I will have reviews of each of the individual shows from NYE run in the coming months (I have about 14 shows from summer and fall tours to get to first, though), but I figured it would be appropriate to get a few thoughts posted on New Years Run '13 before the whole thing becomes too distant of a memory. Here goes.
1.) I really don't think it's controversial anymore to make the statement that "2013 was the best year for Phish since 1997." Phish consistently reached heights previously unscaled during the 3.0 era throughout the course of Fall Tour '13, and it was wonderful to see that the New Years Run shows served as more than simply a victory lap celebrating such a successful year.
2.) To that end, the 12/31 show was as great as everyone's saying. With all of the rumors swirling beforehand (all covers set?? Gamehendge set??) the show wound up being a stunner despite forgoing all of the bells and whistles of previous New Years Eve "pranks." The choice to dial back the clock and finally acknowledge their 30th anniversary year was wise, and they pulled it off tastefully.
3.) After my good friends took off post-12/29, the 12/30 show reminded me how important it is to actually be at shows with a solid crew, not just a bunch of drugged-out schmucks who would rather be at fuckin' Bisco. Thanks in particular to Beafvy, Bricer, and Salsa for being there for the first couple of nights - there's nobody in the fucking world I'd rather see shows with than you guys.
4.) Without having listened back to the mp3s yet, here's my take on the best jams from the four nights:
1.) "Carini," 12/29 (Fitting. Song of the year overall.) 2.) "It's Ice," 12/29 (Possibly the best "Ice" they've ever done.) 3.) "Light," 12/31 (The boys crammed a whole lotta energy into the year's final shot at deep improv.) 4.) "Wolfman's," 12/28 (Best version since exactly a year prior.) 5.) "Steam," 12/28 (Again, possibly the best "Steam" they've ever done.) 6.) "Gumbo," 12/29 (Along with the incredible "Ice" jam, this "Gumbo" cemented Page's status as MVP of the run.) 7.) "Chalkdust," 12/30 (Which is better - this version or the one from Dick's?) 8.) "Piper," 12/28 (Short and fiery, similar to many other '13 "Piper"s.) 9.) "Twist," 12/29 ('13 marked "Twist"'s re-ascencion into prime jam vehicle territory, and this one was tight and fiery in a manner similar to the "Piper".) 10.) "Melt," 12/31 (Yup, more brief and fiery.) 11.) "Reba," 12/31 (My favorite recent "Reba," possibly the best since Super Ball?) 12.) "Disease," 12/29 (A little too ambient for my tastes, not gonna lie. Really picked up in earnest right before the return to the "Disease" theme, however.)
5.) To those who were concerned with the "Fuego" "ripcord" having implications on the future of the song: DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. Watch the video above (or any of the million others that can be found on YouTube) and it should be pretty evident that with all of those balloons flooding the stage, the band getting into a coherent, creative groove was secondary to not being physically overwhelmed. The mere fact that they chose to use "Fuego" as the first song performed in the new year shows that the band has as high hopes for the song in the future as the fans do.
6.) 12/31's "Icculus" was probably the loudest I've ever heard Madison Square Garden.
7.) After the incredible, unexpected "Twenty Years Later" at Reading, everyone was eagerly wishing that *presto* Phish had unveiled another legit jam vehicle. The NYE Run version, the first one since Reading, was nondescript. Here's hoping that in '14 "Twenty Years" becomes more than a fourth quarter "Velvet Sea"-ish placeholder.
8.) Due to the geography being an advantage to me, I obviously hope that they keep playing at MSG, but I could see how the band might bristle at returning after the unprecedented police presence / security intrusions during the run. Maybe move across the river to Barclays....?
9.) On a personal note, it says a lot about my (lack of) metabolism that I somehow *put on* four lbs. during the run despite doing over 50 miles on the pedometer. Seriously, that's some bullshit right there.
10.) Any rumors on Summer Tour yet???? PLEASE??!???!??!?!?!?!?