, attached to 2018-12-31

Review by ThomasFunkyEdison

ThomasFunkyEdison Before you read ahead, be aware that I don't write reviews with the objective of fluffing everything as a 5-star, best ever show. I like to give my honest opinion and sometimes that means writing things that critique, rather than only praise a performance. If this was the best show you've ever seen, do not in any way let my review affect your opinion.

This year's New Years Run capped what I would consider Phish's finest tour since the return in '09. Rather than taking it easy for 4 shows, the band continued to push the envelope with dynamic, unique improv and several complete sets/shows of music. Much like the Vegas run this year, each night leading up to the final show was an improvement. Apologies for speaking in hyperbole, but Vegas #3 and MSG #3 were some of their best top-to-bottom shows in 3.0. That said, the band has seemed to have problems in the last several years with the actual holiday show, as they often don't quite reach the level as the shows surrounding them (from a musical standpoint at least). I don't mean to say the songs weren't well played in sets 1 & 3 of Halloween or 1, 2, and 3 of New Years, but they just lacked that "it" factor that the other nights had.

Set 1 contained by-the-books renditions of all 12 songs. By no means a bad set, and certainly got us all up dancing, but nothing to write home about.

Set 2 started off with a really improvisational DWD. It seemed like they were steering the jam towards the same territory as the Melt from 12/30 or the Hampton Golden Age but then just as things started to get weird Trey opted for Farmhouse instead. This left most of us at the venue scratching our head, Gordo included. It was really the only ripcord of the run, so they can have it. Seven Below got us back in the swing of things and showed some serious promise for the rest of the set. The jam continued the theme of deep space psychedelia that had prevailed all tour, and just as Mike was laying down some thick funk, Trey opted for the woo's. For real, it's time to retire the woos. I know, the woo-enthusiasts say that since "Trey loves them, I do too!" but they're trite, overdone, and quite honestly ruin the relistenability of the jams they enter. Listen to the Weekapaug from 12/30 that narrowly escaped the woos and tell me that all of these jams wouldn't be better if they had stop-start segments rather than woo segments. Anyway, I digress, but c'mon - don't ruin the Tweezer and Seven Below. OK moving forward -- Twist emerges. It's one of my favorite tunes, but fairly straightforward here. Hood>Passing Through>Hood is a good idea...but again, the crowd wasnt really having the "way-o way-o" which makes for an awkward and non-triumphant return to Hood to finish the set.

Set 3 kicks off with one of my favorite new Phish tunes. We all know what happened next and I won't say much on it. I loved the gag. It was simple, colorful, entertaining, and rang in the new year the best way possible: Phish jamming. SANTOS is the first song of 2019 and had the whole garden signing along. Love that tune in that spot. The remainder of the set was kind of bizarre. Bizarre only because this tour was so full of creativity and improv, yet Simple, Saw It Again, LxL, RnR, and Suzy were all about as straightforward as you can get. Good song selection (hell, way better than 2011 when they played Wedge>Alaska>Velvet Sea right after the ball dropped), but it did feel like they were just mailing it in rather than trying to finish it as they had started it.

Lizards is lizards, and Character Zero had us all raging like we weren't gonna see another Phish show for another 7 months (except for the lucky folks going to Mehico).

All-in-all this was a fantastically average-slightly above average show, especially given that NYE is a show that can be counted amongst the greats if executed properly. Song selection gets a B+/A-, Jamming gets a B/B-, Gag gets a B+. There's nowhere I'd rather be than MSG on 12/31, and the show was definitely a good party.


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