Tuesday 01/01/2019 by phishnet

12/31/2018 RECAP: THIS IS WHAT 2019 SMELLS LIKE

[phish.net welcomes and thanks guest writer, Alaina Stamatis, @farmhose & @fad_albert for the recap of 12/31/18 - ed]

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)

Last year at the stroke of midnight, during the first few seconds of 2018, and the very earliest notes of “Free,” I immediately caught a whiff of an unmistakable scent, similar to mothballs on fire; that’s right, I’m talking about DMT. I looked over and discovered that a hippie goddess with sparkling dreads and a hemp cotton dress had laced her joint with the spirit molecule. She passed the deemster doobie to a guy with floor-length dreads, legendary in his own right, but eternalized in that moment: for as he hit the DMT joint at the very genesis of 2018, he attempted to stomp on one of the balloons that had just landed in front of him, but instead he slipped on it and fell on his ass.

This year I convinced my husband @twicebitten that we should enter the venue earlier and secure a closer spot on the floor, that somehow it would be less chaotic. Outside the rain really sucked (tonight) and it was sad to see the little hunched over wookies soaked, simultaneously attempting to get miracle’d and sell more doses. Inside the scene was all glitz and glamour: flappers, prom dresses, barefoot guy giving out gummy bears, silver balloons ready to drop, Phish jocks in their chic athletic wear, young bros in bathrobes, the faux monk in his hotel sheet tunic, and the kids whose shirts spell out ICCULUS.

The first set was a strong, standard set (an average-great set) featuring two Kasvot Växt tunes, “Stray Dog” and “Play By Play,” both of which won me over (harder) in their second performance. The KV material was mixed in about once a set for the entire run (nine of the 10 songs made the cut) and I felt they all worked really nicely alongside Phish’s existing material.

Down with Disease” opened the second set with a life-affirming journey. It was so effortless and natural that I didn’t hear a lot of people even verbalize how “sick” it was. Some amnesia may have set in because after "DWD" we were “Farmhouse’d.” I like “Farmhouse,” as you can see from my handle, but I understand. They couldn’t "Farmhouse "the whole set though! Wow! “Was that still ‘Seven Below’?” Insane, high-speed echo jamming, with appearances of space age synths, definitely the best "Seven Below" of my concert-attending career. Trey tried to get the audience to woo. The audience kind-of woo’d.

Twist” brought the energy way up and “Harry Hood” rode it out, went type 2 for a little bit, and while the band kept setting up to go back into the end of the song (probably because it was like 11:15 and they wanted to take a break before the countdown), Trey kept going. He reached a little plinko jam, and started searching for a way to segue into “Passing Through,” another Kasvot Växt tune. They made it there after stopping and having Fishman count it off. The KV lyrics, “Sonic sea vibrations passing over you,” is definitely code for, “Phish rules.” Trey tried to get the audience to “Way-o, way-o,” which, after the low quality woo’s, is like asking to hit someone’s joint, getting rejected, and then asking to borrow everything. In the future, it could be Phish’s “Not Fade Away” chant, which I’m here for. The band had to pick up our slack and end “Hood,” which made everybody jump up and down and throw illuminated twigs at each other. Set break ensued.

© 2018 Phish (Jake Silco)
© 2018 Phish (Jake Silco)

A few minutes before 11:45 the band runs on stage under a dim glow of blue light. They bust into “Mercury,” and Chris Kuroda’s lighting rig encircled the stage like a dome, shooting cold temperature beams downward for the big reveal: Trey and Mike are wearing really cute little silver outfits. Sick prank, guys. “Your day is longer than your year.”

