In 5 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 eighth day of Phishmas, we look at the band’s New Year’s gag from 2015, the infamous “No Men In No Man’s Land” hourglass jam.
Going into 12/31/15, fans were wondering what exactly Phish would do for their annual New Year’s gag. After the “Meatstick”, “Steam”, “Garden Party”, “JEMP Truck” and “Suck To Blow” stunts of the 3.0 era, fans were expecting another zany prank to continue the fun tradition. However, Phish switched things up in 2015, delivering a psychedelic musical experience that wowed the audience at Madison Square Garden.
The show opened with two high-octane sets filled with fan favorites. Set one featured a slick “Moma Dance” > “Possum” to open the show, with “Birds of a Feather” and “Reba”, and “Walls of the Cave” all making for big early-show moments. Set two showcased the band’s jamming, as they opened with “The Wedge” > “Wilson” > “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing”, while bringing things to a close with “Kill Devil Falls” > “Piper” > “Twist”, which was 2015’s song of the year. The crowd roared with approval throughout the show, as the anticipation mounted for the forthcoming New Year’s gag.
When the band finally returned to kick off the third set, it wasn’t on the stage itself. Instead, they showed up on a platform that had been set up on the back of the Garden’s floor, to the delight of all the audience at the back of the room. The band was essentially in the middle of the crowd on this small, square stage, with a cone-shaped screen positioned above them. They kicked right off into funky “No Men In No Man’s Land”, a new favorite that was debuted earlier in the year.
As soon as the song’s form ended, the band jumped into a long type-II improvisation that stretched the song to just over twenty minutes long. As Phish jammed, the cone-shaped screen descended from above, enclosing the band in what turned out to be an hourglass-shape. Psychedelic images were then projected onto the screen via projection-mapping, and the band took us on a trippy excursion through No Man’s Land.
The 3.0 era has seen Phish perform a number of standout jams from inside unique structures. Superball‘s “Storage Jam” and Magnaball‘s “Drive-In Jam” both were landmark moments of improvisation for the band, and the “Hourglass Jam” during “No Men In No Man’s Land” was a continuation of this awesome, locked-in playing. The band jammed right up until midnight, with a pre-recorded running back to the main stage to perform “Auld Lang Syne” before turning in another lights-out set of music.
Check out the full, pro-shot video of the “No Men In No Man’s Land” Hourglass Jam below!
Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 12/31/2015
Set1: The Moma Dance > Possum, Wolfman’s Brother, Birds of a Feather, I Didn’t Know, Happy Birthday to You, Martian Monster, Reba, Walls of the Cave
Set 2: The Wedge > Wilson > A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Yarmouth Road, Kill Devil Falls > Piper > Twist
Set 3: No Men In No Man’s Land > Auld Lang Syne > Blaze On > Carini > David Bowie, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Backwards Down the Number Line
Encore: Tube > Cavern
 Sung by Fish and the crowd for his daughter Ella.
This show was webcast via Live Phish. BOAF contained a quote of The Birds. During I Didn’t Know, Trey introduced Fish as “The Man Mulcahy.” The crowd sang the last verse of I Didn’t Know and Fish then asked the crowd to join him in singing Happy Birthday to his daughter, Ella. KDF was unfinished. The third set began with the band on a second stage beneath a funnel-shaped screen suspended from the ceiling. As the band jammed, part of the screen descended and became an hourglass shape surrounding the stage, on which a series of images were projected. As the jam continued and the countdown to midnight approached, the band returned to the main stage.
Stay tuned over the coming days for more Phishmas! ‘Tis the season!
On the eighth day of Phishmas, a Phish phan played for me… Eight No Men Landing (12/31/15)
Seven Jams A-Steamin’ (12/31/11)
Five Song Second Set (12/29/97)
Four Light Year Jams (12/29/98)
Three Phishy Decades (12/31/13)
Two Sitting Legends (10/22/96)
and The Gamehendge Time Factory (12/31/95)!
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