Baker’s Dozen Night 10: Out Of The Hole And Into Mike’s Set
Words by Jeff Scott
Tonight’s featured flavor donut at Phish’s Baker’s Dozen is Holes, specifically chocolate peanut butter dusted ones. Did we really think the band would ignore those adorable delicacies comprised of what was leftover of the original thing? No of course not. With no stone left unturned, no doughnut left unfilled or flavored, the boys have run the gamut to be sure, with only three shows left on the run, it is curious that they stopped here on the hole, but as we have already seen thus far, it will all make total sense as the show unfolds.
Phish opened up and answered the first question by covering Tom Wait’s classic that some may remember from the Wire, “Down in the Hole,” Trey Anastasio adding some shuddering effects with Page McConnell banging on the keys and the rythmn section holding down the groove. A somewhat subdued beginning to the night, with Mike Gordon adding a nifty bass solo in the middle. To pick up the pace they move on into “Buried Alive.” In yet another hole, we see where this is going. This more predictable than the last but no less fun, a tune that always kicks the first set into gear
To keep up the tempo they jump into “Kill Devil Falls,” always a good dancer with reflective lyrics, but I’ve learned my lesson, and yes, I can still remember my last one, this time it’s gonna be different! It feels like “Kill Devil Falls” represents a former hole of some sort that I think most of us can relate to. Out of the introspection comes the first jam extension of a tune, a nice Trey-led exploration; nothing fancy or overly exploratory, just an old fashioned fun time so as not to dive completely into the hole, with tempo changes to lift us up and out of wherever we may sink into. Out of the dramatic pause, that ugly pig “Guyute” rises, much to the delight of the crowd!
You really can’t go wrong here on this run, just wait and you know that one of your favorite tunes is gonna come out and play eventually. And with that, the crowd settles into this fugue of a jam. The nature of this song is very structured in composition, and to say it starts off in a straightforward way doesn’t do it justice, as the fun, jam nature is already built in, but there still is room for detours, as seen in the slight tone change in the boiling points before the epic crescendo.
“As I sleep the sleep of death,” it seems the first set is taking on a darker tone. “I Didn’t Know” comes out to satisfy the a capella needs of the run. Trey speaks, “You know what they say, the more holes, the more complicated the vacuum cleaner.” A truer thing could not have been said, ponder that one will ya! “NICU” continues on the path of lighter yet healing tunes, “back in the days when my life was a haze.” Leo is asked to play it and Leo of course obliges us with with a funk yet short solo. After another dramatic pause, the band offers us some “Meat,” a real nice vocal jam in the early going in a round like theme. After a minor flub, Jon Fishman says, “Sorry lets try that again.” Phish forgives us and we should give it back, the band diving back into a dark, heavy, bass jazz like jam, the most exploratory section of the set so far, Trey and Page also sure to take their own turns, all of them really reaching down into it with a nice spacey fade that morphs into “Maze”!!
The lyrics again remind of us of being stuck, in a maze, in a hole, the desperation of the situation every fan finds themselves in at one time or another, but we can get out of this maze, or hole or whatever we are stuck in, up to and including this tasty adventure. Bluegrass standard “Ginseng Sullivan” followed to bring another moment of levity, in melody and hope, but still talks of the journey home from wherever you are. “Waiting All Night” comes out with all apologies, perhaps from the holes we are in, but a more somber reflection ensues. “Things are fallin down on me,” “Heavy Things” we did get to see, this always light, airy poppy song, with Page taking the first solo, with Trey assuming second duties. Absent of the standard “ooh ooh, ahh ahh” that always closes the song out, instead we are treated to “Run Like An Antelope,” encouraging us to set our gearshift to the high gear of your soul; no need to stay down there. There has been enough apologies, enough wallowing in whatever hole we are in, it’s time to pick it up and “run run run run,” thus ending arguably the deepest, most well put together first set of the run on a high note.
Out of the second set rings out “Mike’s Song” to start what promises to be an epic second set launching pad. “Mike’s” starts out hot and heavy with Trey laying some deep tone that strives to soar into heights not yet seen tonight. After finding the groove, Trey pulls off some classic Phish noodling and really holds out a note for awhile, keeping the crowd guessing as to where this one is going. One destination is a spacey, dreamlike groove reminiscent of when our man was playing with a certain group we all are aware of. It’s always enjoyable when the band swims around teasing the crowd, raising the anticipation of what is to come, but still reveling in the beauty of the moment. That is “Mike’s Song” in a nutshell.
“O Holy Night” was a beautiful vocal jam which leads into “Taste” and we can see through the light out of the darkness of set one! The “Taste” groove seems to wander back into what was “Mike’s Song” to continue the trip they are on, teasing, playing, exploring the senses. Then things get real quiet and some ambiance is laid down upon us, Page switching back and forth between the synth and keys, Trey plucking and soaring back and forth as the pace continues to build and build and reach up into the rafters before getting quiet and putting on their “Wingsuit.” Why you ask? Because it feels good; another encouraging message brought forth in this second set, its time to fly.
Out of the flight, a few whale calls went out before jumping into “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley,” changing to more of a funk tempo and some of the more juicy bass lines from Gordon. After a couple stutter steps, the band changes direction and heads into “Weekapaug Groove,” another get out and stretch your legs type jam before breaking into a gallop and getting that sweat back up. Things got a little funny as Trey got the giggles toward the end of “Paug,” thus closing out Mike’s set.
A sing along of an encore came in the form of the band’s rendition of “A Day in the Life” from the Beatles. This song was an obvious choice for tonight’s theme due to the many holes of Blackburn, Lancashire, which Page found hilarious!
Yet another epic performance I hope everybody got the message!! Phish resumes their historic 13-night residency at the Garden Friday night, August 4th.
Phish @ Madison Square Garden, New York, NY — 8/2/17
Set I: Way Down in the Hole , Buried Alive, Kill Devil Falls, Guyute, I Didn’t Know, NICU, Meat, Maze, Ginseng Sullivan, Waiting All Night, Heavy Things, Run Like an Antelope
Set II: Mike’s Song > O Holy Night  > Taste > Wingsuit > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Weekapaug Groove
Encore: A Day In The Life
 Phish debut
This show was night ten of Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run at Madison Square Garden and had a donut hole theme. Donut holes with a peanut butter chocolate dust were given to fans arriving at the venue. This show featured the Phish debut of Way Down in the Hole and O Holy Night. This show was webcast via Live Phish.
Setlist via Phish.net