07 January 2011

Phish @ MSG (Night One)

The last few days of 2010 (first day of 2011 inclusive) were like a music festival of my own design in NYC. I took a somewhat selfish family-less trip down and crammed as much music and other fun into 4 days as I could muster. The first night I was treated to some Zorn related avant-garde improvisation, covered here. On the second night, I intersected with Phish's own New Year's run. They were coming off two nights in Worcester and were hunkering down for 3 nights at the world's most famous arena. My need to see Phish at every opportunity has waned significantly in the last decade, but still, it hurt to have missed them on their fall tour, especially their stop at nearby Utica, considered by many to be the show of the year. So I was definitely excited to be catching at least this one show.

The first set seemed to have it all: great covers (Cities, Quinn the Eskimo, and Fat Man in the Bathtub), rarities, arena rock, jam vehicles, funk. And yet, it lacked cohesiveness and flow (the benchmarks of any truly great Phish show) and while not horrible, was somewhat disappointing. One of the bigger cheers of the set came when the PA cut out during Camel Walk...

Things would luckily pick up in the 2nd set. And right off the bat with a show-highlight-level Tweezer. Deep into the jam the band found a spacey groove that you could easily lose yourself in. Just as I was thinking I could listen to them play like that for the rest of the night, they moved on into Light, which would be the low point of what would end up being a very solid and rocking set, including this great My Friend My Friend/Axilla combo.

And really they left you with little to complain about when they topped off the set with an Antelope/Tweezer Reprise encore. In the past it would seem strange to jump on a Phish New Year's run for just one show, but it made more sense than ever to me this year. Variety is the spice of life I guess.

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