1 – Flaming Lips/ Plastic Ono Band, OKC
The Flaming Lips hosted their fifth annual Freak Out in Oklahoma City, this year expanding it to two shows. Phantogram opened on New Year’s Eve, Neon Indian opened the next night and The Plastic Ono Band were special guests at both shows. Oklahoma City honored Yoko Ono, proclaiming New Year’s Eve “Yoko-lahoma City Day” (see the official certificate here). Likewise, Yoko pronounced January 1st “as LOVE day!!!” Wayne Coyne explained, “Buy a ticket or if you have a ticket you can bring someone you Love for free”…
Thankfully George Salisbury – and his Flaming Lips-associated visual arts collective DeloCreative – filmed the shows. Check out Wilco’s Nels Cline joining the Lips for an epic cover of The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” – above (you can also download it at The Steam Engine.net). Neon Indian joined the Lips for “Is David Bowie Dying?” – the opening track from the EP the two artists released last March. Watch that pairing here:
The Lips and POB played “Give Peace a Chance” together, followed by “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” at midnight – watch at top. For a special encore, the fearless freaks played a John Lennon tribute set: “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “A Day in the Life,” “I Am The Walrus” and a nearly 16 minute version of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” with Nels Cline (playing these shows as a Plastic Ono Band member). After repeating the end of the latter to a hypnotic, trance effect, then abruptly stopped and left the stage. They returned for a second encore though, state rock song, “Do You Realize.” Check the full set list and other details here.
Photos via flickr.com/sufjancarney
2 – Phish, NYC
“Ask any Phish-obsessed fan what the [NYEE] highlight of the show was, and they’ll tell you it was “Piper” into “Twist” in the second set. If you don’t know why that’s a big deal, I’m with you… But I do know that that’s when the music started feeling extra drone-y and psychadelic… Later, the funk salute of “David Bowie” gave way to covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times,” a succinct summation of 2011.”
– Evan Schlansky, americansongwriter.com
Phish start 2012 with a bang at Madison Square Garden, via spin.com
Almost ever year that they’ve been an active band since 1995 , Phish has played several nights at Madison Square Garden leading up to New Year’s Eve. This year’s four shows from December 28th through 31st were webcast at livephish.com: “a 10-camera, high definition shoot with high quality audio mixed” for $13.50 – including access to the archived show afterwards. Though some “phans” complain this was the least experimental of Phish’s annual NYE at MSG runs, “the community” agrees they brought a party befitting the most festive night of the year. From time-honored opener “AC/DC Bag” to the “Wolfman’s Brother” it segued into, to the “Auld Lang Syne” tease in Trey Anastasio’s “Fluffhead” solo, and finally closer “First Tube” and encore “Slave To The Traffic Light” – they kicked out the jams on the last night of the residency in celebratory mode.
As if to drive the point home, Phish opened the second set with “Party Time,” followed by “Light > Golden Age” (TV on the Radio cover). The climax of the evening – musically and otherwise – was “Steam > Auld Lang Syne > Down With Disease.” As the band kinetically grooved on “Steam,” acrobatics emerged, flying over the audience as the 2012 countdown began. Watch the entire extravaganza – ripped from the official webstream – here.
While some phans were quick to dismiss the acrobat routine as a “gag,” others viewed it as “a powerful, and philosophically driven skit that delivered the poignant message that we are all eternal souls dancing together forever.” In anycase, both sides tend to agree, in theatrical terms – lighting, balloons and spectacle that is – this was arguably the most impressive show of Phish’s career (the very reason some begrudge it).
“The first Cavern set-opener since 8/8/98 kicked off a third set that was notable mainly for its stunt: as the band sang of a soul “join[ing] mine as steam,” pieces of their equipment–Page’s keytar, Trey’s cabinet, Mike’s bass, and Fish’s vacuum–were lifted into the air in a cloud of mist. Shortly thereafter, some dancers scattered around the arena, dressed as fans, were similarly elevated, dancing in mid-air in a surreal display. Following the countdown, near the end of Disease’s jam, Mike and Trey were lifted on platforms some 30 feet skyward, and the stunt came to a close.” – Guy Forget, onlinephishtour.com – photos by Dave Vann
The official NYE soundboard recording can be downloaded for $12.95 and up (depending on file format) at livephish.com. Bootlegs can be downloaded/ streamed here (and here). Highlights from the previous nights’ shows include:
- “the first ever “Free” to open a show” – quoting jambands.com – and the jam in Talking Heads’ “Cities” on the 28th;
- “Mike’s Song → Chalk Dust Torture → I Am Hydrogen → Weekapaug Groove” and “You Enjoy Myself” on the 29th
- the “Piper→ Twist” and “2001” jams on the 30th
Phish also chose New Year’s Eve to announce their next archive release: December 31, 1991, a turning point for the band. “Tweezer→ McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters” from the upcoming release streams here.
