In 4 short days, Phish will settle in at Madison Square Garden for their traditional end-of-the-year run. Phish is no stranger to the Garden, having now played the famed venue in the heart of New York City 35 times over the course of their career. From their MSG debut in 1994 to their most recent appearances at the very beginning of 2016, the storied room has played host to some of the most treasured shows in the band’s history. As we inch closer to this year’s New Year’s Run, we will be bringing you our 12 Days Of Phishmas series, highlighting a different milestone MSG Phish show each day until we all head back to the Garden on the 28th. It wasn’t easy narrowing 35 down to 12, but we think you’ll be pleased with these classics from the Phish catalog. Enjoy!
On the ninth day of Phishmas, we look at the band’s New Year’s gag from 2010, when they turned the “Meatstick” into a hilarious, multi-cultural song-and-dance spectacular!
To say that Phish fans were excited to get back to Madison Square Garden for New Year’s Eve in 2010 is an understatement. While the band performed a three-night run at the beloved venue in December 2009, nothing can compare to the raw energy of “The World’s Most Famous Arena” on New Year’s Eve. Of course, once Phish fans got over their excitement for a grand return to MSG, their attention quickly turned to the NYE gag. What would Phish do to mark this exciting occasion?
In the days leading up to the New Year’s run, word got out that Phish’s infamous giant hot dog, used in two separate pranks of New Year’s past in 1994 and 1999, was curiously missing from its home at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Speculation was rampant that the hot dog would be making another appearance, and the excitement surely mounted from there.
When the night finally came, the band harnessed all the energy in the room with an opening “Punch You In The Eye”, before hitting a number of reliable favorites like “AC/DC Bag”, “The Moma Dance” and “Scent of a Mule”. “Weigh” also made a rare appearance in the first set, which concluded with a with an energetic romp through “Rock & Roll”.
Set two saw the band firing on all cylinders. “Wilson” kicked things off, with “46 Days”, “Sand”, and “NICU” to follow. The improvisational highlight of the evening came next, as “Down With Disease” flowed into “Ghost”, before the set closed with a classic run through “You Enjoy Myself”, which featured a brief take on “Manteca”, played for the first time since 1998.
As the lights went down for the third set, fans knew what time it was. It was NYE gag time. When the band started up their funky joke tune “Meatstick”, fans knew that that infamous hot dog was going to show up at some point. However, no one could’ve expected what happened next. The band was joined by a huge collection of performers, all singing “Meatstick” in different languages. First it was a quartet of performers dressed in African garb, then a group dressed as Mexican mariachis, then performers dressed as Hasidic Jewish rabbis, and then a group sining in German wearing lederhosen. The song was performed in the round, with all of the languages blending together before everyone linked up in English to sing a show-tuney style of the song, complete with choreographed dance moves.
The crowd absolutely ate it up, entranced by the multitude of performers on the stage. What many didn’t realize was that the members of Phish had disappeared from the stage, and the music that was playing was actually a recording. All of a sudden, the band emerged at the back of the room, riding inside of that famous hot dog while throwing down miniature foam hot dogs/meatsticks into the crowd. Appropriately, hot dog shaped balloons fell from the sky as the band rode towards the stage. The band joined the singers and dancers once more to do their off-time meatstick dance, before getting back on to their instruments to complete the jam.
As the clock struck midnight, the performers remained on stage to sing “Auld Lang Syne”, with Trey Anastasio playing the song on guitar behind them. As balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling of MSG, the band kept the energy high with a bust out of JJ Cale’s “After Midnight”. If the roar of approval from the crowd shows anything, it’s that this was truly one of the most joyous moments in Phish history.
Watch a full video of this incredible New Year’s gag below, as well as a behind-the-scenes making-of video that the band released shortly after, giving a sneak peak into all the hard work that went into making this all happen.
“Meatstick” New Year’s Eve
Making of the “Meatstick”
Full Show Video
Setlist: Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 12/31/2010
SET 1: Punch You In the Eye > AC/DC Bag > The Moma Dance > Scent of a Mule, Burn That Bridge, Weigh > Ocelot, Beauty of My Dreams, Gone, Rock and Roll
SET 2: Wilson > 46 Days, Sand, NICU > Down with Disease > Ghost , You Enjoy Myself -> Manteca -> You Enjoy Myself
SET 3: Meatstick, Auld Lang Syne, After Midnight, Backwards Down the Number Line > Piper > Free, Waste >Slave to the Traffic Light, Grind
ENCORE: First Tube
 Phish debut.
 Portions pre-recorded; Lyrics sung in multiple languages.
 Sung with Meatstick singers while Trey played guitar.
This show was webcast via LivePhish. This show featured the Phish debut of Burn That Bridge. Ocelot, NICU and First Tube contained Auld Lang Syne teases. Beauty of My Dreams was played for the first time since July 22, 2003 (133 shows). Disease was unfinished. Manteca was played for the first time since October 30, 1998 (301 shows) and the ensuing YEM vocal jam contained Manteca quotes. Before midnight, several groups of multiethnic dancers appeared on stage and sang the Meatstick lyrics in their respective languages. The band joined the dancers and then stealthily disappeared from the stage, only to reappear at the other side of the arena in the giant hotdog from past NYE shows (’94 and ’99). As a result, portions of the Meatstick were pre-recorded. Auld Lang Syne was sung with the Meatstick singers while Trey played guitar. Appropriately, the post-show music was Captain Beefheart’s Tropical Hot Dog Night.
Stay tuned over the coming days for more Phishmas! ‘Tis the season!
On the ninth day of Phishmas, a Phish phan played for me…Nine Ladies Dancing (to Meatstick) (12/31/10)
If you’re attending the run, there are plenty of things to do in between shows. For fans of the jam, head to any of these concerts in the area for a guaranteed good time!
12/28: Aqueous + Mungion @ DROM (Phish After-Party) – tickets
12/30: Phan Art w/ Formula 5 @ American Beauty (Phish Pre-Party) – FREE SHOW
12/30-31: Spafford & Magic Beans @ American Beauty (Phish After-Party) – tickets