That and an unhealthy dose of wook flu led to delays in writing our recap. But we wrote it! Plus, we have a ton of videos to share. So without further rambling, we present:
NYE RUN 2011: Two hotel rooms were harmed in the making of this recap
The lateness of the NYE recap should explain how awesome of a time the PhanArt crew had on this New Years Run. Starting late on December 26th and ending sometime on the 2nd of January, we navigated the cold weather, bad roads, five shows and one football bowl game all in 6 days time. Short of Big Cypress, in our opinion, this was the best New Years run in Phish’s 28 years.
It all began with the weather factoring into travel plans for friends from across the country. Tripp wound up rerouting his flight arrival from Boston to Albany, flying in shortly after midnight at Albany International. It took well over an hour for me to pick him up from the airport, located 5 miles away. After skidding out a few times and doing a 360 and 540 going down a slight incline, we got to Chez de Mason and called it a night and prepared for finally getting on the road to Worcester after 2 months of anticipation.
The drive to Worcester was surprisingly fast and with clean roads all around New York and Massachusetts. Upon arrival at the Comfort Inn and check-in, the prep for the lots began, but with near zero temperatures and a crowd that was late to arrive and did not seem to mingle for much in the lot, so sales were light at best and the enjoyment of the show inside was all we had. Sitting Page Side with full view of the Canadian Flag, we caught some great shots and videos, as evidenced below. Warren ‘The 5 Guy’ and his friends made up the majority of our section with Unolker from This Week on Lot nearby. My brother Matt came to the show with his friend Brian and luckily enjoyed the floor for the night. The show had its moments, and dusted off two months of kinks that got us to the magic of MSG. The venue felt full, even though it didn’t seem like it should with so many folks missing the show due to the weather and flight cancellations. The main highlight was Mound, but really, you can’t go wrong with a ‘lets get these songs out of the way’ shows like this. They make the whole run that much better as a result.
It was an early night with the cold, although many others were righteous enough to make the hallways smell delicious.
On the 28th, we went to lunch with Tripp and friends to Picadillys. Our cute waitress who we shall call ‘Kelli’ was forbidden by her very bitchy (and possibly constipated) manager, Becky from going to the shows. She had to work doubles BOTH NIGHTS. But Kelli had off the rest of the week. Who the fuck does that? We tried our best, talked her service up, made calls on her behalf, debated just taking her with us (if she was down like that), and even rolling silverware. The prognosis was that despite out best efforts, it didn’t look good and we don’t know if she made it. It’s sad that bitchy managers are keeping hot girls from attending Phish shows. This must end.
This may also explain the 25:1 ratio of guys to girls at shows. We have seen the enemy, and it is Becky.
The lots this night were hopping, and that was an understatement. Lots inside the Uno’s, inside each of the bars, throughout the commercial/exchange lot, which were completely ironic titles for the sales that went down that night. Glowsticks, posters, hoodies, long-sleeves and a wide selection of warm threads and brews were the main point of sale items before and after the show.
This show was an improvement on the night before, with multiple bust outs of My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Albuquerque, She Caught the Katy, Frankie Sez, as well as the debuts of Pigtail (a song with immense potential in a Heavy Things kind of way) and Birdwatcher. Solid jams of Bug and Back on the Train made it OK to leave during Shine a Light because that song is starting to get old fast as an encore, but it’s a great signal to those vending who need to bail for the lots.
Post show the Comfort Inn never smelled so good and all took part in making it so. There were some good folks from RT there. I stopped by, walked in, talked about PhanArt and left, just to keep the same visage in person as he did in line. All in good fun.
The morning of the 29th, we woke up late and with some very understanding kids working the breakfast buffet which closed 45 minutes earlier, we were able to make waffles, because you really can’t say no to waffles. They were great workers and deserve a raise.
It was time to then head back to Albany to refuel the Four Loko machine and head to Tim and Christina’s in New Jersey to sleep again and rest before the next three days turned the dial to 11.
or: how I learned to stop worrying and drink a lot of Jameson
To start the day on the 30th, we all drove into the city and checked in quickly at The Hotel Penn(Sylvania) across from MSG. Christina was nice enough to bring the car to Secaucus so we didn’t have to pay extravagant parking costs. We snagged room 1299, down many hallways in this Shining-esque hotel, then unloaded our gear and got our asses uptown. Tim and I met up with old friends on the way up to Yankee Stadium for the Pinstripe Bowl. After a short round of shots and beers, we took the subway to the Bronx, I grabbed beers at Jimmys and headed to the game. Our seats went from 427 to 333 to 50 yard line 6 rows from the snow on the field. This is when I learned that Jameson makes me say fuck. A lot. More than normal and in a way that would make George Carlin say ‘whoa, dude’.
