, attached to 2016-12-31

Review by Franklin

Franklin This was my first New Year's show, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The band had just had a ridiculous night on 12/30, and I was excited for what would be my only night of the run. I can say with certainty that the star of the evening was the cup of coffee that I had on the train into the city.

Also, before I forget, a definite Thank You to Chris Kuroda for adding those extra lights in MSG. Awesome.

I don't have too much to say song-by-song, so just some notes, I guess.

- Most of the first set, while not setting us up for a rager, was well-played. Lawn Boy was great and hilarious as usual. Divided Sky was gorgeous.

- Zero is the real lynchpin, I think, in getting everyone to the level that MSG and NYE deserve. Trey's playing on that little number was well-appreciated. After that, Walls gave a fitting close. I think that that riff that Trey was playing in the intro was a Your Pet Cat tease, but maybe I'm wrong. The peak on this song wouldn't quit, helping the song to do its job.

- 2001 is a perfect set 2 opener, especially on a night like this.

- The second set is basically, beginning to end, a constant bliss-fest (except the weirdness in Piper). I had absolutely no issue with this. The first three nights of the run were big on swampy, complex improvisation; you'll hear no objection from me if the band chooses to just continuously climb peaks for a full set. Sometimes they were more successful than others (Twist, in which the band basically ended up in a Gin jam, is probably the highlight), but there were no letdowns the entire stretch. 2016 was a weird year, and this set is really what was called for to wrap things up. The set probably doesn't contain the experimental richness that it might look like it contains if you're looking at it on paper, but it's still an hour or so of completely joyful music. Just the other night, I was looking for a really joyful Phish show, and now I know what to play next time I'm looking for something like that. Highly recommended.

- I finally got my Piper (!!!!), and it felt way longer in person that it does on tape. This is one of those super-condensed jams that's made 2016 the interesting ride it's been. The Marimba/Keys section was long, but honestly, in a show as long as this one, I'm not averse to a little adventure. Very good jam that I'm sure I'll revisit often.

- Slave was weirdly short.

- The whole Petrichor gag was exquisite. Not only was the song beautiful (my first Petrichor in person, obviously enhanced by our extra musicians), but the dancing was stunning. I really hope Phish releases this on YouTube so that we can revisit it. The choreography had a story, all of the dancers were so in-control of their motions, the lighting was perfect. The balloon drop confused me (why are there dogs falling from the sky?) until I was on the train home, but the drop into Suzy might have been the highlight of my evening. Seeing 20,000 people jump up and down yelling the phrase "Suzy Greenberg" while being showered by a shitload of inflatable dogs is an experience I never thought I'd need to see, but I know consider to be a very important part of my life.

- This third set is already attracting a lot of attention. You don't like this set? Then you don't like Phish! You like this set? They're pissing in your ears! I had a lot of fun listening to this set. Still, I feel like if you have Phish and horns on stage, and it's New Year's Eve, Breath and Burning, Tide Turns and 555 are not my picks. I like both of those songs. I like all of Big Boat, actually, because everything feels like it's holding down its place. In this context, Breath and Burning and Tide Turns didn't hold down their places. Put Cavern or Drowned or Buried Alive in those spots and you have another set entirely. It's not that these songs are inherently better than the Big Boat songs (although they might be), it's that they're party songs. Third set needed a little bit more party. (And I don't have an anti-slow song bias... I wrote a review of the Portland show praising the likes of Wingsuit -- it's all about time and place).

That said, it was still a well-played set. The horns did their job in filling out the music and providing some novelty. This is probably the only time we're going to get to hear these songs played like this, and that's plenty notable. The set's only real low point is Breath and Burning through 555; Ocelot is fun and adventurous, First Tube is intense, and the whole first third is exactly what we needed.

We had a great night -- three okay songs in the third set is not enough to condemn this show, despite some of our more persnickety friends' immediate association of Big Boat = Unfun Sterile Dad Rock. It's also not an all-timer, and that's fine.

I had a great time on New Year's Eve. I'd recommend the second set for people who are wondering about relisten value, and don't sleep on Petrichor or Ocelot, either.


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