Last night was a big night for both Phish and their fans. Phish returned to Madison Square Garden for a New Year’s show for the first time since 2002–upon first thought, it doesn’t seem like it could possibly have been that long. Phish blew the roof off of their favorite place to play with a mostly song-driven effort that contained some isolated jams and high energy from each bandmate.
Last night also marked their first internet pay-per-view, allowing anyone willing to shell out $14.99 to see the concert live. I was the only member of OPT not able to attend last night, so I had friends over and purchased the stream. The stream was awesome. It was like watching the Alpine DVD; the multi-camera shots made it hard to believe it was live. The camera angles were amazing. Before the show started, there was a camera just looking off into the crowd so you could hear the spontaneous cheering and general buzz floating around MSG. We were almost just as excited when the houselights went down. Sitting with our own beverages and food, we were able to enjoy Phish through on-stage cameras, a soundboard camera, and a couple cameras in the aisles. The audio was obviously soundboard quality, we experienced no choppiness, and the picture was great quality (it was on my 47″ TV, too). During setbreak, their was a montage of the Phish crew setting up MSG for NYE over the audio of Mike’s Song from 12/31/1995.
Set 1: Cities, Chalk Dust Torture, Gumbo > Quinn the Eskimo, Halley’s Comet > Camel Walk, Maze, Driver, Bathtub Gin, Fat Man in the Bathtub, Timber (Jerry) > Golgi Apparatus, Character Zero
Set 2: Tweezer -> Light > Theme From the Bottom > My Friend, My Friend, Axilla >Fluffhead > Boogie On Reggae Woman -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg
Encore: Run Like an Antelope > Tweezer Reprise
Back to the show- Again, Phish played a one-song-after-another type of first set. Regardless, Trey sounded noticeably less rusty than the previous two nights. The band seemed to be locked in pretty well throughout both of their sets. Cities unexpectedly opened up the show and was extremely short. It gave way to a blazing Chalk Dust Torture.
One thing I am wondering about: as a guitarist, isn’t that jacket Trey seems to wear pretty often annoying to him while he plays? Those sleeves seem awfully unforgiving, and Madison Square Garden gets hot. Also, did anyone notice the back on Fish’s drum set stool? I don’t think that was there last tour.
Gumbo is where you could tell they were locked in during the show, it went right into the first non-encore Quinn the Eskimo in 11 years–it threw me off a bit when it started. Halley’s Comet ended particularly quick before a thick Camel Walk came out for a stroll. Right when the song started Trey turned to Mike to tell Fish to start Maze right after.
The mid-set Maze held down the set. It wasn’t their best version, but it wasn’t bad and it kept the energy high. Driver was the perfect cool-down song. I love when they choose songs like this to cool down a set; songs that are short and pleasing to the ear (not like Summer of ’89). Bathtub was looming over our heads and it came next. It was a great version, but I feel Trey kinda lost control of his guitar by the end. It wasn’t quite as tight as other versions in the past couple tours.
Phish answered a big question I’ve had for a while: will they play any songs from Halloween? Playing Fat Man in the Bathtub answered my question. I hope it sticks around like Torn and Frayed and Shine a Light have.
The interesting pairing of Timber > Golgi led us to the set closer, Character Zero.
OPT fans seemed to nail the Tweezer that was coming last night in our daily poll. I certainly knew it was coming; yours truly topped the PhantasyTour daily dose last night.
When Phish came out for the second set, I either thought Tweezer, or a short song into Tweezer. Trey talked to Mike, giggled, and then yelled to Fish (right next to the mic), “JENNIFER DANCES!”. At first I thought no fucking way, this is how they are going to open the set? Then B00M, Tweezer. Apparently, it was a nod to a lot of fans talking about Jennifer Dances on a message board LivePhish set up. Hilarious stuff.
The Tweezer was by far the highlight of the entire show. Like the Harry Hood from a few nights earlier, Trey stepped back and let his crew do a lot of the heavy lifting–this is good, when Trey steps back, Mike, Page, and Fish blossom. Mike, again, took the driver’s seat for most of this jam, popping in and out of the monster they were creating. I was so nervous Trey was going to turn to Mike to cut it short, but he never really did. Trey allowed the jam to come to a natural stop. Although it was too early for a 2001 to emerge, it certainly sounded like it. Instead Light shined through.
Tweezer > Light, that sure has some epic potential. However, the light got discombobulated quick. Trey was losing control of the jam and it eventually fluttered away into Theme.
Fluffhead got MSG poppin’, however the peak was awfully short; I found it disappointing. Boogie On was fun, Mike got set in a thick groove until Trey just STOPS the jam. While Mike is thumping along, and MSG is dancing, Trey just goes into ambient mode to force a 2001. First of all, 2001 shouldn’t be a song that’s forced. Second, what the hell is Trey thinking? They had a good thing going. Skip 2001 and just play Boogie On for seven more minutes, Mike sure knows how to handle himself in that time.
Regardless, 2001 featured a more prominent Page role in the jam. Suzy closed the set.
The last encore Phish would play in 2010 followed their pattern of encores throughout the year; a totally unexpected encore song and Tweezer Reprise. Just that two-song encore sums so much up for me about this year with Phish.
Tonight will be off the chain! Have fun and be safe everyone!
PS: if they don’t play any Gamehendge songs tonight, I bet Gamehendge is coming tomorrow.