In other Phish NYE news: remember the Young at Heart chorus? They’re a group of senior citizens that sing rock songs (as documented in this acclaimed 2007 film). For their New Year’s show at Northampton, Massachusetts’ Smith College on Saturday night they covered Phish’ “Free”…
3 – Stardeath and White Dwarfs “secret show” and New Fumes, OKC
Womb organizer and co-owner Rick Sinnett had big plans for New Year’s weekend at his psychedelic art gallery (which he runs with The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Jake Harms). Acclaimed “thinking man’s” poster artist Emek was scheduled to kick-off the festivities Friday night with his final Poster + Retrospective & Book Signing of 2011. The week-end-long Freak Out festivities were set to culminate with a NYE After Party featuring “electric symphonies until sunrise” by New Fumes and Stardeath and White Dwarfs in the wee first hours of 2012 – open to all of the 1,500 fans at The Flaming Lips/ Plastic Ono Band concert. Though all three of those artists got to do their thing – the exact plans were altered after The Womb got shut down by the OKC Fire Marshall.
Since both Stardeath and New Fumes were scheduled to play Freak Out #5’s official after party at the Womb, they’re grouped together on this list (even though they were two separate events, in different locations). New Fumes relocated to the local Farmers Market, where he created a “paranoid soundscape” interpretation of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (aka the epic theme music from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey)…
Stardeath played a “secret show” down the block from the Womb: a jam on Stravinsky.
4 – Polyphonic Spree, Dallas
The Polyphonic Spree played a reunion show of sorts at Dallas’ the House of Blues. They brought back members of yore for a full, eccentrically spectacular sound: Joe Butcher on pedal steel, Rick Nelson on orchestral strings, Toby Halbrooks on theremin and Ricky Rasura on harp. Fittingly, they also expanded their set list. Centro-matic opened.
5 – Lights Out Festival, Dallas
The Lights All Night Festival at Dallas Convention Center hosted Neon Indian, Girl Talk, Ghostland Observatory, MSTRKRFT and others December 30th-31st. Neon Indian also opened The Flaming Lips’ New Year Freakout #5 on New Year’s Day…
pegasusnews.com: “The convention center was the perfect choice of venue, with three massive rooms for each stage, a ton of space for walking/dancing around, and short lines at all the restrooms. Attendees had little to complain about with the set-up and organization, and certainly nothing to complain about when it came to the music.”
6 – Patti Smith, NYC
Besides Phish at MSG, there’s several NYE gigs NYC has come to expect: a covers-heavy Gov’t Mule run at Beacon Theatre, Chuck Berry at the B.B. King Blues Club, and Patti Smith at Bowery Ballroom, December 29th through the 31st. As in year’s past, the final of Patti’s three shows was broadcast on SiriusXM (The Loft – channel 30) and Michael Stipe was in attendance. This year Stipe took the stage with Patti’s band to sing “Wichita Lineman” – which he had previously covered live with REM, and released as 1996’s “Bittersweet Me’s” B-side.
The NYE set was dominated by classic Patti Smith Group material (“25th Floor,” “Space Monkey,” “Redondo Beach,” “Because the Night,” “Pissing in a River,” closer “Babelogue/ Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger”) and covers (Dylan’s “Drifter’s Escape,” Nat King Cole’s “Around the World,” Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away, and “U2’s “Until the End of the World” – which they live debuted on the 29th). Stipe first came on stage to pour champaign as 2011 became 2012 – in the middle of “People Have the Power/ Auld Lang Syne” (watch at top of entry). After midnight the band launched into a mini-set-within-the-set of the sort of ’60s artyfacts guitarist Lenny Kaye compiled on the legendary 1972 garage/ psych-punk LP, Nuggets: The Strangeloves’ “Night Time,” The Blues Magoos’ “(We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet,” The Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard,” The Who’s “My Generation,” etc…
nytimes.com: “For 14 years, the three-pack of shows by Patti Smith and Her Band in the final week of December has proved to be a reliably exhilarating way to usher out the old and ring in the new. If it’s not the Allmans at the Beacon Theater, it’s in the same area code. It’s cozy: the smallish Ballroom accommodates fewer than 600. It’s egalitarian: tickets are general admission, mostly standing room and reasonably priced. And it’s personal: the shows always include one on Dec. 30, to celebrate Ms. Smith’s birthday (she turned 65 on Friday).”
