This week, Phish dropped two noteworthy pieces of news centered around the state of New York. First and foremost, the band announced that they will return to Madison Square Garden for the fourth consecutive year for their Holiday Run. Though this comes as no surprise, it’s always nice to see more Phish shows on the docket. Phish also announced their next remastered release—a straight heater from Niagara Falls, New York on December 7, 1995. In my opinion, this is one of the very best shows from—arguably—the very best month in Phish history. A shrewd selection from Kevin Shapiro, this drop highlights the band at their absolute career peak (up until that point) as they worked their way to MSG at the end of the month. United in their Empire State of mind, each of these pieces of news deserve a tad more inspection.
Madison Square Garden, Phish, and New Years Run have become a 3.0 tradition. Starting in 2010, the band has returned to the hallowed round room each and every year for their Holiday bash, and each time we’ve witnessed a subsequent phase of renovation that has decreased the fun and all-out free for all that once existed in the late ‘90s. Now, the venue is extremely segmented, causing fans to scurry for GA West tickets only to discover the section packed like sardines and being forced to go small on the dance floor. Let’s face it, MSG ain’t what she once was and it’s time for a change. Hopefully the band will switch things up sooner than later, but for now it looks like we are heading back to the Big Apple to brave the cold weather for the holidays. With the band peaking again and returning to one of their favorite rooms, however, these shows carry a boat load of potential. Good luck in the ticket lottery!
Niagara Falls is the best release by Phish in quite some time. This highlights one of the peak shows of a peak era—December ’95. Within this show, the band throws down a fantastic first set “Slave” that sets up Hall of Fame versions versions of “Split Open and Melt,” “Reba,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” in set two, not to mention an early, scorching version of “Taste.” This is an absolute can’t miss purchase, as Fred Kevorkian’s remastering has been dialed in on recent releases like Ventura and Hampton-Winston Salem. Bring that oh-so-crisp sound to the fast, frenetic and layered jamming of December ’95, and this drop is bound for glory. Here’s a 2008 piece I wrote on four shows that should be remastered—including Niagara Falls. Hey, two out of four ain’t bad!