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Phish Completes Baker’s Dozen Residency With Triumphant Victory Lap

Phish finished their instant-classic Baker’s Dozen residency last night, and there’s a lot to digest. The band completed their thirteen-show run without repeating a single song, a remarkable feat that sets the bar extremely high for any other major touring bands out there looking to do something special for their fanbase. The finale at Madison Square Garden was light on donut references–the night’s theme was “Glazed”–and, after thirteen shows of no repeats, featured a somewhat predictable set list. Nonetheless, the band dropped another jaw-dropping show that was filled with the amazing jams, epic bust outs, and the loose, focused playing that only Phish can provide.

The band set the tone for the evening right out of the gates by dropping  “Dogs Stole Things” into the show-opening slot. This marked only the fourth performance of the song since the band reformed in 2009. After finishing the dark and bluesy number, Phish worked their way through a somewhat sloppy version of “Rift.” The band synced up and built the song to its natural climax, which built the energy in the room tremendously. A weird and dark version of the rarity “Ha Ha Ha” was up next, drawing huge roars from the excited audience.

A funky “Camel Walk” batted clean-up, and it was a home run edition of the song, with a nice, patient, funky groove that permeated throughout the track. Phish nailed the song’s composed section and left the audience satisfied with a spot-on version of the fan-favorite. The band followed that up with Mike Gordon‘s “Crazy Sometimes,” which was well-played and contained a nice Led Zeppelin-esque jam. This acted as a pre-cursor to the madness of “Saw It Again,” which whipped the crowd into a complete frenzy, especially after a howling sample from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House Halloween set during the song’s huge build. “Sanity,” another cherished rarity from the band’s early days, followed the madness of “Saw It Again.” “Sanity” also featured a quote from “The Very Long Fuse,” tying the segment of the show together with Halloween samples.

After a quick version of “Bouncing Around the Room,” Phish debuted “Most Events Aren’t Planned,” a Page-led synth-rocker from his Vida Blue days. Page hasn’t toured Vida Blue in many years, so fans were totally caught off guard by this bust out. The band locked in for an awesome and driving jam on this track, and it was easily the musical highlight of set one. A heartfelt version of “Bug” followed, and you could hear the echoes throughout the arena as the crowd yelled the song’s chorus into the skies. Page McConnell then got a chance to ham it up, as the band performed their first version of the Joy rarity “I’ve Been Around” since 2014. Page provided a nice joke during the song’s intro, telling the crowd “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pretty glazed,” which got a huge response from the audience and elicited a nice laugh from Trey Anastasio, who just couldn’t hold it in any longer.

It seemed like “I’ve Been Around” would close the set as it did at 7/27/14‘s Merriweather Tweezerfest, as Anastasio took his guitar off post-song, but it was a fake-out, as he actually switched to a different guitar and launched into an uproarious version of “Izabella” by Jimi Hendrix. “Izabella” is the holy grail for many Phish fans, having entered the band’s rotation in 1997 and abruptly disappeared after it appeared in the second set on July 31st, 1998 at the Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, OH. This version of the song featured some huge moments, with Anastasio machine-gunning his way to glory several times, remaining laser-focused even as he kicked a balloon that had floated on to the stage. After a 574-show gap, “Izabella” finally returned, stunning the crowd just in time for set break.

The band returned to the stage earlier than usual on night thirteen, signaling an improv-laden second set, a long encore, or both. Phish announced their intentions quickly, with a glorious second-set-opening “Simple.” Many fans had predicted “Simple” as a thin reference to the night’s “Glazed” theme, which many considered a “simple” choice of donut. I’m not sure if this was a reference to the theme or just one of the two remaining major jam vehicles–“You Enjoy Myself” being the other–but I am sure that this was a remarkable version of “Simple.” The song’s jam kicked off with an ambient, rhythmic groove, with Anastasio using plenty of echo to help drive the spacey improvisation. The band continued to utilize a sci-fi vibe in their jams, with McConnell employing some wild synth wobbles while lighting designer Chris Kuroda matched the atmosphere with his moving and customizable light rig. After a brief moment that incorporated the rhythm of Queen‘s “Under Pressure,” the band linked up for a jangly moment of blissful playing before McConnell took over on electric piano, and the jam progressed into a funky space reminiscent of “2001.” Phish continued to improvise, building up a patient, major key jam into a massive peak, followed by a huge sustain from Anastasio that drove the crowd wild.