But then! Just as the song is describing the tomb of the red queen, a half dozen dancers in tattered astronaut jumpsuits run to the edge of the stage. And we collectively realize, “Oh snap, it’s about to get Peter Pan up in this arena.” They’re harnessed and up they go, wearing hula skirts trailing long tendrils of silver streamers, momentarily concealing the band like a curtain for the ethereal composed ambient section. Then bam! The skirts fall to the stage and dancers’ harnesses are actually little netted swings enabling them to perform aerialist stunts. “The nets unbreakable, so don’t worry about (them) falling,” Trey reassures the crowd. The aerialists’ cords extend and retract, lowering them quickly and raising them again, all while the dancers are retaining a smile and a challenging flexible pose (that nobody in the audience is capable of replicating). Then! Individual smoke machines drop from the lighting rig in unison with the movement of the aerialists, following them around with a ghostly puff, like Charlie Brown’s depression cloud only sexy. Kuroda is lighting them as a pale rainbow. Meanwhile Trey is shredding "Mercury," hosing everybody down, and giving amazing Treyface while watching the dangling people. Page’s face is also in awe, and it feels like a rare moment where the band is enjoying their own show as spectators.

The countdown is verbalized by a robot (because it’s the future) and then thousands of mylar balloons fall from the ceiling to our yearly, Hendrix-esque, “Auld Lang Syne.” Everyone is kissing and selfie’ing and overwhelmed by all the shininess, while surreptitiously on stage Trey and Mike are getting harnessed. It’s time to fly. They go into “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” (which as we all know stands for Subterranean Arctic Neuro Technology Orientation Station). The whole room is yelling, “HI HO HI HO HI HO,” and slapping around reflective globes that have picked up the wetness of the MSG general admission. This is what 2019 smells like: floor beer.

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)

Trey and Mike are hovering high above the stage like astronaut angels. We will always remember where they were.

In years past, particularly the “Petrichor” NYE, staff has come on stage as balloon population control, brandishing some sort of blade and puncturing each puppy shaped inflatable as if it were a teen in a slasher film. Just as the balloons were at capacity and about to start floating toward the band in large numbers, the dancers came back out in huge inflatable pizza and hot dog costumes, blocking balloons from drowning the musicians (and potentially concealing behind-the-scenes staffers who were covertly stabbing the orbs).

The rest of the show was a standard, average-great show. No "Reba," no "Divided Sky," no "Fluffhead," "YEM," "Stash" or "Bowie" (all weekend). An amazing four-night run without those songs in order to focus everybody’s attention on the newer material and fresher vibrations. They played “Lizards” for the “Icculus” truthers, who incorrectly gleaned from Trey’s social media prescience that Phish was planning to perform Gamehendge in its entirety. On a personal level, I’ve seen the past 61 consecutive shows and although I don’t have a lot of back history with the band, I’ve witnessed an amazing period of growth and rejuvenation. 2018 was the best year of 3.0, and if you “Ask Trey,” the best year of their career.

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Comments

, comment by Col_Radicones_Ascent
Col_Radicones_Ascent Awesome and spot on review! Thank you and Happy New Years!!!
, comment by vtspeedy
vtspeedy Great write up and spot on Alaina. I wasn’t at Halloween and had my doubts about the new material but I’m sold. The best NYE run in recent history. Viva la Phish! And did I mention, great writing?!
, comment by tubescreamer
tubescreamer I am thankful that .net gave the opportunity to review a show as significant as New Years to someone who can really write prose. Great job! Thanks for that!
, comment by paulj
paulj This is what 2019 smells like: floor beer.

