Musings on MSG

Madison Square Garden '09 (Brian Ferguson)

Madison Square Garden ’09 (Brian Ferguson)

Madison Square Garden is one of the most celebrated Phish venues in the land. Playing the Garden for five consecutive years between ’94 and ’98, the band continued adding shows to their stands in each year but ’96, topping out with a four night stand in 1998. Four-night stands at MSG seem commonplace in the modern era, however, as this upcoming holiday run will be the third in three years. No building has hosted Phish more times than MSG, and these upcoming shows will,  coincidentally, be their 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st at the World’s Most Famous Arena. And this year the band will have a full head of steam heading into New York! On the heels of a smoking fall tour and recording their next album, Phish’s momentum will have had little time to slow come December 28th, unlike the past two years in which the guys didn’t play between Labor Day and the New Year’s Run. Needless to say, the time is near, the mission’s clear.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Though the band has played the Garden at least three times a year since their return, only a few of those nights have truly stood out—namely, 12.31.10, 1.1.11, 12.28.11, 12.28.12, and 12.30.12. If I had to bet, this year will be different. Does this year have the potential to go toe to toe with 1998’s hall of fame run, also a four-nighter at MSG? If the band plays their cards right and really throws down, perhaps we’ll have a debate on our hands. Wouldn’t that be something? It would have to be the best stand of the era, but coming off the hottest tour of this era, why not?

What used to define those legendary mid-to-late ’90s shows was a certain grit and grime that matched the old school arena congruently. This fall, with Trey laying back on rhythm more than at any time during this era, jams took on a far gritter and psychedelic feel than at any time in 3.0. If fall tour was any indication, and it always has been, we could be looking at the dirtiest MSG shows of a notably clean modern era. And wouldn’t that be the perfect way to cap a truly monumental year of Phish?

As a fun exercise, I ran through my memory and have posted my favorites of everything in MSG history. Enjoy!

Best show: 12.31.95

New Year’s ’95 was the peak of everything Phish had done in their career up to that point; a culmination of their career. Many fans view this show as the band’s finest night of music, thus is needless to say that it comes in 1st in MSG history.

Best Set: 12.29.97 II

This set delivers for the duration with not a singe lull. Jams for days, one of the best “Tubes” of all time and impeccable flow. The only weakness of this set is a fairly routine “YEM” that doesn’t quite do the rest of the set justice.

Down with Disease -> David Bowie -> Possum, Tube, You Enjoy Myself

Best Run: New Years 1998

Four outstanding nights of music, ending what I believe is their best overall year of their career.

Best First Set: 12.31.98

Nobody was quite sure what had hit them when the lights came up after this one.

1999 > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Ghost -> Ha Ha Ha > Cavern

Best Third Set: 12.31.95

One of the best “Weekapaugs” of all-time and monster “YEM.” Plus a couple rarities to cap things off.

Auld Lang Syne > Weekapaug Groove > Sea and Sand, You Enjoy Myself, Sanity, Frankenstein

Best Encore: 12.30.97

The best encore in history, regardless of venue.

Carini – > Black-Eyed Katy -> Sally Reprise > Frankenstein

Best Modern Show: 12.31.10

A colossal night of Phish with a second set for the ages

Best version of (parentheses represent close seconds):

Tweezer: 12.28.12 (12.30.94) 

Reba: 12.31.95

Mike’s: 12.31.95

David Bowie: 12.29.97

Wolfman’s Brother: 12.28.98

You Enjoy Myself: 12.29.98

Piper: 12.30.11

2001: 12.29.98

Antelope: 12.29.97 

Weekapaug: 12.31.95 (12.31.97)

Harry Hood: 12.30.95

Gin: 12.30.10 v. 12.29.12—pick em (only versions)

Twist: 1.1.11 (12.28.12)

Ghost: 12.31.98 v. 12.31.10—pick em

Down With Disease: 12.29.97

Carini: 12.28.98 (12.30.12)

Light: 12.2.09

Tube: 12.29.97

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373 Responses to “Musings on MSG”

  1. dorn76 Says:

    MSG Re Re now

  2. joe Says:

    well, not quite real re release as they are re release inflated priced seats? unless I’m doing it wrong

  3. dorn76 Says:

    yeah nothing.

    saw a tweet about a re-re but probably was too late.

