Everyone’s had a full week to digest the Phish New Year’s Eve run, arguably a “standard” Phish affair with no major surprises but an undeniably fun four-nights in NYC for a ton of lucky music fans. That’s a great way to kick off a new year no matter what, and we’re psyched to be kicking off our new year here at LMB with a proper Phish Friday post. Let’s round up some videos and hang out this afternoon…
I chose the first 10 that come to my mind from the run after digesting the entire run; some of this I watched real-time but I generally wasn’t fully engaged on the entire Couch Tour, so take my opinion and notes as a quick mental dump / recap about the four nights. Many others have tackled this run in hella detail. And I should note that we’re avoiding the “full” review of these shows given the fact that my crew didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole. It was hard to digest in a few ways, but all of them agreed it was fun and well worth a review to focus on the higlights only. Let’s dig in…
10. Contact (12/28/11 first set)
First set Contact on the first night; I felt like I was chasing this song all summer and finally the band lets another one out of the bag. Musically, the funk breakdown is where everyone was really floored. And I actually saw a bunch of chatter about how the “Sample” was a pretty solid arena-rock moment, so this video above is that classic Phish combo of whimsical, fun and balls-out rocking.
9. Party Time (12/31/11 Set Two opener!)
I will forever love “Party Time” as something this band should open shows with, and the fact that the second set opener of the NYE show got this song means that the band really does know when to drop it and it actually DOES think about song placement… sometimes. The rest of the song placements seemed so far off from this predictability that one wonders when Party Time will close the show and just confuse the s*** out of everyone. “But wait….haven’t we been partying this whole time?”
8. You Enjoy Myself (12/29/11 2nd song of the night)
Here I am, totally nonchalant about missing the start of night two because I was going to be raging Couch Tour at The Independent…when i realized that the one-two opener of The Sloth > YEM was what I was missing. I got my ass in gear and made it out to the Indy with plenty of time to catch the jam. The second the band started building to the “Boy Man God Shit” part, the place started to get crazy. Then the stream PAUSES, and the entire Independent shrieks in pure terror! It was straight-up hilarious…. watching a webcast on Couch Tour is only so much fun, but watching a webcast at your favorite venue in the city with 300 other like-minded fans is definitely my new preferred way of doing it.
7. Mike’s Groove with Chalk Dust (12/29/11 second set)
Another band chosen highlight here, and I remember loving this as I heard it live at the Indy. All of us were getting nicely sauced up by that point in the evening, and I was psyched the band didn’t immediately drop the energy down to Hydrogen without putting in their newly-inspired-in-3.0 vehicle known as Chalk Dust, and the flow into Hydrogen is definitely mashed together with a Trey ADD flavoring that had a few of us wondering if Trey really was listening to the band or if they were forced to listen to him. He used to do this sorta thing a lot more gracefully, but I still enjoyed it.
6. Funky Bitch (12/29/11 mid first set)
Page absolutely destroys this version; some of the best full band rocking all weekend if you ask me.
5. Steam -> NYE Gag / Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease (HAPPY 2012!)
It’s pretty clear Phish kept up with the chatter from the internets this year, as evidenced by the fact that they chose the “Steam” gag for NYE knowing that it would be well-received musically. Nobody s*** on this song whatsoever this year, and it’s debuted immediately signaled some serious songwriting prowess that the fans had been expecting out of the band forever since the 3.0 return. (Granted, I do like some of the “Joy” tracks now they’re taking on new forms, but it’s still not that powerful in terms of instrumentality. Poppy, light and rocky Phish is not the Phish I fell in love with).
Choosing “Steam” as the gag was a perfect way to ring in the new year, and I liked how the vibe in the room sorta looked like what the band put together for their Tower Set. Floaty, spacey and airy Phish is the stuff I can get into.
4. Piper / Twist (12/30/11 set two)
These two songs have produced a beautiful musical offspring this year (the Dick’s version is ridonk), and this MSG pair definitely got people where they needed to be on that third night after a pretty shakey first set. Arguably the show that really took away the real steam (ha!) of the run, this band-chosen highlight shows that they did lay down some magic that night despite the flubs and shakiness.
3. Light -> Golden Age (12/31/11 after “Party Time”)
GUH. Theremintactular. But then, uhm Trey gets too excited and starts the next one too early… I’d call “Light” the highlight here.
2. Cities (12/28/11 first set)
The band has been having fun with this one over the past few years and this version from MSG was absolutely sublime. Really patient jamming, and right when it could even potentially get boring, the band lets off the gas and just lets it fade away. I liked this one a lot.
1. Crosseyed & Painless / Simple / Lifeboy (12/29/11 set 2 beginning)
I chose this as my number one moment because I was pleased with the band’s creativity on all fronts between these three tracks. It’s true that it may not be the best playing all weekend, but sandwiching these three songs into a segment of music was a sure-fire way to prove that the band still had balls and would and could take chances to produce moments of pause, moments of surprise, and moments of “really wait, I know this tune… is this Lifeboy?” while the entire crowd catches up to Trey’s tease of the first few notes. Sometimes it doesn’t work when the band tries something like this, but I thought this segment was great and kind of quitessential Phish to me.
What are some of the other highlights I missed?!
And what will 2012 hold in store for the band? Who knows, but you should be paying attention to stuff like Radiohead and the potential rumors about Daft Punk finally coming back out on the road. Phish will be back doing something, but a four-night run hangover is still fresh for some of us and it doesn’t seem important to start worrying about summer tour with the band just yet.
Happy first Friday of 2012, ya’lls! Have a killer weekend.