Phish rode the wave of energy from their opening night at Madison Square Garden right into the second night. While the setlists boasted some interesting and exciting song arrangements, the musical exploration wasn’t quite as exciting as the first night. It was a show that was a played a bit safer than most people hoped.
Sloth blew the doors of the joint to get things started–the first sloth opener since 2/22/2003. But what was even more impressive is the fact that Phish played the first first-set You Enjoy Myself (excluding one-set shows) since Coventry, not to mention the fact it was in the set’s second-song slot! YEM has been most-often placed as the second-set closer song. The second-set closing spot is a bad location for the song because it then has less room to breathe and grow. YEM has been played relatively infrequently in 2011–and that’s okay with me. The song has lost a ton of creativity in 3.0 (aside from MSG 09 and MSG 10). With all the excitement after last New Years’ YEManteca and the New York vende being dubbed “YEMSG”, people were hoping for another YEMassacre; when the band dropped the early YEM, people naturally went berserk…would THIS be the show?! The YEM, while very well played, lacked anything special or extraordinary. If this were a normal show, the YEM would be getting a glowing review from me. After all, Trey is on point, uses a delicate pattern to build a jam off of, and has a powerful bass an drums. But this was YEMSG! The 19-minute, standard YEM just wouldn’t cut it.
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Set 1: 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
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Simple > Lifeboy, Guyute, Mike’s Song > Chalk Dust Torture -> I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life > Character Zero
Encore: Loving Cup
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Set One played out pretty safely after YEM. BOTT and Moma dance were played well. After Funky Bitch, a mid-set Maze began. the 10-min rocker became one of the few sore spots over the course of the four sets now played over the run. Trey’s guitar soloing in the second half of the jam is pretty poor. Trey struggles to climb his fretboard during various attempts at peaks. Let’s just sweep this one under the rug.
After the always-welcome Roses, a forgettable Halley’s Comet led into the set-closing Antelope. Most of the Antelope is fairly standard; however, the trilling peak from Trey right before it sinks into the ‘reggae’ part, is absolutely mind-blowing. Trey’s trilling was so crisp, so clear, and so furious. It was an awesome way to end the set.
The second set opened with a particularly hot Crosseyed even though it stuck to form pretty closely. The Simple that rang out next featured some delicate and thoughtful playing from Trey before perfectly segueing into one of my favorite landing pads ever: Lifeboy.
The last time Lifeboy was played was nearly exactly two years ago in Miami. The song has only been played twice in 3.0 but it sounded like Trey has been playing it every day with the ease he segued into it and played it. The mid-set Guyute would end up being the longest song of the night, next to YEM. I’m not particularly a fan of mid-second-set Guyutes–maybe it was to compliment the mid-second-set MFMF the night before.
Things got heated up again when Trey started a dirty Mike’s Song lick. This Mike’s Song is one of those jams that seems like it’s double as long as it really is because it’s so packed with goodness. This evil jam melted face with snarling guitar licks before coming to a VERY premature finish. This monster could have gone on for a long time with with what they had going.
CDT followed in what is probably the only Mike’s > CDT ever (correct me if I’m wrong). The CDT jam was very high-energy and exciting. Just when the jam was about to blow the roof off, Trey injects what people at the time thought were I Am Hydrogen teases. But then we, along with Trey’s bandmates, realized he wasn’t going to stop until the song changed to H2. I don’t know if I like the segue or not. It looks cool on paper, but I think it’s a bit too forced from Trey. It’s not like Trey waited for an extended CDT jam to drift into ambient space, he forced H2 lick is in the MIDDLE of the rest of the band going off. It didn’t work too poorly, but I just felt like it was a bit awkward with Fishman’s drumming. This kinda thing reminds me of ’09 Trey with the forced segues; the exact opposite of what we experienced the night before with the Carini -> Tweezer and the Rock and Roll -> NICU.
The H2 became Weekapaug Groove. The extended Weekapaug features nice patterns, nice builds and nice playing from all the band. While nothing sticks out in particular, it is a quality version of the song.
The Character Zero and Loving Cup ended the night for everyone.
Overall, this show is nowhere near as exiting or impressive as the night before. Trey had some ugly patches of rust in Maze and Halley’s and the full-band jamming wasn’t all there.
The show does have nice versions of YEM, Crosseyed, Simple -> Lifeboy, Mike’s Song, and Weekapaug. The Antelope peak is also impressive.
I have a feeling tonight is going to be a throwdown!