Hilarious!
, comment by MrStevietRI
MrStevietRI This is fucking bullshit. This band doesn't know what type 1 or type 2 jamming is. They don't care what 2.0 or 3.0 is. They played zero classics during this run. No bowie, no foam, no reba, no divided sky, no fee, no dinner and a movie, no gp, no rift, no mound, no it's ice, no col forbin, no tela, no harpua, no ffm, no glide, no ctb, no gumbo, no nothing. Just the usual shit. This band used to ooze fusion chops, emulate Zappa and yes and Santana and all the greats, but this last 20 years have been crap. My sister in law did liquid acid with the band in their limo at great woods in 2000, with trey' s friend Hammond, from school. They were full of shit then, and now. Trey can't figure out one fucking melodic lick compared to the old days. This band exists to pity his existence. Tom Marshall should find a better composer to write for.
, comment by kmmccorm
kmmccorm And yet here you are posting hot takes on their message board.
, comment by unoclay
unoclay funny and good review. Def a "fine" nye but it was clear even as third set was winding down, this was a fine NYE, not an epic-for-the-ages one. Nice understated stunt, not one of the ones we'll be talking about for decades, but still fine.
Musically the 30th slayed me, and will def be the show of the run for me. 29th was good too, and 28th felt slow and not very great, at least to me. NYE was a fine sendoff to one of the better years of 3.0, but 30th was def the hands down winner this time, and I expected as much heading into NYE--was impossible to imagine a show topping 30th.
Good writeup, thanks!
, comment by MrStevietRI
MrStevietRI Why shouldn't i? They're one of the greatest musical outfits of all time. I've been a devoted fan, through commercial purchases and otherwise, since 1991. I went and saw pork tornado and Phil and fiends and vida blue and everything in between. I've tried to maintain. This new version of trey is ridiculous. He can't even play the tweezer riff more than twice in a row. These fucking people talking about major key and minor key jams haven't the foggiest clue of what the fuck they're talking about. No quarter is the ballad spot? The loose use of the term funk is also aggravating. I used to think phish fans were musical people, appreciating contemporary heroes. The band broke up because they couldn't stand the scene full of idiots who thought drugs defined the band, and because drugs overtook their leader. A great man has now been reduced to composing simplistic, pseudo-pop, contrived bullshit. How could this be the same man who wrote all the music for TMWSIY and Junta? The insatiable, inanely stupid audience ruined everything. They felt compelled to fit in. Fuck all you fake hippy trust fund baby bathroom dread locked phonies who thought you were so cool. You blew it for the rest of us.
, comment by Kriddaz
Kriddaz I dig your style. Well played!
, comment by hdorne
hdorne Somebody save Trey! The wooks got him! No classics? Do Hood, Alumni Blues, and The Lizards not qualify as classics? Your sister-in-law did liquid acid with the band in their limo and they were full of shit? Wow, nobody’s ever used a story like that to bolster their cred before. Trey can’t play the Tweezer riff anymore? He hasn’t played it straight in ages. He’s always vamped on that riff, and countless others, because after you’ve played a song thousands of times you start to want to change it up a bit. We all know how the songs go; a large part of why people still go to shows is to hear how the songs go on that particular night. It’s not just about jams, it’s about improvising within the song structures themselves. But I digress.

I too think a lot of “phans” are hard-partying fake-hippie morons who couldn’t care less about music. A lot of tour rats needed a place to go after Jerry died. Which is strange, because Phish have always been more of a dork band to me. But, I’m pretty sure Trey and Phish do whatever the hell they want. I don’t always love everything they do, but I never get the feeling that they’re doing it to appease heady brahs in the lot. And I sure as hell don’t love the band because of the “scene,” in fact I largely detest it. But I’ve been a fan for 15 years now, and this year’s Hampton Simple brings me to tears damn near every time I play it. They must be doing something right. I’m sorry you don’t enjoy it anymore. That’s OK.
, comment by ForgeTheCoin
ForgeTheCoin A hilarious and wonderful, spot-on synopsis of what was this phan’s first NYE after 20+ years of hoping to make it some day. Expectations fully met, and then exceeded. Though it sounds cliche, I reached a place of openness, bliss, and love for each and everyone in the room... without getting too new agey I will just say that it was a profound experience, and one I’ll remain eternally grateful for.

