In just 7 days, Phish will make their triumphant return to Madison Square Garden in New York City for their traditional 4-night New Year’s Run at the world’s most famous arena. To date, the band has played the storied midtown Manhattan room 52 times–usually surrounding New Year’s Eve–and among those 52 are some of the more exciting and memorable performances they’ve ever turned in. In 2016, we counted down the days until New Year’s Run with “The 12 Days Of Phishmas,” a festive collection of our favorite Phish shows at the Garden over the years.
But that list was made before the Baker’s Dozen, Phish’s unprecedented run of 13 straight shows at MSG featuring nightly donut-based themes, surprise covers and bust-outs to cater the setlists to the flavor du jour and, oh yea, NO REPEATS, culminating with a “championship” banner being raised to The Garden’s rafters on a day officially designated as “Phish Day” by the Mayor of New York.
The Dozen was a different kind of beast: It’s difficult to pick apart the individual shows and rank them among the band’s other 39 MSG performances because these 13 shows were so inextricably linked. Those 17 summer days in the City almost felt like one long show, and so it only felt right to extend this year’s Phishmas by an extra day and relive the Baker’s Dozen as a complete set–sampling one donut at a time, the same way it was originally tasted. By the time we’re done going back through the Baker’s Dozen spoils, we’ll all be primed and ready to add four more shows to the list, rounding out 17 in ’17–the biggest, baddest year of MSG Phish we’ve ever seen.
We’re now at the mid-point of our Baker’s Dozen Phishmas–the back half of the donut box. By this point, the secret was out: something very special was happening at The Garden. In the blink of an eye, each of the remaining shows–all of which had tickets available at the box office at the start of the run–were sold the f*ck out, and the horde of restless fingers in the air on 7th Avenue was steadily growing each night. Fans eagerly awaited the announcement of a new donut each morning, and made their calculated theme predictions for each successive show in kind. And with 6 shows down and not a repeat in sight, the list of songs still on the table grew shorter and shorter each night. In hindsight, the second half of the Baker’s Dozen was the most “predictable” stretch of shows Phish has ever played. More so than ever before, we went into those shows knowing loosely what to expect. But of course, that didn’t stop Phish from continuing to defy and exceed our expectations anyhow…
So much fantastic ground already covered, yet still so much to come–the second half of the Dozen was uncharted territory in the Phish Universe, boldly going where no run had gone before. Come along, relive that (not so short) trip with us, and remember that euphoric feeling of being in the thick of the Baker’s Dozen. Merry Phishmas to all!
NIGHT 7: Cinnamon
Review by Sam Berenson
— Phish (@phish) July 29, 2017
As Phish’s 13-Night “Baker’s Dozen” run rolls on at Madison Square Garden, the question of what will be played–and what sort of outlandish covers will be busted out–has begun to embody the majority of the pre-show chatter each night outside of the World’s Most Famous Arena. At this point in the game, there is zero doubt in any fan’s mind that this is the pinnacle of Phish; an historic summer that will be discussed for years and decades to come. While Friday night’s “Double-Chocolate”-themed show (while still “miraculous” at times) may have showed a few signs of fatigue, the band came out in full force for Saturday’s “Cinnamon Glazed” gala and glazed on in dignified fashion. Mirroring the words and beautifully chaotic essence of Woodstock, an announcement rang over the PA throughout the arena pre-show; “WARNING, DO NOT EAT THE BROWN DONUTS!”
Although we all love our a cappella openers and having our four favorites huddled at the front of the stage, it was a pleasant surprise to see the band hold their positions on stage and jump straight into an enormous “Llama” opener, marking only the second Gamehendge bust-out of the tour. Before the bouncing arena could catch their breath, Trey Anastasio kicked things up a notch with the infamous “duhhhh duhhh, duhhh duhhh” guitar intro, continuing along the path to the land of Lizards with “Wilson,” which garnered some brief but interesting improv.
Watch the show-opening “Llama” below, courtesy of LivePhish:
Just as “Wilson” came to a halt, the band powered through a standard “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan,” with Mike Gordon hammering away on his Modulus as the band patiently worked their way through what’s become a favored heavy hitter off of 2009’s Joy. With Gordon once again keeping things rolling and taking charge, the band hopped into a bubbly “Ya Mar”, telling everyone what “IT” is; this crazy show of life that we’ve all gotten the gracious invite to.
Next up was “Tela”–as if night 7 wasn’t already spoiled enough with first-set Gamehendge tunes. With Page McConnell leading the way, the wind from beyond the mountain swept across the Garden, and the second Saturday of Baker’s Dozen provided no time for “piss breaks” or chitter-chatter between jams.
