Phish returned to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to continue the summer’s elongated residency at the famed New York arena. Coming off a standout performance on Tuesday night—and a strong MSG weekend before that—Trey AnastasioJon FishmanMike Gordon, and Page McConnell had set the bar quite high heading into night five. While Wednesday’s show may not have reached the same heights as the prior night’s, fans in attendance were treated to an energetic performance featuring creative takes on newer tunes, the welcome returns of a couple old favorites, the first McConnell lead vocals of the run, and a slowed-down take on a setlist staple that echoed the band’s famed “Island Tour“.

While big jams in the first few songs of the show have become something of a trend this summer, the beginning of Wednesday’s performance was all about energy as a rocking “Possum”, a rocky yet sufficiently ominous “Guyute” (the first of the year), and a breakneck “Axilla (Part II)” primed the crowd for another Garden party.

Out of the pulsing outro section of “Axilla (Part II)”, Phish codified that lively early-show atmosphere with a rare rendition of The Apples in Stereo‘s “Energy”. A relic of summer tour 2013, the song spent a brief moment in regular Phish rotation ten summers ago before disappearing for six years. The feel-good tune has reliably popped up roughly once per year since its return to the lineup in 2019, and once the band brushed off some early rust on Wednesday, this “Energy” surged into ten minutes of spunky improv, Fishman commanding the spotlight with his quick, tasteful touch behind the drum kit.


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After soaring to the skies and then settling down into some effects-driven pulsation, Page set the table for a savory “Meatstick”. While this one was served with a side of jam (the rich, murky flavor), its impressively cohesive segue into dessert—a sweet scoop of “It’s Ice” (cream) drizzled with brooding, blues-rock syrup—was the meal’s showstopper. A patiently constructed “Blaze On” followed Trey skyward from there over the course of 13 minutes, capping a solid first set with its longest track.

Phish – “Meatstick” -> “It’s Ice” [Pro-Shot] – 8/2/23

Now more than settled in after nine MSG sets over six days, Phish dug deep into its bag of tricks to open set ten with a slow, funky-as-Hell rendering of the typically quick-paced “Cavern” that was not unlike the celebrated version from the final night of 1998’s “Island Tour”.

An angry “Carini” slid in from there and cemented itself as the night’s biggest improvisational outing as the band moved from dark and dank to airy and anthemic over the course of nearly 18 minutes. After a relatively brief “Piper” featuring a moment of stop-start crowd woos, “new Phish” teacher’s pet “The Well” got its first full MSG workout. The song’s deranged “from the bottom of the well” refrain had already popped up during Tuesday night’s “Wolfman’s Brother” exploration, and the opening section’s structural similarities to “Wolfman’s” were as apparent as ever as Phish completed this two-night cross-pollination.


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As “The Well” moved from its PG opening to its R-rated slasher film of a closing jam, shrieking, droning madness and menacingly sprawled red lights became the name of the game. Harnessing the “evil” atmosphere the quartet had cultivated in the arena, Anastasio fittingly guided the ship from there into apocalyptic Sci-Fi Soldier vamp “The Howling”. While this sinister song is not exactly a lyrical masterpiece, it certainly picked up some added energy in that department here as Trey paired its two-word titular refrain with quotes from “The Well”. You like your Phish dark and dangerous? Take a listen to this two-song stretch and prepare for the pandemonium of “The Howling”… from the bottom of the well.

A taste of “Taste” and yet another “evil-Phish” rocker, “About to Run”, brought the set to its first break in the action before a powerful blast of “Chalk Dust Torture” landed like a knockout jab to the jaw to emphatically cap set two.

While Tuesday’s four-song encore still takes the midweek curtain call cake, the first “Frankenstein” since 2019 (featuring Page McConnell on keytar) and a gorgeous “Slave to the Traffic Light” (featuring Trey ad-libbing his love for NYC in the lyrics) brought night five at MSG to a satisfying conclusion.


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Click below to view a selection of crowd-shot videos from night five of 2023’s seven-night summer Phish run at Madison Square Garden. Scroll down to check out the full setlist from the performance.

After one more day of rest on Thursday, Phish will return to the stage at MSG on Friday and Saturday to round out the seven-night stand. For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. Subscribe to LivePhish+ to listen to every show on the tour and browse an archive of live Phish recordings. To order your LivePhish webcasts for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here.

Revisit Live For Live Music‘s nightly coverage of Phish’s seven-night run at Madison Square Garden below:

  1. Friday, 7/28/23
  2. Saturday, 7/29/23
  3. Sunday, 7/30/23
  4. Tuesday, 8/1/23
  5. Wednesday, 8/2/23 (You’re already there.)
  6. Friday, 8/4/23
  7. Saturday, 8/5/23

Phish – “Guyute” – 8/2/23

[Video: Trove Mens Provisions Rescue Squad]

Phish – “Blaze On” – 8/2/23

[Video: Dean Novin]

Phish – “Chalk Dust Torture” – 8/2/23

[Video: Dean Novin]

Phish – “Frankenstein” (Edgar Winter) – 8/2/23

[Video: Larry Rulz 5]

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Setlist [via]: Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 8/2/23

Set One: Possum, Guyute, Axilla (Part II) > Energy -> Meatstick -> It’s Ice > Blaze On

Set Two: Cavern [1] > Carini > Piper > The Well > The Howling > Taste > About to Run, Chalk Dust Torture

Encore: Frankenstein [2], Slave to the Traffic Light [3]

[1] Slow, funky version.
[2] Page on keytar.
[3] Lyrics changed to “see the best city.”

Page and Trey teased Frankenstein in It’s Ice. Cavern was played in a slower, funkier manner than usual. Trey quoted The Well in The Howling. Frankenstein was played for the first time since December 7, 2019 (120 shows) and featured Page on keytar. Slave’s lyrics were changed to “see the greatest city.”


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