Just one musical note - if you are going to get Farmhose’d, then it better be with a shimmeringly beautiful rendition of the tune. I’ve never been incredibly moved by seeing the tune live - I was this time. It just felt right. And speaking of being pleasantly wowed by unexpected tunes, the Waste ended up probably being the most emotional moment of the night for me, out of left field. All the feels and a few happy tears, thinking of loved ones who have passed on, and the distance traveled in the last couple decades since my personal journey with this band began. I’ll remember that as much as I’ll remember bobbing in the sea of silver...
, comment by Hendrix_Phishinfloyd
Hendrix_Phishinfloyd @ForgeTheCoin said:
if you are going to get Farmhose’d, then it better be with a shimmeringly beautiful rendition of the tune. I’ve never been incredibly moved by seeing the tune live - I was this time. It just felt right.
Image
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Wow @MRSTEVIETRI you are such a noob
, comment by cmg348
cmg348 I vote for @farmhose writing more reviews in future.
, comment by ALCVT
ALCVT Not sure why people are going out of their way to bash this NYE show, it was my 12th going back to ‘94 and easily makes my top 3, right up there with the JEMP show. Yeah I said it. Moreover, the 3 nights I saw (29-31st) were all of such a high standard I couldn’t imagine coming up with any negative things to say, and I’m a harsh critic when I sense them mailing it in. The review is average-great (not a fan of that term tho) but the author is somewhat remiss for failing to note the very obvious No Man’s Land teases throughout 2nd and 3rd set, some of which even hint at Partytime. Disease, 7Below, Twist all vamp on that D-major chord, it’s the equivalent of a Crosseyed set that keeps bringing the jam back. Give it a relisten! Mercury is the best song of 3.0 sorry not sorry and Trey even answered my question about how it was written so...that 3rd set was FUCKING AWESOME. Happy New Year loves it doesn’t get any better than what we’re experiencing so enjoy it while you can!
, comment by joshjacobsn
joshjacobsn I’ve always felt fortunate to go to a show since my first at Polaris in 99. This weekend was phantastic, and I thank the band and community for another wonderful experience. Until we meet again....take care of one another....and be safe!!!
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten @ALCVT said:
The review is average-great (not a fan of that term tho) but the author is somewhat remiss for failing to note the very obvious No Man’s Land teases throughout 2nd and 3rd set, some of which even hint at Partytime. Disease, 7Below, Twist all vamp on that D-major chord, it’s the equivalent of a Crosseyed set that keeps bringing the jam back. Give it a relisten!
Is this a joke?
, comment by SANTOsBrother
SANTOsBrother lol @MRSTEVIETRI ...cynical to say the least. Not sure if you heard the madness that was the type II 46 days. You and the person who wrote this review should go relisten to the shows because this weekend was fire, Trey was blowing the roof off the place song after song, and that was one of the cooler gags in the history of the band IMO. Saw It Again right after midnight? Go listen to Rock and Roll - Trey was machine gun'ing and Page definitely got his bonus check.....Leave the trolling to the trolls - as a "devoted fan", you're better than that.
, comment by Bizzy
Bizzy I'm five years in to being a Phish Fan, but a live music fan since I have been twelve years old..and I am a peer of the phish boys....and I have seen many many musicians and bands evolve over the years, as they should..would you like to play the same song the same way for 30 years..not true musically talented individuals...I went to the second night of bakers dozen, halloween in vegas 10-31-18 , this sunday 12-30- 18 ,and monday 12-31-18 and two trey shows and two mike shows..
so very limited compared to most fans..but as a music lover ..the phish scene and music is all happy , jammin, dancing , and very tight musically....in my opinion the boys are having lots of fun in their fifties as I am....and a big bonus is our adult children are digging the phish scene too..be happy that phish makes people happy....
Looking forward to many other shows...all the best in 2019
, comment by Mrkitty
Mrkitty So were they pretending to be Kosvot Voxt covering Phish’s Mercury when they came out? Cause that makes sense actually.
, comment by TnJedHead
TnJedHead Mind blown
, comment by ALCVT
ALCVT @twicebitten No, it’s not a joke. That would be inane, more of a waste of time than responding here in kind. Pehaps the subtleties escape you? The 30th show is loaded with the same teases, too, if you care to maybe listen a little closer? Or do you need the chorus (Stillllll waitinggggg???) for it to click?? At times they modulate away from D-major, sure, so that part was incorrect, otherwise I stand by the statement
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten @ALCVT said:
@twicebitten No, it’s not a joke. That would be inane, more of a waste of time than responding here in kind. Pehaps the subtleties escape you? The 30th show is loaded with the same teases, too, if you care to maybe listen a little closer? Or do you need the chorus (Stillllll waitinggggg???) for it to click?? At times they modulate away from D-major, sure, so that part was incorrect, otherwise I stand by the statement
The jamming around 13 minutes in DWD is No Man-esque, but I'm not sure I'd say it qualifies for a tease. It's a pretty simple motif. You mention Seven Below... is jamming 12 minutes into it what you're thinking of? Cause that's definitely not even No Man, that's just some Eb mixo jamming. Notes/scales/chords ya know they tend to lead us to similar places.

