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. roberto luongo Says:

    not being blinded to your era helps also

    there were clunkers in 93-98 also. easy to only remember the 30 minute David Bowie’s.

  2. ren Says:

    Wow @AW…really turning over a new leaf and your intent has been clear as day since the New Year!

    I hope we can all keep this positive momentum going and use it within all aspects of our lives.

  3. MiA Says:

    When phish plays a “flat” show in a run, it gives me the ability to rationalize why I didn’t spend $4K getting there. Paying $1k to hear the 29th? No thanks.

    But the reality is paying $3k to hear the other three shows?

    I’m in.

    Thanks Phish.

    Wish I could do NYC cheaper but I can’t. Congrats to those that made it on the … Less expensive.

  4. dusty Says:

    speaking of making fun of yourself….beard trimming solo party last night resulted in a hybrid cheech/horseshoe mustache for myself. Now even my dog fears me. Kinda fun rocking it though and getting looks.

    That phish academy show gets my vote as the best one set show for new folks. After you see a song with horns it just isn’t the same. But then again I have brass band lust.

  5. Snigglebeach Says:

    Anyone you don’t know is a potential idiot until proven otherwise

  6. BNCB Says:

    Lol at Sniggle!

    No expectations are like unicorns.

    Dusty I need to visit with snowboard. Got room?

    I saw the only weak show on summer 95, Waterloo, NJ

    And the only stinker during Fall 98, Albany

    And I’m still on the bus. Amherst had me heading for the exits, but the re-spins of Providence had me grabbing the next avail seat.

  7. ren Says:

    No need for Rens Den….Miner does a much better job than I ever could.

    To be honest I guess there is something I want to get off my chest and maybe why I’m trying to connect so earnestly today…..I’m disappointed in myself for not connecting with BB peeps at the Garden during the run…no one to blame but myself really and my show habits. Had a bunch of friends staying with me over the run which helped to distract…but I guess outside of them….I’m not really used to having other Phish friends…have only had a few casual meet-ups with people I know during set break over the years…but for the most part keep to myself…only pissing and resting when I get a break or holding down our chunk of seats etc. Just stings a bit in retrospect because in the short time I’ve been on here I’ve come realize there are some really great people here…people I’m sure would make my life a lot richer….and hopefully for whom I could do the same.

    Anyway….just wanted to thank everyone for having welcomed me in over this past year….for the interactions we’ve shared. I want to apologize for not surfacing at the Garden and resolve to connect with more of you in the future. With the holidays over now, life is less hectic and it would be great to link up with any of you in the “off season”

  8. kayatosh Says:

    we go to phish shows for the same main reason people went to GD shows or skydive or go to a baseball game or golf — to realize that blast of excitement and elation that seldom accompanies our usual activities, a moment when time is irrelevant and everything seems to jell.

  9. ren Says:


  10. dusty Says:

    @BNCB I always have room for any BBer and fam/friends. Serious though, get up here and ride! We are in a two week dry period right now but just got through 7-4ft. I’m taking a few weeks of and just XCing with the dogs. Getting my pup ready for the Jeager dog pull. Them stakes are high!

  11. kayatosh Says:

    shout out to the kind head for the jah stich, horace andy, prince fatty, and culture FLAC drops. TY

    that fine reggae getting shuffled with phish 8.15 – 12.31.12, assorted 96 and 95 and oswego + GD 10.1, 10.2.77, 11.19.72, 1.31.78, 4.28.71, JGB 10.17.75 ($$$), recent msmw, mmw, nikki bluhm and the gramblers, the national reserve

  12. Dorn76 Says:

    I hear ya, @Ren, also regret not making it happen and chilling with any of you Par-Tee people this past weekend. 2 days/nights in NYC were too quick and too full of other’s itineraries to give me the freedom of movement I prefer around shows.

    There was a point on Saturday where I was ready to leave my wife and my buddies to an endless “we doing Thai, Indian or what” debate and hit up Mustang Sally’s.

    Determined to see some of you kids this summer, in the flesh.

  13. Jtran Says:

    MSG Tweezer


  14. Dorn76 Says:

    Fiery Gin, interesting funky jam out of GA, beautiful Trey work on Caspian, raging Suzy, 46 Days..

    Fun little Sugar Shack, wrap it up with a 3 song encore finishing with an MSG fist pumpin’ First Tube?

    Ok, maybe not worth a grand.

  15. BNCB Says:

    Dusty, hit me up with an email re: town u live near. Wanna see how far apart we are.

  16. BNCB Says:

    Dorn and Ren in the doghouse! Get out by renting opening weekend of tour Party House.

  17. kayatosh Says:

    shuffler just landed on 8.18.2012 Split. urgent right out of the gate. jaw was dropped at the time during the frantic jam.

    There’s a huge difference btw. a song like Split and a song like Sugar Shack. one has many possibilities and a different flavor each time out, the other is a precision song where one version varies from another only in the quality of execution. Split has soul; SSh is more like a machine.

  18. jdub Says:

    When in NYC for Phish, there is one antidote to all of your problems. The ole Pig n Whistle.

    So the band let the poster artist in on the NYE gag I guess. Was wondering why there was a golf cart in the 30th print.

    I don’t post much here anymore but still my love goes deep for this site and all the fine people I’ve met who post here. Once again, my show experience was enhanced greatly by chilling with you cats pre and post show. So thank you Miner for keeping this site going (although barely recently). Another great year of reviews under your belt. Will be sad to not have that consistency but family has got to come first as we all know.

    Recovering from Wook flu a little, but in great spirits thanks to my time in NYC. Have a great 2013 all!

  19. PigSong Says:

    Just got through the Tweeprise. Really fantastic, creative. A prank that kind of started as wtf quickly morphed into holy fuck this is cool. A+

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    rumors rumors rumors

    0% chance of any Phish shows or runs until mid/late June. This is in complete stone.

    Festival will be in the northeast. (2 being considered Watkins Glen, Poconos, and a few Northern NY locations) the fest will be a “focus point” for “antics and stunts” Phish’s 30th summer celebrations. The anniversary shows later in the year will be in smaller venues so this is their shot to “go big for anyone who wants to come celebrate.”

    Fall tour 100% happening and ending on Halloween (East Coast).

    30th anniversary run in late November early December. “about a week long”

    Nye @ msg (end of contract)

    More info of the summer tour in early feb or so. They expect dates public in the first 2 weeks of march.”

  21. kayatosh Says:

    ^^^ wow. sounds good. summer, festi, fall, 30th anny week, and NYE run. wow.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    and halloween. seems like a a busy 2nd half of the yr.

  23. bob dylan Says:

    Just read that garden party was on the 26th anniversary of ricks band dying. Maybe it wasn’t a full jab at us 😉

  24. butter Says:

    nice, juicy rumors Miner

    old school with a Summer, Fall, Halloween, Turkey run and NYE

    hash tag Par -Tee -Time

  25. kayatosh Says:

    NYE YEM — not your average YEM. fishman swinging the beat and trey offering up some expert guitar work in his signature tone. soulful. band locked in a syncopated funk march and then gordo and fish tcb. wow.

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