Monday 08/07/2017 by phishnet

MSG13 RECAP: THE LIFE WE LOVE IS MAKING MUSIC WITH OUR FRIENDS

[The recap of the final Baker’s Dozen show is brought to you by James Palatini / @TheBull288]

There are rare occasions in life that we truly appreciate as we experience them. More often than not, only after a significant amount of time has passed, are we able to take a step back and realize how fortunate we were. The Baker’s Dozen is, and was, the former in spades.

Quickly in this run, it became impossible to ignore the fact that we were living something incredibly special. Tonight, our collective Baker’s Dozen journey with notes of Will There Be Repeats? (No) > Will I Get A Donut? (Debatable) > Will Jam-Filled Donut Night Be Jam-Filled? (Yes) > Will I FINALLY Get “Izabella”? (Yes x2) concluded with a joy-filled finale on Night 13 on “Phish Day,” dubbed as such per mayoral decree in New York City.

There was a palpable celebratory energy in The Garden tonight – an energy I’ve never felt at any Phish show before. We’re always happy attend a show with 20,000 of our closest friends, there’s always anticipation before a show, etc., but this felt different. This energy was akin to Game 4 of a Stanley Cup Final, when you’re at home and you’re leading the series 3-0, or leading the World Series-clincher by five runs heading into the ninth inning – victory is a forgone conclusion. Phish had won 12 straight at The Garden – and we knew we were in store for one final victory.

Photo © courtesy Stephen Olker
Photo © courtesy Stephen Olker

As I settled into my seat in section 114, just a handful of rows from Mr. McConnell’s setup, it was that sense of happiness/appreciation/gratitude that dominated the chatter in the area. And before we knew it, the final show of the Baker’s Dozen was underway.

Despite the fact that so many tunes were “off the board,” my mind naturally wandered on where we’d start tonight – “Icculus"? “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”? “YEM”? – but we were treated to a grooving rendition of “Dogs Stole Things” to kick us off. As wild and unique as many of the openers have been in the run – “Chocolate Rain” to “O Canada”, “Way Down in the Hole” to “Shake Your Coconuts” – “Dogs” was fairly straightforward, allowing all of us to settle in. It was clear the crowd was looking for a moment to burst , and it came with the opening notes of “Rift.” While I’ve felt the floor/stands at MSG bounce numerous times, the wave of 20,000 souls that were simultaneously persuaded to ignite set the tone for a first set that showed The Phish From Vermont had plenty left in the tank.

Trey briefly struggled to find the proper key in “Ha Ha Ha” before finally landing in the right place, and blew any of our flubby blues away with the initial riff to “Camel Walk.” Always a crowd pleaser in its usual early first set slot, this “Camel” oozed funk from its humps down to is toes.

The high-octane energy of this first set continued with Mike’s “Crazy Sometimes.” I loved this tune when I watched it on the Dayton webcast, and it looks like the guys enjoy playing it a lot. It allows each member of the quartet to shine, and I hope we see it included more often in the rotation. The craziness continued with “Saw It Again,” and little respite came our way with “Sanity” as the gritty first set powered on.

We finally took a collective breath with “Bouncing Around The Room,” before being treated to what shaped up to be a star of the first set. “Most Events Aren’t Planned” from Page’s Vida Blue side project began, and while most in attendance didn’t recognize the song at its start – myself included – we sure knew it by the end. This tune achieved liftoff after about four minutes, and didn’t let up. For a song that was a band debut, it sounded like it had long been a part of the repertoire – no doubt a credit to the comfort and consistency provided by the Baker’s Dozen residency. “Most Events Aren’t Planned” was a major highlight and worth the listen.

Following the first Set I “Bug” in just over four years (8/3/13 at BGCA), Page was summoned once more. Trey and Page indulged in some witty banter. Trey quipped, “Hey Page, how ya feeling after 13 nights?”… “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling pretty glazed tonight,” in reference to the final donut, before the fifth “I Been Around” in history. From my vantage point in 114, I had a clear view of Trey’s face as he was rocking out during “I Been Around,” staring at Page. Before I knew it, I was smiling so hard because Trey was smiling so hard. While a brief ditty such as this can often be overlooked in a setlist, I’ll never forget this one because of the pure happiness I saw from Trey.

