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. ren Says:

    I thought the same @RL….was hoping for a start to finish burner! I do have to say though that the 1st set on the 30th had an auspiciously different vibe than the 2 preceding nights.

  2. Dorn76 Says:

    Welcome, Gentlemen to your home away from home….


  3. ren Says:

    $500 for a long weekend!?!!?? We got that @Dorn!

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Need to do Bethel again. Great place.

  5. roberto luongo Says:

    the show that BNCB was posting on twitter and BB and texting me until Trey stopped mailin it in was my fav moment besides carini

    not sure if it was the 29th or 30th set I. either way. kid was crackin my ass up.

    “pause in divided longer than jam in cities FTW!!!!” – Stoney Case

    mess of a divided too

  6. roberto luongo Says:

    a few of us already have a spot in Bethel. tradition bitches.

  7. ren Says:

    If someone out west helps me get some good genetics I’ll supply the precious

  8. Kaveh Says:

    Need to do Bethel again. Great place.

    ^ Agreed!

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    wow, rich band

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaveh- that place we had locked down last year was legit. Huge game room in the basement for late night shenanigans… Too bad the band never booked…maybe this year.

  11. ren Says:

    The band wants Bethel again just as bad as we do.

    I am firmly believing it will happen

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    trey has a show memorial weekend, guys

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    All we are saying is give pax a chance.

  14. BNCB Says:

    Pause in Divided longer than Jam in Cities got some Twitter love as well.

    Glad they shut me up set 2.

    The first sets were a bit more vanilla than I like. So it goes. When Phish doesn’t jam in set 2, well, that’s uncivilized.

  15. gavinsdad Says:



  16. voopa Says:


    Here’s the vid that was played before the Exile set:

  17. ren Says:

    Thanks @Voops

  18. ren Says:

    Wow…..more of an overwhelming choice than I remembered. Halloween with horns would be nice….shit horns anytime would be nice.


  19. hoedown Says:

    Big props on the AC love. Amazing how two multi-night Phish runs can change peoples perception. I remember the BB not being so excited about AC in Fall 2010.

    Since I am having my 1st child in July this year, AC or Philly is my only chance of hitting any shows this summer/fall. Thankful the wife let me hit 28th, 29th and 30th of this Run and oh boy was the 30th a pay-off. 28th Set 2 was my second favorite of the weekend. She joined me on 29th and 30th and I was pumped our little nugget was grooving in-utero to that DWD>TYL>Carini!!!!! Got to admit we got all cuddly during the Show of Life encore. Good Times…

    Thanks for all you do Miner and DO AC Bitches!!!

  20. Quibble_Grew Says:

    here’s a link to all of the Indio albums too

  21. Kaveh Says:

    Kaveh- that place we had locked down last year was legit. Huge game room in the basement for late night shenanigans… Too bad the band never booked…maybe this year.

    ^ Yes sir…I’m guessing that we would have had some fun at that place! 🙂

  22. roberto luongo Says:

    I dig my wax but love my Pax

  23. ren Says:

    Thanks @Quibble….nice comprehensive list there. I don’t imagine the boys have a ton more Halloween shows left in them….makes that decision even tougher than it already is

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    Good afternoon and a Happy New Years to all you comrades/flegionnaires…hope things have gotten off to a good start!

    So who’s got the latest rumors and bunk tour date images???

    Think I’m gonna order my pax tonight. Is that thing built so I can vape pollen? I just found a big ol’ bag of some pure gold.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    7.18.99 Jim — $$$ long form jam.


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