Phish Celebrate 30 Years with "Gamehendge" Bust Outs and More on New Year’s Eve
Phish closed out their New Year’s run at Madison Square Garden last night with an exciting three-set show that featured a number of bust outs and references to their 30 year history. It was their 31st performance at the iconic New York City venue, as well as the band’s most “Gamehendge”-heavy show since 1994.
A fun “AC/DC Bag” got things going before the the band moved into “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Wilson” on their way toward a “Divided Sky” that was completely on point. “Ocelot,” “Sugar Shack” and “Halfway to the Moon” came next before Phish brought the first set to a close with a stellar “Fluffhead.”
The band’s signature New Year’s gag began to take shape at the end of their first set. The first treat came right after “Fluffhead,” when a large set piece in the shape of a mountain was placed on stage. Guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell then carried a keyboard-shaped cake out in front of the set piece, recreating the classic imagery from the cover of their Colorado 88 live album. The various members of the band then began cutting the cake, which was handed to a few lucky fans that were on the floor.
The cake festivities were followed by a short film, which revealed even more clues of what was to come. The video—played on a giant projector in the center of the arena—featured drummer Jon Fishman rummaging through a junkyard filled with references to Phish’s past New Year’s gags, such as 2010/11’s “Meatstick” madness or last year’s lawn party. Fishman is then seen discovering and restoring an old JEMP box truck before destroying part of the vehicle in a crash. (Props from the band’s previous New Year’s Eve gags could be seen in the junkyard.) As the film concluded, a damaged JEMP truck was driven out to the center of the arena, where it sat for the duration of the set break. Then, a series of 1983 songs were pumped through the PA during set break.
Phish returned—not to the stage, but to the top of the truck—for a glorious, bust-out filled second set. In addition to the truck, the band’s stage setup also featured hockey stick microphone stands as a reference to their first-ever gig on December 2, 1983. The music got going with the first “Glide” since 12/28/11 (the song has only been played a few times in the 3.0 era), before moving on to “Llama.” That tune was followed by a beautifully crafted “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” > “Fly Famous Mockingbird” combo (both last played 8/17/11), which was followed by the first “Fuck Your Face” since 8/31/12 (the famous Fuck Your Face show) and a gorgeous “Reba.” Anastasio had a lot to say about “the message” during a rare “Icculus” (the band’s fourth since 1999). The guitarist also noted that he used to play the song every Monday and Tuesday night at Nectar’s in Burlington, VT, but that he never expected he’d one day be playing it at Madison Square Garden. The set then wrapped up with a crowd-pleasing “The Lizards” and an exploratory “Split Open and Melt.”
The third set started off strong as “Character Zero” played the arena into the New Year, and thousands of balloons descended upon the audience as the band segued into an “Auld Lang Syne” that was technically the only cover of the entire run. The night’s second Wingsuit tune, “Fuego,” then appeared before the band went into a stellar “Light” that was followed by “Twenty Years Later” and “Bouncing Around the Room.” The set then closed out with one of their signature songs, “You Enjoy Myself.”
After the band made their exit, those in attendance were treated to yet another film on the giant projector screens. This last video featured an extensive montage that charted Phish’s rise to stardom and their many triumphs along the way. After the film had run its course, the band finally returned for a rendition of the a cappella piece “Grind” before the night’s festivities came to a close with “Show of Life.” As the lights came up, the projectors began to display an invitation to Phish’s 60th anniversary show—with a date set for December 2, 2043—along with a hilarious altered photograph of Anastasio, McConnell, Fishman and bassist Mike Gordon as old men.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via Phish.net
Tuesday, December 31, 2013, Phish, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set I: AC/DC Bag, A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing, Wilson, The Divided Sky, Ocelot, Sugar Shack, Halfway to the Moon, Fluffhead^
Set II: Glide*, Llama*, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent* > Fly Famous Mockingbird*, Fuck Your Face*, Reba*, Icculus*, The Lizards*, Split Open and Melt*
Set III: Character Zero, Auld Lang Syne, Fuego, Light, Twenty Years Later, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself^^
Enc: Grind, Show Of Life
(^)Fluffhead followed by video montage of Fishman recovering and restoring an old JEMP box truck from amoungst previous NYE stunt paraphernalia in a field and driving it to MSG; truck pulls into center of floor at MSG and is prepped during setbreak with band’s instruments
*Performed atop restored JEMP box truck in center of MSG floor (complete with hockey sticks for mic stands)
^^YEM followed by a video montage of the past 30 years of Phish
(*) Performed atop restored JEMP box truck in center of MSG floor (complete with hockey sticks for mic stands)
(#) YEM followed by a video montage of the past 30 years of Phish