The Phish, 12/29, 30, & 31/11, Madison Square Garden, NYC
aka, NYE Run 2011-2012: Recession Edition
Let's start this off honest-- I really didn't feel motivated to see Phish this NYE Run. Don't get me wrong, you know I love me some The Phish, but I had possibly reached my (physical and mental) Phish threshold for 2011. I had definitely already spent enough money on them in 2011, which is why an $80 (face + fees) ( x 1-4 nights) ticket was absolutely out of the question. Just-- NO. That is $80 I'd rather spend towards lift tickets (and Health Insurance) this season. So, on a lark, I went out of my way to not buy tickets for any Phish MSG shows. moe. were in Maine and the Ryan Montbleau Band were in Stowe. Both were amazing options, but I was leaning towards That French Kid, because A VT trip would include
With the recent addition of a puppy to the household, traveling for NYE was no longer an option. Friends were prodding me with their Phish extras, but I kept turning them down. Suuure, there are worse problems to have. Woe is me. My life is hell. I did asterisk everything with a *"but I might try and get a ticket for the 29th".
On the morning of the 28th, I challenged a couple of friends to find me a $40 ticket for the 29th-- cuz, you know, I might as well see one show, but I was still unwilling to pay full price for it, consarnit! And then I went to see the Infamous Stringdusters, at Mexicali, in Teaneck… for $20.
In fact, the early December purchase of said $20 Infamous Stringdusters ticket, had become a sort of Bold Personal Statement about my determination to at least not see all of the Phish shows this NYE Run. Jamgrassy and all fired up, The Infamous Stringdusters opened for Yonder Mountain String Band during the Great Pre-Halloween Blizzard of 2011, but due to massive travel issues, we missed their entire set. However, they did manage to come out for a few songs and help Yonder light the stage into a raging fucking fire, and that display of reckless endangerment was exactly why I was hellbent on seeing The Stringdusters headline a show. And at $20-- what a bargain! Even when, a few hours before showtime, I got a text from Mattypie offering me a free Phish ticket for that night. "No thanks! I'm going to see The Stringdusters!!"
First off, Mexicali was packed. The room was hot and the fog machines were blasting, as they do. Comedic Icon and Banjo Aficionado, Steve Martin, was in the audience. Yeah, Tony Trischka was there too, but maybe you didn't read that correctly-- S-T-E-V-E M-A-R-T-I-N. I was hoping beyond hope that he'd get onstage for a song, rumor amongst the crowd was that he would, but alas, he did not. Still--- Steve Martin in his hat and glasses, at a table, like a regular guy-- except that he's STEVE MARTIN. Fucking Genius.
And the Stringdusters--- awesome! They had just come off a 5 week vacation and looked refreshed and rabid to play. Highlights: SET I: Steam Powered Aeroplane, In God's Country-- yes, U2's In God's Country-- great song, unique cover choice (a theme weaved throughout the night), and really nicely done. Ain't No Way of Knowin', Can't Stop the Changes, and a shredding Black Rock.
During setbreak, I got a text from Weiss, who had found me a $40 ticket for Thursday. I cackled maniacally into the cold night sky. This must be the same type of adrenaline rush those Extreme Couponing fanatics experience.
Highlights SET II: Spinal Tap's legendary Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight. Awesome. A happy-go-lucky, kinda dreamy, cover of Police's Walking On the Moon. For the Encore, they unplugged and came down to the floor… The Bass player claimed the land right next to me, so of course, I didn't move. The rest of the band filled in, quickly pushed together by the crowd, and they busted out an Uncle Pen, that drew a delightful little singalong. I couldn't help but wonder if Phish were also playing it, and then not really care, because seeing the Stringdusters that night was clearly the Official Right Choice. Go me!
The Infamous Stringdusters are young, full of energy, and really psyched to be playing in that band. They sound great. You should totally see them. What a fun night!
The Infamous Stringdusters, 12/28/11, Mexicali, Teaneck, NJ
SET I: Fork In the Road, The Hitchhiker, Steam Powered Aeroplane, 17 Cents, In God's Country, Masquerade, Ain't No Way of Knowin, You Can't Stop the Changes, Place that I Call Home, Get it While You Can, Black Rock
SET II:Heavy Metal, Long, Lonesome Day, Gettin' Down the Road, Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight, Rosalie McFall, Walking on the Moon, Deep Elem Blues, Y2k, Night on the River, One More Bridge, My Destination, Moon Man
ENCORE: Uncle Pen#, Blue Night#, Midnight Moonlight#
# Unplugged in middle of floor
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! Thanks, Jack Riley! http://www.archive.org/details/IS2011-12-28.riley.busman
Phish! Moderate excitement! Féile for pregame w/ Weiss & Leeeza, a really yummy Bloody Mary (the Irish know how to do it right!), and a pile of deliciously bite-sized crispy fried chicken things. Yes! More Good Choices! Foreshadowing, perhaps?