Photo © courtesy Stephen Olker
Photo © courtesy Stephen Olker

But what to close the first set with? Decisions, decisions. Ah, hell. “IZABELLA!” I admit this isn’t the song I’m DYING to see, but I’m well aware that it IS for so many fans out there. Seeing those wishes answered tonight and feeling that overwhelming emotion in the room – a moment which clearly meant something very specific and personal to the vast majority of fans in the building – was impossible to ignore, and something I know I won’t do justice in attempting to condense in a few lines. I will say that, to the surprise of no one, Trey absolutely shredded it like a rock star. The applause flowed from a crowd that understood the significance of this rarity to wrap up a hard-hitting 70-minute first set.

The twinkle in the eye of the germ of the inkling of what we all hoped this run could possibly become was born during Set II of Night 2 in Chicago on July 15, when the band launched into a monster “Simple” that caught everyone’s attention. Perhaps it’s only fitting that they held off until Night 13 to play it at the Baker’s Dozen. “Simple” kicked off tonight’s Set II with cheers of skyscrapers, and while the Second City’s rendition may hold top honors, tonight’s Simple was nipping at its heels. After its composed section, gorgeous interplay in the song’s natural F major key included Fish shining on his grand cymbals, and Page taking a twirl on his synth, before Trey led us into a blissful B flat space. As has been the key throughout these sustained 20-plus minute jams this summer, there was a distinct patience shown by the band. This patience paid off with multiple peaks, including a dissonant build that took my mind back to the sustained dissonance of Possum on 8/1. After nearly 25 minutes, Page made his way to the theremin(!), although from my vantage point, Trey may not have seen the move, as he cut things short before Page could really get going.

This led to “Come Together” of TAB fame, followed by “Starman,” which made its first appearance since Halloween 2016. Mike’s vocals shined on the Bowie tune, the third of the run following “Moonage Daydream” and “Rock N’ Roll Suicide.” Following a brief conversation between the quartet, Trey counted us down to the inevitable “You Enjoy Myself.” As the fanbase is wont to do, expectations were set high – in fact, beyond high – for what this “YEM” could bring. With the bar set by many to a near-unattainable level, the gents delivered what amounted to a top-notch YEM featuring an “Izabella” tease, encouraged by Mike. This “YEM” shined brightly, delivering our second 20-plus minute tune of the evening, with a four-minute vocal jam to round it out. The beautiful buzz created from the heady “Simple” and “YEM” resulted in a “Loving Cup” that capped a five-song second set that put the band’s wide variety of skills and attributes on full display.

The symbiotic gratitude was cranked to 11 at this point, with Trey grabbing flowers from the fans on the rail, among other gifts from the crowd, which applauded ad nauseam to show its thanks. Just before the band reemerged for the encore, the Baker’s Dozen banner was raised to the rafters, another wish for many that was again answered on this night. Following a band photo, from my seat, I saw what I thought was Trey wiping his eyes pretty vigorously. I tried to dissuade myself of this notion, despite my own welled eyes, but it was fully confirmed by Trey and Page’s quivering lyrics on Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again.” Trey then led the band on a Tweeprise-themed “Lawn Boy Reprise,” as Page informed us that yes, this was still indeed “Lawn Boy,” before a “Weekapaug Groove” tease, and the “Tweezer Reprise” we knew had been coming since Night 1. One final time to yell. One final time to jump through the roof. One final time to say thank you. And as quickly as it began, the Baker’s Dozen was over.

The beauty of these shows – and the waves of cheers and applause in the corridor as we streamed out towards 7th Avenue after each of them – is that unlike a Rangers or Knicks game, Phish won every night. We all won every night. Tonight was a coronation of what had been years in the making, and it was done in style.

We can all sit here and extrapolate meaning from the choice of “On The Road Again” in the encore slot, and the clear emotion shown by the band. I choose not to go down this road. Many songs tonight referenced living in the moment (Sanity, Most Events Aren’t Planned, Bug, etc). We’re all fortunate to have experienced the Baker’s Dozen, whether you attended all 13 shows on the floor, or simply watched a few at home on the couch. We witnessed our favorite band accomplish an incredible feat, taking creative chances that are at the root of why we come back time and again – and we all had a lot of fun doing it. The Baker’s Dozen has undoubtedly earned its seat atop Phish’s Mount Rushmore of festivals/shows/runs, and as the days and weeks go on, the argument can easily be made that perhaps the Baker’s Dozen stands alone.

