Predictions! Outside of going to shows, listening to shows, dissecting shows and arguing about shows it’s our favorite part of the Phish experience. This time of year, with some 18 days until blast off at MSG, all we have besides our sweet, sweet predictions are infuriating questions: What will they play, how awesome will they play it, are they in the studio RIGHT NOW, are they eating properly and getting enough exercise, do they need a sweater, etc. Thinking about all these questions is enough to drive a fanner mad, so instead I suggest you lose yourself in a fantasy lands of our OPT Staff’s warmest hopes, deepest fantasies and brilliantest predictions for MSG.
1. Acoustic set or mini set
This selection was inspired by the Dude of Life’s release of the original demo for “Show of Life”. Say what you will about Show of Life (it sucks, especially to close a second set or as an encore), but its not half bad as a little acoustic ditty, so why not give us either a set of acoustic numbers or take a break in one of the sets and play 4-5 acoustic songs. Who knows, maybe Foreplay>Longtime could be one of them (I’d take this electric too).
2. Llama opener
What happened to Llama? Only played seven (!?!?!) times on 3.0. Seven times. To put it into perspective Fuck Your Face has has been played seven times in 3.0, not to mention the FYF show. We need more Llama. Llama is getting my pick to open the run.
3. Something cool on a night other than New Year’s Eve
In the past, Phish has done cool things on nights of the run that are not New Year’s Eve. Think 12/29/96 (Harpua, Rotation Jam, Sixteen Candles), 12/30/97 (Sally-fest, Harpua, generally blowing things out), and 12/28/98 (acoustic set [cough], the set pieces and dancers). Do something cool on the night of the main event too, but its always fun when they give a nod to the other nights.
4. Reunite Ween
I can see it now. The New Year’s prank. Everyone in the house thinks Bieber is going to emerge during the epic Harpua narration deep in the third set…Trey teases “Baby” and someone runs on stage. Biebs? No. Tom Marshall dressed as Biebs? No. Dan Kanter dressed as Tom Marshall dressed as Biebs? No. Its Geener! and Deaner! and the other guys and the song wasn’t Bieber’s “Baby” but it was Ween’s “Baby Bitch”! Probably not going to happen, but I miss Ween. Sad they are gone. But seriously, what are the odds of a Bieber-related prank? The odds should be good, like 1-4 that there will be a Bieber something during the run, but when has Phish ever done something that you expected them to do? Remember the epic Harpua at Big Cypress? Yeah, me neither. If there is something we should know about Phish its to expect the unexpected and never expect what is expected. So with that I give the odds of some Bieber-related mishegas at about 1-10.
5. A second set Timber
Yes, I’ve said it before, but c’mon! give me what I want! Or, if you can’t give me a second set Timber, why not try playing the Curtain With as a set closer again? Of all the moments I’ve experienced in 3.0, none were really quite like that Curtain With in Camden. It worked so well. In fact, it worked so well that I am quite surprised that it a) had never been used like that before and b) that it hasn’t been used in the set closing spot since. So gimme one of those two and I’ll be happy.
Predictions: Llama to open the run. Light as the post countdown song. 1-10 odds of Bieber fever breaking out.
1. Dick’s-style jamming & looseness right out of the gate
Everyone’s fear going into this New Year’s run is that it will be a repeat of last year’s: specifically, that the momentum the band built over the course of summer will be destroyed by 3+ months off the road. What made Dick’s so great wasn’t just the jamming; it was the looseness that made the band comfortable to dip into the jams. The band is loose and jammy when they’ve been playing together, so let’s hope they’ve been rehearsing quite a bit.
2. A big 2001
My first MSG show, in the middle of the 1998 New Year’s run, was a monster, and it proved to be a fire-breather during 2001 — possibly the greatest version of the song ever played. It’s now been over a decade since it got a proper workout, and there’s no better time or place to get it back on the treadmill than New Year’s Eve in the room where the floor bounces.
3. Some new tunes
People have been asking for this all year, but now — after several months off the road, and with the band heading into the studio — we should expect and hope for a glimpse of what will be on the new album. A new cover or two would be fun, too.
4. Varied sets
Another thing that made Dick’s so exciting is that it cast aside what was becoming a very formulaic set construction over the course of the summer. Whether the band throws together a five-song set, a couple jams in the first set or the fourth quarter, or some other trickery, the most important thing is that they keep us guessing.
5. Jennifer Dances
Hey, a guy can hope.
Predictions: A Buried Alive show opener. An 12/31 stunt that includes an unexpected guest who is not Justin Bieber. 12/29-30 shows that blow last year’s away.
1. Mike’s Groove return to the prominent 12/31 spot
Mike’s Groove was featured as a set anchor in these marquee shows amidst some of the most memorable celebrations: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2003. Although it wasn’t played every 12/31 show, something about Mike’s Groove makes me think new years eve. Of course, this is pointless if the versions are cookie cutter renditions. I’d like to see Weekapaug build on the creativity they’ve harnessed in the song this year and Mike’s Song return to it’s original format with a “second jam” segment.
