Golf Shots in the Garden

12.31.2012, MSG (Jesse Herzog)

If any holiday embraces the theme of good times and fun, it is New Years Eve. For their fourth and final show of 2012’s Holiday Run at the Garden, Phish manifested this theme through three sets of high-energy rock and roll. Remaining largely within song structures, the band treated 20,000 fans to a rousing performance while infusing humor throughout the final set of the year. Playing with authoritative command, the band shook the World’s Most Famous Arena for over three hours highlighted by a golden sequence of “Ghost > Piper” in set two. After letting it all hang out on the 30th, the guys got back to polished rock music in their 2012 swan song and showed that even an improvisationally contained show can bring the house down.

12.31 Official (J.Flames)

Upon entering MSG on New Year’s Eve, fans were greeted by a floor and stage covered in Astroturf while “actors” dressed in country club attire were spread throughout the floor playing an array of lawn games such as mini-golf, badminton, and croquet. Additionally, the stage was covered in plant life with trees, shrubs, and assorted flora providing the feel of a true garden. Phish musically referenced their surroundings right off the bat with an out-of-the-blue opener of Ricky Nelson’s 1972 song, “Garden Party,” inspired by his experience at a Madison Square Garden concert. Through the lyrics to the song— “it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well / you can’t please everyone, so you gotta’ to please yourself”—it was clear that the guys had were going to have a blast in their year-end finale, and their musical confidence oozed from their high octane performance all night long.

The meat of the show transpired, as usual, in the second set with an eye-popping run of songs that were connected quite smoothly, though only “Ghost” and “Piper” were given room to breathe. Continuing their modern era New Year’s Eve tradition, “Ghost” transformed into the improvisational centerpiece of the night. Sparking the jam with hard-edged playing, the band united in a section of groove that saw all members contribute equally to the mix. Before long, however, the guys followed Trey’s lead out of conventional territory into an uplifting plane of harmonic convergence. Sprouting patient and soul-caressing leads, Trey spearheaded the most transcendent passage of the evening. Cascading guitar melodies brought the jam to its peak while coaxing spot-on piano accompaniment from Page. Reaching a plateau of creative reverie, the guys had, once again, sculpted a phenomenal New Year’s Eve “Ghost” to go along with the standout versions from ’09 and ’10. A mellow denouement to the jam brought the music smoothly into “Piper.”

12.31.123 (Jeff Thomas)

Juxtaposed against the beautiful music of “Ghost,” Phish blasted off into a full throttle version of “Piper.” Trey carved out gritty leads amidst a musical fury in which the band connected as well as they did all night. This high-speed chase upped the intensity of the second set and never relented as the band flexed their improvisational muscle throughout this torrid rendition. Trey’s leads and rhythm chops stood out at the guiding force of this voyage as he dictated the path and tempo with Fishman tightly glued by his side. When the jam did finally come to an end, the guys only took a moment to merge with the most prolific song of 2012, “Light.” Placed in the middle of the New Year’s second set, a monster version of the seminal jam felt imminent. Trey took a spectacular solo within the contained portion of the jam—something he did in virtually every selection of the night—but when the time came for the band to spring into the ether, they, instead, relaxed into an ambient washout and revved up “2001.” Keeping the setlist moving where it might have benefitted from a bit more improv, the guys closed the set with a run of “2001,” “Horse > Silent,” and “You Enjoy Myself,” none of which separated themselves from average versions. The second set, however, featured non-stop action from start to finish, and a certain flow to the action, fitting the vibe of the show congruently.

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Who knows what prompted the band to create a golf-themed third set of New Year’s Eve—perhaps it’s a hobby of their golden age (Trey and Page’s at least!) or perhaps it was a natural extension of “Kung’s” runaway golf cart marathon that was actually staged during “Chalk Dust”—but as usual, the band took it the extra mile. None of my friends nor I picked up on the golf-themed setlist in real time, but when I saw a tweet about it after the show it seemed hilarious that we hadn’t noticed. “Sand > Wedge,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Wilson,” “Lawn Boy,” “Driver,” and “Iron Man” made up the post midnight set, all with a golf references right in their titles. Later someone noted that “Party Time” (Par-Tee Time) kicked off the comic-laced set, leaving only “Tweezer Reprise” as the only non-golf related song in the set, but what an exclamation it made for the midnight hour! Following a rambunctious golf cart marathon within a compact “Chalk Dust,” the band, with assistance of their trusty New York City dance troupe, counted down to midnight. And after the tradition of “Auld Lang Syne,” they busted into their most adrenalized song in their catalog (which had been looming since the 28th) to ring in 2013, “Tweezer Reprise.”. Complete with strobe lights, dancers and a diva, Carrie Manolakos, belting out vocal melodies alongside Trey, “Reprise” created quite the midnight festivity!

“Tweezer Reprise” (J.Thomas)

Once the balloons had dropped and hugs were exchanged throughout the crowd, the band kicked into 2013 with a scorching dance session in the first ever third-set version of “Sand.” Though the show’s final set played out without much jamming, the band managed to throw three entertaining curve balls into the stanza with the debut of Steve Miller Band’s seventies anthem, “Fly Like an Eagle,” a rearranged, a cappella version of “Lawn Boy,” and the first full version of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” with Page playing the role of Ozzy Osbourne. Once again, fun was the pervading theme of the night.