The band finally relented, dissolving into some ambient noodling before transitioning into Anastasio’s track “Come Together,” which continues to share no affiliation with the classic Beatles song of the same name (and has even started to be listed as “Rise/Come Together” on LivePhish to help differentiate the songs). After making quick work of the uplifting Anastasio track, Phish started up David Bowie‘s “Starman” from their 2016 Halloween cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The real meat of set two, however, came when the band finally delivered the Baker’s Dozen version of “You Enjoy Myself.” The audience went bonkers for “YEM,” and they showed their enthusiasm with the biggest and most aggressive glow stick war of the residency. You could feel the Garden shake as Phish ran through the composed section of “YEM,” with the MSG crowd letting loose for presumably the final time.

When it came time for the song’s jam, the band were sublime, firing on all cylinders as Jon Fishman demolished the drums, delivering a pulsating groove and some great work on the ride cymbal, before McConnell took over with a blissful organ solo while the band worked their way towards a big peak. Anastasio took off his guitar, usually a sign that the “YEM” vocal jam is coming, but, after two bars of bass solo from Gordon, Anastasio couldn’t help it, and he picked his guitar back up to add some rhythmic effects to Gordon’s solo, which launched the band towards a tease of “Izabella,” another sci-fi-esque ambient section, and, finally, the song’s typical, bizarre vocal jam.

It seemed like the band would cap things off with “You Enjoy Myself,” but a clearly excited Anastasio turned to McConnell and directed him to start up “Loving Cup” by The Rolling Stones. The song was met with a rapturous response and gave the audience one more chance to go nuts as the band rocked the beloved cover. When the dust had settled, Phish had completed a rare five-song second set to close out the final frame of the Baker’s Dozen. The band took an extra long time taking bows and receiving gifts from the crowd before walking off stage for the final encore break of the run.

During the break, a folded-up banner was lowered from the ceiling, prompting fans to expect some sort of bizarre, Phishy surprise. However, after it touched the ground, MSG staffers unrolled the mystery to reveal a Baker’s Dozen-themed Phish banner, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. The banner hung in the middle of the room for a few minutes, while Phish returned to the stage to take some pictures in front of it before it was raised to the ceiling. As a native New Yorker who grew up going to Knicks and Rangers games and has seen countless concerts at Madison Square Garden, it was mind-blowing to see Phish’s name go up into the rafters to join New York legends like Ewing, Reed, Frazier, Messier, Leetch, and Gilbert. There were some tears in the audience (or maybe it was just me) as that banner was triumphantly raised into the sky. After Mayor DeBlasio declared Sunday “Phish Day” in NYC and Madison Square Garden showed off a new Phish plaque that will hang backstage, it’s safe to say that Sunday was one of the most important days in Phish history.

For the encore, Phish busted out “On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson for the first time since Dick’s 2013. The song fit the thematic conclusion of the residency’s final show, but this version saw both McConnell and Anastasio forget full segments of the lyrics, seemingly choked up by the massive moment. The emotion behind the song choice worked out, though, and the sentiment rang heart-warmingly true: “The life I love is making music with my friends.”

Eventually, the band dropped into a funky groove, with McConnell leaving his piano to take center stage. Page addressed the audience, telling them “all week long, people have been asking me…’Is this Lawn Boy?‘….It is.” The band then dropped into a funky, double-time version of the final verse of “Lawn Boy,” to the delight of the crowd. Fishman and Gordon then delivered a few bars of the intro to “Weekapaug Groove,” which had already been played in the Baker’s Dozen run, thoroughly confused the crowd in the process–they’ve gotten through 26 full sets and they’re going to repeat a song during the final encore!? However, it was just one more fake-out from Phish, as Anastasio started up the dramatic intro to “Tweezer Reprise,” completing the “Tweezer” sandwich that started on night one.

When the song was finished, Phish walked off stage and the lights went up. The band chose to play “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel as the walkout music, a fitting choice as Phish now joins the Piano Man on the rafters of Madison Square Garden, forever immortalized as one of the venue’s most cherished acts.

Phish now begins takes a well-deserved three-week break before returning to the road for their annual Labor Day weekend run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.


Hot Takes: 

Repeat Watch: 13 shows. 26 sets. 237 songs. Zero repeats…and it’s still “Lawn Boy.” Legendary.

Today’s Donut: “Glazed” [“I’ve Been Around.”]

We Tired Yet?: Goodnight.


SETLIST: Phish | Baker’s Dozen Night 13 | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 8/6/17

SET 1: Dogs Stole Things, Rift, Ha Ha Ha, Camel Walk, Crazy Sometimes > Saw It Again > Sanity > Bouncing Around the Room, Most Events Aren’t Planned[1], Bug, I Been Around, Izabella

SET 2: Simple > Come Together > Starman, You Enjoy Myself, Loving Cup

ENCORE: On the Road Again > Lawn Boy Reprise > Tweezer Reprise

[1] Phish debut.

Check out the gallery below by Christian Stewart.