Syracuse won one of the best bowl games of the year thanks to amazing rushing TDs by Delone Carter from and huge TD bombs thrown to Marcus Sales. Add in that bullshit penalty and well, it was a game that will not soon be forgotten, especially for Syracuse alumni.
Leaving the Stadium, we got back to Hotel Penn to find five people in our room, including folks who were at the game. We got things settled, prepped for the show and walked across the street for the game, all the while coaxing my friend Scott into going to his first show, but being scared of new things, he declined. But it was cool, more room for us to dance!
However, due to the game and having to get back to the hotel, we missed Cities and Chalkdust. We lived. Walking into Gumbo is good enough after a day like this.
The night was spent drinking and celebrating a bowl game and trying to see if it was possible to talk louder than the music. I think we pulled it off at least once.
Later that night I met a girl. She was cool and that’s all I should say about that.
(Listen to Pete get yelled at 12/30 for daring to dance in the aisle!)
Waking up on the 31st, we did the oft-repeated segue of hangover->food and coffee->nap. Then we Got. It. On. I broke out my John Kerry impersonation, you know, just to get things rolling. Because on NYE in NYC it’s very topical. In retrospect, Ketchup heir jokes and references to not cutting the mustard in 2004 were foreshadowing of what was going to come for the entry into the New Year.
Then everyone came over before. Seriously, we had more people in the room than firecode and common sense would dictate. The show was nothing short of amazing. Starting off with dancing with that same beauty of a girl for the first set, we headed up to Page side walkway and caught one of the best sets of 2010 and a whiff of Page’s Ham sandwich. Wilson > 46 Days, Sand, NICU > Down with Disease > Ghost, You Enjoy Myself-> Manteca -> You Enjoy Myself (via phish.net) provided nearly non-stop dancing, with only enough time during NICU to reapply our melted faces, only to have them blown off during the monstrous DWD->Ghost. There were many happy tears flowing during Ghost, which is nothing short of the best buttery jam of the year.
Triple fisting drinks for the end of the year, we watched from sidestage as my favorite song, and a good reason I got into Phish at Oswego, The Meatstick was broken out. Hints of Big Cypress filled the air, and thanks to the good eyes of fans noticing the missing Flying Hot Dog from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we knew what was in store. Dancers coming out of the woodworks, a stage production that kept the wows flowing and the chills working their way through the sweat and a giant Meatstick flying in from the back of the venue – it was the best way to end an amazing year! It was equally amazing to actually see the Hot Dog this time, unlike at Big Cypress when it was barely visible from our spot far left page side.
Once the show was over, some NYEMSG stickers were sold and we worked out way back to the hotel room. Everyone and their brother was waiting to come on up and security being cool allowed it.
What happened next cannot be written in detail, but we can only note that the room looked somewhat like Dana’s apartment towards the end of Ghostbusters.
And we had 15 people in the room when I took off for Jersey at 4am. The things we do for love.
On the 1st, after my first taste of Disco Fries, I returned to NYC around 5pm and quickly regrouped before heading to the show in closely the same fashion as I had for the other 4.
The show was fun and it felt as though the 1st set would never end. But the 2nd set was the fire and heat of the tour, all at once and not only one of the top 3 sets of 3.0, but also the best set of 2011. Hands down.
I fell asleep at 3am with a beer in my hand and Skittles on my chest. It’s an art form.
We awoke on January 2nd to livers that hated us and a room that was starting to come alive in its collective hate for what we had brought upon it for the past 72 hours. We cleaned the hotel room pretty well of garbage and empties and we found more random things in there than I care to recount. Small, round things. Skittles.
However, it turns out even when you say ‘hey, we’re checking out late, cool?’, and they say ‘yeah, that’s cool’, it doesn’t mean ‘cool’. It means a 300 pound Samoan security guy will storm upstairs, bitch you out for not being out of the hotel, even though all the bags are packed and we just need a cart to get out of the hotel and down to the car that was now waiting for us. He almost tripped over me while I was sitting on the floor. This recap almost didn’t happen.
But this was just a sign that we had raged this hotel ever so proper – they couldn’t even let us leave. The hotel knew that it wanted us there and we were destined to remain there. Hotel Penn, we love you so, but it’s a 3-4 night affair each year, no more.
We drove back to jersey, then to Albany, and somehow staved off the wook flu for 3 days before succumbing to it. Altogether, this New Years beat out many other worthy nominees from this young century but definitely took the cake. Nothing like spending 6 days seeing 5 shows, 1 football game, packing a room with 3 dozen people over the course of a few days and meeting some amazingly beautiful women.
Life: it’s good when you Phish.
Happy New Year from the PhanArt Crew!