Last night began with a feeling of foreboding as the stereo system buzzed, popped, and crackled ten minutes before the band went on stage. With luck on our side, however, the set began without trouble. In fact, it wasn’t until Camel Walk that there was a problem… but that’s a story for later.
Things kicked off with a nice bouncy Cities – appropriate for the fact that we were in the Big Apple! The Chalkdust Torture that followed brimmed with energy, as did Gumbo. I always love it when Page takes that sweet solo towards the end, lending an authentic ragtime feel to the music. I have a suspicion that the boys were warming up their Creole chops for the dose of Little Feat that they delivered later in the set.
It was during Camel Walk that things got interesting. The sound fizzed out for maybe a minute at the end of the jam section. Trey and Mike looked at each other and kept on going, despite the fact that only those within a thirty-foot radius could hear them well.
But you know how people always tend to come together in the worst of times? This was one of them. When the time came for the end chorus, the band was joined with a resounding “Camel walk!” from the crowd. Phamily phorever? I think so.
While not my favorite Trey song (Mr. Completely, anyone?), Driver cooled things down with some soft bouncy sound after a meaty Maze. A notable Bathtub Gin followed (made so mostly by Page’s excellent intro); the jam picked up intensity as time passed, leaving us with enough to get really excited for Fat Man in the Bathtub. I mean, really excited.
I’m so glad I brushed up on my Little Feat this fall in preparation for hearing the Halloween show. Not only did I realize that I actually really like their music (even though I’ve seen them live three times and they never grab me), I also realized that I really like it when Phish does their stuff. I mean, really like it.
After a hot Golgi Apparatus came a Character Zero that couldn’t be beat. Although I genuinely like the song, I think there’s not much to it – rather, not as much to it as some of their other tunes (read: YEM, Tweezer, Ghost). I found myself lost in the jam just as much as anything else – and that’s always a good thing.
A transcendental Tweezer kicked off the second set. This morning I was surprised to see on LivePhish that it was almost nineteen minutes long – it should have been longer! The jam crept to a really interesting and different place, fueled by some offbeat rhythmic stuff that morphed the sound.
Tweezer also means the promise of a Reprise, which always makes me excited.
My Friend My Friend was short and sweet; everything was on, made apparent by the agile segue into Axilla I. I really dig some of the darker Phish tunes (Carini, Guyute, Ester), and MFMF is one of them.
Fluffhead came next, and while well-executed in every way, I seemed to fade during the tune. I used to get really excited when they played it, but I suppose all the sharply calibrated orchestration gets old after a while.
And then came The Funk. The band began with a sweet Boogie on Reggae Woman which riled up the crowd… in a good way. During the jam, Trey laid a non-diatonic chord on top of everything else, and the rest of the band slowly adjusted their way around it. It’s always cool to see how they can react to each other’s moves.
After a slow segue into 2001 (which, apparently, was originally called Also Sprach Zarathustra; I guess 2001 is easier to pronounce. But I digress…), things got funky. Mike was jamming on those basslines and Page ever so gently rocked the organ.
Suzy Greenberg brought the rock and roll kind of energy back to the night which very nicely transformed into a steaming Antelope. Hungry, anyone?
Tweezer Reprise was a stellar way to end the night by bringing back the memory of the even more stellar Tweezer that I had enjoyed so thoroughly.
Night one of my New Year’s run is over. Next up? Instead of ringing in 2011, I’ll be stepping back in time tonight to 1976 to hear the Grateful Dead do Cow Palace, courtesy of Dark Star Orchestra. 1/1/11 will bring me back to MSG for another night of Phish – the only way to start the new year off right!
Don’t let the security guard take your sandwich,