Phish 2009-12-30 20.50.57
Set 1: Soul Shakedown Party, Runaway Jim, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Dixie Cannonball, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Corrina, What's the Use?, Tela, Gone, Rocky Top, Chalk Dust Torture, David Bowie

Set 2: Sand, The Curtain With > Lifeboy, Back on the Train > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Hold Your Head Up > Love You > Hold Your Head Up, Free, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Run Like an Antelope

Encore: Frankenstein

After a sleepless night following discovery of the robbery while we were at the second show of the run, we tried to pick up the pieces a bit. I spent most of the day trying unsuccessfully to fix the broken window. I got it mostly working, but the control arms were too bent for the bottom pane to close properly. Liz dealt with the police report and finding the serial numbers and getting better descriptions for stuff. Neither of us ate all day. We finally took off for the show around 6:30, arriving well after door time.

We went up to the 400 level to check out our behind-stage seats. They told us that we could trade our 400 level tickets in for 100 level seats, also behind the stage. I didn't want to trade my mail-order tickets in, so we went to check out the assigned seats. They were up pretty high, but offered an interesting view of the stage and the rest of the arena. Plus the section was empty. Before the show, groups of people would come in, look at the seats and, more often than not, leave. But a few other groups remained by the start of the show. The arena staff seemed pretty put out that they couldn't close the section on account of about 20 people who wouldn't leave. But too bad for them. After a really rough day, we were happy to sit way up in a sparsely populated section.

We went back down to 300 to pick up some food. I got a sandwich and some fries. It was passable arena food, better than what the BankAtlantic Center is serving, for the most part. It felt good to finally eat.

But what does this have to do with the music? Not much, except to explain my mood at the show. The band opened with some reggae, namely the first Soul Shakedown Party since the fateful 2004 Vegas run that led to Phish's breakup. But tonight it got the party started. Most of our section were up and dancing. They kept it uptempo with a nice Runaway Jim with, again, a concise and tasteful jam out into Jesus Just Left Chicago, the first of the year and my first as well. This was to be the theme of the evening, as it often is for December 30 shows.

After the bluesy Jesus Just Left Chicago, they kicked the tempo back up with a quick country tune I'd never heard, which turned out to be a Hank Williams song called Dixie Cannonball. Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan and a rare Corrina, which they had played for the first time in ten years ten years to the day on December 30, 1999 at Big Cypress.

After a quick break, Trey let out some feedback and they lurched into a familiar-sounding groove. Amazingly, someone down below us was apparently hollering for What's The Use and the band obliged. I couldn't believe it. This rarely played centerpiece to The Siket Disc is one of my favorite pieces of Phish music. By the time they segued into the first Tela since 1998, I had an enormous smile on my face and my mood had lightened considerably. At the first chords of Tela, the entire audience lit up and the band responded with a gorgeous rendering of the rarely played fan-favorite.

After the Phish debut of Gone, from the Party Time CD (aka the Joy box set bonus disc), the rest of the set was high octane: Rocky Top, Chalkdust and a blistering Bowie. I was left wondering what they were going to pull out for the second set.

Phish 2009-12-30 19.42.45
The second set kicked off with only the second Sand since the last time Phish played New Year's in Miami back in 2003. That, naturally, got everyone dancing again. The Curtain With followed, in a much better performance than the last encore at Coventry. That gave way to the underrated Lifeboy. And in a continuation of the tempo shifting approach the band had been taking the entire run, they followed the mellow song with the uptempo Back on the Train and the quiet Wading in the Velvet Sea.

After wading, Page started playing the chords to Hold Your Head Up and Fishman emerged from behind the drum kit. Trey hopped up to the drums and they launched into Love You, the song that had held the last vacuum solo of the 1990s during the all-night set at Big Cypress. After the second verse, Fish stated that as they had announced his last vacuum solo of the decade two nights earlier, he couldn't play another one as "that would make us liars."

"Can anyone hear play the vacuum? It can't be just anyone, it has to be someone dressed like me, and that sir, is you." He motioned to security to let a guy from the front row up, a man dressed in a t-shirt patterned after the dress Fish wears on stage." The guy from the front row said his name was Rich and proceeded to play a fairly impressive solo. So impressive that Fish gave him the vacuum cleaner before returning to his drums.

With the audience raging, Phish finished up the set with some more high energy tunes, Free, Stevie Wonder's Boogie on Reggae Woman and Run Like an Antelope. Edgar Winter's Frankenstein (a fixture at special shows) was the encore and we were sent back off into the night. We drove home a lot happier than we arrived, and as there were no extra lights on when we got home, we relaxed a little more and actually managed to get some sleep.