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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Night I: December 28th, 2012

Following the fantastic three shows held in Denver over Labor Day Weekend, a run with such beautiful music that my friends and I now use the phrase "Dick's Light" to describe anything amazing, phans everywhere were found salivating over the prospect of the 4 night stand at MSG for New Year's. As we all anxiously counted down the days till the 28th, predictions were thrown around and wish lists were made. We waited, and still waited (Crosseyed!), until finally the 28th came. What will follow are a series of posts reviewing the 4-night stand as well as some outcomes from the run.

A little past 8 pm on Friday, December 28th, the lights at MSG went down and Kuroda's beautiful blue lights shined bright on the stage. The crowd roared louder than any show in recent memory. The combination of a three month layoff with the level of play at Dick's brought an absurd amount of energy to the Garden. I was hoping for a Llama or Buried Alive opener, something with teeth that could really open up the run with energy and set the tone for the nights ahead.

What followed was Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, a song from Phish's recent, if 2009 is even recent anymore, album, Joy. I, among many others in attendance, was both pumped and disappointed upon hearing the opening line from Trey as he scorched through the rocking intro. Disappointment not because it's a bad song, but because of what it represented for the run. When Phish kicked off Dick's with First Tube, it meant they were going to unpredictable and passionate. When I heard Stealing Time, I instantly thought about MSG 2011 and the lack of inspiring jams and abundance of Joy standards.

I was wrong.

The song was played well, but the real great opener was a funky Moma. Moma was really tight and Fishman was great on vocals. The next two songs were Funky Bitch and Army of One, which gave each Trey, Fish, Mike and Page each a chance to sing lead. 

Next came Tube, a song which I was really hoping to be jammed out long and funky. Sadly, this was not the case, but nonetheless, it was a fun Tube. Stash, played last year on the 28th, was played with a lot of energy. The rest of the set was pretty average in my opinion, until the closing Wolfman's Brother.

Wolfman's Brother was one of the best songs of the night and was an absolute jam masterpiece. The song was topped off with Little Drummer Boy. The jam was a fantastic ending to the first set and pointed toward a second set that would be filled with many exploratory jams. Wolfman's was one of the best versions of 3.0 and will be remembered as a highlight of the run.

The second set started off with an unbelievable, majestic Tweezer. Over 20 minutes long, this Tweezer was similarly played with the same ferocity the band had in Denver. Page and Mike both shined bright here with Trey wailing away on his guitar. The jam was pure beauty and slowly picked up pace until the end when Trey starting soloing and the song climbed to a final peak. Tweezer in my opinion was the best song of the four nights and was a true place of musical exploration ending with a rocking full band peak. The song had true imagination from all parts of the band and they all united together perfectly at the end. 

Tweezer slowly faded out into a great Maze. The song choice was a great move. Page was really fantastic during his solo as was Trey. When the song ended the band next played Twist, continuing the line of fantastic song choice leading to great flow. The song started with the Little Drummer Boy again, really reminding everyone this was a Holiday run. Twist started with really funky Mike and Trey doing the Little Drummer Boy over and over again. The ending finished with more Little Drummer Boy. Theme, Fluffhead and an amazing David Bowie ended the set. Fluffhead is always fun in the garden when Fluff came to New York. Bowie was really fun and featured start stop jamming. The jam was incredibly tight and was a fantastic ending. This six song set was the best set of the run in terms of jamming and flow. The flow and song choice was beautiful. This was not the case for several other sets during the run which raised a few questions.

When the encore didn't feature Tweezer Reprise we all left wondering when it would be played next. End the run? Opener night 2? After midnight? The encore of Bouncin and Good Times Bad Times was great. Bouncin was short and sweet and Good Times carried over the passion from the second set. Following the end of the show there was only excitement about what to come. Three more shows and following that second set spirits were high. 

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