Sunday 12/29/2013 by TheEmu


Expectations for a New Year’s run haven’t been this high since...well, since 2012, following the Dick’s face fucking. But instead of three amazing shows, Phish is coming into the home stretch in 2013 having unleashed what was arguably the best tour of 3.0. So let’s not mess around, let’s get to it!

The run kicks off with “The Wedge,” a song that has made several mid-second set appearances recently (see BGCA 3) but which seems much better suited, IMO, as an opener. It allows us to ease in and move smoothly to cruising altitude. “Stealing Time” simultaneously blazes and teases with promises of jams yet unrealized. “Mound” is the first sign of rust. It’s a messy version, but three songs in after a two month layoff, I think we can allow time to adjust to game speed.

Birds of a Feather” is a great sign for this first set. It stays close to home and doesn’t sport the sharpest talons, but there’s definite muscle being flexed, and excellent communication taboot. Now that we’re good and loose, it’s time for The Phish to get positively lycanthropic on yo’ ass. This isn’t the “Wolfman’s” we’ve become used to in 3.0, with a smooth build and a big peak. This beast gets way way down and shows how all four musicians sound when bitten by the same monster. It’s fat and furry, dirty and sexy, just a touch psychedelic, and THEN it rips out the fangs and roars! Without a doubt the star of the first set, and you can bet it will be on the highlight reel for this run.

After a “Wilson” misstep from the crowd and a laughing, secret language “D’oh!” the first Wingsuit song of the run appears. “Monica” rocks hard when she goes all electric, and also leaves room for Page to pound some ivory. It will be interesting to see if “Monica” allows more improvisation or if it’s destined to become a ripping set closer. We’ll check back on her in 2014. For now, “Seven Below” seems like a nice choice for more first set jamming, and at first it sounds like we’re headed for something interesting, even before the “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” tease. But a little stumble around the 4:45 mark pushes this frozen flower to an early bloom, and it gets gently but firmly pruned. The rest of the set is pretty standard fare, with a small funk injection via “Tube,” a quick bass solo lesson in “Free,” and the swinging blues of “Julius” to take us to the break. Not a bad first set by any means, and the “Wolfman’s” is a keeper.

Dropping in to kick off set two, “Sand” takes quite a while to make it’s mark. In fact, it’s not until close to the 10 minute mark, where they pass up an ambient off-ramp and latch on to a nasty riff that this version develops a personality. The jam culminates with some intimidating synth space, but “Piper” segues out of the dunes and takes off. Like “Sand,” “Piper” at first seems to be grasping for ideas, but quickly the red worm decides it wants to rock. Nothing fancy here, just some balls out shredding followed by a righteous breakdown which becomes increasingly delicate while searching for a new direction. It’s “Back On the Train” that rambles by to pick the jam up again, but this version has its booty-shakin’ wheels planted firmly on the track. Suddenly “Tweezer” jumps in the fray, an exciting prospect in light of the three recent stellar versions. Unfortunately, this “Tweezer” follows the script of this set rather than that of Fall tour. It moves along without finding a purpose, and the “Number Line” ripcord is both telegraphed and appropriate.

The early theme of “searching for an identity” turns out to be appropriate because “Steam” has struggled to define itself as something other than a sick groove and a special effects gimmick. Aided by Fishman’s Roger Waters-esque screams, this “Steam” builds the pressure until it blows out walls, windows and minds. “Huge” doesn’t begin to do it justice; it’s a must-hear for fans of the song and the highlight of the second set. A segue into “Silent In the Morning” follows, though I think the subsequent “Waiting All Night” would do just as well in that role. The second Wingsuit tune of the evening was one of my favorites from Halloween, and I liked the addition of “ooohs” over the end, but I think they still have some work to do on “Waiting.” A typically strong “Antelope” closes the set, followed by a typically fun “Suzy” with extra mustard and shenanigans on the Rage Side, and a typically awesome “Tweeprise” to cap the night.

This is a quality start to the run, no doubt. Lots of energy and lots of fun, not a lot of rust, and a couple of really outstanding jams in “Wolfman’s” and “Steam.” With the way the band is playing right now, the next few nights seem guaranteed to yield untold treasures. If you are somehow on the fence about tonight, let me give you some advice. DON’T BE A FOOL. SEE THE PHISH!

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by fluffhead108
fluffhead108 My thoughts exactly. Well writ'.

I am 100% in support of replacing Silent with Waiting in the breather slot. Doubling them up was a mistake, but that's the no-brainer slot for Waiting as we go forward.
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy "Now that we’re good and loose, it’s time for The Phish to get positively lycanthropic on yo’ ass."

Best sentence I've read this week. :)
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 @TheEmu, nice job describing that Wolfman's Brother last night getting all lycanthropic, it was spot on. I got stuck on the Holland Tunnel exit for an hour and a half and missed the first half of the set up until Birds, but that Wolfman's alone made every second of sitting in purgatory worth it.

