The First of the Year

12.30.2010 - MSG (Graham Lucas)

On the first-ever Phish show on the first of January, Phish threw down a powerhouse performance that capped an unprecedented five-night New Year’s Run, and kicked off 2011 in style. A strong start-to-finish performance peaked with a seamless second set, as Phish punctuated the holiday season with its finest frame. Lacing together a series of improvisational selections, the band wove a non-stop tale of glory in a setlist that rolls of the tongue as naturally as it came off the stage. Without any filler and not a ballad to be seen, the band sculpted a stanza of straight fire that sent everyone home with a cornucopia of musical inspiration for the upcoming year.

1.1.11 (AJ Masthay)

With The Garden eating out the palm of their hands, Phish stepped on stage for the first second set of 2011 and promptly dropped a monster. Jump starting the party with “Crosseyed and Painless,” Phish tore into 2011 with a fire-filled excursion that showcased the well-oiled chops of a band who can once again do what they want, no questions asked. Exploring the song’s classic theme, Trey offered passionate leads over a chugging freight train of rhythm. Without pushing the boundaries of the song, the band swooped in on its jam like a predatory bird, methodically planning its attack, and executed it with precision and ferocity. Bringing “Crosseyed” to a numbing peak, Phish followed the aggressive opener with the more intricate textures of “Twist.”

Progressing into a percussive palette, the band members spun sparse, collaborative lines around each others’ offerings, while Fishman anchored the jam by alternating the tempo of his beats as well as the rhythms, themselves. Mike and Trey stepped out front of this spacious jam with their own two-way conversation that took center stage. Nuanced interplay between all band members throughout “Twist” foreshadowed the moments of the evening that were soon to follow in a transcendent “Simple” jam. Showcasing one of their summer standouts, Phish placed the anthemic vehicle in the spotlight of of the second set and came up with pure gold. A mellifluous jam gave way to an elegant section of open improv that provided the most soul-drenched moments of the entire show.

12.30.10 G.Lucas)

Slowly drifting out of “Simple’s” composed jam and into a mystical ambient soup, the band grabbed the attention of the entire building as they began to build towards the cosmos. Flowing organically, the band collectively built a emotional soundscape with a combination of spiritual guitar licks, warm piano comps, and original bass offerings. While the band navigated this piece as a musical amoeba, Trey initiated a melodic theme that the entire band connected to immediately, washing the audience away in a blissful musical tide that represented some of the most metaphysical moments of the entire Holiday Run. And just when one thought Phish might step back and drop a slower song as a late-set breather, they — instead — cranked up a filthy “Sneakin’ Sally!”

Moving through a mid-song vocal jam, Trey led the troops into the liquid groove with his now-familiar staccato leads that have been so prevalent all week long. As the band converged in rhythmic acrobatics, this swarthy dance session provided the ideal complement to “Simple’s” ethereal psychedelia. Trey wound down the jam with similar staccato picking, looped his pattern, and eased the band into “Maskisupa” with mellow reggae chords. Instead of a token late-set crowd-pleaser, Phish actually focused on this version and created something musically significant. Bringing the piece into slower and thicker territory, Mike pushed a drone bass groove while Trey looped a sparkling pattern underneath the dubbed-out experiment. The two guitarists encouraged their band mates to sculpt an abstract soundscape before sliding back into the ending of the song. Mike gave an “ting” of approval via foot bell before Fishman initiated the cymbal intro to “David Bowie.”

Only the second repeat in ten sets of music, “Bowie” brought an ominous final statement to this stellar set of Phish. Taking the jam in a unique direction, the band’s conversation favored the quiet and delicate before building the demonic intensity we have come to love from “Bowie” this year. The band responded to each others’ ideas with alacrity, leaving a musical path of comet dust behind them. Trey and Page collaborated like maestros on the top half of this piece while Fish and Mike gradually built a more forceful pocket. Popping into the final trills of the song, Phsh punctuated the Holiday Run with an impassioned exclamation point and were, subsequently, greeted with an extended ovation.

12.30.2010 Graham Lucas)

Though the second set flowed better than any of this short run, the first was also filled with great song selection, fusing a plethora of well-played old-schoolers with some post-hiatus rarities in “Round Room,” (the first of this era,) and “Walls of the Cave.” A second-song “Tube” got the show off and running with a brain-quenching hit of Phish crack, again featuring the staccato leads of Ernest the Red amidst a dynamic rhythmic exchange. Phish then rolled out the early-90s one-two punch¬† of “Jim,” “Foam;” both succinct versions that were played with notable precision. The compositional highlight of the opening half came in an ferocious “Divided Sky” that popped with far more energy than usual, while the improvisational highlights came in the raucous energy of “Walk Away,” and the liquid grooves of “Jibboo” and “Reba” — both top-shelf versions featuring locked-in, full-band exchanges.

12.30.10 (G.Lucas)

Following Halloween’s third-set version with another crushing “Jibboo,” Phish wasted no time splashing into the “Reba” that has been sitting out there all week. Framing the initial part of the jam with f rim shots, Fishman paced the music meticulously, prompting the band to follow his lead into an effortless fountain of aural pleasure. Another piece that with exquisite jamming, this “Reba” illustrated the virtuosity of the band’s listening skills while they simultaneously built to a monstrous catharsis. And to close the first half, Phish played the third “Walls of the Cave” of 2010, (which was technically the first version of 2011).

Following up a spectacular New Year’s performance, Phish dropped a legitimate beast to christen the new decade. With lock-step playing through and through, the band blasted into the new year with notable of passion, just as they wrapped¬† up the old one. Though we all must now get back to our lives away from Phish for a while, 2010 provided quite a ride…and 2011 only just begun!

Thanks for reading along this year folks! Stay tuned for a full recap of New Year’s Eve, and much more analysis of a triumphant 2010 Holiday Run to follow this week. But first, a long journey home…

I: My Soul, Tube, Runaway Jim, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, The Divided Sky, Round Room, Walk Away, Gotta Jibboo, Reba > Walls of the Cave

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Twist > Simple, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Makisupa Policeman, David Bowie

E: Fee, Frankenstein

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769 Responses to “The First of the Year”

  1. KfL Says:

    i retract my earlier statement and sincerely apologize to the community for bringing about this horrible turn of events

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    i was going to avoid that whole theme…but we all knew it was out there

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    who gives a fuck about harbaugh anyway. story there is andrew luck

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    i apologize, too.

    i went there.

    my bad.

  5. KfL Says:

    all in good fun

    it’s been some good banter

    phish is good

    later folks

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    of course the story of andrew luck on the panthers will be:

    guess what, without an offensive line star rookie QBs are just fresh meat for the wolves

    good luck kid

    you’ll need it

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    later, man.

    @Mr. C

    I really don’t like him, but I honestly think if he goes to Michigan, he will turn the program around. He does instill a toughness in his players

    He might need a Luck type quarterback, but he did recruit Andrew Luck once. I think he can do it again.

    harbaugh’s just so damn arrogant.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    i agree, we’ve hit a natural endpoint


    Completely out

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    and yeah, Luck will get Clausen’d at Carolina

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    later, Mr. C

    im out, too, everyone. time for bed.

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    thanks for the link Mr. C

    i alsways love it when Bret Favre falls on his stupid face

  12. neemor Says:

    Nighty night.

  13. KfL Says:

    i just re-read this page

    and realized how much

    aw’s haiku style posts

    have changed the way the BB communicates

    pretty hip


  14. plord Says:

    The last five pages going back to the BB-spotting of Willowed and Neemor in the Sally video have been completely cracking me up. Thanks a million people, you have no idea how much I needed that.

    (the last 4 months of my work and all that kung fu just got put on emergency life support, as the exec that I FINALLY got some agreement with on a large-ish deal just got canned by the hopelessly broken old-economy company we were trying to sell to. So, on the one hand, suck. On the other hand, I don’t get paid on individual deals and my street cred is still golden, so maybe I’ll have myself a drink and laugh it off. It wasn’t MY job that got whacked, after all).

    (Sorry, TMI?)

  15. Al Says:

    Hi guys,
    I highly recommend watching that NYE Meatstick Video on the site.
    Great “behind the scenes” footage like a documentary. Check it out. We always take these things for granted but we don’t see how much effort and rehearsal it takes…

  16. voopa Says:

    Agreed Al. Amazing achievement.

    And the Sneakin’ vid w/willowed and Palmer is awesome!

  17. Al Says:

    Where can I find that Sneakin’ vid? You mean on youtube? (Mkdevo or Harpua?)

    The moment in that Meatstick video where you sit right behind Trey in the Hot Dog is just surreal!! Footage of Mike’s cam. Amazing….

  18. SOAM Says:

    Hampton VA-1,2,3 nights
    Fenway-1 night*
    Jones Beach-2 nights/2 and 3
    Great Woods-1 night*
    Darien Lake-1 night*
    Hartford-1 night
    Spac-1 night*
    Albany-2 nights*
    Portland ME-1 night
    MSG-2 nights -1 and 2

    15 in 09

    Hartford-2 nights*
    Spac-1 night/2
    Great Woods-1 night*
    Jones Beach-night 1 and 2
    Umass-2 nights
    Manchester NH-1 night*
    Worcester-1 night/2*
    MSG-1 night-NYE

    Top 3
    Manchester NH
    Hartford 09 or Portland me.
    MSG -NYE

  19. SOAM Says:

    I was right beside Fish kit-second row-right next-behind them for NYE and those broads who came out during meatsick had mine comtemplating a midnite stroke-cant remebe when a hot chick ws on a phish stage-usually it’s shaggy-half a head a hair mconnell-porky fishman or horseface was a nice surprise and strange to see smoking tail getting their boogie on at a phish show…nice

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