PhanArt’s Brief review of the Best Phish New Years Run in the last decade

Ok, so the title of this post is a bit misleading – there were really only 2 other runs – NY->VA in 02/03, and Miami 03/04, and these pale in comparison to the amazing music, weather, phans and overall good time had by thousands in Miami December 28th-31st.

Full moon risin

Overall, this is in the top 5 all time New Years runs, right behind the 2 nights in Big Cypress, the 1998 run at MSG and on par with the 1997 run through the Northeast. Amazing music that was well played and full of bustouts galore to satisfy even the most ardent Phish fan.

We provide you with brief reviews created by PhanArt Pete with help from Tim O’Shea, both of whom made it through a week in Florida with all that 2009 could throw at them and made it into 2010 watching the sunrise on the beach while Lady Gaga chilled nearby.

Kuroda is a golden god of some sort

Monday 12/28 – A good start

A smooth start to the show, a My Soul bustout followed by Roggae‘s amazing return to the lineup. My Soul is a personal favorite, having been seen in Albany for the first couple shows I saw in 97 and 98. Undermind was good, Bouncin and Poor Heart gave a chance to grab a drink from the vendors on 300 who had no lines, period (best venue ever for that). Stash was played perfectly, IDK and Beauty were nice, Possum rocked the set out and got us ready for set 2 madness.

Taste the rainbow

Set 2 with Mike’s to open got us moving, but the Light destroyed the theory/hope that they would play ALS->Light on 12/31, but no complaints. Still having not listened to it, i heard something resembling DEG, and even if it’s not that, its a jam that is possibly on of the best of the run. H2, groove, Alaska and BDTNL were all well played and kept the crowd dancing.  Makisupa->Hood was another highlight, complete with some unreal jamming before devolving into Contact.  Zero to close it out and First Tube for yet another rocking ending.

We toyed with the idea of going to Orchard Lounge for the post-show, but a long drive down from NY, even with a night in Orlando made it tough to stay up late. The sweet suite we got at the Best Western Atlantic beckoned to be given Rock Star Treatment there instead.  Based upon reports, IHOP was enjoyed by all.

Those trampolines are way too high for YEM

Tuesday 12/29  – Right near da beach. Boy-eeee!

Quick, name the movie that comes from. Answer at the end of this day’s review.

Great views back here

A full day to relax, finally, after 3-4 days of holidays, packing, running around, and preparing for these 4 days.  We headed to the beach, scared the locals and Europeans staying at our hotel and wandered into the ocean, which was much warmer than expected. The sandbar and the rolling waves made for a good pre-show exercise regime that worked pretty well. Stretching and getting into dancing mode takes effort and practice it turns out.

Ocean-view suite FTW

We headed to the lots and sold some Miami NYE shirts for Jiggs and Twitter shirts for ourselves, met up with Paulie from Coventry Blog, Brandon from Green Crew and made some new friends here and there.

Good lord why are the walls melting?
good lord why are the walls melting?

This was at the time I found out that it takes TWO hours to find drugs in Miami! I was amazed! Now, I dont partake in anything more than beer, but from what the others around us in the lots, it took them up to TWO hours to locate things that were expected to be available much easier. Scarface lied to us. Turns out it wasnt a documentary.

The show proved to be the 2nd best overall from the run (in our opinion). Golgi to open and Maze to follow again got the show on the right foot, with a Driver to set us up before the funk set in deep.  Oh but wait, we’re gonna drop The Connection on you first! The second time this radio single from ’04 was played and it was well received. The words still hung true, the fans loved it, and then we got Wolfman‘s, which was good and high energy, but nothing standout/spectacular.  Ocelot was Ocelot, Reba was amazing, Access Me was a good version even though the crowd didnt seem to react much to it. Either fans dont know the songs at times or they are still reacting with jaws agape. Divided Sky had the longest silent note ever, and Cavern was called by Tim to end the set.

Behind the stage is really nice sometimes

Set 2 started ever so perfectly with Kill Devil Falls rocking the start of the show and then a BOMB of a Tweezer dropped on the crowd.  Thank Trey that this song has found its old jamming style.  A segue into Prince Caspian showed that this song is more than the old ‘Fuckerpants‘ of yesteryear. Once that ended, we were bring you one of the Jams of the Weekend! Jibboo->Wilson->Jibboo->Heavy Things->2001. Starting out with one of my most overseen songs (Jibboo) made it unique by dropping a Type II out of there and headed into Wilson before heading BACK into Jibboo! My legs hated me later, but the band simply couldnt keep me down. Segueing into Heavy Things led to some later jamming from Trey in a song that is otherwise standard most of the time. But they spaced it out and eventually made it into 2001 for the Dance Party Miami U.S.A. to begin in earnest.  Funky and more dancier than lately, a bit energetic, and then a good call with Slave to rest our (my) legs. Sleeping Monkey and Tweeprise for a solid encore.

So did you guess Half-Baked? Nice work Phanner!

Wednesday 12/30 – Mock Show FTW!  Phish saves the day

Mock Show traffic

Mock Show at the Hyatt in downtown Miami was as successful as previous ones and featured more artists than ever (it seemed like it at least).  New PhanArtists Franky Scaglione and Vinny Naro were there and set up nearby, along with Ryan Kerrigan, AJ Masthay, Isadora Bullock, Andrew Abis, as well as David Welker, who made designed the RIFT cover art, plus an exhibit by Jim Pollock and the first ever Acoustic Set by Ft. Lauderdale natives The Heavy Pets! We have some great pics of this as well, since hte PhanArt table was right across from the stage.

Overall, Mock Show was a success – sold a few PhanArt books, made money for Mockingbird, sold some shirts, cleaned Jiggs out of “A laser pointer doesnt make you Chris Kuroda” stickers, and had a great time meeting folks from Facebook, Twitter, email, lot, old shows, etc… Mock Shows are the greatest gathering of bona fide talent out there amongst all music-centric artists and should continue to be a great success at Phish’s next extended run of shows this coming summer. Thank you to Julie P for coming in and helping out with the PhanArt table!

Aquarium Airlines Arena

Night 3 made Night 2 look like an acoustic Particle show. To better describe this night, I quote Trey Monkeystasio“12/30/09 is gonna make 12/30/97 look like 12:30 at Applebees!” And indeed, this was true.  From the first notes of Soul Shakedown Party, it was ON. Jim was present, then JESUS! Good lord have I listened to TOO MANY bands cover this song before I finally heard it! Dixie Cannonball was a great listen, I’m glad they are working some countryish tunes back into the mix, especially since Ramble Dove and The Green Sparrow seem to have been left out of the rotation yet again. Stealing Time took its place as a bona fide rocker before, but that is getting more and more solidified each day. Corrina bust out was unreal, and 10 years to the date as well! This boded well.

How well? What’s the Use? was next! God bless the guy who was shouting this to them from behind the stage. And then the notes we had been hoping to hear – TELA!!! Tim and I took one look at each other and hugged that we FINALLY got our Tela! Dreams do come true with Phish, they really do.  Gone was cool, but really, after Tela, the WOW factor had set in.

Seriously, these lights are awesome.

Even though I’m over the hump on # of shows, I still had never caught Rocky Top, I always missed it by one or two shows. I had my drink in hand as i heard the opening notes and walked through my curtain to 118, only to find a guy about to walk into me, spilling my tasty beverage. Nothing was keeping me from Rocky Top, and as such, I made sure that I got past him and to my seat before Gordo sang the opening line. Chalkdust and Bowie for the nice double rocker close.  Bowie had a slightly extended hi-hat intro, something that is needed in the future – BUILD the anticipation Fish!

Set 2 we moved behind the stage to hang with Julie and Tracy for some severely underrated seats and shots (these will be well worth seeing when we get the pics up).  Sand started out but wasn’t a Camden rocker, but simply apt. The Curtain With was solid before an unexpectedly amazing Lifeboy. The jam out of this song was great.  (Overheard on Lot/Twitter: Do atheists love or hate Lifeboy?) A Type II’d Back on the Train was the rocker of the night, and even the jam into Wading was amazing.  Velvet Sea is best described in this case as a ‘Lifeguard Song‘, a phrase we can attribute to Paulie from Coventry Blog. Definition: a song played to tell everyone to sit down, rest, relax, grab some water or tasty beverage and then wait for the next song; a break song. See: Velvet Sea, Bug, Farmhouse, Joy, Let me Lie, etc…

This band rules

HYHU for ‘another’ vacuum solo proved to be a great crowd-interaction by inviting up ‘Rich‘ from the floor near the stage to come and do a vacuum solo, as Fish had completed his final solo of the ‘aughts’ (worst name ever) on the 28th. So Rich started out slowly but got the hang of it and gave us an above-average vacuum solo for us to enjoy.  Not bad at all bro! To top it off, Rich is now the luckiest guy on earth and eternally famous in Phish-lore for decades to come.  So we must ask – do you know him? If so, we want to hear from Rich!  Have him email us!

Free was a great way to start ending the 2nd set, but the highlight of the night and possibly jam of the run was Boogie on Reggae Antelope. Teases of the guitar riff in Antelope make this version A#1 to listen to if you haven’t already. Frankenstein with Keytar allowed Page to strut towards the front of the stage and rock out with this number.  By the time we left the arena, it was officially New Years Eve and time to party down on the beach. While my favorite dive bar in the country would have to wait another night, the beach gave us a nice light warm breeze.