While they used Steam as the centerpiece to last year’s NYE gag, we’ve yet to encounter a version that expands where the song naturally goes. I like every version of Steam played so far, but right now it’s by far the most under-utilized vehicle in their song catalog. The song has such a wide range of potential. It can be used as a blazing-hot rocker as we say at NYE and UIC last year. It can also be used as a slumbering and psychedelic mind-fuck as it was during its debut at Blossom in 2010. Perhaps they can inject this beast into another 12/30 throwdown-for-the-ages this year with a massive version that truly shows that this horse has some legs.
3. The Light of all Lights
After criticizing the band for two years for their subpar performances of Light since its debut in 2009, Light was by far the most impressive jam vehicle in 2012–each with its own sound and personality. This improvisational creativity all came to a head when they blew up Dick’s with the best version to date and arguably the best jam of 3.0. I would like to see them build on this and top themselves this year once again by offering up an entree of Light on one of the first three nights of the run.
The band (read: Trey) displayed an increased musical patience in most of 2011 and the second leg of Summer 2012 which allowed the music to breathe and grow naturally. For some reason this patience was lost for most of the 2011 NYE run and the quality of the shows suffered because of it. I know there’s a lot of energy, buzz, and event surrounding the end of the year in NYC, but I ask that Trey please take a deep breath before heading on stage and treat these shows with the attitude be brought to the Island Tour.
5. Tweezer > Lifeboy
Although Lifeboy has been played twice in 3.0 and thrice in 2.0, it hasn’t been properly paired with the jam juggernaut Tweezer since another NYE run on 12/30/96 in Boston. I’m in good company (looks at Paddy S and drewphish) when I say that Tweezer > Lifeboy provides a journey that every phan should experience. After a soul-searching, balls-to-the-wall, funkadelic jam out of Tweezer, what better to cleanse your palette than the gorgeous instrumentals and deep lyrics of Lifeboy? What a perfect time to do it 16 years after the last time the two were paired? While neither of them are individually bust outs (well, Lifeboy kind of would be after a year of not playing it), the two of them together would be one of the biggest unshelvings ever for people like me. After praying this would be played for a decade and a half, I’m starting to think that God never listens.
Tweezer to headline 12/30 II as it did in 2010.
Massive Light on 12/28 or 12/29
1. Johnny B. Goode
Yep, been chasing this since I started listening to phish and every tour I go on I say to myself “this is the tour”, and every tour I am disappointed (not rly I just dont get my way).
2. A REAL Mike’s Song
I know this is mentioned below but still I am so sick and tired of hearing Mike’s, getting ready for a throw down and to end up with a 7 minute unimaginative rush to throw out a Light. Not that I mind Light – I just really LOVE a good Mike’s Song.
3. 12/31 Set 1 Closer – David Bowie
A monster first set Bowie is something that I have been wanting for a long time. Something massive something that gets you so ready and amped up for the upcoming year. Imaginative, improv goodness.
4. Rotation Jam
5. Theatrical Harpua Mayan 2013 End of the World Gig
Yep pretty descriptive title here, but hey with Trey’s new theater friends and his newly found participation in the industry maybe he will incorporate some kind of pro skit into our NYE experience. If there was ever a year to do something like this – this is it. Almost 30 year anniversary, the Mayan style tickets all summer, the simple fact everyone jokes about the end of the world… Just a hunch prob wont happen tho.
6. A Stash that doesn’t make me roll my eyes
Predictions: Tweezer opener -> Reprise Last song of the run. Post NYE Song – Light. Partial Album cover for the 29th (no idea why)
1. Overwhelming Undermind
Dick ‘12’s Undermind conjured up memories of UIC 11’s Undermind. This gives me hope that Phish has found a comfort level in 3.0 to take this song for a ride; however, the extend time off probably diminished this feeling. Phish treated fans to wildly engaging jams during summer 2012 ranging from Dick’s Light to Worcester Roses Jam, but the Dick’s Undermind remains one of my favorite jams of the summer. The way the jam builds reminds me of the 12/31/10 Ghost, so I guess I’m holding out for an exploratory and blissful Undermind. While we’re, a standout funky Ghost wouldn’t hurt either.
2. Waiting for Columbus
Last year I put together a pre-MSG NYE wishlist which discussed my deep desires to hear some Little Feat resurface; most notably, Spanish Moon. While some Feat songs have been played post-Halloween 2010, Phish could definitely dive deeper into the Little Feat catalog. We already got Skin it Back during summer 2012, why the hell can’t they just play Spanish Moon.
3. Fuck Your Face
The Fuck Your Face show worked so well because the concept behind the show gave Phish a firm; yet, malleable setlist to work with, which almost forced them to jam out songs to greater lengths. While I don’t anticipate Phish spelling out anything, I wouldn’t mind a prank or gimmick that would, in turn, force Phish to patiently jam. Patience is definitely a virtue in the world of Phish, and while I enjoy the occasional arena rock-Treytastic tune NYE 2011 featured two much of it. Patience and flow. That is the name of the game. Hopefully.