Page recognized the onset of Phish’s 30th anniversary year during the encore, a year that allegedly holds a large touring docket the band. But this night was about finishing 2012 in style. This New Year’s show ended what was unanimously heralded as the band’s best year since their 2009 return, and in the heart of New York City on a stage they have made their home, Phish delivered a robust and celebratory performance. Thirty years deep and still going strong—only the Phish from Vermont.

I: Garden Party*, Possum, Roses Are Free, Rift, Sample in a Jar, Alaska, Mike’s Song > Walk Away, Weekapaug Groove, Character Zero

II: Birds of a Feather, Ghost > Piper > Light** > Also Sprach Zarathustra > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, You Enjoy Myself^

III: Party Time, Kung > Chalk Dust Torture > Auld Lang Syne > Tweezer Reprise^^ > Sand > The Wedge > Fly Like an Eagle*, Wilson, Lawn Boy#

E: Driver, Iron Man##

*debut, **Auld Lang Syne tease, ^Birds of a Feather tease, ^^With Carrie Manolakos on vocals and backup singers, #a cappella, ## first full performance

12.31.12,  MSG (Richard Lawless)

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369 Responses to “Golf Shots in the Garden”

  1. lumpyhead Says:


  2. ren Says:

    Have yet to attend a Halloween show…..looks like this is the year!!! I have to image this fact will result in a “costume” that would be right up my alley. Wish there was footage of all the options that Phish had posted…for Indio I think it was.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    hellllllooo Atlantic City (doesn’t matter what or when…let’s just do that city again)

    or camden. or philly. or baltimore. or nj.


  4. kayatosh Says:

    speaking of hallowen, 10.31.96 sanity is the quintessential version. powerful.


  5. lumpyhead Says:

    I’m with gdad on atlantic city.
    wouldn’t mind halloween being there again.

  6. snow Says:

    we could hire one or two of these for tour and different people could jump on and off and the bus would keep rolling…

  7. snow Says:

    it just occurred to me that we probably couldn’t party on the bus quite the way we would want to…

  8. BNCB Says:

    Very plausible rumors.

    Does that mean no jamming at the Festival?

    Great take on Garden Party by Glowdanks. Poignant info from Bob D.

  9. BNCB Says:

    Bus and party house on Ren and Dorn. The perpetual ‘avoid BB’ers at shows kids’

  10. Phlorida Phan Says:

    ^@Snow, they only say no smoking on the bus, nothing about vaporizing!

  11. roberto luongo Says:

    too many non puffin BB’rs

    Rasta BB must build up our numbers for next summer

    don’t trust peeps that aren’t daily puffers.

    bring on those rumors bitches!!! love AC!!

  12. roberto luongo Says:

    violent move in rates today. get those refi’s in kids.

  13. roberto luongo Says:

    Can – Future Days Halloween

    too early?

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Dorn made an appearance at Jones Beach last summer.

  15. ren Says:

    I’ll throw down $ for a Bethel house FO’SHO!!!!

    Need to start finding some extra revenue sources….gonna be an expensive year.

    @BNCB-the kidding is helping- thanks 😉

  16. Willowed Says:

    I know it was the New Year and all and people want to make change and get inspired yada, yada, yada. But let’s tone down this love fest we all got going on here.

    Christ I feel like we should all be hugging and hoolahooping.

    Next thing you know we’ll all be wearing Birks with hetty crystals and hemp necklaces.


    ps. Bring on AC. Summer, Fall, I don’t care. Dirty Phish in a dirty city.

    AC Birds bitches.

  17. ren Says:

    @Phlorida had to get me thinking about my vape….YOU!!!!!!

    In case you guys haven’t seen my posts about it….I am very happy with the Arizer Solo that Santa brought me. Git one

  18. Dorn76 Says:

    They book Bethel, I’ll book a house.

    I would assume people want to camp at the Festi, take advantage of whatever “focus for 30th anny activities” they have planned…

  19. Dorn76 Says:

    I thank you, Plamer.

    Also briefly met one of the Joe’s, Willowed and possibly more BB’ers at Pign’Whistle late on 12/29.

  20. Dorn76 Says:

    Give us a month or two of no Phish, no announcement.

    Shit’ll get aggro again.

  21. Snow Says:

    I didn’t puff yesterday and had crazy dreams. In one I suited up to play football an emergency fill-in for a college or pro team. Randomly playing football is a recurring dream for me. Dream ended before the game.
    I can’t remember the other dreams except that I took a huge piss in one and didnt wet the bed. I was really happy when I woke up and the bed wasn’t wet. Well, as happy as you can be when you wake up in the middle of the night to piss.

    To dreamcatcher charters: yeah, we are going to need the equipment trailer too. Don’t worry what for.

  22. Phlorida Phan Says:

    posted yesterday

    $100 less than Pax; can get a solo and some nuggage

  23. ren Says:

    Give us a month or two of no Phish, no announcement.
    Shit’ll get aggro again.

    ^agreed…..kind of enjoyed the over the top good vibes after that long stretch post Dicks

  24. roberto luongo Says:

    I can throw some aggro for sure

    WTF happened to set I again? damn this run had non existent starts.

    except when Mike stomped on his annoying foot pedal during Wolfman’s pretty much jamless first frames.

  25. IrieWalton Says:

    I wonder if one of the 30th anny antics will be the realization of Trey’s long stated desire, that I read or saw somewhere, to hold a show, inform the audience at the start that unlike regular shows this one will be going all night, and that while folks are free to leave at any point that they couldn’t return. Then they lock the doors and storage jam that mofo for hours.

    Just typing that makes me hope it comes true.

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