, attached to 2014-12-31

Review by Penn42

Penn42 This has been a truly awesome year for Phish. It’s marked a return to form for them. 2014 (and 2013) has really brought a wealth of fresh unpredictability to the air that just reeks of Phishiness. Anybody who was a skeptic after 10.31.13 would be hard pressed to bash on the creativity the new material has sparked. As with any collection of new material we take the good with the bad, but I just don’t see how anyone can argue against the heaping pile of treasures in 2014.

An incomplete list of 2014’s awesomeness:

-Harry Hood getting an adrenaline shot of inventiveness
-Chalkdust getting jammed big *consistently* for the first time in their career
-MPP 2
-More frequent jamming in the first set and “fourth quarter"
-The successful introduction of new material into show rotation

To me the brilliance of much of that list is so many of those things were so unexpected. Just as nobody saw the debut of new material coming on 10.31.13, I don’t think anybody ever expected another Roxy ’93-esque segue-fest, for there to be 8 big unfinished Chalk Dusts in a year, or a Halloween show so completely random and utterly awesome. The effort they’re making to continue to explore their work is obvious, and it’s paying off.

Coming on the heels of arguably two of the best “pranks” ever (the JEMP Truck Set and Chilling Thrilling Sounds) Phish really would have had their work cut out for them trying to top those last night. Fortunately, they knew this and instead opted to continue in Phish tradition with a simple, wacky, and seemingly meaningless little skit to kick off the new year and the final set. A set that contained an awesome Tweezer, a nice Simple > LxL followup to said Tweezer, and a perfectly placed Dogs to start things off. Perhaps some would have wanted the Simple or Limb to go all Hulk-smash on everything, but that seems a little greedy after that second set.

The second set has the goods. Ghost very nearly replicates the 3.0 hallmark from MSG ’10. It makes the same major key modulation, has a nice motivic and melodic build from Trey, and eventually finds itself back in minor. The peak of 12.31.10’s is better, but this one gets a solid 4 more minutes of exploration afterwords that is prettay prettaaaay good. Theme continues to come out of its shell as the band willingly takes it to type-II territory. And type-II territory effortless morph’s into Cities. And in turn, the jam out of Cities almost effortlessly makes it’s way into Chalk Dust. The Cities > Chalk Dust segue is reminiscent of Tweezer > Julius from SB1, though slightly less patient.

The obvious willingness to jam everything in this set almost persuades me to actually call all the little atypical improvisations “jams” instead of lumping the improvisations in with the preceding song. Everything from about halfway through Ghost until Chalk Dust seems much more like one big jam with some songs to keep it grounded than a few songs that got jammed consecutively. Once the “song proper” is over, Theme and Cities quickly and unapologetically drop back into type II like type II never even left it. It’s pretty sweet. The sweetest thing about the set though is that they played Martian Monster. Bringing Halloween’s material to the table is incredibly exciting and, even though it was clear they weren’t quite sure what to do with it, anybody who objects to a late-set dance party is crazy.

Reinvigorated 2014 Phish really knocked my socks off; last night followed suit. This is seriously such an awesome time to be a fan and I look forward to these next three shows to cap off such a triumphant year!


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