This show was night three of Phish's Baker's Dozen run at Madison Square Garden and consisted of a red velvet donut theme. Red velvet donuts with cream cheese frosting were given to fans arriving at the venue and the show featured the Phish debut of Sunday Morning with Trey on drums, and Fish on vocals. Fish came out on stage for Sunday Morning wearing a stole and mitre. He also lifted a censer with burning incense at one point and even sprinkled "holy water" on the crowd. The venue was draped in red lights for the "velvet" themed songs: Sunday Morning and Sweet Jane (both Velvet Underground covers) and Wading in the Velvet Sea. Trey teased Streets of Cairo in Back on the Train and Super Bad in It's Ice. Wolfman's Brother was unfinished. Sweet Jane was played for the first time since June 29, 2012 (193 shows). This show was webcast via Live Phish.
Wow. Let’s try to put that one into words. I’m couch touring so I can only imagine what it was like being at MSG.
With the announcement of red velvet being the doughnut of the day (I think red velvet everything is overrated and that will determine if we’d be friends. Don’t @ me.), we spent our day wondering what songs would show up. Everything from Loaded was open, Rock and Roll was all but certain to make an appearance (until it didn’t!), Velvet Sea for sure. Sunday Morning gets the first slot call and makes sense in retrospect. Fishman taking us to church and blessing us in a bishop’s hat, spreading incense around in a thurible, and tossing water at people to open the set makes for a fun opener.
Back on the Train stays type 1 but this is a great version within its structure. How Many People Are You also gets a nice treatment that’s worth listening to. The real highlight you’re looking for here in the first set is definitely the It’s Ice, which clocks in at 15:13, making it the longest version ever (just by glancing at the .net jam chart for It’s Ice).
A quick aside, I’m thoroughly enjoying how Trey is having a hard time playing things like the chords to Your Pet Cat, but then goes on and does a great job with Glide, Ice, or solos/playing like he did in the second set.
The second set opens up with a Bag. At the start of the freeform, the band drops to an area similar to the 12/30/97 Bag and has us thinking we’re in for a deep one. Instead what we get is a typical Bag played relatively quietly that finds its way to a proper ending.
Initially disappointed, the band makes a great call with Wolfman’s Brother. The jam starts in typical type 1 territory and starts off patiently allowing room for the build. The jam peaks in type 1, then Trey drops chords on us to let us know they are not ready to go home with this one just yet. They reach a really pretty space/ambiance point that I can only explain as something like a cross between the 8/17/11 Crosseyed drop before No Quarter or the Coventry soundcheck. You’re assuming/waiting for this to get ripcorded into something else, but it doesn’t happen. The crowd realizes what’s happening and starts cheering. They stay in this space for a few minutes before Trey THEN ripcords it into Twist.
Again, initially disappointed that they’d take those pretty sounds away from us, Twist goes to a place that makes me realize I need to stop doubting Trey Anastasio because I am a mortal who knows not of what is right, and he does. Almost immediately, Twist drops into a quiet space and goes type 2 about a minute or two in. This Twist goes into a major key direction, Trey starts playing chords that seem like a signal back into Twist (might just be me), but the jam keeps going into a high energy disco funk section with Page leading us to a place that sounds like a 3.0 version of the Riverport Gin. The funk builds to a peak for a bit before Fishman leads Twist back home to a proper finish.
Trey starts up Waves next. As soon as the song proper ends, and yet again, they immediately drop into ambiance and minimalist space. Sounding blissful at first, the effects take a dark turn, building up like you were in a scary movie and the antagonist was about to jump out of the bushes.
Miss You fits nicely here after all that, allowing us to collect our thoughts after the band took us to outer space and back, leaving us vulnerable enough to allow the song to hit us deep. Boogie On keeps things going, and the set ends with the Velvet Sea we’d just been Wading to hear. The Sweet Jane encore is really fun and Velvet Underground bookends the show. At the end of the show, I realize two things:
1) Rock and Roll is being saved for later in the run, and I’m ok with that with hopes that it’ll be a second set jam vehicle.
2) I forgot that they hadn’t played Tweezer Reprise yet.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself because we still have TEN more shows left in this run, and I definitely thought night 2 was a heavy contender for show of the year… but night 3 made its own statement. I had to rewatch the webcast after attempting to gather myself. Let’s just say I should stop worrying about whether their best music of the year is behind them (Too soon and bold to say career? They are playing some stellar shit, though.), and should enjoy what’s happening night in and out this summer.