We went in fairly early, wandered around and checked out the new digs. Along the style-lines of Yankee Stadium and New Shea, some high quality snacky-meal establishments are moving into MSG's 100 level. There are also a ton of bars (w/ wall outlets to plug in your phones if you have a charger on hand), which is nice for those of us who can't drink the Beer. We theorized that MSG itself might soon be a reasonable place to pregame for MSG shows in that particularly difficult neighborhood. Shock & Awe! Also, it's very very shiny. And you have to "wave" over the back of the toilets to get them to flush, so if you're like me, this provides the opportunity to do at least 1 totally necessary, awesome ninja-like karate kick over the top of the toilet, per show-- which if you're wondering, is a huge bonus.
I got a line on an extra for the following two nights at face value, but I wasn't ready to bite. 16 Year Old Me was like, "Dude. Phish." 33 Year Old Me was like, "Dude. Phish."
SET I: two words, starting with capital letters: Fuck Yeah. Yes, I've heard YEM too many times over the past 2.5 years and have complained at length about it, so there is really no need to mention it again here, but the rest of the set was positively SMOKING. The kind of Phish MSG shit that I want. Total Rock. A HUGE Sloth opener that set the tone. A cute Get On the Train. A fantastically bounceable Moma Dance. Wholehearted Funky Bitch. Maze got the room hyper. Roses Are Free kept it going in a twisted and blurred lens. Fun Halley's Comet -> a rampaging Antelope. Wow. THAT WAS ONLY THE FIRST SET??
16 Year Old Me was yelling at 33 Year Old Me, "What's wrong with you? Grab those damn tickets!" But I still couldn't commit! That first set was unbelievable-- there's no way it was gonna get better, so maybe I should just walk away while completely satisfied. But then, during setbreak, the World Renowned Mime (though he prefers "Body Poet"), Markcel Markseau, offered me a free extra for the 30th (at least I think he did--- I don't speak French Mime) and how could I argue with that? I couldn't. Also, never argue with a Mime.
SET II began quickly, while we were still in the hallway. We missed some of a great Crosseyed and Painless, but then scored a loud and lovely -> Simple. Once again, Guyute would vex Melissa and go on about 3-5 minutes too long. A super dirty and GIGANTIC Mike's Song -> Chalk Dust -> Hydrogen -> Weekapaug--- PHEW!!!!! Show of Life I'm kinda lukewarm on, but -> a romping Character Zero, singalong extravaganza. Encore's overflowing Loving Cup filled the room with good vibes.
Fucking awesome Phish show. So much energy. So much ROCK. It'd be silly not to want to see another show after that.
Phish, 12/29/11, MSG, NYC
SET I: The Sloth, You Enjoy Myself, Back on the Train, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Maze, Roses Are Free, Halley's Comet > Run Like an Antelope
SET II: Crosseyed and Painless > Simple -> Lifeboy, Guyute, Mike's Song > Chalk Dust Torture -> I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life > Character Zero
ENCORE: Loving Cup
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! Thanks, Scott Bernstein! http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=551294
Fuck I was tired. Another night of this shit? Possibly two? Was I even motivated for the possibility of a NYE ticket? Not sure.
In keeping with the budget-minded theme of this NYE Run, I sat in my car for 15 minutes and waited for a legal street parking spot to begin. Pregame landed me at Harrington's, where-- meh. While we were there, a bus load of tourists with wheelie luggage disembarked, and many of them just walked right in. 'nuff said.
Markcel Markseau was hanging out Miming near the new plexi-glass sneeze guards in front of three Industrial Sized Meat Slicers at the future home of the MSG's Carnegie Deli stand and I just thought he had lost his iPhone. However, when translated through his Mime Pals, they explained that Düsseldorf's Favorite Body Poet was in possession of an extra for the following night, and rather than Miracle it to a random Wook whom they might have had to sit next to and could very well turn out to be a total douche, Sir Markseau was Ceremoniously and Generously offering it to me, a total douche he already knows. "Really?" I was psyched for an extra, I was super psyched for a complimentary extra, but I was almost as equally entertained by the fact that I'd be attending the show over some desperately obsessive Wook who had no idea what could have been. And that was kinda neat. I'm a terrible person.
SET I: It felt like Phish were making sure I had peed enough. "Are you sure, Lynn?" - Prince Caspian. It was just really hit or miss for my attention span. Nellie Kane, Divided Sky, and Quinn the Eskimo were fun. Everything else was just kinda there.
SET II highlights: 1) Going up to the Ghetto (300's) and finding the Long Island Wrecking Crew sitting directly next to some of my North Country Freaks friends! Also, an energized Axilla. A pretty sick Twist -> STOMPING Julius. The Squirming Coil was a sweet ender too. Encore was fine.
Mellower than I would have liked & paled in comparison to Thursday, but: great friends, great seats, and a Phish show. A reasonably good outcome, yah?
Phish, 12/30/11, MSG, NYC
SET I: Punch You In the Eye > Prince Caspian> Backwards Down the Number Line, Nellie Kane, Divided Sky, Sand, Vultures, Rift, Joy, Quinn the Eskimo
SET II Wilson > Axilla > Piper > Twist > Julius > Golgi Apparatus > Also Sprach Zarathustra, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, David Bowie, The Squirming Coil
ENCORE: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Good Times Bad Times
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! Thanks, Scott Bernstein! http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=551438
Kill me. The only choice was to wake up, keep eating ibuprofen, and re-tie my sneakers even more tightly around my swollen feets. Ugh.
