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Friday, January 11, 2013

Night II: December 29, 2012

The energy and passion put forth from night one left many anxiously awaiting night two. With the tenacity and exploration of the second set, most notably Tweezer and Bowie with some rocking guitar in Twist, possibilities were endless for what could happen on night two.

All in all, night two was most similar to any of 2011's MSG shows. In the grand scheme of things, night two reminds me of night two at San Francisco this year. Little jamming, little risks but a lot of fun.  While no song was given the "Dicks" treatment, this show featured an unusual and unique song selection from the first song to the last note.

Crowd Control, while skipped in 2011, was played three times in 2012 all as the opener. Following Control was a fun Mound that featured Mike playing exceptionally well. What came next was AC/DC Bag. At the time, many people were speculating about the New Year's gag and wondering what the "G" would be for "M-S-G." Some extravagant theories were based around the idea of a Broadway-style Man Who Stepped into Yesterday taking everyone to Gamehendge considering the moves Trey has made with Broadway this year. Earlier in the day a photo was leaked about a truckload of trees being dropped off at the Garden so hopes were high. As soon as Bag was played, and a very cookie-cutter version to say the least, people standing all around me openly chatted about finally putting the Gamehendge discussion to bed.

One of my big wishes was for a jammed out AC/DC Bag. Unfortunately, following a theme for the night, this song started and ended before anything remotely unique would happen. After Bag came Rock n Roll, a song that was jammed to perfection in Long Beach and has been a staple of 3.0 jamming. Just like Bag though, Rock n Roll was short and sweet and featured little to no jamming. A first set standard that could be replaced with any other version of it's kind.

A horrible Sugar Shack came next where Trey just butchered the song to death. It almost appeared as if he was laughing at the end and apologizing to Mike.

Five songs in and it was starting to feel like the night would be a little less adventurous.

Reba was played next to the delight of everyone in the Garden. After an absence in 2011, it was incredibly rewarding to hear Reba this time around. The song was played much slower and was characterized by mellow patience. During the song there was an insanely loud crowd eruption that reminded the band of the passion in the arena.

Halley's was played next and never stood a chance. The coolest part was Kuroda's lights during the "I'm Going Down" part of the song but aside from that little highlight, Halley's was a standard version - quick and forgettable.

After St. Louis, Limb by Limb changed it's reputation and when the first notes were heard following Trey's ripcord on Halley's, the crowd all started to get really excited about the potential for an exploratory jam. While played exceptionally well, the song never took off to the levels of that in St. Louis.

A breather in Wading bridged the gap between Limb and a rocking set closer in Bathtub Gin. While super short and not as exploratory as the Wolfman's the night before, Gin had some of the most energy I've seen in a song in a long time. The band was having a fantastic time, especially Fishman who was singing Suzie Q along the song. The jam could have kept going for another 10 minutes, but when it ended abruptly, it became clearer as to what type of show night two would be remembered as.

The second set kicked off with a 2012 favorite, Golden Age. Another "G" song, Golden Age was a star this summer, so when Trey started in with the funky riff at the beginning everyone prepared for what should have been a legendary 20 minute Golden Age just like the Tweezer the night before.

Instead of kicking Golden Age up to 11, the boys transitioned into Waves! Since the beautiful version in Chicago in 2011, Waves was only played once. With the 10 year anniversary of it's debut at MSG in 02, Waves was bound for some epic bliss jamming. Like the Golden Age before it though, while certainly having it's moments, the song will be remembered by ending abruptly in favor of Prince Caspian. At this point it was quite clear that this show was going to be one of the classic "Juke Box" shows where hardly anything is original and ground breaking but instead is standard and nothing special.

This is not to take away from the show. Some nights of Phish they boys want to jam their brains out (Dicks 1) but others they want to just play songs (BG 2). It all speaks to the "Garden Party" theme that I will get to in another post. Were the jams easily found on night two? No. Was it an absolutely brilliantly fun time? Yes. Is there any place in the world I'd rather be than with Phish? No fucking way.

The Caspian happened to be played beautifully and was one of the best versions in recent memory. The last two times played Caspian has been really elegant and I hope for this to be a continuing trend moving forward.

But after Caspian was cut short like the songs before it, we were treated to the sound of Mike's bass to kick off Boogie On Reggae Woman. The transition shows how ADD this show was. Between Boogie On and the following Suzy Greenberg, the band was just having a really fun time on stage. Joking about needing more cowbell and doing start stop jamming with Mike and Page, this segment of the second set symbolized the night as a whole. High power energy, loads of fun but little risks.

A well played Bug changed the mood once again before a rocking set closing Cavern. But after Cavern we were treated to one last 46 Days which had some of the most power and energy I've seen from the band. It was a very fitting ending to a show that will be remembered as the TreyDD rock show. 46 Days was a fantastic closer.

The show ended much earlier than the night before, around 11:15, so with plenty of time left, there were many questions as to what the encore could be. They started with Squirming Coil which was really beautiful. Watching Page shine alone is some of my favorite Phish.



The boys then headed to the microphone for Grind, before finishing off the night with First Tube, another rocker that fit in perfectly with the theme of the night.

By the end of the night, the momentum had changed drastically. Night one raised expectations and carried the "Dicks" momentum from Denver and the layoff to the Garden. But after a night two that saw no exploration and no risk taking, one could only hope the band returned with a night one style on the 30th, the holiest of Phish holidays.

Much like a playoff NFL team, Phish runs ride on momentum. Night one was a blowout in the wildcard round. Night two was a tough fought divisional round game. It was up to Phish to come out strong night three and really wow everyone in attendance.

Would the run slowly become like 2011, a four night stand featuring a strong 28th but lackluster performances on the 29th, 30th and 31st. The band needed to come out strong night three and make a statement as to what type of run this would be. Rock n roll or jams? I was hoping for the latter.

5 Highlights: Bathtub Gin, Golden Age/Waves/Prince Caspian, 46 Days

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