4. You Enjoy Myself
Folks are calling for the Lights of all Lights or the 3.0 Mike’s to remember (things I truly want to see happen), but what happened to YEM. Lest we not forget that YEM was once the song that embodied Phish. Fans still enjoy the good ole tune, but YEM jams are anything but unique. For the most part the YEM jam sections are straightforward, so I say its about time Phish let loose and returned YEM to its former glory. If patience is the game, YEM is the perfect vehicle to use.
5. 200 Songs in 4 Nights
Ok so Phish probably won’t song chase, which is probably a good thing, but throwing in some new material or dusting off rarities wouldn’t hurt. Although Pigtail and Burn that Bridge aren’t groundbreaking tunes, NYE run 2010 benefitted from the debut of the new tunes; something NYE run 2011 lacked. Maybe a new cover or new material, but at the very least I’d like to see some of the lesser played material.
Predictions: Fuck it. In hindsight NYE 2011 was so overhyped that the let down and fallout from average shows was painful. So my NYE 2012 prediction is less of a prediction and more of a suggestion: try to curb your expectations. Don’t assume the band will come out playing like they did at Dicks; rather, hope for the best, but expect anything.
1. Second Jam in Mike’s Song
Yes, I’m starting this discussion with some pretty lofty goals. Mike’s Song can and should return to dominance in 3.0. There were some glimpses of hope in 2012 (see Burgettstown, others), but there is still a long way to go. As songs like Light and Sand continue to evolve and produce memorable jams, Mike’s falls further by the wayside. For NYE specifically, two of the band’s best versions ever have been associated with the holiday run (12/31/95 and 12/30/99), with one being in the hallowed halls of MSG. Mike’s → Simple → Mike’s → Hydrogen → Weekapaug, perhaps. Or, building on the Dick’s Sand model, Mike’s could emerge as a dark pace changing blastoff.
A lot of sets in 3.0 have been built around cover staples Crosseyed & Painless and Rock & Roll. Whatever happened to Drowned. With only one performance in 2011 and one in 2012, Drowned has joined the second jam in Mike’s as an after thought. Keys-driven jams don’t have to rely on plinko-style playing from Page. Let’s highlight the baby grand at MSG.
3. Sit in other than horns or Bieber
Some great stuff has happened with sit-ins other than horns (although horns obviously killed it in the past as well, but I digress). Bela Fleck. Karl Perrazo. Alison Krauss. Del McCoury The list goes on and on. While there are a couple of sit-ins people would probably rather forget, the lionshare of these compilations have increased the experience for fans and band members alike. Listening to Halley’s from Live Bait recently got me thinking about how great that song would be with some female back vocals. Maybe that’s the kick in the butt the song needs to return to constant glory.
4. A kick-off for the 30th Anniversary
Whether its part of the New Year’s gag or a nod to their history in another way, I think the year ahead is obviously an important one. A new material dump, a sit-in with someone who helped define their sound or just a word or two of Trey Banter can set the tone for another exciting year of Phish.
Post Countdown song: Hood.
1. The One About the Cat
I won’t say it by name, not because I’m superstitious but because I want to wait until I am shouting it at the top of my lungs. It will have been nearly 18 months since our last Jimmy journey and this near lock will have all the nutbacks drooling for its return.
2. Island Tour Part Deux
This is a fantasy list, right? With Trey announcing an imminent return to the studio, this four night run could arrive in the midst of one of the band’s famous marathon recording sessions. If the timing works out juuust right, they will hit the stage with that same perfect mix of excitement, precision and drive to let loose and experiment that made the Island Tour so remarkable. At the very least it would definitely mean–
3. More Tunes!
A brand new batch of Phish material. This is the one element that has been conspicuously absent over the previous year’s resurgence. Even if they don’t make it to the studio before the run, at least give some love to the 3.0 tunes we hardly see anymore–Halfway to the Moon, Sugar Shack, 20 Years Later. Would love to see any of these tunes take off as a new jam vehicle. Or how about erase the memory of last year’s Madison Steamer wankfest with a killer version this time around? Hell, I’d even take a whole set of Traveler tunes so long as they attack them with the excitement and creativity they’ve been showing Light.
4. What Rory Said
I have to echo Rory and Paddy here…a 12/31 exploratory Groove would put me through the roof. My original-and-still favorite all time jam is the ‘95 NYE set straddling Groove, and anything reminiscent of that greatness would probably have me speaking in tongues.
5. Let’s Get RedICCULUS
Ok, now I’m just being superstitious.
Predictions: A new Traveler “cover” (hopefully Land of Nod), Take Five cover, Spock’s, and one out of left field show opener a’la 9/1/12’s Antelope, let’s say….Golden Age.