Still Waiting: Two Weeks and Counting

The excitement is palpable. Maybe it’s just me, but I am more exited for the upcoming New Years Eve run at Madison Square Garden than I have been for other Phish related events in recent memory (and I have undying boyish enthusiasm so my excitement is constant). I see this NYE run as the culmination of 3.0 up to this point. The Hampton reunion shows, NYE in Miami, Festival 8, the 2010 Halloween weekend, NYE 2010 at MSG, Superball IX and Summer 2011 have all led up to the approaching shows. I might be overstating the importance of these shows, but how could you argue considering Phish is playing their best music in years. Summer 2011 produced the most consistently inspiring and impressive Phish we have seen in a long, long time. In addition Phish hasn’t played a note in nearly four months. This might make some people nervous, but to me it speaks to the lead up and potential of the shows.

12.30.10 (Dave Vann)

In a recent interview, Mike praised the level of consistency and experimentation the band has been playing with while maintaining space for the unexpected to happen. In reference to being back on stage with the other members of Phish he said he knows “it’s gonna feel good.” Gordo summed it up best by saying “The machine that is the machine of musical peak experiences is a machine that is working well, it’s lubed and even if we haven’t played since summer, it’s gonna happen.”

All in all, the boys haven’t toured since the summer and there are no dates on the horizon. This could be the only Phish we get until summer 2012 (so I expect quite a blowout). If this is the case that means fans will only be getting four shows between the nine month period of September 2011 and May/June 2012. I sincerely hope Phish delivers. Rather, they better deliver. Phish doesn’t owe its fans anything, (although where would they be without the devout fanbase), but it would be a kindhearted holiday gift for the band to play four memorable shows. There are so many things I want out of the holiday run but ultimately, I want the band to build on this past summer’s development. And since it’s the holidays, here is my wishlist for Phish’s New Years 2011 Eve at Madison Square Garden.

I didn’t mean to go on a rant, but…(“what the hell does rant mean?”)

Madison Square Garden

Tube – Last year’s (well I guess technically it’s this year) Tube at MSG on 1/1/11 had a funky plinko section that harkened back to the glory days of ’97 when Tube was given the full cow-funk treatment. Although this wouldn’t necessarily make MSG explode, a plinkified Tube would definitely deliver some thick and danceable grooves. Maybe I’m greedy, but I miss the days when Tube was Tube.

Mike’s Groove – I don’t want to beat a dead horse but Mike’s Song and his Groove have been a mere shadow of itself during “3.0.” MSG is essentially Phish’s home field and has been the scenery for exploratory Mike’s Songs filled dark and sinister textures that were counter-balanced by blazing Weekapaug Grooves. This home field advantage could be the perfect venue for Phish to reignite Mike’s Groove.

Waves – So I said I wouldn’t beat a dead horse, but I guess I’m unoriginal. Or maybe the Waves’ from summer 2011 are actually worthy of high praise. Either way, picture Trey peaking the beautiful jam section, as Page fills in empty spaces, and Mike lays down a crunchy groove, all while Fishman flutters around his kit. It’s a gorgeous song full of potential. Additionally, all of the Waves from this past summer were surfed outdoors – aside from UIC. Me thinks it’s a sign.

YEM – You Enjoy Myself and “3.0” MSG shows go together “like lamb and tuna fish” (maybe spaghetti and meatballs is a more appropriate analogy). The MSG incarnation of YEM from 2009, in my humble opinion, is the year’s best version, while last year’s YEMteca is arguably the best from 2010 (definitely most creative and fun). You Enjoy Myself was played less frequently during 2011, but if the past versions of YEM from MSG account for anything, it’s that Phish is inspired by the hallowed venue to churn out a killer adaption of their timeless classic.

Little Feat
Waiting for Columbus

Waiting for Columbus – Aside from Time Loves a Hero at Superball IX, Fat Man in the Bathtub from MSG last year (12/30/10) and Rocket in My Pocket from Blossom this past summer (6/4/11) Phish has not revisited any material from Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus. After falling in love with the album, I thought Spanish Moon had so much potential for Phish to explore and that it would be the “one” that would stay in Phish’s rotation. Although Spanish Moon remains untapped, I maintain my stance that Phish would rock this groovy-ass tune. So while I would be grateful for anything from the album, I will continue to hope for a Spanish Moon during the run.

New Material – Last year’s New Year’s run debuted Pigtail and Burn that Bridge. Even though these songs have not resurfaced in Phish’s rotation, the fact that Phish played them during last year’s run makes me hopeful for the debut of new material during the upcoming four night stand. I think we are bound to get an MSG Steam (which would be sick) but I would be thrilled for something unheard and fresh from the band.

Hood/Reba/Slave – Adam B. documented the return of Phish’s Holy Trinity and I couldn’t have said it any better (so I won’t). Having said that, Hood/Reba/Slave are definitely ready to take the next step and deliver blissful jams on a prime time stage. After getting into Phish via their more straightforward tunes, the bliss-jams were the precise prescription to get me hooked. I love the way the band builds these jams and the cathartic culmination of the songs. I am eagerly waiting and looking forward to the Trinity at MSG. (maybe even some blissful Scents and Subtle Sounds…)

Arena Rock – Is there a better venue for arena rock? (I honestly don’t know, I’m rather unknowledgeable on the topic) From Johnny B. Goode to Crossroads to Izabella to Good Times Bad Times to After Midnight to Walk Away past covers have torn the roof of the MSG. Straight forward rockers have never been my favorite Phish moments, but in the right setting they often deliver a knockout. I hope Trey allows himself to take song or two to melt our faces with Tweeprise-esque (which were bound to get) fervor. It would be even nicer if this song was a Phish debut.

Plinko/Heavy Funk – I know I said I wouldn’t beat a dead horse, but I already ruined that by reiterating thoughts I have already discussed. I can’t get enough plinko-funk. I don’t think Phish has fully unleashed its fury and maybe they never will, but Madison Square Garden is a perfect springboard for plinko. Last year Phish plinkified a song or two or three a show (in stellar fashion) during their New Year’s run. I don’t expect this happen in the same manner, but I do anticipate some highly danceable and groovy plinko.

Bathtub Gin/Sand – Over the course of summer 2011 these two songs were among the most consistently explored tunes that featured some of the more impressive improvisation. Phish delivered several standout versions of both tunes during the summer which makes me believe their MSG moment could potentially be huge.

So now that you have read all my ramblings, “what song is it you’d like to here?” (Freebird (acapella) is an acceptable answer)