, attached to 2017-12-30

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Set 1: After opening with a Classic Groove that could have been imported out of 1992 (although, perhaps, with somewhat less light-speed vigor than a typical 92 Groove), the band decides to pull Tweezer out of their bag of tricks, and you might usually expect a first set Tweezer to serve more as a way to stretch their legs with an extended Type I jam. Well, you’d be wrong, hypothetical Phish fan I invented for this review, as after some laid-back Tweezer grooving Page gently shoves the band into a sparkling major-key jam (and takes point on piano, to boot), a lovely and welcome surprise with some powerful Trey soloing at the end to get one’s fist pumping even listening back on a mobile device, especially when they wind their way back home and really drag out the old-school ending. Ass Handed is a hilarious follow up (as it usually is), and a relaxed and casually stretched out Gin, surprise slowed-down Brother, and now-firmly-installed Set 1 closer More help make this a standout first frame even in a year where first frames were no slouches.

Set 2: Let’s break this down into a few thoughts:

- That is straight up setlist porn.
- Disease quickly heads towards darker waters as both Trey and Mike go to their effects and Page’s synths (one of the biggest game changers of AT LEAST the modern era) meld wonderfully with them. A warmer groove emerges at Mike’s insistence (Mike has definitely been the MVP of the run, especially in the last two very-good-but-not-this-show shows), and Fish starts strutting his stuff as the jam begins to grow in power and Trey goes to the really beautiful part of his soloing range. After a brief dalliance back with the dark side, nearly Phrygian in its minor-key growliness, Trey decisively shifts into Rock God mode and Fish shifts to a new gear. And when I say new gear, I mean it - this is a glorious, almost Reading-esque jam of true joy, Trey tapping into his prodigious gifts and Page matching him on piano while Mike and Fish urge them along to a wonderful peak. They drop down to a stop-start range and goose some woos (you know, the audience participation the band asks for every 7-8 shows that everyone can’t stop grousing about), and then Trey latches onto Steam’s opening notes and we get a neat segue to finish. So yeah, between this one and the astonishing Dick’s version, to paraphrase John Wick, I’m thinking Disease is back.
- Speaking of Steam, it’s really made its bones as a Set 2 vehicle at this point, and this version might be the strongest of them all. After a powerful rendition of the song proper, a psychedelic and straight-up weird fog of noise emerges, and I started expecting some gruesome shit along the lines of the BD Caspian. But Fish decides to wander over to the Marimba Lumina instead, and what develops is a truly interesting Space straight out of a Brian Eno album, ghostly effects sliding in and out of the fray (again, gotta love Page’s synths here) and Trey adding some clanging notes. It’s not quite dark, and not quite blissful upbeat hose - in this year of deep exploration, it’s something else entirely, and I’d like some more of that, please.
- Light is a superb call, and while this Light never really quite gets going and is curtailed for Farmhouse just when they’d apparently latched onto a Mike-driven alien hip-hop groove reminiscent of 7/14/13’s standout Light, the resulting Farmhouse is a really quite strong version with a truly lovely Trey solo that works as a palate cleanser after 50-ish minutes of high-class improv. Oh, and Trey decides to stir it up with his teases at the end, cough cough.
- Antelope is like pizza for me - even if it’s “bad”, it’s still good. And this version is certainly not a bad one, a worthy capper to the 4th (!!) 5-song set of 2017.
- Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise: hey, if it’s good enough for 12/6/97 II, it’s good enough for me.

Final thoughts: every NYE run (maybe not 2011) has one absolute stone-the-crows Monster Show that we talk about in hushed tones after the fact. So here’s all I’ll say - if this one is NOT the Monster Show of 2017, then 12/31 will have blown our skulls clean out of our ears.


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