinking that you could climb the mountains, climb the mountain before you, pay no heed when your 2 friends each eat a hit of acid, walk over the mountain and decide that you’ll cut back the long way by climbing, climb down towards the beautiful valley below which has pretty flowers growing everywhere, Oh No, realize that there is a 2,000 ft cliff in front of you, start to shit your pants when you realize the sun’s going down, decide it’s time you too should eat a hit of acid, turn around and realize that you have to climb all the way back up the mountain, start climbing up the mountain but wait, it’s to dark, you might fall, realize that the other 3 band members are making absolute fools of themselves playing the “Jazz Odyssey” finally making it to the top of the mountain and realize that you’ve got to get back to the bar in the next 10 minutes and realize that there is only one thing left that you can do..[Band]You’ve got to run like an Antelope, out of control… Mike: Thank You Trey: Thank you very much Mike: Good Night Trey: We’ll see… Fish: Good night ? Trey: …you in Burlington

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