7 – Talkdemonic, Portland
In the past few months, viola/ drums acoustic-electronica-rock duo Talkdemonic has brought their music to larger audiences, jammed with Kliph Scurlock and released this breath-taking music video. The Portland group’s October release Ruins – the debut release on Isaac Brock’s Glacial Pace record label – wasn’t just among the most sonically inventive albums of 2011, it was the must-hear album for any and all music freaks who assume it’s all been done. Yep, it was a huge year for Talkdemonic – and they ended it accordingly: with Brock joining them at their NYE show first for the Modest Mousey “Ending The Orange Glow,” and then, in the closing moments of the 2011, with “Revival.” Brock stuck around to kick-off 2012 with his beloved group, covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”….
8 – Dawes, Minneapolis
The Dawes ended their VH1 crossover year with two shows at Minneapolis’ Varsity Theater. Consequence of Sound said of the new year’s eve eve show: “Even though Dawes doesn’t vary its set list much between shows, the band always makes an effort to reach into its back catalog of influences for a few covers. This time, drummer Griffin Goldsmith led the band on a cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”, emphasizing the song’s guitar work instead of the original, more melancholy pianos. When Taylor Goldsmith sang Neil Young’s line, “So I stop when I can, find some fried eggs and country ham, I’ll find somewhere where they don’t care who I am,” you hear the direct inspiration behind songs like Dawes’ “Little Bit of Everything”, in which a man finds solace in a buffet line. Goldsmith’s version of “Albuquerque”, along with guitar solos on tracks like fire-and-brimstone “If I Wanted Someone” that segue without missing a beat into folk ballad “That Western Skyline”, remind me that Goldsmith is one of the best guitarists of our generation.”
Check out the setlist from the show they rang in 2012 with below, or download it here.
1. My Girl To Me
2. If I Wanted Someone
3. When You Call My Name
5. Love Is All I Am
6. How Far We’ve Come
7. The Way You Laugh
8. Hula Hula Boys
9. Moon In The Water
10. Coming Back To A Man
11. Fire Away
12. NYE Countdown
13. Time Spent In Los Angeles
14. Million Dollar Bill
15. Peace In The Valley
16. Encore Break
17. Strangers Getting Stranger
18. A Little Bit Of Everything
19. When My Time Comes
9 – Wanda Jackson and Best Coast, Los Angeles
Wanda Jackson at LA’s Club Nokia, via spin.com
10 – Tie: Ween, Denver and Further, San Francisco
Bob Weir and Phil Lesh continued the Grateful Dead’s New Year’s traditions with Furthur – their latest band, now entering its third year. The show was on familiar-turf, San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and broadcast live on SiriusXM Radio’s Grateful Dead channel (23). A rip of the broadcast can be downloaded here (there’s also a bootleg stream here). It features plenty of flashbacks for long time Deadheads, including the Dead’s new year anthem, “Sugar Magnolia.”
Further’s crowd-pleasing set was full of songs revered equally by concert veterans (“Cosmic Charlie, Shakedown Street > Viola Lee Blues” and “Morning Dew” in the first set; a lengthy “Dark Star” that wove together “I Know You Rider,” “St. Stephen,” “Fire On The Mountain” and more in the second set)…
…and folks that only own Skeletons from the Closet (the third set proper opened with “Playin’ In The Band > Uncle John’s Band” …they even opened the show with “Golden Road”)…
Watch their Dragon countdown below: huge dragon’s head with red LED lights and smoke blowing out its mouth – built from all recycled cardboard and aluminum… and “Sugar Magnolia” in the first minutes of the 2012.
Ween fans rejoiced last month, not just because their group was playing their first New Year’s Run since 1998, but also because they announced intentions to set a record for the most songs they’ve played during a three-night stand. Calling Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium home December 29th – 31st, their New Year’s Eve set -webcast on ustream.tv – spanned their career and included covers of Neil Young’s “Ohio” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” The latter underscored the celebratory mood of the night, as did the segue that immediately preceded it, connecting 2011 to 2012: “Your Party > Little Drummer Boy > Countdown > Aude Lang Syne.” Afterwards, as brown balloons brown balloons imprinted with band mascot “Boognish” fell on the new year, Gene Ween summed up the atmosphere on stage, “feels like The Flaming Lips“…
jambands.com: “Dean Ween showed off his bass skills on “Don’t Laugh I Love You.” While we are not sure if Ween succeeded in setting the record for the most songs they’ve ever played during a three night stand (as they promised on their website), the group covered a lot of ground.”
Vinnie Amico, moe.’s drummer, invited his ninth grader daughter Marley on stage to play the sax solo on Pink Floyd’s “Money” – watch it on YouTube.
For details on other New Year’s Eve 2011-2012 shows check The Future Heart New Year’s Eve Concert Guide, here – Primus, X, Gov’t Mule, moe., Wooden Shjips, The Black Lips, Meat Puppets and more…
Gogol Bordello at New York’s Terminal 5, via spin.com