MSG Memoirs: The 12.31.95 “Reba”

12.31.95 - MSG

New Year’s Eve ’95 is one of the most iconic shows in Phish history, let alone the greatest of their Madison Square Garden legacy. This night represented the peak of all the band had accomplished from their genesis through the end of ’95, and for three straight sets that flipped the calendar, Phish could do no wrong. Several jams from this show this have become household names, with “Mike’s Song,” “Drowned -> Lizards,” and “Weekapaug > Sea and Sand” leading the way. But the fireworks of this night started with the third song of the show—another classic piece of MSG legend—in a euphoric and poignant “Reba.” Sitting among the all-time versions, 12.31.95’s “Reba” underlined the subconscious communication that characterized the band’s playing throughout the show and the entire month of December ‘95. Tapped in to higher powers on this magical eve, the guys responded to each other with confidence, urgency, and intention; hesitation wasn’t in their musical vocabulary. The resulting jam became an instant classic while kick-starting one of the most memorable nights of the band’s career.

Sprinting through the composed half with less than immaculate precision, the band dove from the fugue’s final hits into a pristine pool of improvisational waters. Splashing into the jam without a hint of uncertainty, the band crafted a swift musical current. As if they were waiting on the tip of his tongue, Trey immediately began narrating complex, spine-tingling melodies. Mike embodied the band’s ultra-connectedness by echoing and responding to Trey with negligible reaction time. Fishman framed this conversation with a delicate beat and the entire band oozed IT from note one.


Trey held the reigns of this piece as passionate leads flowed from his ‘Doc with a effortless quality. Mike stuck with him every step of the way—an element of this jam that really shines on the remastered soundboards—and Fish’s ever-changing and nuanced beats anchored the silky groove. Page offered minimalist piano comps throughout this section, filling in the spaces left in the rhythmic blanket. The band members were totally synced in an astonishing improvisational showcase. The momentum of the jam continued to build.

The quartet spiraled towards “Reba’s” peak in complete cooperation and without a morsel of hindrance. And they kept rising and rising and rising, following the lead of their possessed guitarist who was playing as if expressing the secrets of his soul. Coming to a stunning crescendo in the earliest stage of New Year’s Ever, the band had an arena full of jaws on the floor, as we—collectively—embarked on one of the nights of our lives.


Jam of the Day:

Reba” 12.31.95 I

Heaven in a Phish jam.



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568 Responses to “MSG Memoirs: The 12.31.95 “Reba””

  1. Mr palmer Says:

    Yeah, that is totally unnecessary Mia.

    In summation, college kids are morons. The over forty crowd is equally doltish. I’m glad I’m in the middle.

  2. Mr palmer Says:


  3. mike in austin Says:

    I’m dolting and rubbing my tickets against my crotch. Woot!

    Totally unnecessary.

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    Well, not in the “let’s support a guy who turned the other way when 10 year old boys were getting raped” kind of moronic. I was a moronic “let’s get a Discover card and fund Phish tour” kind of way.

    BUT, I am smart enough not to blanket all youth as a loss to humanity. Just being stupid. Sorry.

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:

    “When middle-aged people complain about ‘kids today,’ they fail to remember who raised them.” – Anon

    That is all. Night kids.

  6. mike in austin Says:

    damn autocorrect

  7. thedayman Says:

    i want to get a discover card and fund phish tour, good call telas.

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    I know some people now in my grade who are some of the most intelligent, intellectual people I have ever met – the kind of kids with 4.0 GPAs and 2380 SAT scores; however, I also know people who could easily pass as much younger than they are maturity-wise. I don’t think it’s an age thing so much as maturity/growing up in general. “Adulthood” is a strange phenomenon.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    But no matter how pretentiously I put it, I’m still not ready for it haha.

  10. dorn76 Says:

    Just heard ABC reporter say he talked to a few kids who thought the whole thing (the protesting) was ridiculous, but they wouldn’t go on air for fear of being “beat up”. Nice to hear the non meatheads be heard from at least.

  11. dorn76 Says:


    Drove to that Niagara show from Boston with a buddy, we split the driving and I told him to “keep it below 75” on the NY thruway. He got a ticket both directions clocked at 78 both times I think.
    You can see the spray from the Falls for miles outside of town. Good stuff. Show was in a tiny little gym and few had made the trip. The same heads kept coming by offering us treats, we were the only buyers he could find I guess.

    Remember a few local kids walked out halfway thru. Awesome time, wish I could remember more of the music. though. I That’s what recordings are for I suppose.

  12. garretc Says:


    Don’t worry, adulthood is still a strange phenomenon at 20…

  13. garretc Says:

    Holy crap, this might be the most terrifying picture I’ve ever seen:

    They’re sooooo close to looking like actual people! Uncanny valley much?

  14. garretc Says:

    I can’t stop staring at the one on the right… The crazy eyes, the sinister grin, the razor sharp nose…


  15. JeffieM Says:

    The most disturbing thing about this Penn State riot bull shit is that I know a bunch of fucks would be doing the exact same thing here at Virginia Tech.

    If you feel that someone’s talents are worth celebrating, then do that. but don’t fucking deify them. Ever.

  16. Dorn76 Says:

    Also wore an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.


  17. Mulitbeast Says:

    Sorry for the drive by, I was traveling on business this week so I don’t if this was posted. Article about a phan taking note of the Phish Tickets by Mail auctions and sent tweets to @Phish alerting the band of the mail order tickets being scalped.

  18. EW Says:

    “Sprinting through the composed half with immaculate precision”

    Seriously? Have you even listened to it? Trey completely botches the first go-round of “the chase,” completely dropping out at one point. Shades of Coventry.

    Otherwise, awesome version (though not even in the same ballpark as 12/2/95 which stragely gets no love).

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