Sunday night at the Garden was a great closing show to the first weekend of the Dozen. Plenty of fun tunes, great jamming and a very enjoyable theme made this a show to remember.
The first set opened in hilarious fashion, with Bishop Fishman blessing us with Sunday Morning (Trey on the kit). Nice opening.
Axilla was a nice energetic second song, which got everyone ratcheted up to 11.
Your Pet Cat was fun, although nothing extraordinary to my ears.
Back on the Train, however, was absolutely clinical. This one really soared, with amazing playing by Trey in particular (and some great stylings from Page).
How Many People Are You also had a pretty darn good jam section. This is a fu song and this version surpassed the Magnaball rendition in my estimation.
The unmistakeable Glide intro popped up next and was a great treat. Very well played by Trey, which was good to see in light of some sloppy renditions of tunes the previous nights.
Theme From the Bottom carried a powerful, if typical solo and was also a bit better from an execution standpoint that some versions I've heard the past few years.
It's Ice was the clear highlight. This one was a 15 minute springboard into jamland and really hit the spot after a very well played, but pretty in the box first frame.
More was a predictable set closer to a pretty unpredictable set. Feel good solo to close this one out.
Overall, a good first set. Personally, i'd put it just behind the first frames of the other two nights, but to be honest, each of those represents perhaps the best first sets I've managed to see. Great jamming found in It's Ice, and excellent versions of Glide, BOTT, How Many People Are You make this plenty of fun upon re-listen.
On to Set II, which I was hoping would be big and open and spacey. Well, this one did not disappoint.
AC/DC Bag had me hoping for a 12/30/97 blowout, but this slow version didn't manage to break free, despite a quieter than usual jam and tempo that seemed to indicate some intent. A fine opening nonetheless.
Wolfman's in the second set holds the promise of days gone by jams. Well this one delivered on that promise with aplomb. A fantastic solo with a rocking peak gave way to some funkier jamming, which was followed with an incredible spacey jam that concluded with some emotional and ethereal playing from all members. Twist emerged from the space in slightly forced, but not atrocious fashion.
Twist continued the sequence of jamming and wasted little time in breaking new ground. This jam traversed some new spaces and hit a nice major key section which hinted at returning to Twist. The band sticks it out though and finds some more territory to cover with Trey leading a full band build into a screaming peak. This one was awe-inspiring in the live scenario, as Trey was looping various screeching notes to build a very atmospheric and carnal peak, which may not hold up quite as powerfully on playback. Awesome version returns to the Twist vamp.
Waves concludes the incredible opening sequence of the set with a nicely executed type I jam followed by something I haven't heard them do in 3.0. The jam after the second chorus simply fell down a black hole into the nether realms of outer space. This jam was more IT '03 Waves than any other counterpart, with a depth and depravity that was uncharacteristic of the all too common major jamming we've seen lately. It was simultaneously unnerving and stunning and will probably not be everyone's favorite, but was the highlight for me. Incredible.
Miss You was a bummer, but not all that out of place after the deep jamming beforehand.
Boogie On was a surprisingly nice call, since this set wasn't really the dancey type up to this point. Definitely a good funky workout and felt a bit unique to me, without breaking much new ground.
The Velvet Sea conclusion was a guarantee and I also enjoyed this placement as the emotional conclusion to the night. Very well played and a good solo.
The encore was Sweet Jane and the joyfulness of this tune was palpable. Great version of a cover they do very well. More Trey heroics and just a big celebratory release. Excellent.
Overall Set II: Great space jamming, best set of the run? I know I'll keep the Wolfman's>Twist>Waves in rotation for quite some time.
This was a great show, a true Sunday space adventure, with some totally unique jamming and plenty of great song choices. The upward trajectory continues and the bar is set high.
The bulk of the jamming in Set II calls 6/14/00 Fukuoka to mind, for me. Wolfman's Brother and Waves (and even the end of Boogie On Reggae Woman) contain some of the most purely ambient jamming since that show, Ball Square Jam and Drive-In Jam notwithstanding. Sunday Morning is a phun Phish debut. How Many People Are You may be the longest version of that song to date, I'm not sure. It's Ice goes Type II to great effect... probably the longest version in some time. The flavor themes are a really funny running gag, in my opinion. I'm looking forward with great exuberance to Tuesday night's "Jam-Filled" donut flavor theme!
I'm really confused by some of the notes and scoring of this tour.
First off, how could this Your Pet Cat > BOTT not get a noteable jam attached to it. It is just phenomenal.
