Sunday, January 13, 2013

Night III: December 30, 2012

Night three would be the most important night of the run for several reasons. Following the black and white cookie that was the first two nights, Phish needed to make some sort of statement as to what type of run this would be remembered as. Fierce exploratory jams with the style of night one or short hard rockers played in the style of night two. On the anniversary of some of Phish's best shows ever, and a personal favorite in 12.30.97, the show will be remembered as more 28th than 29th due to some killer second set jamming and some great sequences in the first set. Overall, the 30th took care of business the 3.0 way. The first set was the most complete out of all the first sets and the second set features this style of "Dick's" jamming that many crave.

The boys opened up the 30th with an all-time favorite, Runaway Jim. The last Jim performance was the epic second set opener in the FUCK YOUR FACE show from Dick's. With more recent openers the other two nights, Stealing Time and Crowd Control, it was refreshing and promising that the band opened with Jim. The song was very quick and very tight. Had Mike's section been extended the boys could have really played this song for a while and let it breathe. That being said, it was the strongest opener yet and a good indication of tight execution.

Cities was next. Cities was exceptionally excellent in 2011 so hopes were high for this year's performance. It had the chance to really take off but as soon as anything could have transpired the song was ended abruptly and awkwardly. The cut definitely made many anxious as to whether we'd be treated to long jams or quick hits. It led to Divided Sky which was sloppy at times.

The first real highlight of the night came with Back On The Train. This song is a great opportunity to take a few seconds and just really listen to each guy on their own. You can truly appreciate the talent and skill of everyone in their own unique way. This version long and meaty.

Ride Captain Ride was a nice change of pace and fun song before a killer Ocelot. Ocelot was a real treat and has really become the perfect jam vehicle for Trey to sit back and slowly build while leading the jam. While some of the Joy songs played this run were always downers, Ocelot is one of the few that continues to bring inspiring jamming on a consistent basis.

The fun and mellow Ya Mar was next which featured Trey screaming to the crowd, "Who's gonna play it for you!" to which everyone replied, "Leo!" Great work by Page indeed during Ya Mar and Mike had a great solo before Trey quickly shied away from any chance at a jam.

Horn was perfectly played but after My Friend My Friend was played incredibly sloppy it was turning out to be a half and half set. Some fantastic songs, some sloppy versions, some interesting song choices. A short Run Like An Antelope ended the first set with similar energy and grooves to the Gin of night two rather than Wolfman's of night one. A really fun Shakedown Street tease was a brief highlight before the song peaked. Trey wanted no part at a funk jam as he quickly got to the vocals before the set ended.

The first set was a really good, potentially the best first set of the run. It had real smack and some fantastic songs. The question would be though would the second set live up to it's ancestors from second set pasts on the 30th?

The second set roared to an amazing start with one of the best versions of Down With Disease in recent history. Like Tweezer from the other night, Disease stretched out real long, close to 20 minutes and reaching all different walls of exploration. When the jam got started there was real beauty with Page and Trey playing in response to one another. The key to the jam was patience. No one was rushing anything and everyone was letting notes develop. Trey started to take everyone on a journey with whale calls and passionate grooves around halfway in. At about 12 minutes in the band lands on a really funky groove that had potential to become a whole original piece. This part of the song is just absolute golden. This is some original improvised and connected Phish. This is the truth.

At 14 minutes the jam takes a turn for the quiet. Fishman starts lightly playing only his cymbals as Trey wails and Page treats everyone to piano. Mike's playing sounds like there could be a potential for a really dark jam to emerge out of this sequence. The energy started to slowly build back up again higher and higher. At one point the band drops out and all that's left is Trey on a rocking solo with Mike then playing space funk behind him. Page comes in on piano and what's formed is a sickly funky space jam with real energy. Trey starts shredding now that Page has found a melody to stick with. The jam then ended and slowly faded into Twenty Years Later. Could the band have kept playing Disease for another 15 minutes? Of course, but it was a nice transition.

Next was an absolute fire Carini. Another absolute highlight and will remain along with Tweezer and Disease as the biggest highlights of the run. There was some really dark jamming and segments that sounded like Crossroads. However, while fantastic and a must listen, the jam felt short and went from the darkest of times into the happiest in Backwards Down the Number Line. Now unlike Ocelot, this Joy song seemed out of place and unnecessary. We were just in the middle of an incredible jam segment and now heading into the "fourth quarter" we were getting Joy standards.

Number Line was actually played really nicely though. The Julius that followed was with another time for Trey to shred and star. Julius is like Back On The Train as you can listen to each band member at times really all doing great things with their instruments.

The set ended with a beautiful Slave to the Traffic Light. When the set ended many guessed the encore would be Harry Hood. Hood it was. The combo capped off an unbelievable second set. Six songs with high energy and stellar jamming. Disease/20 Years Later/Carini was the stuff of golden gods. The show could have ended there but instead the boys wanted to play one more, and so they played Show of Life. Did they need to play it? No, but Phish is just playing what they want at this point, and it was very evident in this show especially with the Twenty Years Later in between the epic jams of Disease and Carini.

The 30th is right up there with the 28th in terms of flow and jamming. Phish needed to show what type of run this was and they decided in favor of jamming and improvisation. The patience and flow from the 28th was evident on the 30th. Oh, and never sleep on a Sunday show.

Now, with only one night left and 6 sets down, how would Phish close it out? Many expected somewhat of a let down. What would soon occur was one of the most interesting and unusual New Years Eve show in a long time.

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