The House of Energy

12.29.11 (Graham Lucas)

One facet of Phish’s storied legacy is their profound exchanges of energy between themselves and their audiences, often reaching levels not experienced in any other place on the planet. Madison Square Garden has long been a venue where such interactions reach massive peaks, that energy—almost—becomes a tangible entity. Thursday night at the Garden was defined by this metaphysical interplay as tidal waves of shared energy rippled through the midtown Mecca from start to finish. Throughout two sets, and specifically the first, Phish drenched the arena in high-powered rock and roll. But when the show ended and the only risk the band had taken was a sublime and out-of-left-field transition between “Chalk Dust” and “Hydrogen,” and the only two true jams that could be named were “YEM” and “Weekapaug,” many wondered what had happened to the daring spirit on display throughout the first night of the run.

The show got an adrenaline shot directly to the heart in the form of a “Sloth” opener followed by a marathon dance session in “You Enjoy Myself.” And in 2011, with only four versions in the books before last night, this early-show shocker came as even more of a surprise. In the fifth version of the year, Phish showed love for their old-school opus, engaging in a fully entrenched dosage of “YEM”-funk to jumpstart the show laced with staccato guitar phrasing  and creative bass lines holding down the bottom end of a jam that has—literally—become synonymous with The Garden in the moniker of “YEMSG.”

12.29.11 (G.Lucas)

Then, in each subsequent song performed throughout the first set, the energy in the building continued to build, coming to mid-set swells in a rousing “Funky Bitch,” “Maze,” and “Roses are Free”—a version in which the energy, alone, in the room had to carry into something musically significant. But it wasn’t to be. And the same phenomenon befell the following selection, “Halley’s Comet.” Phish even carried the composed jam a bit longer than usual only to come to a routine ending that moved into a crushing, set-closing “Antelope” in the same exact slot on the same exact date as 1997, when the jam virtually crumbled MSG all by itself. All in all, a ferocious, old-school-themed and in-your-face frame of music set the table for what had to be a monstrous second half. But that massive set that would surely build upon the 28th never materialized.

Though the band certainly played quite well through each and every selection in the second set, their jamming had somehow left the building. If you had told me beforehand that the first two song’s of the second set would be “Crosseyed and Painless” and “Simple,” and the band would haven’t engaged in a bit of exploration throughout the entire two-song sequence, I would have scoffed at the notion. But, in fact, that is exactly what happened. “Crosseyed”—like much of the second set—was lead by high-powered, though straightforward guitar work, and when the band bled into an ambient ending, it sounded as they might go into “No Quarter.” But instead, they crashed into “Simple” in a somewhat of a head-scratching maneuver. And even when a second set, standalone “Simple” screamed for further caressing, the band turned a cold shoulder in favor of the one of the most welcomed treats of the night—“Lifeboy.” The mid-second set rarity hypnotized The Garden with its lucid reality, seemingly setting the stage for what had to be a huge jam vehicle. But when the band dropped into “Guyute” next, I was left wondering what date of the year it was.

12.29.11 (J.Herzog)

Surprisingly, the highlight of the show came from the unlikeliest of places—within the middle of a “Mike’s Groove.” Following an aggressive odyssey through “Mike’s Song” that saw Big Red earn his nickname with slashing guitar leads throughout, the band oddly entered “Chalk Dust Torture,” a song that didn’t really fit its placement, but certainly felt congruent to the vibe of the entire night. And just when you least expected it, the band tossed a curveball. Taking the piece into intense realms, Trey moved from the dark side into a melody that sounded oh-so-familiar. Within a moment’s notice, it became apparent that Trey was blending “Chalk Dust” into “Hydrogen” as the rest of the band chugged away beneath! In the unquestionable moment of the show, Phish brought the house down with an absolutely stunning transition that nobody in the entire city saw coming.

The dramatic musical move clearly juiced the band as their creativity spilled directly into a full-throttle “Weekapaug” jam that was fully on the level. One had to wonder where any of this late-set spirit had been when huge jams hung in the air for much of the second half. Finishing the night with an exhale in “Show of Life” and final bursts of spirited rock playing in “Character Zero” and “Loving Cup,” the end of the night maintained the same the vibe of the entire evening—smoking rock, but hardly anything that could be described as adventurous. Juxtaposing a night of jams on the 28th with a night an energy show, through and through, on the 29th, one has to believe the 30th will feature a bit more for the psyche. And in just a few more hours, we’ll find out.