Second, how am I seeing most of these shows (Dayton, Pittsburgh, and all of the MSGs so far) getting such low scores? This has been the strongest tour in ages. We may look back on this like we do with 95 or 97 and say "I remember those days!" But I'm seeing them hovering around the 4.0 mark. This is ludicrous.
People, we are in the middle of history being made.
There's always one that gets away (OK, more than one!). This show just tickles my pickle (sorry/notsorry) in a way that I can't explain. Ambient grooves, It's Ice and that five song opening salvo of set II just dingaling in the Ringling Brothers ring like a magic bell. Great grooves, and lots of air between notes. Gotta love what these guys are doing for the 20th anniversary of the year they destroyed Merca.
Now that the instantly legendary Baker's Dozen run has concluded and the dust has settled a bit, I have decided to give this show another spin. Sitting at a 4.14 rating as I write this review, this may be the most underrated show of the entire run and (to my estimation) one of the most underrated shows in recent memory.
Immediately after it ended, I remember this show getting a lot of love... until the "Jam-Filled" show happened just 2 nights later. With that show becoming an instant-classic as well as the almost as highly regarded 7/26 show, this show seems to have been immediately forgotten about. However, it should not be missed, as there is a lot to love here.
Set I provides a very strong selection of songs as well as some top-notch takes. After an enjoyable Sunday Morning opener and a rocking Axilla, the band jumps into Your Pet Cat. Although they do not stray away from the song's funky romp, it contains some strong playing from all 4 to preview what was to come. The heart of the set begins with an excellent version of BOTT definitely worthy of its inclusion on the jam chart. Certainly one of the best versions in recent memory. After BOTT's conclusion, the band starts up How Many People Are You. This version, despite a little extra swagger in the composed section, seems to be straightforward from the beginning of the jam. However, around 6:41, Trey suddenly embarks on a stunningly soaring lead progression quite uncommon for a song that is played by the book just about every time. With laser focus and precision the band brings the jam to a triumphant (as opposed to blissful) peak before bringing the song to its usual conclusion. Certainly the best version of this song played to date.
The beloved Glide comes next. This is one of those songs that only pops up once in a blue moon nowadays and, when it does make an appearance, seems to give Trey fits. However, Trey nails this version, giving this rarely-played tune the treatment it deserves. Although the Theme that follows is played in standard fashion, it does contain some focused and inspired playing from Trey in the jam section.
Then comes It's Ice, not only one of the night's highlights, but one of the top jams of the entire run. At the start of the jam section, you know this one is gonna be different. Gordo and Fishman lay down an irresistibly funky groove from the get go, while Page and Trey drive this jam down the rabbit hole. Trey breaks out the murky 2.0 growling tone while Page's synths give the jam an etherial glow, akin to being at a funky dance party that's set in an underground crystal ice cave. Before we know it, the jam makes an effortless return to It's Ice to conclude. Although it's near impossible to select one single version of a song that has been around as long as the best ever, this is certainly in contention for that coveted spot. The set concludes with a standard, but rocking version of More.
Set II begins with AC/DC Bag, which most assuredly got some hopes up for a 12/30/97-like blowout (myself included). Despite some quieter and more patient play during the beginning of the jam, the jam eventually ends in standard fashion. However, any initial disappointment is shattered after what was to come.
Wolfman's gets the call. Although there have been many excellent versions of this tune in recent years, has rarely, if ever, launched into extended type II territory since 2.0. That all changed this night, when the band, seemingly ending the song in its standard fashion, suddenly drops into deep, deep space. At first, it sounds like transition space between songs, except the band does something remarkable: they actually continue playing in this realm and *contribute*! The patience pays off, as the band moves through several music of beautiful, serene space jamming that, as another reviewer points out, draws parallels to the 6/14/00 legendary Fukuoka show.
The transition to Twist does feel a bit abrupt, but again, all is forgiven once the band almost immediately begins exploring following the composed section. This jam sounds like if the Fukuoka Twist and the Riverport Gin had a baby. Enough said.
Waves comes next, seemingly as a cooldown from the last 30 minutes of improvisational madness. However, like they did with Wolfman's, the band *continues* playing where they would normally move on to the next song. What follows is certainly the closest Phish has come to the IT Waves soundscape jam, festival sets notwithstanding. Just unbelievable, otherworldly stuff here. Incredibly ballsy for Phish to play so abstractly and quietly in front of an arena crowd.
Although many fans are not a fan of this song popping up in second sets, Miss You actually provides the perfect cooldown in this slot, allowing, as others have mentioned, the listener to take in the full emotion this song has to offer. Boogie On provides some much-needed funk with shades of the delicate ambient jamming found earlier in the set. Velvet Sea closes the set in standard fashion, although with a little extra gusto added for Red Velvet night. The Sweet Jane bustout is the proverbial icing on the cake to bring the show to its conclusion.
