Mystery Puddles and the Sound of Rolling
Wow. That’s all I can say. My first run of shows in NYC, my first Phish NYE shows (I know, I’ve never seen NYE. I’m such a slacker. ), and I am absolutely gobsmacked by them. The energy! The lights! The Meatsticks!!!!
I’m sure some of you are wondering about the entry’s title. I read an article in the New York Times about NYC after a huge snowfall. One of the dangers is mystery puddles, as in you don’t know how deep they are. And they are everywhere the sidewalk meets the road. The sound of rolling refers to all the pieces of luggage that people are always rolling to and fro past you. You hear it on the street more than car horns. In the train station. Go outside for a smoke. You hear it. Any other thoughts or ideas you have are figments of your own twisted minds.
I took the train out of Lancaster before noon on Thursday. Ran into my friend Vanessa and her husband Jon and we rode the Keystone Express up to the big Apple. Got in at Penn Station, located right under Madison Square Garden, and jumped on a subway to head up town to meet my peeps. Ate at a good Mexican place called Blockheads. Then visited our friend’s apartment on 42nd St. She lives in the heart of Manhatten and the place was much bigger than I could have imagined. Walked several blocks to our hotel, which is located only .6 miles away from the Garden. Spent a few hours pregaming and headed to the show.
MSG is designed to have several different layers, so it takes a good 25 minutes to get inside to the arena once you go in the doors. The process was structured to move as many people as quickly as possible. The security was so lax my friend brought his travel bag in with him that he was going to take on the bus after the show. They barely looked at it. Josh and Switzer had the best seats so we all (6 of us) went to their seats. We staked out our seats and hoped the owners didn’t show up. They did not and we were golden. We were in for like 10 minutes and the lights went down and the energy went through the roof. Below is the setlist.
Thu, 12/30/2010 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Note: All descriptions are based on my memory, as I have not had time to relisten to everything again. Such are the pressures of a deadline.
Set 1: Cities, Chalk Dust Torture, Gumbo > Quinn the Eskimo, Halley's Comet > Camel Walk, Maze, Driver, Bathtub Gin, Fat Man in the Bathtub, Timber (Jerry) > Golgi Apparatus, Character Zero
Set 2: Tweezer -> Light > Theme From the Bottom > My Friend, My Friend, Axilla > Fluffhead > Boogie On Reggae Woman -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg
Encore: Run Like an Antelope > Tweezer Reprise
 P.A. cut out.
 No "Myfe" ending
Notes: The P.A. cut out during Camel Walk. My Friend did not contain the "Myfe" ending.
The Cities opener had everyone dancing. A rare first set Quinn had us jumping for joy. The Camel Walk had the PA cut out towards the end. The band didn’t know it and the audience really shouted the “Camel Walk” at the end. During a quiet moment, I yelled What The Fuck?!?!? Hope the tapers picked that up. The Maze ratcheted up the tension to an unbearable level. The slower Driver was almost a relief so everyone could catch their breath.
Then came Bathtub Gin. The peak towards the end of the song just kept building and building. The other bathtub song they do followed. The energy at the end of Character Zero was almost scary. More Phish fist pumps than you could shake a meatstick at. Finally, set break and a chance to regroup.
The second set opened with a Tweezer that almost destroyed the Garden. 3 separate distinct jams and it went on for nearly 20 minutes. Then Light followed. Another formless space cruise ensues. Each song going higher and higher. Almost overwhelming. Fluffhead is tackled like it’s the first time. Still haven’t danced enough? How about Boogie On>2001>Suzy Greenburg. Then a double encore of Antelope>Reprise. WHAT?!?! Antelope is super rare in the encore slot and the Reprise was so good I actually think that might have been the best 3:28 of my life in public.
So we roll out of MSG but this is New York City, the city that never sleeps. Phish was the main course but who wants desert? We hope on the R train heading downtown and get to Canal Street, right on the edge of Chinatown. Two blocks from the subway station is the club with a Vermont Dead cover band called the Dead Sessions playing. Kevin Shapiro, Phish’s archivist, is one of the drummers. DJ Gravy was spinning shit downstairs as all the Heads waited for the upstairs to open. Thought we might have been ripped off but Switzer saw a lot of old school Vermont Heads so we were golden. They threw down 2 sets, almost 2 and a half hours of music before we hoped back on the subway at 4:15ish and saw a rat on the subway platform.
Got back to the room and absolutely collapsed. I heard something fall or unspool as I fell asleep. Thought it might have been a rat but I was like, no way the Raddison Martinuque has rats. This is a classy place. So I’m asleep on the floor and we don’t have any extra blankets. I’m covered with three coats. I put Caroline (that is the name of Rachael’s fake fur. It’s embroidered on the inside lining. She bought is second hand like that.) over my legs and feet and Caroline worked like a champ. DeLorean gets up to go to the bathroom and kicks my foot. I wake up in reaction mode because I think it’s a rat chewing on my foot. Love New York!! The pregame show madness for NYE had already begun!
We roll out of the hotel room at 2 PM and head to Stoudt’s for coffee, cocktails, and food. Real close to MSG and gets my rare 5 beard award for super heady pub. Back to the hotel to get ready and the HMLL’s (which stands for High Maintenance Lot Ladies. And if you don’t know any HMLL’s, then you must not attend too many shows) already are decked out in their finest. Head up to the insane throngs of people milling outside the Garden and go inside. Again, nice flow of heads and very little hassles. We scoped out Josh and Switzer's seats and had to do very little moving. Our crew was together, surrounded by very cool people (including Jen and Ken from Strong Island, Adam and his crew, and the kind peeps in front of us. Give it up for Section 204 ) Then, the lights go down, and it all begins.
Setlist: Fri, 12/31/2010 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye, AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance > Scent of a Mule, Burn that Bridge, Weigh, Ocelot, Beauty of My Dreams, Gone, Rock and Roll
Set 2: Wilson > 46 Days, Sand, NICU > Down with Disease > Ghost, You Enjoy Myself -> Manteca -> You Enjoy Myself
Set 3: Meatstick, Auld Lang Syne, After Midnight, Backwards Down the Number Line, Piper > Free, Waste, Slave to the Traffic Light, Grind
Encore: First Tube
 Phish debut.
 Auld Lang Syne tease.
 Manteca quotes in vocal jam.
 Portions pre-recorded; Lyrics sung in multiple languages.
 a cappella with Meatstick singers.
Notes: This show featured the Phish debut of Burn That Bridge. Ocelot, NICU and First Tube contained Auld Lang Syne teases. Beauty of My Dreams was played for the first time since July 22, 2003 (133 shows). Manteca was played for the first time since October 30, 1998 (301 shows) and the ensuing YEM vocal jam contained Manteca quo