  4. joe Says:

    or I’m too slow on the draw for Sunday and missed the regularly priced tickets already

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    Sing Santa Monica, sing your song.

  6. sumodie Says:

    Frak! Went straight to TM app when I saw re re txt, didnt realize tix sold thru twitter link at musictoday

  7. joe Says:

    and here I thought dayshifting bb was going to pay off for me.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Did the same, @sumo.

    The audacity of having those “resale” tickets up there on….Shit is criminal.

  9. jtran Says:

    plug in

  10. willowed Says:

    Palmer. Try and get up there. i’m n the sky bridge for the 30th

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Well good for me that the fanbase is so hobbled that I may go the old school two ticket route. One for the floor and one for the divided Skybridge. Making freezing people take losses on tickets since 95!!

  12. Billy88 Says:

    latest timber was in Rochester, not Glen Falls

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Wink and nod obvs but this is a joke and @palmer I still want the pics. Can we all sit up there in a large circle and freely roll up numbers inside and throw our glass chillums across the circle at each other*?

    *nassau 93 ref obvi

  14. Gavinsdad Says:

    Billy88 doing that dirty data mining!

    Tripost fever: in mall. Having no Job allows you to comparison shop. Still not getting my 8yo a pair of “KDs” unless they are on firesale. Santa don’t play that.

  15. lumpyhead Says:


  16. the Baker Says:

    IMO will be blowing up throughout the day,as those lucky enough to to hit the re-re will be posting their “now” extras…Gluck Joe& anyone else who needs

    My Xmas wish list for my family includes a new Mets jersey “custom”…they know that I want either #119 R. A. JIM; or #922 JERRY on the back of IT…

    Thanx for the reminder thru today’s banter…it’s TIMBER!!!!
    Ewe’s will see IT@ spac’14 😉

  17. dorn76 Says:

    Continuing in the same vein as the Tower Jam, which I linked yesterday, I give you Mike & The Russo/Benevento Duo in: “53 Minute Foam” (video)

  18. dorn76 Says:


  19. little umbrellas Says:

    Sumodie, was gonna make a similar post about the NPR top albums.

    William Onyeabor!!! the shit! it’s Nigerian like Fela, but in the way Fela adapted James Brown influences, Onyeabor adapted some straight Pfunk! synths taboot.

    gonna find his Atomic release…. a BB must i feel.

  20. jtran Says:

    best NPR find was daniel avery for me

  21. garretcorncob Says:

    Any of you Portland folks looking at David Grisman on NYE? Would love to go, but the under-21 slf would need to be accompanied by “a parent or guardian”…

    Tickets might be too pricy for us anyways, but thought I’d at least ask around. Been way to long since I saw the other fat man strum.

  22. Kaveh Says:

    @palmer with the call. Nice!

  23. DavidSilver Says:

    Sit in a circle
    Facing your buds
    Strap on your wingsuit
    Skybridge is on

  24. aj Says:

    You guys dropping your year end lists yet? Haven’t been on here in a bit. Anyway, hope all are well, here is my best albums list, enjoy. Many thanks to many of you who have turned me on to some good artists.

    My Bloody Valentine – MBV
    Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
    John Wizards – John Wizards
    DJ Rashad – Double Cup
    Various Artists – Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound
    Jon Wayne – Cassette 3
    Bibio – Silver Wilkinson
    Washed Out – Paracosm
    Falty DL – Hardcourage
    Classix – Hanging Gardens
    Knx – Anthology
    Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
    Isolee – Allowance (ep)
    Larry Gus – Years Not Living
    Various Artists – Qat, Coffee & Qambus – Raw 45s from Yemen
    Fitz Amrbo$e – two5/Zuu (two albums, what?)
    Follakzoid – II
    Secret Circuit – Tactile Gardens
    Quasimoto – Yes Sir, Whatever
    Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
    Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
    Captain Murphy – Duality
    Dibia$e – 10k
    Various Artists – Luke Vibert’s Nuggets 3

  25. aj Says:

    BTW, going to MSG on the 29th and 30th, wtf – got a free place to stay, tickets available, etc. Just need to book the flights. Decided I would feel better being home with fam on NYE, but two days willl rage – gonna get my fill. Hope to see some of you there.

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