, attached to 2012-12-29

Review by ucpete

ucpete After trying to remain unbiased in my listening to this show, sure, this show is a bit frustrating, at least considering the aura surrounding the "12/29" show date from years past and the magical nature of NYE @ MSG. But in my opinion, this is a solid show-- a solid, ph3.0 type rock and roll, song-driven show.

But they did miss some opportunities for sure. The show starts off rather nicely with Trey hitting some nice licks in Crowd Control, and they get through another solid Mound, and hit some good but restrained Type I jamming in AC/DC Bag. The first spot that would have been nice to open it up a bit was in R and R (aside: how can I escape an ampersand character in a show review?!). Maybe it was the set placement that held them back a little bit? And though I kind of like Sugar Shack, after missing an opportunity to let loose the previous song, Shack kind of keeps the vibe subdued. And then comes the Reba-- it's in the correct spot, i.e. mid-late first set, but halfway through when the crowd goes absolutely nuts while they're in the middle of a melodic passage, they miss another opportunity to kick it up a notch. This missed opportunity theme gets highlighted during Halley's, which has essentially been one missed opportunity after another in 3.0. Don't get me wrong, to this point the playing is tight and it *sounds good*, but I think there was some band-crowd tension with the crowd wanting to GO WILD while the band was keeping a tight focus on the songs. LxL has some nice new-age Trey "Eastern" licks (what do we call those atonal lines he plays?) including an evil Yellow Brick Road tease (not in the tease chart for some reason-- isn't tease addition automated?) but LxL is short and sounds a little disjointed at the end. Wading in the Velvet Sea is just that, and the subdued nature of the first set continues. Gin is nice, but in a 3.0 "solid but not special Gin" sort of way, and we have one frame on the board.

The second set starts out nicely with a jammed out Golden Age, and @nichobert makes an astute observation that they chose to jam out the verse instead of the chorus, which was a great idea! They didn't take it as far as we all would have liked, but it settles nicely into one of my favorites, Waves. Waves has some confusion by Trey in the beginning but things resolve into some typically beautiful Type I, whole band jamming before fading into Caspian. Caspian is a song that is an enigma for me-- the lyrics don't do much for me, and it seems criminal for Phish to play a 2-chord song, but there are some undeniably awesome versions floating around out there. And there is something thematically fitting about Waves and Caspian being paired together, but Caspian doesn't do much here. Boogie is nice-- gotta love Mike's 3.0 envelope pedal-- and it seems that after such a subdued show to that point they wanted to kick things up a notch. And that trend continued briefly with an energy-filled, more-cowbell-laden Suzy. But just when they could have capitalized on the uptick the crowd was looking for, here comes Bug. Again, it's played well, but what's it doing here? Cavern is fine, but again, sort of a run-of-the-mill version, before, you guessed it, a run-of-the-mill 46 Days. So let's recap to this point: subdued first set with a few spots begging to be blown open but remain in the box; a fine start to the second set that takes a nose dive energetically before a brief burst of energy, only to be brought back down again.

Coil had some rough spots but ends with a typically beautiful Page outro, Grind has lots of numbers in it, and First Tube is a final burst but it's too little, too late. This show is mostly well-played, but many versions of tunes are in-the-box, unexplored, and not covering any new ground. After BGCA, Dick's, and 12/28, we all hoped for more, but don't get it twisted: Phish is good at music and this show in no exception.

TL;DR-- if this is the only Phish show you'll ever hear, you won't be disappointed, but the other three nights are better.


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