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. Kaveh Says:

    from Spotify:

    It’s official! We’re releasing the whole @LedZeppelin catalogue this week.

  2. Kaveh Says:

    THIS JUST IN: Bears coach Marc Trestman says QB Jay Cutler will start Sunday vs. Browns.

    ^ Bears fans; what do you think? Personally, I would keep the hot hand in. But that is me.

  3. RoosterPizza Says:

    Tough call, but the hot hand is the way to go to me. Almost got Harbaugh a super bowl last year.

  4. Aquaman Says:

    Just catching up, haven’t red up in a few days.

    While I type I am checking back with the 12.1.2003 Wolfman’s. I remember this show like it was yesterday. Potentially the Phishiest show I have seen. The Five headed beast in the second set. Still nothing from this show matches this furious first set jam.

    I hope all are well.

    pea shout y’all.


  5. dorn76 Says:

    Nice AJ!

    30th should be the day for big BB beerathon pre-show.

  6. tela's_muff Says:

    I love what McCown has done but it’s as much as Trestman and Bears Offense finally figuring out the can score at will.

  7. joe Says:

    probably only be a few quarters before smokin jay gets hurt again anyway, so McCown will still be a factor

  8. bob dylan Says:

    Gdad, get your 8yo some keds. He won’t know the diff.

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    After listening to this again.. I believe this is true…

    LazyLightning55 ‏@LazyLightning55 2m
    HEY PHISH bails on the debut of Wingsuit at Glens Falls at the end of Rock N’ Roll, Trey opts for -7

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    maybe so, maybe not?

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Interesting Palmer…let’s see if it’s audible.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    I hear him make a few notes in that Wingsuit tone…sure I’ll buy it.

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Word bob. His bro is weAring Air Jordan 1s. Yes, the ones from 1986. But that’s because he got straight As end of the year. Put me in a unique pickle trying to source them from the web.

    Surely doesn’t mean he needs to be in KDs. I just looked at like 20 pairs of em. Marketing nonsense (but I dig KD. but they are lo-tops. But)

  14. MiA Says:

    Zeppelin I and II are already out in Spotify.

  15. Fly Says:

    Fly is IN for MSG, 12/28-12/30. Bring IT on!!!

    Hope to see you many of you in NYC!!!

  16. george w. kush Says:

    BB NYC/MSG good eats list begins:

    Best Mexican food in Manhattan = Los Dos Caminos

    Any NYCity folk able to dispute that?

  17. Shred Says:

    going 12.30
    and mb 12.28

    Still haven’t heard of a BB rocker. Obviously it should be 12.30 since that statistically is the show to see. Thirsty Fan?

  18. george w. kush Says:

    Eataly is incredible if you have some to browse.

  19. george w. kush Says:

    *some time to browse

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Firing up Wingsuit set. Haven’t spun it nearly enough. Who’s been the most Wingsuit’d on the BB ie who currently holds the Most Spins record? Any of you cats at > 20x?

  21. DavidSilver Says:


    BK`s > KD?

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Brooklyn NYC et al peeps Anders Osborne this Fri & Sat at Brooklyn Bowl. Tickets are $15. Helluva deal. Get there & check out Anders if you can. Philly’s Modern Invention opens on Fri & NOLA’s all female The Pinettes Brass Band on Sat.

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^Modern Inventors rather. My baggage yo.

  24. the Baker Says:

    the Baker spins 10/31 set2 3-out-of-4 shifts/week…& wayyyyyy overplays MONICA & FUEGO, whenever the moment strikes…methinks that pushes me over the 20X’s mark

  25. Gavinsdad Says:

    Geo W – dos caminos, if we’re on the same page, is a chain which equals No.

    JG – easily spun wingsuit 20 times. I’m a huge fan. Guess you have to pimp stuff like…more than 3 times on here to get “officially pimped” status? Was just in the car marveling to myself that folks were mad at that shit. I am firmly in the camp that says no matter how rich these guys are they are still very sensitive (Triscuit especially) and the fact that they’d roll the dice and preview that stuff with us all on a, er, hallowed day, says volumes about what they think of is as a fanbase.

    What becomes of the music is neither here nor there. It will develop if it should, where it should, when it should. Up to them, not me!

    No way I get a Waiting All Nite in the cool down slot on the 28th eh?

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