Phish Rings in 2010 with Rare Songs, New Year’s Gags
Above: Phish’s disco ball lands on a maple syrup-powered car. Photo by Jen Lieberman
Phish treated fans to a theatrical New Year’s Gag last night at Miami, FL’s American Airlines Arena. The band’s third set started with a high-energy version of Jon Fishman’s “Party Time” that doubled as the group’s New Year’s countdown. As the four musicians jumped into the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight, hundreds of balloons were released from the ceiling, and a large disco ball dropped from the rafters onto the stage. After playing “Down with Disease,” the musicians put down their instruments, moved to the front of the stage and opened the sofa-size disco ball for Fishman to enter. Some theatrics ensued as Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon humorously failed to lift the large shiny ball, and a pair of stagehands rolled the disco ball to a corner of the stage. The band then placed the disco ball into a giant cannon and pretended to shoot the ball containing Fishman at a large X that had been painted on a net attached to the ceiling.
As Fishman scurried off the stage, Anastasio joked that the band needed a new drummer and—in a nod to the previously night’s stunt—asked if the now famous fan known as Rich was in attendance. Anastasio proceeded to pull a woman—actually Fishman in drag—out of the audience and brought her onstage to play with the group. Through recorded voice tracks, Fishman introduced himself as “Sarah from Pittsburgh” and joined the band for his “favorite” Phish song, “Fluffhead.” The drummer remained in drag as the group closed its third set with “Joy,” “The Squirming Coil” and “You Enjoy Myself.” After wrapping up “YEM,” Fishman ducked behind his drum riser as a woman dressed in the same Sarah costume quickly moved into his place to take a bow with the band. While Phish played, crew members took the disco ball and placed it on the roof of a maple syrup-powered car located outside the venue—giving the allusion that the disco ball had pushed through the roof and landed onto the car. Using technology to the fullest, Phish has tweeted earlier in the day that fans should check out the maple syrup-powered car on their way out of the show.
The rest of Phish’s show also contained its share of song rarities and choice improvisation. The group opened its first set with a version of “AC/DC Bag” that boasted “Auld Lang Syne” teases and blew through “46 Days,” “Water in the Sky,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Punch You In the Eye,” “The Moma Dance” and “Guyute.” “Water in the Sky,” with its Everglades references, doubled as a nod to the 10th anniversary of Phish’s famed Millennium performance at the nearby Big Cypress Indian Reservation. Phish’s first set came to a close with the first version of the Billy Breathes studio jam “Swept Away > Steep” since July 1, 2000 and the first take on the complex Hoist number “Demand” since November 14, 1996, as well as “Seven Below,” “Lawn Boy” and “Julius.”
Phish’s second set opened with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” that contained a full glowstick war and, eventually, segued into a long, jam-heavy “Piper.”
Other highlights included “Simple,” “Theme From the Bottom,” The Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light,” a version of “Ghost” with “Auld Lang Syne” teases, “NO2” and “Suzy Greenberg.” “NO2” had also not been played since July 13, 1999.
The Vermont Quartet’s encore took place shortly after 1 AM and featured the standard ballad “Blue Moon”—a nod to the first blue moon on New Year’s Eve in almost 20 years—and the Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.” During “Blue Moon,” Anastasio thanked the band’s crew, joked that security was going to confiscate the numerous nitrous tanks located outside the venue and revealed that the band would take a short break before returning to road this summer.