Over the past 17 days, we were treated to things we may never see again from this band. We can only hope that the life Phish loves is indeed making music with their friends – and that they can’t wait to get on the road again. Based on what we saw through 13 shows, 26 sets, 237 unique songs, and roughly 2,079 minutes of music over the past 17 days – I’ll say the glass looks more than half full.

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Comments

, comment by glazedandconfused
glazedandconfused Thanks for the great review James. This really helped me digest the many flavors of donuts I had over this magical run.
, comment by mterry
mterry One of the best reviews I've read. Thanks for painting a picture for those of us who couldn't make it!
, comment by mcgrupp81
mcgrupp81 Nice review. No doubt this run will stand the test of time. Donuts will never look the same! I took the train to the show. Right before I got out of my car to get to the train platform, the beginning notes of Hampton 97 Izabella were playing. Happy times. You have to appreciate the fact that the band basically said, "Yeah, you know the big songs we're going to play tonight and we are going to fuck your face with them". That Simple was a doozy and I liked that they continued to jam out the YEM even after the B+D started.

For an indoor show, I've never heard the band get such a raucous ovation. EVERYONE was cheering and clapping in appreciation. This is not going to last forever so soak it all up peoples.
, comment by clarkw024
clarkw024 Thank you for the great review. I shed a tear or two reading it, while at the same time reflecting on this amazing run and years doing this thing together. More than half full indeed!
, comment by Orload
Orload Can someone listen to Sanity and add the Row Jimmy tease to the show notes? Twas clear and present
, comment by Orload
Orload 3:10 or so
, comment by frankstallone
frankstallone So great to see YEM finally get its balls back last night!!

Trey seemed to enjoy crushing his solo again as much as the crowd loved hearing it, I haven't gotten down that hard in a long time

It's been a while since YEM brought it like that and I thought it was the perfect ending to an amazing run
, comment by Teaser
Teaser @Orload said:
Can someone listen to Sanity and add the Row Jimmy tease to the show notes? Twas clear and present
That's just part of the song. It is the same guitar riff as Row Jimmy. Always has been (listen to Junta and all other versions).
, comment by nesta
nesta I am half in tears just reading the final review from this Phistoric event. I cannot agree more with you my friend about the genuine ability for most of us to realize in the moment what special and unique times we were experiencing. This was much needed by myself so that my spirit tanks could be refilled. Well, they were in fact refilled and spilled over. Hopefully, if any of you experience a time of misfortune or negativity you can look back on these love filled nights and say "I was at the BakersDozen".
In deed.
Long Live 7/29/2017... let the debates begin
, comment by PhloatingInTheBlimpALot
PhloatingInTheBlimpALot It really did feel like winning a championship last night... best thing to happen in the Garden in decades, especially if you're a Rangers or Knicks fan. Such a great show and the energy was amazing the whole night. Awesome run!!
, comment by Piper72
Piper72 This was a great review. This was a great run. This IS a great band. May we cherish them and our love for them always. May we be a better human race for it.
, comment by dentrev
dentrev Nicely said. As a Phish newbie, I never saw them live. But I found myself checking setlists of songs I never knew, when they were last played and how many times. I watched 3 nights from the couch. Every time my daughter came down and asked if this is the same song :}. I listened to the first few shows until they were blocked on Mixlr. I felt like I bonded with them and this site. Now on this Monday, I have nothing to do it seems. I miss them.
, comment by User_22582_
User_22582_ Nice solid, heartfelt review. The Band was shedding tears, it was laughter though...
, comment by Orload
Orload Thanks Teaser, never noticed that...
, comment by imdano
imdano Good observation re: Page on the theremin. Don't have the "data" in front of me (though I'm sure it can be easily had), but I am pretty confident that it's been a while since he used it, and I definitely think it was cut short somewhat unceremoniously.
Crazy sometimes and Most Events....both had fun and unique jams; I thought that, in comparison, Come Together was a bit of a dud and the only weak part of a fire set II. Not sure many will agree with me, but I think Mike's new material is by far the strongest right now; Waking up Dead, How Many People.., Yarmouth Road are all strong and have a lot of potential. In comparison, Trey's new stuff (Come Together, Everything's Right, Thread) all seems pretty flat and stuck in the "endless optimism" lyrics vibe he's been on since Joy.

