Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue


Published: 2014/01/01

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

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


There are 26 comments associated with this post

TCinNYC January 2, 2014, 12:30:18

Proud to call them my favorite band off all time in the world. What a ride!!

DrC January 2, 2014, 18:36:31

phish is clearly telling you haters to get lost. you’re dead weight and aren’t wanted on the scene. go follow bisco if phish isn’t icutting it for you.

dee January 2, 2014, 19:04:29

i thought it was all perfect. And I think they really listened to us and played what a lot of us wanted to hear for awhile now. I am still on a glorious high from all four shows, especially new years eve. They put so much into everything. I can only hope that they are all here in 2043. Because you can bet your ass Ill be at shows until the very last one.

me January 3, 2014, 10:42:12

Please, those of you who think NYE sucked in any way, shape or form… please GO AWAY and please stop posting your ignorant comments… if you didn’t like NYE you simply need to stop coming to shows… you can dislike it all you want, but that show was one of the best complete shows I’ve seen Phish perform in years (I thought it was 1992 during that second set). Outside of the few Miami NYE shows, I’ve seen every NYE since 1992 and this one is in the top 5 IMO... Forbin>Mockingbird just beautiful and that was only one of many highlights! The only point of the show that I thought they let the air out was Light, didn’t seem a good choice after Fuego. I knew YEM was coming at some point, I didn’t want to hear it (I’m not a big fan of YEM) but then loved it. “Mailed it in” are you serious? I can’t help but think anyone who says such foolishness is doing it simply to bash the band. Sure there were some flubs here and there but that is what happens when you play live and when you get older… anyone who didn’t have a great time at that NYE show has no one to blame but themselves… Thank You Phish!!!!

Musician nerd January 5, 2014, 19:28:13

Vintage instruments for set 2 and actual road bus! I think Mike had that Languedoc till 96’-97’ (?). For Fish I believe its his Gretsch toms/yamaha RC BD/Ludwig BB. Trey hasn’t played that Languedoc in a while as well and that keyboard certainly could be from the 80s road days.

Rich Lemire January 1, 2014, 09:30:14

As a side note, all of the music played during the break before and after the 2nd set was released in 1983!

Marc January 1, 2014, 10:27:01

Jon Fishman spelled wrong… really?

3rd set January 1, 2014, 10:59:41

Third set was awful. Night one is a total mess. Very rough New Years run. The gimmick set is emblematic of 2013. It didn’t make up for all their other bad ideas or treys tone issues and flubs.
Happy 2014!

Mark Schomaker January 1, 2014, 11:09:59

The cakemaker got the piano wrong. The piano being carried across the street on the Telluride 88 photo is a the bottom half of a Yamaha CP-70. Good cake tho…. Yummy.

RegisTrippin January 1, 2014, 12:08:36

That was an interesting show. The second set was really the only set worthy of giving any time to in the future. I don’t know really how good that set was or if the stage set up change was something that heightened things. Really the only 3.0 bustout is Glide? All of the Gamehenge tunes played have been played multiple times in 3.0. Actually they have all been played much better too. It was just a fun night. Musically not much was ever accomplished. Post Character Zero (did I just say that) was a horrendous choice of songs all in a row until You Enjoy Myself. It was a VERY standard version as well. I try not to let the Cake and Jemp gimmicks effect the actual listening to the music. Most do not, so I can see where people thought this was special from the props. If that first set was anything but garbage please tell me how what and why? Set 3 was better than set one. I would say where set 1 was garbage set 3 was trash? Hows that? Set 2 was fun though I will relisten once, b/c I am sure the prop stage set up made it better than it was. I had fun. Hope you did too!! Happy 2014. ::::Vibes::::

Hey Rich January 1, 2014, 12:10:52

Do you keep setbreak song setlists? I think the band certainly feeds off the PA music don’t you? I was thinking what if every song was from 2000…hiatused.

