, attached to 2013-12-29


FACTSAREUSELESS This was, in short, the best of the New Year's shows and one of the very best shows of the year. Portions of this show transcended form and function and entered into that rare and timeless realm of ART.

Like always, Phish at their best meld together bliss, joy, fine musicianship, risky improv, flubs and gaffes and surprising genius. This show, particularly the end of the first set and the entirety of the second, are rich in all of the above.

The show starts off with a somewhat surprising Moma Dance, though nothing is very surprising to me anymore with these guys. This Dance is a loping, let-me-check-you-out affair that hints at freshness but never really takes the dip. A clean and well-placed Rift follows. A lazy, yet strangley hypnotic Roggae seemed emblematic of the first set. By itself, not a stellar version, but seemed to bring the appropriate mood to the procession. Trey seemed to be feeling it, and Page was downright dangerous. Fishman appeared a bit off, but then, he has appeared that way often since the summer. Mike sounds solid but reserved at this point.

Nicely, Trey picks back up on the Rift theme by strumming into a very average Sparkle. Nothing special here, but it seemed to fit the mood and was really a pretty good call. This gave way after a few shuffling moments to the second ever performance of The Line, a delicious little story-song that show off the band's versatility nicely. What could become a trite, thematic bore along the bent of Show of Life, this composition is both original and creative, with the arrangement really adding depth to the lyrical message. Nice. The opening bars of Stash are well-received, as they should be at this point in the set, and this is a ripping version. Stash is followed by the dirty funk of 555, one of Mike's better songwriting efforts of recent years and this version is hot. Much hotter than the Halloween version. You can tell the boys have been working it and this is six minutes of slippery sex with lights. Looking forward to more of this. It's Ice, in classic idiosycratic phishiness, is very well played. This could be the finest version in a year of excellent versions for the song.

An unexpected Gumbo erupts out of this, much to the crowd's delight, and Page and Fish simply own this version. Short, but very original, this is a must-hear version for fans of the tune. Ditto for Walls of the Cave, which starts out exceptionally sloppy (all are guilty this time), but Trey gets outside of himself as he pours the fibers of his soul through this outstanding must-hear Walls. The crowd is stoked, as is the band and the best is surely yet to come.

This Disease is original and outstanding. It deserves the pub it has received. The jam morphs into a true space-trip near the 10 minute mark. All the members are in sync, with Page and Mike taking turns leading the jam and Trey content to provide fills and ambiance, until just shy of the 17 minute mark, when Trey goes Hendrix (he's been doing this more and more aka '95-'98 and I love it) and just rips into a brand new idea, which really is just a more omnipresent and speedy version of what they were already playing (listen for it) before shocking everyone, perhaps even the rest of the band, and actually finishing Disease.

Not losing a step, Trey deftly takes the reigns and leads the band into perhaps finest Carini I've ever heard and certainly the highlight of this show. Now, the Carini from Hampton is all-time great and I love it so, but this Carini is something from another planet and a great snapshot into my love of this band. It is evil, succulent, dreamy, orgasmic and the stuff of therapy sessions. From a truly fulfilling jam, the boys are completely locked in to each other as the tone turns dark and gooey and goes Captain Trips on us. Trey sounds like a puppeteer threading velvet in and out and around the think chunks of rock laid down by Mike and the sonic waves floating across the pavement by Page and Fish. Only, it's not pavement, but the Milky Way, and Trey is weaving his way from Mars to Jupiter to Pluto and back to earth. It's the kind of jam that births new fans and reinvigorates old ones. As an old DeadHead, this groove is epic by any standard. The woos at the end of the jam are not the fans fault, but were initiated by the band, I felt, and therefore were appropriate and brought a fitting conclusion to 35 of the finest minutes of jamming the band has put together since they reunited.

Waves followed almost seamlessly and was a perfect call. Nothing spectacular, just achingly appropriate and it kept the vibe strong and warm. I will say, as well, that lyrically this show has it's own secondary flow and in this respect this show reminded somewhat of the first night of the Gorge from the summer, which had trememdous flow and consistent energy throughout the second set.

Twist was almost inevitable after the "woos" at the end of Carini, or at least I felt so, and this Twist is surprisingly deft and mature. Not a long version, it doesn't lack for creativity and carries plenty of punch for late-second set offering.

Golgi follows, and as a cool-down you really couldn't ask for a better call here. Well-played too. Bowie ends this very strong set of music in classic fashion. I'm not a fan of Mike's drill trick, which really does nothing for me in terms of sound, but he seems to be having fun with it and it certainly isn't hurting the songs he uses it on. This Bowie makes a very strong showing. No type 2 here, but nonetheless it rocks and rips in all the right places and provides a fitting exclamation point.

Love the Possum encore. Perfect fit for the song this night. Great show. In spite of some sloppiness in both sets, it really represents the best of Phish these days and would be an excellent choice if you were to acquire only one of the four NYE shows.


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