NYE. 3 sets. Yay. I put on clothes that already needed to be washed. Lower East Side pregame was at Molly's Pub, alongside a Mime, with a delicious Bloody Mary & Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Pie. Brilliant NYE pregame! Strategic food choices! Comfort! Energy! As we walked through the crowded shadow of the Garden, Markcel Markseau broke his silence for the first time, "Your ticket would have gone to one of these people." [NO PAUSE] "Fuck 'em!" - I said that.
The Floor Level of MSG is some swanky digs too now- a couple of nice Bars, mood lighting, shiny silver things as opposed to beige things with greenish-turquoise and fuschia accents. We were 23 Rows back, Fish Side. Security was menacing. We were excited about seeing Chris Kuroda's full light show up close. Markcel expressed this by Pirouetting and doing the Charleston.
SET I was fun. There was immediately more energy than the previous night. Highlights: Scent of a Mule, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Jibboo, Farmhouse. SET II: I'm a little fuzzy here, but Golden Age (TV On the Radio) was definitely pretty damn cool. Sneakin' Sally got the Garden rockin', but Ominous Seapods do it better. Don't get mad, it's true. And 46 Days is always fucking great.
During the 2nd setbreak, we began to notice people in reflective yellow vests, carrying all sorts of mysterious equipment, spacing themselves around the Floor. Yes, the stunt was surely in motion, but what would it be??? We were also told that once the set started, Security were locking down the floor, and keeping the aisles clear for a portion of the show. Hmm.
SET III: Cavern got it going in a rockin' way, but then Trey's deafeningly loud Tea Kettle went off and he had to stop down for a second and take it off the hot plate and put it onto his Cabinet… The band started a cute and quirky little Steam, with bursts of sfx and fog popping in for the chorus. Suddenly, Trey's Cabinet & steaming Tea Kettle floated into the air… A Mike's Bass, a Page's Keytar, & a Fishman's Electrolux, soon followed. Then some crazy Judy Jetson chick tripped her balls off and raged the fuck out, doing The Elaine til she was free from gravity's pull, and summoned her Flying Wookie Pals to join her in an Old Skool Jetpack Group Freakout to ring in the New Year. -> Auld Lang Syne, fucking balloons everywhere -> Down With Disease. It was pretty cool. Everyone was smiling, especially the band. Still awesome to see them so consistently happy.
SET III Continued: I love The Wedge. Alaska was awesome, dig it. First Tube was a great ender. They Encored with a pretty Slave To the Traffic Light, which is always appreciated in NYC.
Of the Phish shows, Thursday's show was by far my favorite, followed by NYE, then Friday coming in 3rd. I would have been irritated if I had paid full price for Friday. New Year's Eve was yet another fun Phish NYE, but I was glad when it was over so I could eat pizza and sleep. By Sunday morning, I was beyond ecstatic that I did not have to go see Phish again that night. Yes, I love 'em and there's nothing else quite like a Phish MSG NYE show, but, y'all know I would have also been really happy at either moe. or Ryan Montbleau Band.
1) Going to the Infamous Stringdusters on 12/28/11 was the right fucking choice. IT WAS AWESOME. GET EXCITED & GO SEE THEM!
2) Thursday's show was the best of the Phish shows I saw this run. Stellar setlist, TONS of fantastic energy, and a thick NYC NYE Run Vibe.
3) My friends are awesome, and thanks to their Phish ticket-savvy & generosity, I saved $200. That is 1/3 of my monthly Health Insurance bill now that my rates have gone up, or, like, 3-5 lift tickets in VT when I can finally get my ass up there (and hopefully there will be snow by then). Thanks to Markcel Markseau x 2, & Weiss, for some Extreme Phish Couponing. It's much appreciated. I hope the Nanaimo Bars were delicious!
4) Wookies can fly now, watch the fuck out.
NYE Run 2011-2012, A Recession Kinda Feelin': The Infamous Stringdusters, 12/28/11, Mexicali, Teaneck, NJ & Phish, 12/29, 30, & 31/11, MSG, NYC: 8.8 HUZZAHS!!!! Points deducted for how painful it was to do a 2 hour PT session on 1/1/12. Happy New Year, Folks!
Phish, 12/31/11, MSG, NYC
SET I: AC/DC Bag > Wolfman's Brother, Scent of a Mule, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Lawn Boy, Gotta Jibboo, Farmhouse, Pebbles and Marbles, Ocelot, Fluffhead
SET II: Party Time, Light > Golden Age, Theme From the Bottom, Heavy Things, Ghost, Sneakin' Sally through the Alley, 46 Days, Suzy Greenberg
SET III: Cavern, Steam> Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease, The Wedge, Alaska, Wading in the Velvet Sea, First Tube
ENCORE: Slave to the Traffic Light
DOWNLOAD THE SHOW! Thanks, Z-Man! http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=551325