Also thought it was worth noting that Rift was (finally) well executed; it's seemed to get a lot of play in 3.0 however often its not really played all that well and has kind of limped along. This one was fierce though.

Three Needs in Burlington had a streaming party, complete with a Ben and Jerry's stand dishing free Phish Food and Freezer Reprise. It was packed and it seems fitting that all these years later the boys still have plenty of love in their hometown, where it all began.
Looking forward to Trey on the waterfront in September......
, comment by CForbin
CForbin BRAVO - what a great review. I sat in 114 on Tuesday & Wednesday, Page side Rage side, got to see some favorites and am so grateful for the experience. Sunday's show must have been exhausting for the band yet incredibly rewarding at the same time - a culmination of their career, a musical milestone which confirms their place firmly atop the heap that is the live music world (as if they needed this to affirm it!). Imagine a couple of hippies playing a ROTC party & getting drowned out by Thriller looking 30+ years into the future to see themselves performing 13 nights at the world's most famous arena, not repeating a single song, delivering scorching performance after scorching performance, and still leaving some great music on the table! This was, as everyone will say, something really, really special. I couldn't imagine being in the house on Sunday, must have been magical.
, comment by ccryder
ccryder I totally agree that Mike has been bringing it hard with songwriting! Love all the Mike songs you mentioned and it makes me happy to see him growing so much. Will definitely be catching his solo show again next time he's in Chicago.

Also I tear up every time I think of that On the Road Again. Love these guys
, comment by jmjackson
jmjackson I was fortunate enough to attend 11 of 13 of the Baker's Dozen shows. For many of them, I had one (or all) of my kids join me. Each night was an experience I am truly grateful to have participated in. The band, management, and crew went completely above and beyond to make every show an unforgettable experience for everyone.

For night 13, my son and I waited many hours in the GA line so that we could be near the stage as Phish closed out their residency. It was well worth the wait. Here is a great moment I recorded from the front of the house as they unveiled and raised the Baker's Dozen banner into the rafters of MSG: https://youtu.be/akVjp8QOBQI
, comment by Darylk
Darylk Great review.

Fourth Bowie tune (Space Oddity) in point of fact.
, comment by pnutmcsnappy
pnutmcsnappy The life I love is seeing music with my friends. I'm so glad that we're on the road again.
, comment by thebull288
thebull288 @Darylk said:
Great review.

Fourth Bowie tune (Space Oddity) in point of fact.
Thanks for catching that. Knew I was bound to goof something up with all of those songs!
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard @Orload said:
Can someone listen to Sanity and add the Row Jimmy tease to the show notes? Twas clear and present
That Row Jimmy quip is part of every version of Sanity, with exception to that short-lived revised funk version of Sanity in an earlier era.
, comment by whichdidyouthinkimean
whichdidyouthinkimean What an amazing time in NYC, by the end of the run the whole midtown area was well aware Phish w a P was not only int own but they had sold out the last 3 nights at the Garden, NYC is a showbiz town and they are impressed with these things. "If they are in the Garden they must be good" exclaimed Chris, a homeless man that slept in front of my hotel, he had a home on Long Island and it was destroyed during the storm Sandy, hes still waiting to get his insurance pay off. Everyone has a story, sometimes good, sometimes bad, on my end this story could not have been any better. By the end of the run I felt like NYC was my hometown. The people that work and live in NY are amazing, they were happy to have us (and our cash), with out them this could not happen. Thank you NYC, Phish, Phish Inc, MSG and all its great employees, NYPD, NYFD, and all my phriends and phamily. Nite 13 was special for me as it happend to be my 50th show! As they raised a Phish Bakers Dozen flag w the #13 on it I felt like I was on a winning team, with out me or you none of this would come together. I love this band, I love our scene, and I love each and everyone of you.
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