HT Review: Phish Find Themselves a City (In the Central Part of Town) – MSG2


  • With regard to the mix, I’ve been reading a lot about Trey being too loud, which did not seem to be an issue to these ears. The one thing that I did notice “loud and clear” is the overall volume level is really high. On at least three occasions last night, different people mentioned ringing in their ears from the night before, feeling like they couldn’t hear, or losing their voice from trying to talk over the music. The high volume translates to high energy though, so keep it coming.
  • The cathartic segment of Fluffhead blew the roof, the doors, and the hinges off Madison Square Garden. Definitely one of the most exciting solos we’ve heard from Trey in Fluffhead. Also, the beginning of the tune started somewhat uncharacteristically with Trey playing the chords noticeably slower and easing into the normal song speed, mainly as a result of the segue.
  • The second set, particularly the Disease, Piper, and Cities, was so funky, and so brilliantly improvised, that my wife and I exchanged “Is this still XX song?” on multiple occasions. Beyond that, one jam got so good, I recall engaging in an entire daydream quandary as to whether Phish goes into a night knowing whether or not they are going to blow everyone away. In other words, does Phish have the ability to pre-plan which shows are the big ones? After giving it some thought, I think the answer is “sort of.” I mean, they can obviously plan the surprises and the general song selection, which has a big impact, but a show like last night really seemed to develop in large part to the energy exchange between fan and band as well as Fishman driving the band into a funk-fueled Madison Square Dance Party.
  • Both Cities and Disease took to some very engaging funk grooves, sounding at times for lack of a better word, digital. Down with Disease probably stole the show if I had to pick one song to listen to immediately.
  • The jam out of Piper went into a pretty blissed-out place that almost reached What’s the Use territory, which leads me to think, “Wow, I totally forgot about What’s the Use. I hope they play that song soon.”
  • The segues between the first three songs of the second set were smooth like soft serve.


  • The must-listen songs from the first set that provided the most blatant energy boosts were Boogie On, Julius, and Back on the Train. Boogie On had the place on fire. Although this version did not stretch out or differentiate itself too much, the pure enjoyment of just people watching during this one probably made it the best tune of the set.  Back on the Train got really deep with Page and Trey combining Page’s Clav and Trey using a some sort of modular tone to create a really think, funky rhythm/lead blend.
  • The must-listen songs for the second set are ALL OF THEM.
  • Security at the Garden really is really not what it used to be. Whereas the old Garden shows used to be for-all-intents-and-purposes, quasi-general admission, the gate guards are really cracking down on people dancing/hanging out in the aisles and on the stairs. This ends up being pretty annoying, because every set so far, our row has been stuffed like a sleeping bag.
  • Still haven’t felt the room bounce for some reason, but also haven’t had floor seats.
  • Time Turns Elastic elicited some quiet moans and even a few boos, as well as a modest migration for the beer line, but overall people seemed into it. Maybe it was simply that it came in the midst of such high level playing, but I think people were generally more open to hearing it. Trey did switch guitars, but he opted for the wood-colored body, not the green one. The end jam showed real promise. Personally, this song took on a new life after seeing it in the intended form at the Carnegie Hall performance. It makes a lot more sense now.
  • The crowd seems to be really amiable. No mafia sightings, no overly inebriated folks (well except one girl did projectile her lunch right in the hallway first night), and folks seems happy to make space for each others’ friends, etc.
  • In terms of the lights, the highlights included the filter Chris has been using a lot that makes the area behind and to the sides of the stage look as though it’s swarming with ants. This played well during the dark segments of Stash. Also, the rainbow spectrum looked great last night. Finally, the three-dimensional cones shooting out into the crowd worked well. Overall, not an overly crazy light show, but gorgeous as always.
  • In sum, this felt like the throwdown night of the three Garden shows, but it came without any giant bust outs or quirky surprises. Granted, Halleys’, Cities, Fluffhead, 2001, and Boogie On always give off that bust-outy feeling, but with Cities played 6 shows ago, Halley’s 5 shows ago, Fluff 4 shows ago, 2001 2 shows ago, and Boogie On 7 shows ago, this makes a statement. Phish no longer needs to pull out a bag of tricks to win over the fans and play one for the ages. They just need to get loose, find the chemistry, and have fun. Last night’s show was just that, fun.

Overall Rating (0-100 with 100 equal to five stars): 89

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6 thoughts on “HT Review: Phish Find Themselves a City (In the Central Part of Town) – MSG2

  1. Gimme Just A One More Night Reply

    Nice review man. I like the bullet points.

  2. zappafrank Reply

    I like this new style of review. Love it, even. Can”t wait to hear MSG2

  3. JW Reply

    I always think concerts should be bullet point reviews, much easier to digest. Great show

  4. Diana Costello Reply

    Loved this show. Also love the bullet points.

  5. Sammy Martin Reply

    great job…as always hiddentrack you show us how it should be done!

  6. Pingback: fallout « rants and raves |

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