As the beauteous closing lyrics rang throughout the arena, McConnell took a stand and started up the sample for “The Birds” from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House, making a statement that the boys from Vermont are here to attack, and there is absolutely no turning back. A quick run through “The Line” and “Water in the Sky” gave fans a brief moment to catch their breath, and out of nowhere “Vultures” came moving in from the depths of the Phish catalogue for the song’s first appearance of the year.
A blissful “Train Song” followed, with Phish showcasing their tear-jerking harmonies over the relative rarity, before effortlessly flowing into “Horn.” Finally, the band brought the first set to a close with a rare and thrilling cover of The Beatles‘ “I Am the Walrus,” making just its fourth-ever Phish appearance. As a beautiful Saturday first-set came to a close, it was hard to ignore a major theme of the set, ANIMALS! Whether Phish thinks we’re a bunch of animals for following this grandiose journey, or the City has turned into a zoo, this wild ride shows no signs of slowing down.
Watch fan-shot footage of the end of “I Am The Warus” below via YouTube user monihampton:
Phish returned from the break with a set-opening “Blaze On,” marking yet another 20+ minute jam that will go down one of the best versions to date. The band took their time to patiently navigate through an adventurous and groovy rendition of the song, reaching multiple fiery hot peaks and resoundingly claiming its crown as the jam of the night. Trey Anastasio let it all hang out as lighting designer Chris Kuroda continued to blow minds, tilting his moving light rig back and forth as Phish’s center of gravity tilted throughout the evening.
Watch the second set-opening “Blaze On” below, courtesy of LivePhish:
Next, Phish glazed on into a powerfully dark “Twenty Years Later,” allowing Jon Fishman to take the lead as he crashed on his cymbals before fizzling out into a bold and interestingly-placed set two “Alumni Blues”>”Letter to Jimmy Page”>”Alumni Blues.” With Trey belting out “I’m ALLLLLLRIGHT” as the band played follow the leader with “HE’S ALRIGHT,” Anastasio took an extended pause before the band brought the bouncy rager to a close.
For the remainder of the set, Phish delivered one of the most elegant one-two punch combos yet of their perfectly planned and completely insane 13-night run at the Garden. An immaculate “Meastick” brought any fan sitting to their feet, and the band took the jam out for a walk, with screeching guitar solos accompanied by McConnell’s synth-heavy licks, before dropping into a poignantly powerful “Dirt” that left this particular fan with tears on his cheeks. “Harry Hood” continued the blissful track, bringing another mondo second set of Baker’s Dozen to a close. After a continuous pattern of “Mountain Jam” teases and jams, it would have been a crime wrong to not include that during the intro to “Hood”–but Trey dropped in a bold tease of the Allman Brothers classic that had the sold-out arena howling at the top of their lungs.
For the encore, Phish turned to its second consecutive Neil Young cut in the encore slot, covering an appropriately-placed “Cinnamon Girl” for just the fourth time ever, and the first since 1997. The boys absolutely nailed it and continue to prove that there is nothing that can get in their way at this monumental moment in rock and roll history. If you are lucky enough and have a ticket in hand for the last six shows of Baker’s Dozen, tie your shoes up tight and get ready for what is sure to be an unimaginable peak of this golden age for Phish.
Hot Takes From Night 7:
REPEAT WATCH: Still no repeats and by this point in the run I think we can all agree that there will be NO repeats over the remaining six shows. Every song is getting taken out for the ride of its life and this trend will surely continue.
TODAY’S DONUT: Cinnamon Glazed [“Don’t eat the brown donuts” PSA announcement from Woodstock movie; “Cinnamon Girl”]
WE TIRED YET?: We’re heading into the Sunday of the run, and although the back and legs may have some aches, the best of the best is still yet to come!
SETLIST: Phish | Baker’s Dozen Night 7 | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 7/29/17
SET 1: Llama, Wilson > Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan > Ya Mar, Tela, The Birds > The Line, Water in the Sky, Vultures, Train Song > Horn, I Am the Walrus
SET 2: Blaze On > Twenty Years Later > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Meatstick > Dirt > Harry Hood
ENCORE: Cinnamon Girl
We’ll see you back here tomorrow, as we continue to re-sample all the donuts on our way back to the Garden for New Year’s Run 2017-2018. For a list of pre-show plans and late-night after-parties, check out our guide here.
13 Days of Phishmas 2017:
- Night 1 – “Coconut” – 7/21/17
- Night 2 – “Strawberry” – 7/22/17
- Night 3 – “Red Velvet” – 7/23/17
- Night 4 – “Jam-Filled” – 7/25/17
- Night 5 – “Powdered” – 7/26/17
- Night 6 – “Double Chocolate” – 7/28/17
- Night 7 – “Cinnamon” – 7/29/17
[Cover photo: Andrew Scott Blackstein]