While the first three nights of this New Years Eve run were nothing short of fantastic, everyone knows they are warm-ups for the big night when the ball drops. Phans talk all year long about what song will lead us into the countdown, and which will be the first song of the New Year. We wonder what tricks Phish can pull out of their sleeves to fool us or just flat out entertain us year after year. This year, there were tons of rumors the day of the show – turf! golf! NASCAR! – but no one really knew exactly what it all meant.

As fans walked into The Garden, they were probably shocked to see it looking like, well, an actual garden. The entire floor was covered in turf and the stage was configured with a ramp. There were sunbathers sitting on lawn chairs on the stage and in the GA crowd. The band took the stage to perform Rick Nelson’s Garden Party for the first time – a song that was written in response to the crowd at MSG booing Nelson off the stage for not playing a greatest hits set. The first set maintained high energy with Possum, Roses Are Free, and Rift before reaching a brief slow section with Sample In A Jar and Alaska – two songs that were somewhat misplaced in their spots. But then the ante was upped with a huge Mike’s Song, which segued somewhat randomly into Walk Away – which saw Trey just shredding away. The following Weekapaug closed the suite before leading way to a sing-a-long Character Zero to end the first set.

Set two promised to be a big one, and did not disappoint. Birds Of A Feather started the set of with some rage before we gladly slowed down a bit for a funk filled Ghost. Ghost is one of those songs that everyone had been waiting to hear this run, so upon the opening notes the crowd geared up for some serious fun. The Ghost was followed by a solid Piper with a raging jam session, before segueing into Light, the band’s newest big time jam vehicle. As per usual with Light over the past year or two, this version was fantastic, with a ripping jam after the beginning section. Light was also home to our Auld Lang Syne tease that prefaces the New Year’s countdown. As the jam went on and on, the familiar intro of 2001 took to our ears, giving us four back to back songs full of improv. A standard Horse>Silent In The Morning provided a break from the crazy jams before we were slapped with You Enjoy Myself to close the set. YEM featured Birds Of A Feather teases in the jam, which absolutely erupted MSG into chaos – an awesome way to lead into the big third set.

Everyone knew what the third set was going to be about the Garden themed gimmick, and it was completely solidified with a Party Time opener, which served to wet the crowd’s lips. Prior to the song, the band arrived on stage in golf carts, and began hitting golf balls into the crowd – solidifying the ‘golf theme’. A brief but trippy Kung led us into Chalk Dust Torture, which everyone realized would lead us into the New Year. Chalkdust was an appropriate tune for the moment, as the band later acknowledged their 30 year anniversary, making the lyrics “Can I live will I’m young?” ring especially true. During this segment, the New Years gag started, as golf carts began appearing on stage, seemingly battling each other, before entering into what looked like a race. More and more cars appeared on stage, one after the other, creating an awesome looking effect. Eventually, golfers and midgets started getting out of the car, taking up space on a riser behind the stage, and began hitting golf balls into the crowd in sync and dancing around the stage, similar to the Meatstick dance of 2010. Eventually, as the stage was getting completely full, someone hoped on top of a car and counted us down to the New Year – it was a truly awesome and unique visual effect.

As Auld Lange Syne filled the arena, balloons dropped, golf balls shot out of cannons, and fans hugged each other – but it wasn’t over. The Tweezer Reprise that never happened on 12/28, finally happened – and it happened it style. The golfers were still on the stage dancing, and various back-up singers joined in creating an absolutely epic Reprise – one that probably ranks up in the best of all time. Sand followed immediately giving us our first real jam of the year, followed by a standard version of The Wedge. At this point – we were hit with a real surprise, the Phish debut of Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like An Eagle. What a fantastic song for Phish to cover – seeing the guys bust out the memorable “doo doo do doo” before going into the full song was one of those Phish moments you’ll never forget. After this, a random message appeared on the screen, featuring a Wilson volleyball and the message “stay tuned!” – which lead immediately into a rip roaring Wilson. The band took the acapella formation to close the show – but this was something new, as the band busted out Lawn Boy – acapella – for the first time. The amount of effort it takes for the band to reconstruct a song in the barbershop quartet form, and then nail it, is insane – so it was awesome to see the boys put the effort into closing the set.

All that remained was the encore – which started off slow with Driver (see the theme?). Page then walked to front of the stage in a cap and golf jacket, wishing the crowd a happy New Year and mentioning the band’s anniversary, before taking over the Ozzy Osbourne duties on Iron Man – which is the first time the band has played the song completely. What an awesome way to end a huge run. I can’t imagine fans complaining from this run, it was awesome. Were there some slow parts? Of course. But on the whole, each night left us with memorable moments, ripping jams, and lots of fun. The New Years night in particular, may be argued as the best 12/31 show in the bands 3.0 history – three sets of awesomeness and a creative way to bring in the New Years. No complaints from this phan!

Official Video


Set 1Garden Party[1]PossumRoses Are FreeRift > Sample in a JarAlaskaMike’s Song > Walk AwayWeekapaug GrooveCharacter Zero

Set 2Birds of a FeatherGhost > Piper > Light[2] > Also Sprach Zarathustra > The Horse > Silent in the MorningYou Enjoy Myself[3]

Set 3Party TimeKung > Chalk Dust Torture > Auld Lang Syne > Tweezer Reprise[4]Sand > The Wedge > Fly Like an Eagle[1] > WilsonLawn Boy[5]

EncoreDriverIron Man[6]

[1] Phish debut.
[2] Auld Lang Syne tease.
[3] Birds of a Feather tease.
[4] With Carrie Manolakos on vocals and backup singers.
[5] A Cappella.
[6] First Phish performance in full.

Notes: This show featured the floor and stage covered with artificial turf (numerous plants also dotted the stage). Prior to the show, actors played garden sports including croquet, badminton, and mini-golf, while a few more “sunbathed” on a riser behind the stage. During the first setbreak, golfers came on stage and hit soft golf balls into the crowd.  Light contained an Auld Lang Syne tease.  You Enjoy Myself contained a Birds of a Feather tease.  Trey, Page and Mike came out for the third set in golf carts and began hitting golf balls into the crowd. Fishman then arrived on a golf cart wearing donut pants and shirt, an argyle vest, and a golf hat.  Golf carts were brought back on stage during Kung, then began racing past the stage periodically during Chalk Dust. During the Chalk Dust jam, golfers began getting out of the carts, hitting balls into the crowd and dancing on stage.  One of the golfers did the New Year’s countdown from on top of a cart.  Auld Lang Syne was accompanied by balloons dropping from the ceiling and ping pong balls fired from cannons.  Tweezer Reprise featured Carrie Manolakos on vocals and a number of backup singers. The remainder of the third set and encore featured song titles focusing on a golf theme. Wilson was preceded by an animated Wilson golf ball on the venue’s jumbotrons. Iron Man was preceded by Page coming to the front of the stage to wish the crowd Happy New Year and reference the start of the 30th year of Phish. In an apparent reference to Bob Hope, Page wore a blazer, USS Nimitz ball cap and carried a golf club. This show featured the Phish debuts of Garden Party and Fly Like an Eagle, the first full Phish performance of Iron Man (which was last played December 31, 2003, or 192 shows), and the first ever a cappella Lawn Boy.

Setlist via Phish.net

Video of Entire Show by MKDEVO: