Jam rock titans Phish kicked off their annual new years eve four day run at the famed Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York, NY for the first time in three years. This time honored tradition was rescheduled in 2021 and never scheduled in 2020 based on complications from the COVID-19 virus. This year's attendance was also affected by the Southwest Airlines meltdown, as many fans were left stranded and unable to walk though the doors of this legendary building. However, thousands of ticket-less fans fortuitously benefited from this debacle in the form of an unusually vibrant after-market for these sold out performances, and were able to enjoy the copious micro-jams in person.
The festivities began shortly after 8pm with a racing "Buried Alive," which immediately set the tone and firmly established the raging dance party. An abundantly funky "Wolfman's Brother" proceeded, and synthesized a short but sweet major key jam. Lighting Director Chris Kuroda was on point early with stellar use of the distinct house lights at the Garden. "Maze," from the band's 1993 release Rift, took the music down another path, albeit brief.
The blissful vibes rolled on with "Sigma Oasis," as the jam took to the air. "Sigma Oasis, you're already there." Bassist Mike Gordon was firing on all cylinders as the band smoothly transitioned into the high energy "NICU." A slow burn jam manifested next with "Steam," as the band found another micro pocket towards the end of this tune. The gamehendge delight "Tela" followed. This song was last played at the Mann Center on July 20, 2022.
Jam vehicle "Stash" hopped into the line up next. The trippy jam started in dark territory, only to coalesce back into a bubbly feel. The lights swirled around the stage like a vortex, emanating out from the band. Guitarist Trey Anastasio hit the tasty, beloved peaks in this classic tune. The set wrapped up with another vintage favorite, "Split Open and Melt," complete with a solid, face melting jam. Song selection certainly was on point for this set, and the signs of rust were minimal, despite the band not having played a show since September 4, 2022 in Commerce City, Co.
Set two began where the first set left off, as the band kept their collective feet on the gas for the duration. A smooth as butter "Free" started this non-stop set, with drummer Jon Fishman delivering dynamically steady beats that pulled together his band mate's musings. "Free" included "Your Pet Cat" teases, which proved to be a foreshadowing for night two at Madison Square Garden. The energy escalated as the band dove into newer tune "A Wave of Hope." Written during the pandemic, this reflective tune has shown incredible muscle during its short tenure in Phish's catalog. Gordon was once again dropping his well known bass bombs, adding a layer of edginess to his fiery jam.
Anastasio went deep as the band euphoniously transitioned into "It's Ice." The song is always a bonus on any set list, despite being succinct at this show. The band skillfully moved into "Leaves," before a dynamite segue into "Simple." Shorter jams were certainly the theme tonight, and "Simple" was no exception. The passageway between "Simple" and the following tune, "Plasma," was perhaps the jam of the night.
The band developed more space for exploration in "Twist," which contained "A Wave of Hope" teases. This led into the set closing powerhouse "Harry Hood," which ended this show on a high note. The band stepped off stage momentarily, and returned to the stage with the crowd thirsty for one more tune. Not only did Phish oblige, but also played "Esther," the carnival inspired tune that is not often played in the Phish 3.0 era. Another stellar segue proceeded, along with monster "46 Days" to end the show.
Phish is back in action again tonight at Madison Square Garden, as the band rings in the new year with their annual gag. Hopefully Anastasio won't get stuck in the rafters this time. Tickets are sold out, but there is plenty of action in the after market on Cash or Trade. For those who can't make the show in person, live streams are available via this link.
Buried Alive, Wolfman’s Brother, Maze, Sigma Oasis > NICU, Steam, Tela, Stash, Split Open and Melt
Free > A Wave of Hope -> It’s Ice > Leaves > Simple > Plasma -> Twist > Harry Hood
Esther > 46 Days