On Sunday night in New York City, Phish returned to Madison Square Garden for night two of their four-night New Year’s Run. As ticketless fans were left outside MSG in the chilly winter rain, chants of “never miss a Sunday show” echoed through the halls of the Vermonters’ favorite venue—where, after the lights came up on Sunday, they had notched 62 performances over the course of nearly 25 years.

“Turtle in the Clouds” kicked off the show and for its second appearance in the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” The Kasvot Växt favorite came complete with its customary Mike GordonTrey Anastasio choreographed dance routine—and customary “Trey forgetting the steps to the dance routine”—to get Sunday night’s crowd grinning immediately. The placement also further cemented the song’s growing stature as a go-to (house) party-starter: “Turtle In The Clouds” has started a set in five of its nine Phish appearances.

“Moma Dance” took the second spot and featured a smooth and bluesy extended intro and a compact but potent, peaking Trey solo. The standard rocker, “Kill Devil Falls”, followed “Moma” for the third time in five appearances and got some extra love from Anastasio before the Gordon-penned, “Yarmouth Road”, made its first appearance since this summer at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The reggae-influenced tune came with some heavy bass play accented by Page McConnell’s B3 organ before moving into “The Wedge” from 1993’s Rift. McConnell took over on lead vocals for “Beauty of a Broken Heart” from his 2007 solo release, which gave way to the hard-rocking “Fuego”. Joining together with the band, the floor-shaking audience yelled the “Fuego” refrain back to the stage and danced along dutifully to the well-played, 9-minute rendition.

The sinister “My Friend, My Friend” and a tightly-played “Birds of a Feather” didn’t offer any added spices, but were used as a launchpad for Sunday night’s The Beatles bust-out. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was played for the ninth time in the 3.0 era and the first time since 10/23/2013 at Glens Falls Civic Center, the same room where Phish first introduced the cover as part of their first-ever Halloween musical costume in 1994. While Trey’s take on the song’s iconic solo didn’t break any new boundaries, the 234-show bust-out was nonetheless a welcome addition to the set. A standard take on set-closing classic “Walls of the Cave” brought the first act to an end.

Phish – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – 12/29/19

[Video: themeboudin]

For the second year in a row, “Carini” kicked off Phish’s 12/29 second set. Compared to its compact 2018 predecessor, however, Sunday night’s version doubled in size and impact. To initiate the jam, Anastasio used sinister guitar effects in conjunction with McConnell’s elaborate synthesized sound palette. Lighting designer Chris Kuroda weaved bright white spotlights around the arena as the band synched up around Jon Fishman’s cymbal line and Gordon’s thick slabs of bass. Heading in a more blissful direction, the lumpy-headed Type II jam found sacred ground and nearly came to a complete stand-still before the guitarist delicately segued into “Back on the Train”.

Before 2019, it was less common to see the rootsy Farmhouse groove in the second set, but this year’s “Play Whatever the F*** You Want” set selections have been full of surprises: three of the last four “BOTT”s have now come during set two. Anastasio didn’t allow his bandmates to wander far during the composed structure of “BOTT” before leading them into a powerful “Bathtub Gin”. Angelic guitar work and rapid grand piano play flooded the Garden during most of this driven, nearly 16-minute “Gin”. McConnell hopped back on the synth to create a chilling, thrilling vibe, influencing Anastasio to bring the tune back to its original composition complete with “If I Only Had a Brain” melody quotes.

Phish – “Bathtub Gin” – 12/29/19 – [Pro-Shot]

[Video: Phish]

The band received a thunderous roar from the sold-out arena during TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age” after the well-known “clap your hands if you think you’re in the right place” lyrics. The short, mellow, effect-heavy jam started getting spacey just in time for the band to introduce “2001” to the rambunctious Sunday night crowd. Kuroda played laser tag with the walls of the arena, showing off his light rig while the band inspired the crowd to “woo” during the spacey instrumental. A thoroughly unique reading, this version marked the second standout “2001” of the month after the stellar rendition on 12/3/19 at The Met Philly.

NOLA funk classic “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” kept the second set covers coming as McConnell shined on the Clavinet. While there is no way to predict a Phish setlist, “Sally” has been played exactly two times per year since 2014 and Sunday night’s take kept the trend alive just under the wire. A short and sweet “Chalk Dust Torture” introduced a thick and juicy 18-minute “Harry Hood” to close out an incredible second set. The beloved Phish original has had some big moments in 2019, and Sunday night was no different as the band took the big, blissed-out piece for a ride, Trey Anastasio masterfully milking a single, sustained note for all its emotional weight as only he can.

Phish – “Harry Hood” – 12/29/19

[Video: LazyLightning55a]

The encore featured a standard “Show of Life” and an average-great “Run Like an Antelope” before Phish exited the stage one last time, Trey knowingly assuring the crowd that they’ll see them tomorrow for another night of Phish on their “home court.”

With 50% of the 2019–2020 Phish New Year’s run in the books, the band continues the sub-20-minute song selection that began in the fall. However, in keeping with another 2019 trend, the band managed to pack plenty of inspired improv into the shorter songs. Once again, the 12/29 date was used as a magic bookmark in Phistory and included the kind of special moments that keep fans gleefully filling this building year after year.

The final two Phish MSG shows of 2019 will take place on Monday and Tuesday night, and while tickets are hard to come by, you can stream both shows at LivePhish.com.

Setlist: Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 12/29/19 

Set One: Turtle in the Clouds, The Moma Dance > Kill Devil Falls, Yarmouth Road, The Wedge, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Fuego > My Friend, My Friend[1] > Birds of a Feather, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Walls of the Cave

Set Two: Carini > Back on the Train > Bathtub Gin > Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Chalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood

Encore: Show of Life > Run Like an Antelope