When we meet up with our favorite band tomorrow at The Garden, they will be coming off the most significant offseason since they emerged after a five-month break to start the year, in Bethel, New York. Though the band has likely been practicing for its year-end bash, one has to wonder if the 28th will be a “warm up show” or if they will bring the fire from night one. The extended break certainly didn’t slow the band’s output at Bethel, as they cranked out two of the defining nights of early-summer to open the tour. The Gorge’s opening night—after only a month off—proved to be one of the best shows of the year. And as we sit on the precipice of the first Phish show if quite a while, the question begs—what will it hold?
If I had to make a wager, I’d bet the band will open with a relatively straightforward set with a ‘Gin” or a “Stash” as the opening jam of the run, and then they come out on fire after the break. But how great would it be if they came out—a la 2003—and threw down a huge opening set to kick start the run? 2011 has been quite the year for the band, and—for some reason—I don’t think they are gonna’ drop the ball now. But one has to wonder if things will click when they step on stage together for the first time in months. Might it be one of those shows that has its “highlights,” or will the show or second set, itself, be the highlight? Looking back at 28ths past, these shows have more often leaned towards the former than the latter, but what the past has little to do with now. Either way, tomorrow, we are going to the Phish show.
Meeting at the renovated Garden, tomorrow will also serve as a scouting mission for the rest of the run. Where are the new spots going to be, as many of the old ones have vanished into seats and sky boxes. This opening show will be a return to home, but a home that will be just a little bit different—and less roomy—than before. I hear its great for sports, and many show-goers have given mixed reviews, but how will the new Garden (only in the early stages of an overhaul) hold the Phish? The experience though familiar, will be surreal, and the iconic retro vibe of the venue may be distinctly gone. But when the lights drop and Trey hits that first note, something tells me that things will fall into place. With four nights to end a year that has seen the return of the psychedelic juggernauts of lore, Phish steps to the Big Apple for their first four-night stand since the same nights in 1998. And what will happen is history waiting to be written…
Jam of the Day:
“2001” 12.29.98 I
Get ready for takeoff…