Oh, and we saw people having sex in a hot tub. It was a good thing we saw this, because our plans for the 31st involved going in that hot tub.  STDs averted.

Thursday 12/31 – Good riddance 2009, HELLO 2010

Few words describe 2009, most of them vulgar. It sucked, to put it very mildly. But Phish was in Miami, Tim and I were dressed as Crockett and Tubbs – pulled it off really well with fake badges and aviators, even had a kid thing I was a NARC. How cute.

In the still, of the night.....

We found ours seats Page Side diagonal behind the stage and made sure the drinks and supplies were in order (confetti and mardi gras beads and other things for the ladies).  I think Tim and I wound up seeing about 15 or so shows together this stupendous year for Phish, and it was highly appropriate to see that through the end at New Years.  Party Time opener was expected, but instead we got AC/DC Bag, the opener of the year, followed by a rocking 46 Days and a 10 years later version of Water in the Sky. A sick Gin and Punch gave way to the funk being dropped out for Moma.  This so far was a greatest hits set of set openers and gave way to even more bustouts.

Guyute has always been a personal favorite of mine (PhanArt Pete) and seeing Trey with the New York Philharmonic makes the song even better, even in concert with Phish! Swept->Steep was awesome to hear after 9+ years, but DEMAND? WHAT? WHATWHATWHAT? WOW!  The only thing that could have made Demand better was a Melt Jam outro, but no, we arent complaining.  The segue into 7 Below was top notch and a Lawn Boy Julius kept us pumped for the rest of the year of Phish

Set 2 came out with a Rock and Roll-> Piper for a good 20 minutes+ of glowsticks and dancing, a Simple->Theme was solid, before a much needed Shine a Light (lifeguard song) came in next. Ghost was possibly the jam of the night, a no-flub tight fast-paced version with a good funk jam that kept growing and growing before spacing out into something totally different. As it got ambient and spacy, loops were thrown in and before you knew it, Mike was speaking the lyrics to N02! From where we were sitting, few knew what this was.  Folks, ya gotta do your homework and all, but it is problably for the best you got a big WTF reaction to N02, something stay true for the WAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWAWA that IS N02.

Steve, I can see you! awesome!

Suzy ended the set in standard rocking fashion. It was time to prepare for Midnight. Drinks were in hand, brahs were finding their way to better seats, the kids behind me were appreciative of the Don Julio I shared with them, and the boom was lowered for the net for the prank.  The cannon made its way on stage as well.  Good work to the guys who took care of this, it came off flawlessly! (Anyone know the setbreak music between 2 + 3? We would love to hear this again. Good work Kuroda!)

The expected Party Time opener was well-received by the crowd and the energy only built as the ball was lowered in the last minute of 2009 before being left on the stage, turning all of AAA into a gigantic disco ball. Numbers were counted backwards, old Scottish Drinking songs were played, and hugs were had everywhere! I even hugged a dready brah next to me! Phish makes you do crazy shit!

As was expected and called well in advance, DWD was the first song of 2010, just like it was the first song of the last decade from Big Cypress. The jam for this overshadowed by the thousands of balloons that worked their way around the crowd and arena over the course of the next few minutes. Fluffhead had more crowd interaction. Sara from Pittsburgh came on stage (Fish in a wig and dress) and the antics began, Fluffhead was played, laughs were had.

The middle trampoline says 'greater than or equal to, less than or equal to'

Note – we love this crowd interaction stuff, but not just because we get cool fans on stage to take part in a song or other onstage antics. Rather, we have the best possible reaction by the band and their management to the Naked guy from 12/5/09 in Charlottesville. The latter does NOT need to become a trend, and was noted as such in the recent Editorial by Christy Articola in Surrender to the Flow. This is a good faith effort by the band to protect for their safety and keep fans in the crowd and the band safe on stage.



Joy for a nice relax in the new year, Coil for the same, and YEM to rock the house down one more time.

The encore of Blue Moon was apt on this night of a second full moon this year, complete with complete thank you’s to all, and then Loving Cup to end the night.

sunrise on south beach

We wandered off into the night, amazed at the four nights of music we just witnessed, and found our way to a cab a few blocks north. A trip to the Sunrise Cafe (Collins and 42nd st.) was the best decision for the New Year, and we enjoyed the beach and Don until the sun rose.  Just like 10 years ago.

A bit older, a lot wiser, a bit more grown up and still able to travel and see music as much as is needed; welcome to 2010 where we can only hope things get better.  Where there is hope, there is love.

Happy New Years to all!

PhanArt Pete, with Tim O’Shea

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