3d set whining turd January 1, 2014, 11:54:14

hey 3d set. Your better suited for commercially viable music, they usually perform “live” with studio backing tracks, less flubs and tone issues for your sensitive ears.

Adam January 1, 2014, 12:33:19

I swear some Phish fans only go to shows to complain afterwards.

AQueryan January 1, 2014, 13:09:26

Last night was GLORIOUS. Don’t let any troll tell ya otherwise.

Eeeeek January 1, 2014, 13:31:44

People need to start listening to the band again at shows. To call last night strong musically is a total joke. Set two was fun. I liked it and enjoyed the novelty of it all, but in my opinion there has never been worse song selection or really playing for a third set New Years. They mailed in YEM but you missed it I guess. Show of Life and Grind; .well sorry you need to like 2013 Phish. I can be critical I had free backstage passes to all four shows hahaha. Phish is my favorite band of all time. I’m a newer phan. Last night was my 172nd show since 1993. I’m still figuring them out ya know!

HUH January 1, 2014, 15:56:38

Wow NYE show was so fucking boring. Snoozefest. Gamehendge is not good or exciting nor genius at all. They shoulda pumped it up. LAME

jpg January 1, 2014, 16:15:18

Sounds like some of you still aren’t getting THE MESSAGE. I implore you to read the book.

ben January 1, 2014, 18:14:56

I went to all 4 nights and I thought each night was absolutely fantastic. The energy in MSG was amazing. They played great songs and had stellar improvisational moments. The new years show was absolutely amazing. No covers the whole run was such an amazing thing. I thought this New Years run (and NYE show) was the best of 3.0 and up there with their best yet.

Nick Schultz January 1, 2014, 18:15:31

Phuck the haters. I loved it. Always do! Wish I could been there

cmr January 1, 2014, 20:07:54

really how do you think that you know phish so well that you must crit’em every chance you get… one gives a shit what you think…..i loved it!

cmr January 1, 2014, 20:08:24

really how do you think that you know phish so well that you must crit’em every chance you get… one gives a shit what you think…..i loved it!

TheVic January 1, 2014, 20:58:22

Funny that some believe the negative comments before are real…you are being trolled. PS. YEMSG and 2013 sucked!

Zig Zag January 1, 2014, 22:46:39

Damn, Phish has the weirdest combination of some of the best fans in rock and roll and the absolute bottom of the barrel. The 90s cockshow is over. No one cares about how this stacks up to your other 120 shows. Quit whining or find something else to waste your time on. Fuck, you people suck so hard.

Velvet Water Band January 2, 2014, 00:55:11

Never been able to go to a Phish NYE show, but been to about 40 shows over the years and get goosebumps just reading about the show and watching the setlist refresh on my phone while I hang out at home with my family. Can’t believe people that could and did make the show, could or would say anything neg about the song selects or delivery. Their entitled I guess.
Either way, be grateful!!!
Just wanna wish all a happy new year, be a blessing to someone and stay kind! Phish you rock so freaking much!
Love from KY!
Jason Howard
Velvet Water Band

MarZaPhiGar January 2, 2014, 09:16:09

Maybe another little hiatus will put the h8ers in they spot.

KB January 2, 2014, 10:53:48

Phish does things on a whole different level. No other band puts in as much time, thought, or energy into all of the little things (reread that review and remind yourself that Phish didn’t have to do any of that stuff…but they did). I have no doubt that Phish approach the music with ten times more thought and energy. These negative comments have got to come from people that are either simply trying to fuck with people and probably didn’t even go to the shows or folks that are so out of touch with reality and have become so entitled and take things for granted their opinion means nothing anyway. Thanks for all of the memories Trey, Paige, Fish, and Mike, y’all keep doing what ya’ll do…and if we are all lucky enough, we might get to see you do your thing a few more times in the future. Happy new year’s and long live the kings, KB

Note: It may take a moment for your post to appear

(required) (required, not public)