Many Phish fans were underwhelmed, to say the least, over last year’s four night New Years Eve run at Madison Square Garden. There just wasn’t much that was incredibly memorable besides the New Years Gag – and even that left much to be desired by some fans due to the use of a new song like Steam. After an extremely solid opening night show, Phish continued on their hot run over the next two evenings.

The first set of the 29th’s show was extremely solid arena rock, but definitely left a little to be desired with a rather short mid-set Rock and Roll. There were many high points though – a tight Reba with a hot jam, a spacey Limb By Limb, and a huge Bathtub Gin to take us to set break. No real complaints, some excellent playing, and lots of energy.

The second set was pure Phish bliss. Eight quality songs, one into the next, all full of energy. Golden Age gave us what we wanted from the earlier Rock And Roll. The following Waves was outstanding – the song is truly becoming one of the bands gems. The famous soundcheck at Bethel is still the pinnacle, but each version since then has had it’s own moments. Prince Caspian went unfinished, containing some huge moments – the crowd seemed really into it. The following Boogie was short and sweet before segueing into Suzy Greenberg, which was the first of a few solid sing-a-longs preceding Cavern and Bug before a high energy raging 46 Days brought us to an average encore. Squirming Coil, Grind, and the First Tube to close to show – although it should be noted that ever since 2009, it seems like The Garden just LOVES First Tube.


Set 1: Crowd Control, Mound, AC/DC Bag > Rock and Roll, Sugar Shack, Reba, Halley’s Comet > Limb By Limb[1], Wading in the Velvet Sea, Bathtub Gin[2]

Set 2: Golden Age > Waves > Prince Caspian[3] > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Suzy Greenberg > Bug > Cavern > 46 Days

Encore: The Squirming Coil, Grind, First Tube
[1] Follow the Yellow Brick Road tease
[2] Susie Q quote from Fishman
[3] Unfinished.

As the band returned for the third night, expectations were somewhat unreasonably high – some fans hold the night before New Years higher than the big night itself. Runaway Jim got the ball rolling with some familiar Phish, before jumping into a crowd pleasing Cities. The rest of the set was solid if not forgettable. Ride Captain Ride was a welcome treat, as was Ya Mar, an above average Back On The Train got the garden jumping, and the ending My Friend, My Friend>Run Like An Antelope segment was a definite highlight, but overall the set lacked compared to the previous two nights.

Second set, however, was a whole new ballgame. Right off the bat, the familiar rattles of the highly anticipated Down With Disease shook The Garden. The crowd collective excitement was obvious – it was game time. The band absolutely ripped through the song, full of top notch shredding, exploratory jams, and weird spacey moments. This was a top notch Disease that didn’t need to really spread 25+ minutes to get the full effect – it was completely awesome. The following Twenty Years Later acted essentially as filler in-between an absolutely incredible Carini that will probably be the most talked about jam of the run. Lots of starts and stops, and lots of “what the fuck is going on?” moments. When people describe music as ‘face melting’ they are talking about this Carini. It’s a must listen – and is the reason we go to Phish night after night. It was so abstract, one can’t even begging to describe it – just watch it below.

I think normally, fans would complain about the placement of the Backwards Down The Numberline that followed Carini – after a deep, dark, exploratory jam, the peppy little number didn’t really make sense. Fortunately, it seemed like most of the crowd was still in shock, and no one seemed to mind. Julius gave the fans their sing-a-long before we hit the set closing Slave to the Traffic Light. Slave has been hit or miss since the band’s return, but this one was one of the best they’ve played since their return. It truly was a tight rendition with some great licks from Trey. The ending featured a long Little Drummer Boy from Page, nodding to the 12/28 show and creating sort of a Slave/Drummer Boy mash up towards the end of the song.

After all those long, memorable jams, you’d thing a short encore would be in order – but nope, not for this band. Harry Hood kicked of the encore, and the fans were on yet another journey. This Hood was beautiful and led into an incredible jam session that should have ended the night. Yet, there was more, and the band led us through Show Of Life which would officially close the show. An absolutely incredible night of music, proving this band can still do anything. So many highlights, but I still can’t stress just how incredible that Carini was.


Set 1: Runaway Jim, Cities > Divided Sky, Back on the Train, Ride Captain Ride, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Horn, My Friend, My Friend[1] > Run Like an Antelope

Set 2: Down with Disease[2] > Twenty Years Later > Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line > Julius > Slave to the Traffic Light[3]

Encore: Harry Hood > Show of Life