Spot on about Steam also. Have a happy new year.
, comment by paulj
paulj Thanks for the link to the definition of 'lycanthrope'. The Timber Ho didn't think it was really a word. The show review section wouldn't let me submit my one word summary: 'Steam." Looking forward to tonight!
, comment by gladtobeaglenn
gladtobeaglenn only misstep: the Trey/Mike nans took place on Fishman's side (or stage left), not Paige side. Otherwise, very kind and insightful summation imho. I had the bad fortune to be standing next to a couple of chatty brohams during set 1 in sec 213 so relocated to 109 for set 2. I don't understand paying $80 to get in and spending the entire set chatting like your in a bar somewhere. Tried to stare down the offenders but they were oblivious and too busy drinking beer and discussing their personal agendas to notice.
, comment by makisupaman
makisupaman Steam jam contained elements of Tweeprise from my vantage point on the couch. Nice write up, @TheEmu. Look forward to the rest of the run.
, comment by DividedSkywalkerNYC
DividedSkywalkerNYC <<Lots of energy and lots of fun, not a lot of rust, and a couple of really outstanding jams in “Wolfman’s” and “Steam.”> >

Agreed that the fellas were energetic, but this is a given at MSG, especially on the opening night in 3.0. Enjoyed myself thoroughly, although I would've appreciated a more fluid, elevated jam from Sand or Tweezer - whose failure to launch, in particular, was a low point of a decent second set. It's an interesting night when BDTNL is better-executed than Tweezer!

Still, the band remains in top form and very much worth braving the crowds at the refurbished MSG.
, comment by cmcella10
cmcella10 Solid review, thank you. Sand was right up there with Steam for my set 2 highlight, obviously have to listen back but thought it was a pretty stellar version. Maybe not on the level as some of the great versions from the past year or two, but was still noteworthy in my mind. I was disappointed with the Tweezer as it really never went anywhere. Probably my favorite song, and I don't ever expect anything from it really, but as they were getting to the point where they were clearly switching it up, I couldn't help but wish they had just saved in for another night. It has now been played the first night of the MSG run four years in a row.
FACTSAREUSELESS Thanks for the recap. Enjoyed the artistic language. I haven't heard the show yet so I can't offer any feedback to your insights but I'm excited about your description of Wolfman's, which other than Stash and Tweezer is my favorite Phish tune.

Hope the run keeps building. It's about time that '95 got knocked off its long throne as the top NYE show.
, comment by fromtheaxis
fromtheaxis I could've jumped off a bridge after that Wolfman's and died happy.
, comment by thedukeabides
thedukeabides Great write-up, love your linguistic flair.
, comment by OrangeSox
OrangeSox Good review. Upon first read thought you were calling @lycanthropist and was wtf.
, comment by stratattack
stratattack “Mound” is the first sign of rust.

It always sounds like rust. I wonder why they keep pushing this song into "normal" rotation? Trey always has problems with it. I guess he's appeasing Mike.

Great write-up!
, comment by thebabysmouth
thebabysmouth solid writeup
, comment by Ez_and_not_so_Fast
Ez_and_not_so_Fast Knew what "lycanthropy" was before any of you clicked the link.

I'm all hipster like that with a monster vocabulary.
, comment by RoundMound
RoundMound Great recap. I Felt like it wasnt for lack of effort that the Sand and Tweezer didnt develop ...It just sounded like they couldnt "find it" and instead of pushing it along, they pulled back and re-booted. I think it paid off because the BDTNL was extremely well played and Steam was amazing.
Great recap. I Felt like it wasnt for lack of effort that the Sand and Tweezer didnt develop ...It just sounded like they couldnt "find it" and instead of pushing it along, they pulled back and re-booted. I think it paid off because the BDTNL was extremely well played and Steam was amazing.
Now that I've heard the show, I totally agree with this.
FACTSAREUSELESS I've since heard the Wolfman's and it is epic, for sure. Great use of effects by Trey and Page. Sometimes effects can detract from the playing but in this case they really added a lot.

It's funny...I was listening to some music from the Fall Tour '10 over the Christmas week and Trey sounded much tighter in his playing then, with far fewer flubs, yet the Type 2 just wasn't there. Don't know what it means really, except his playing is significantly sloppier these days, yet far more creative and entertaining. While I'm still jarred at times by the whale calling and pitch-shifting, as well as the constant flubs during composed sections of some of their more difficult songs (though mostly in the beginning of the compositions), I'm encouraged by the chances he's taking, the patience for his bandmates, and his overall energy and inventiveness these days. It's almost like 2003 and 1995 have merged as one.
You must be logged in to post a comment. is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal | DMCA

© 1990-2023  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by Linode