Anyway that's not the part I thought you were "joking" about. I was just giving you shit for hating on my wife's awesome review and acting like a nerd. Like anyone needs to read the same tired fanboy shit show after show.
, comment by PhishOregon
PhishOregon @MrStevietRI said:
This is fucking bullshit. This band doesn't know what type 1 or type 2 jamming is. They don't care what 2.0 or 3.0 is. They played zero classics during this run. No bowie, no foam, no reba, no divided sky, no fee, no dinner and a movie, no gp, no rift, no mound, no it's ice, no col forbin, no tela, no harpua, no ffm, no glide, no ctb, no gumbo, no nothing. Just the usual shit. This band used to ooze fusion chops, emulate Zappa and yes and Santana and all the greats, but this last 20 years have been crap. My sister in law did liquid acid with the band in their limo at great woods in 2000, with trey' s friend Hammond, from school. They were full of shit then, and now. Trey can't figure out one fucking melodic lick compared to the old days. This band exists to pity his existence. Tom Marshall should find a better composer to write for.
No way this is real. A weird trolling effort, "liquid acid" man whose sister hung out with Trey's "friend from school" (and who also has a super hot girlfriend who lives in Canada that none of us know?). Come on, brother, you're making us old folks look like......well, old folks.

Here's the thing: no good band keeps playing the same old stuff for decades on end. How boring would that be for the band and for (most of) the audience? You sound like one of those guys who thinks Bob Dylan should have never gone electric or that the Dead of '70-'78 was a betrayal of the (liquid acid!) Dead of '67-69. Both facially terrible opinions.

If you want bands that play the same songs they started with and without meaningful changes over the course of several decades, there is likely a band out there for you. They're playing state fairs and casinos across the land.

Me? I loved Phish in the 90s but I'm thrilled by what I witnessed in the latter half of 2018. If you didn't delight in the multi-layered genius of the KV prank--and the uber phish-iness of it all--then I'm not sure what to say.....other than I hope you enjoy listening to Junta and Colorado '88 on headphones, alone. Each to their own, of course. But you kinda sound like a jerk coming here right after this amazing fall and NYE run to put all the noobs in their place for experiencing joy (in 2018 of all years!) while watching an amazing band back at the top of their game.

Here's a New Years resolution for you: Try a little bit of that liquid acid yourself and dissolve that ridiculous ego of yours. Then come back and give another listen.

P.S. They played Glide II on 12/30. And it was gorgeous.
, comment by antelope92
antelope92 Everyone relax - In my opinion, everyone is there for their own reason. As long as they don't ruin anyone else's time enjoy - for whatever reason in any way they want. It's a personal journey - don't box anyone into yours. I love meeting everyone from all corners of the earth and from so many backgrounds. I meet so many interesting people at the shows, it's outstanding. The only ones who really bug me are the pretentious ones - chill out and enjoy it while we got 'em!!!!!!

See you all in the summer!
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei Happy New Year, everybody. :-)
, comment by JMart
JMart Since when is CTB a cassic?
Anyway, more to the point, and not for nothing, but what were you doing back in the late 80's to early 90's? I guarantee it's not the same thing you're doing right now. Why should we expect anything less of Phish? Yes, I get that we all have songs we'd like to hear. I would love to have heard Reba or Foam or Bowie, but you know what? It's not up to me. Because I'm not the one playing. I can't imagine how nauseating it must be to have to play the same shit for literally 30 years and people get pissed if you try to write something new. I've gotten to the point where I'd rather hear them play what THEY want to play because they're going to play it better and with more energy. And that's what it's about these days is the energy.
, comment by Briancc
Briancc The people who are talking about the kas vat
Songs I don't think have listened to them yet.
Listen a little closer and you will here all those things, (if you liked the music of phish to begin with) here. Great music with interesting changes/check
Funny story/check
Weird lyrics that keep you singing all day/ double check. as far as these shows I've listened 12/29, and 30. And glide 2 touché Mr. Anastasio you win again.
, comment by AbePhroman
AbePhroman I liked it for the most part until you felt it necessary to throw in your "61 consecutive shows" cred.
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