12.29.2011 (Graham Lucas)

I: The Sloth, You Enjoy Myself, Back on the Train, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Maze, Roses Are Free, Halley’s Comet > Run Like an Antelope

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Simple > Lifeboy, Guyute, Mike’s Song > Chalk Dust Torture-> I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life, Character Zero

E: Loving Cup

***

THANK YOU!—Thanks to everyone who came out to both the book signing and afterparty at The Irish Times! Both events had great turnouts and were incredibly enjoyable, and it was great to meet so many new people and hang with a bunch of old friends all at the same time! A great time was had by all.

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439 Responses to “The House of Energy”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Heading into the city with my wife and my girls to check out some Dino bones at the Museum of Natural History. If anyone is going over there today, give a shout.

  2. Tweezer Says:

    I love this band, but it is time to retire Loving Cup.

  3. seif Says:

    “that energy—almost—becomes a tangible entity. ”

    definitely felt this. you could cut it with a knife
    great meeting you Miner and thanks for signing my books!

  4. Mike in Austin Says:

    Miner nailed it. I was thinking they were going deeper into No Quarter. Obviously I wasn’t the only person hearing the obvious tease.

    With AJ in 114, and great Page views. Hoping for a Page led night, with No Quarter, or It’s Ice, or Ya Mar, etc. Watching the band play, and the big organ solo during Funky Bitch was a lot of fun

    Had a great time. I think the girls getting down in the front row, might have had influence on the song calls. The front row was decked out last night. Trey thanked them personally. You see a lot of interaction between the front row and the band.

    Some drunken idiot 4 rows was throwing glowsticks all night at Page trying to hit him. And finally threw about 20 glowsticks on Page during Loving Cup all over his keyboards. I’m not prone to violence, but almost threw my 1/2 a beer on him. Kinda killed my buzz to be angry at another concert-goer. Right next to security.

    Great meeting everyone at the meetup. Lots of fun to talk to everyone.

  5. litteringand Says:

    Can we get a motherfucking Spanish Moon please

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    4 row down…

  7. Robear Says:

    A Meh Zing from the couch.

    fun time, nonetheless. probably even more fun in the building. Stash had a huge blast and is enjoying all the Waterwheel Driveby’s by the BB massive.

    How does Miner do it?

  8. jtran Says:

    It is amazing how real the energy was last night. Besides guyute, in the moment everything felt right. And the slf had a blast

    That’s why they’re playing four I guess

  9. seif Says:

    have their only been 2 No Quarters now? Jersey and SBIX? definitely heard that coming last night but they went a different direction.

  10. Robear Says:

    probably a great night for the casual SLF phans.

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Great night, thought night 1 was more out there, though. All in all, though, amazing energy in the venue last night and I fucking had a blast.

  12. Erock Says:

    @ Mike in Austin. I was right near the glowstick throwing asshole too and almost drilled him. Glad i wasnt alone in that sentiment!

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    Last night of the run for me too, gotta make tonight mean it. Coffeying and showering up now, MiA and I making breakfast moves. Its a big city, go out and kill it.

  14. Robear Says:

    find a good coffee and drink it for me, AJ! Stash is up early today too, me thinks. keep an eye out.

  15. dyda Says:

    that was the 6th yem of the year

  16. stapes Says:

    Talkers during Lifeboy!??!!!??!!

    That’s deserving of a beat down.

    Tonight does seem to be the night.

  17. Robear Says:

    did they forget a section in ‘Moma’? that was a short one.

  18. Robear Says:

    I think new years eve will be a big, special show.

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    seif, NoQ at UIC also.

  20. Dr Pronoia Says:

    I’m in a serious sick wife vs. show predicament right now

    I showed up last night during the vocal jam after being on nurse/daddy duty all day and waiting for Quinn to get to sleep

    Looks like at best that’ll be the situation tonight

    If I end up with an extra I’ll offer it up here first

    Otherwise, I’ll be up in the balcony behind the stage again, MIA & AJ, up in RB 20

  21. Gavinsdad Says:

    Hot show. Pretty much with miner post week. First set sounded amazingly crispy to these ears. This show needs a few respins. Antelope!

  22. regan Says:

    Hey guys. Looking for an extra one or two for tonight. Hit me up please. Friends w T3P0 if a reference is requires.

    4434808746. Can meet up at MSG.
    regan

  23. Dr Pronoia Says:

    hope I get to see you tonight, Ed, if I go

    any idea where you’ll be?

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    “did they forget a section in ‘Moma’? that was a short one.”

    I don’t know about this but they forgot a section of Halley’s, I think it’s called the good part.

  25. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Awesome, Miner used one of my stills in the post today. Getting up early now and doin the MoMA dance all day.

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