The last show of the run. Saving the best for last?
1/2 MSG show will be webcast over at LivePhish.
Weather permitting, follow @CoventryMusic for Twitter updates.
Here's what you missed....
Phish, 1/2/16 Madison Square Garden, NYC
Set 1: Your Pet Cat, AC/DC Bag > NICU, Ice > Horn > Divided Sky, Axilla > Maze, Train Song > Julius
Set 2: Tweezer > Sand > Limb By Limb > SUZY > Harry Hood > YEM
E: The Lizards, Tweezer Reprise
* * * *
Quickie Review: Throwback Friday
Good show, good times. Good setlist, good times. Good drugs, good times. Good friends, good times. Temporary layoff, good times. Easy credit rip off, good times. Ain't we lucky we got 'em... good times.
I walked out of MSG humming the theme song to Good Times, one of my favorite shows as a kid. I'm a Gen Xer and raised by television, so I had an affinity for sitcoms, like Norman Lear's Good Times, which featured one of the greatest TV soundtracks of all time. The show is a bout a dysfunctional family living in the projects in Chicago in the 1970s. Life's a struggle, but it can be both poignant and funny. That pretty much sums up the Phish experience for me. My life is a wacky sitcom at times with a revolving cast of wild characters, but I'm seeking good vibes and good times. Phish is usually the best shortcut and rallying point for both.
My brother lives in NYC and he's not into Phish, so those paths rarely cross. However, it was cool to hang out with him for preparty. Our friends T & I stopped by and shared stories from MagnaBall, especially the epic Drive-In set. 2015 marked the year when I caught the least amount of shows in 3.0...but out of everything I skipped, I was most bummed about that salacious Drive-In set. That's the kinda of shit I'd die for...an entire hour of improv.
The last show of a four-show holiday run is always a little hectic. It's the "do all your drugs" show, especially if you've flown in from out of town. The final night at MSG was no exception. Seemed like everyone in our section was crocked to the tits. Saw a couple of spun out hipster girls in brown boots totally yard sale'd it on the steps and their shit spilled everywhere. Sure, we were sitting near the old blue seats in the nosebleeds with the peanut gallery, but holy shitballs, talk about amateur hour.
I've been living such a bourgeois life in Slums of Beverly Hills that it feels good to be among the peasants in the cheap seats every once in a while. I think that's what Marie Antoinette said before French militant hippies (Le Wooks) chopped her head off.
The wife doesn't see as many shows as I do (typically Dicks, NYE, and random LA/SF shows) because she has a "real job", but she's been quietly closing in on #100 and should hit that this upcoming summer. It occurred to me that we've almost seen 100 shows together but we love MSG runs the most because as denizens of the City of Angeles, we're forced to drive everywhere (even if we take an Uber, we still gotta deal with traffic and LA assholes). It's awesome to stumble onto the subway and head to the show. Sure, the drawback is no lot scene, but who wants an e-coli burrito from a strung out wookette in the middle of fucking winter?
Had to ease off the gas for the final night and just say NO to the gay ninja molly. Seriously, I had to stop taking the gay ninja molly before I became a full convert and started listening to Beyonce and jumping on Bette Midler tour. Somewhat sober show for me... I downshifted and only took an old school pressie from these EDM raver kids we know. Mellow, but sufficient.
My Pet Cat was the opener. Pay attention to that song. It was the only modern incarnation of Phish all night. It originated during the Vegas Halloween run and the crowd always goes berserk when Leo drops in the cat scratching samples. Toward the end of the first set, the Joker sent me a text remarking that aside from My Pet Cat, the entire set was straight out of the 1990s. Page was grooving down during NICU. I particular dig the Axilla and Train Song bustouts. Plus anytime you get an indoor Divided Sky, it's special.
Our section was a sea of schwilly schammered sketchies. The guy next to change100 was a Matthew McConaughey doppelganger. He was doing lines off the back of his hand the entire show. A toot for every song. He offered to share, but I politely declined. I'm pretty much a low-life drug fiend who willingly accepts candy from strangers, but sometimes you got to have some standards.
I really felt bad for the trio of suburban high school kids in brand new tour shirts dancing in the aisle next to me. They were toking shitty schwag out of a metal pipe. Poor rich kids. I had a flashback to my first Grateful Dead show at MSG. I was 15 years old (it was my birthday) and an old hippie gave me a hit off a joint of freshly rolled Humboldt County bud. Mind blown. As the lyric goes... "The bus came by and I got on / That's when it all began." I was hooked and my life has been different ever since. I figured it was time to repay the favor almost 25 years later. I rolled a few doobs before the show (both NYC Diesel and NoCal Kush) and gifted the high school kids a joint during NICU.
Second set was one of those 6-song sets that looks awesome on paper. It was fun in real life too. Sure, it was slop city at times but high-octane energy and the crowd was lapping up every note. The first half hour of the set was probably my most favorite 30-minute stretch of music this run. Tweezer > Sand to kick off the set is the stuff great sets are made of. If Fish didn't need a breather they coulda kept Sand pulsating for another 15 minutes. Limb was easily the lowlight of the set, but it was very solid. Started out slow to give Fish a quick breath before he unleashed the octopus drummer for the back end of the song. Crowd-sing-along with Suzy, followed by the Hood everyone was waiting for. I found a $20 bill on the stairs during Hood and jumped on it before a wook sniffed it out. Shit got a little out of hand in our section during YEM, but if someone doesn't go flying three rows through your section during the BOYMANGODSHIT part, then they ain't doing it right.
After the second set ended, I braced myself for the worse. "We're gonna get Joy'd," I told change100. "Don't worry, at least Tweeprise will save the day."
I woulda loved a cover like Good Times Bad Times or Rock n Roll, but Phish opted to play only original material. You have no idea how fucking pumped I was for the first notes of Lizards. That might've been the most excited I was the entire run (because I knew how crucial a song selection in that spot would be...it would essentially make/break the set and the show). I had a flashback to the Dick's Lizards went everyone went apeshit during that bustout. Similar vibe. The floor to MSG was bouncing for the entire encore of Lizards through Tweeprise.
I had a rough 2015 but eager to bounce back for 2016. Phish always recharges my batteries. I feed off the creative energy of the band. I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the new year. Walked out of MSG and crossed Seventh Ave. humming the theme to Good Times.... "Not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Keepin' your head above water, making a wave when you can. Temporary lay offs, good times. Easy credit rip offs, good times. Scratchin' and surviving, good times. Hangin and jiving, good times. Ain't we lucky we got 'em... good times."
Enjoy Phish. They won't be around forever. Neither will you.
MSG Recaps & Setlists: 12/30/15 - 12/31/15 - 1/1/16