So, to recap: Night One was frickin' great; Night Two was so-so, and Night Three rivaled Night One for awesomeness. I, for one, went to bed after Night Three with a big fat smile on my face, knowing that Phish still had a ton of great songs and primo jam vehicles left on the table. BRING IT, BOYS!!!!!!!!!!
I, for one, had learned my lesson from the previous day / evening, and I was determined to not let excessive pre-show beveraging sabotage my show. (Honestly, it was only following repeated re-listens to 12/30/12 after the fact that I actually realized what a truly special show it was. Dammit!) So I abstained during our wonderful lunch at Dokebi. Man, I love this restaurant! Honestly probably top 3 for me in my neighborhood. I had the brisket stew lunch special, and my buddies tried the bi bim bahp, stir fry, stews, and some of their tacos. Das wussup.
Next up we headed to that newish 'beer boutique' place on Grand 'cuz my buddy Beafvy wanted to grab some 'FancieBeerz' for post-show party time. I tried a couple drafts, and the beer was fine, but the service was not, so we slid over to my favorite local watering hole, Luckydog. Many, many pitchers of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and picklebacks later, we hopped into cabs and headed into Manhattan. For reasons unbeknownst to me, we wound up at whatever touristy turdbin is currently inhabiting the southeast corner of 31st and 8th (Fridays? Bennigans? J.T. McPickleshitters? Shoney's? Something with Guy Fieri's seal of approval? Does it matter???), proceeding to MSG after a few more beers.
Tonight's seats were extreme Fish side in the 212 section, reasonably close to my seats at 12/31/11 show a year ago... needless to say we were hoping tonight's show would top last year's relative snoozefest...
The rest of the first set continued the first three nights' quasi-theme of typical Set I song selection and solid execution. Like many, I was hoping that this run would feature the super duper jammed-out "Mike's Groove" 3.0 has been lacking, but it wasn't to be. (Of course, after having heard 3.0 Best Versions of "Tweezer," "Carini" and "Wolfman's", as well as the year's best "Disease" over the past couple of nights, our cup obviously runneth over at this point.)
Uh, yeah. With the songs that they still had at their disposal, I really couldn't've formulated a set with better song selection. The "Piper" is the real winner here, with Fishman accelerating the beat to a near-psychotic level while the rest of the band tries to keep up. And while most of the songs in this set were relatively standard 3.0 versions, they were all well-played and fun as hell, invoking the Superball Clause: nothing special on paper, but unforgettable in person.
So, we had one last set to go in what was truly an historic year for Phish. The question on everyone's mind (well, those of us who had avoided the spoilsports on PT) was - what kind of shit would the band pull as their yearly New Year's Prank? It's been well-documented elsewhere, and I thought the golf theme was goofy and adorable. (I also thought it was hilarious that Trey unintentionally took a "mulligan" by restarting "Driver," haha.)
As far as the actual music played in the third set, I LOVED the idea of the band using "Tweeprise" as a definitive palette cleanser / line of demarcation between 2012 and 2013 proper. I've often (jokingly) mused that I want "Tweeprise" played at my funeral, because after "Tweeprise," "ya don't have to go home but ya can't stay here, and don't let the door hit yer ass on the way out." (NOTE: PLEASE do not play "Tweeprise" at my funeral.) "Sand" served as the set's only true improvisational vehicle, and although this version couldn't match many of the year's stellar versions, it gave us all one last chance to shake our asses to what was clearly one of the standout songs from 2012. And I couldn't've been the only person in the room who thought they were going back into "Sand" when the first notes of "Fly Like an Eagle" started.
Post-show we cabbed it back to Williamsburg again, kinda striking out (Luckydog was predictably packed and Rosamunde wouldn't serve us) before settling for Loser's Lunch outside Oasis. Unfortunately, BeafvBro hurt his arm, which sadly abbreviated the erudite, mature, loving conversation he was having with his lovely girlriend, and we all retired shortly thereafter. To quote my mom, "we had already had a sufficiency; anything more would have been a redundancy."
2013 arrives as the 30th anniversary of Phish, and it's pretty amazing to me that after (now) 95 shows and 17 years of seeing this band perform at nearly every available opportunity, there's still nothing I'd rather do (within reason, of course) than see Phish play live. 2012 was a true watershed year for Phish, as their forays into improv surpassed anything they'd done since reconvening for 3.0. If the rumors are true, I'll be writing more of these recaps in eleven months following a '13 NYE Run at MSG. I can't fuckin' wait!