Overall, this is a fantastic show that would have been a top 10 of the year contender in any other 3.0 year (with the possible exception of 2015). I think it also shows the need to judge a show on its own terms, without comparing it to the shows surrounding it. Although the following 2 nights get all the attention (and deservingly so), definitely give this show a listen with a nice pair of headphones, you will not be disappointed.
Wow, what a show. Even though I said this during my review for 7/21/17, I'm going to say it again here: this is the best Phish show I've ever witnessed live. I'll probably say that again just a couple of more times throughout the rest of the Baker's Dozen.
The first set was solid throughout. The show opened with a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning". It was hilarious getting blessed by the Pope John Fishman, and it was cool to see Trey on the kit and Mike get low on the stage to take a bass solo.
Highlights from the first set include excellent versions of "Back on the Train" and "Theme from the Bottom" with sweet Type I jams.
"It's Ice" segued out of a wonderful "Theme", and very quickly went spacey. The jam flew out to Saturn and then returned back to the cool "Ice" theme in 15 minutes. I hear that 15 minutes is the longest "It's Ice" to have ever been played. Wow, what a monster jam for the first set.
The second set started with my first ever "AC/DC Bag", and I thought we were in for a monster one. But after only 7 or so minutes, the band built up the speed of the jam faster and faster, and then subtly transitioned into "Wolfman's Brother".
Much like the "Ice" in the first set, the band quickly weaved their way through familiar "Wolfman's" territory before diving hard into a Mike driven funk jam. Mike was absolutely killing it, dropping perfectly timed bass bombs that I could feel through my whole body. The jam rides funk waves for a few minutes, before almost completely stopping. The band then goes through a minimalist spacey jam, which is extremely psychedelic. They slowly build and build on this space, and then Trey starts some joyous improvisation. The band picks up speed for a few minutes of joyous interplay, before Trey ripcords this wonderful "Wolfman's" into a "Twist" for the ages.
This "Twist" is an absolute monster. Once again, they start jamming extremely quickly. The band continues the fantastic funk from the "Wolfman's" prior, and they slowly weave their way into and out of improvisational funk jams. Every few minutes or so, Trey plays a familiar but not exact Twist riff, reminding us that we are still listening to a "Twist". Trey plays a few joyous measures here that sound very similar to the Grateful Dead tune "Bird Song". This jam is absolutely glorious, and I was having the time of my life in section 214 of MSG bopping along with Mike's funky bass lines and Trey's joyous leads. Fishman anchors the jam down exquisitely, and Page adds perfect fills to the space funk. After 13 or so minutes of balls to the wall funk/joy jamming, Trey brilliantly and subtlety brings us back into Twist riffage, much like the monster Twist from 6/14/00 in Fukuoka, Japan.
The band then transitions into "Waves". At this point I was at a lack of words at the behemoth of the Wolfman's > Twist jam I had just witnessed life. I had to regather my thoughts so I took a quick bathroom and water break. I made it back just in time for a wonderfully minimalist yet joyful "Waves" jam.
"Waves" transitions into "Miss You" and this song truly tugs at my heart strings. Trey also nailed the emotional solo at the end. I gotta be honest, when I first heard "Big Boat" when it came out last fall, I didn't like it much. But I truly have been enjoying this bands' live performances of the Big Boat songs, particularly "Blaze On", "Miss You", and "More". "Miss You" was perfectly slotted in this second set. A great ballad to let the MSG audience regather their thoughts after being shot out into the Oort Cloud by that Wolfman's > Twist.
The "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and "Wading in the Velvet Sea" that followed were both were very fun and had some nice jams, but didn't reach the psychedelic joyful spaciness the "Ice", "Wolfman's", and "Twist" had earlier in the show.
"Sweet Jane" was a fun way to wrap up a monster show. It was the first "Sweet Jane" performed by Phish since 2012.
This is a fantastic show, and I'm sure I'll be revisiting this show many times in the future.
I can't wait to be back at MSG again on Tuesday! I'm bringing a friend to his first Phish show.
Here's a few personal highlights from the couch.
Glide was a nice treat, there was a thread on facebook earlier in the day about Wading and Glide from Coventry. They ended up playing both which was cool. Trey's face during Glide was awesome too. What a weird song for them. Wolfman's->Twist is strong 3.0 jamming. They've really ridden songs harder in 2017. Now the next donut is Jam Filled!
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