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

Tags: , ,

373 Responses to “Musings on MSG”

  1. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Note: Winterqueen won the costume contest for closest Roggae soundalike. Look for it in the fakeout spot.

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    @pham – gotta leave that to the multi-nite peeps I guess. I was totally hamstrung by just one nite last year so caught a few peeps but I wasn’t even able to get to the Pig N Whistle which I gather is the defacto pre show beer drinking spot.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Sumo mentioned The Frick. Really cool old collection housed in old pre war mansion. Great heritage. (As opposed to, say, the New Musuem on Bowery which would make a great modern contrast).

  4. George W. Kush Says:

    Is Dos Caminos a chain? Thats such a shame to hear if its true

    Best Mexican rec’s in NYC (manhattan)? Prefer somewhere with a solid tequila/beer menu and not just an eatery if possible.

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:


  6. Kaveh Says:

    ^ I’m with kush, kush, kush on this one.

  7. aj Says:

    Bingos- only available at Half Acre on Lincoln on Sunday. I guess they get lines and shut for it. Taproom guys telling g me to come in afternoon and some will still be left. Let me know if you are coming up and we can enjoy a few in person.

  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Got a little excited…added an extra L… Tequila!

  9. George W. Kush Says:

    Man this 12.2.03 stuff with Holdsworth on LP app is really hard to listen to. Its pretty pretty bad. Havn’t heard most of that run in oh, 9 years. Now I remember why.

    Maybe the anni run that year was so poor and lots of friends and fam around Trey realized that maybe it was time to hang it up. He knew he had one more NYE run in him though fortunately.

    SO GLAD to be where we are in this band’s career. I feel like every year singe ’09 I have thought, “OK this is gonna be the year…”. Have enjoyed every moment of this era (bc Im a fluffer for lyphe) buf I finally felt in my heart that as of end of Dick’s ’12 that things were just about right in the Phish universe. This past summer/fall completely cements that notion for me. Jazzed as hell to have MSG on the brink.

    Carry on…

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Attention TT folks moving to plug!

    You can get an export csv of your TT playlist and import and recreate it in plug

    2:51pmdj blender so you get the csv files by emailing tt then import with the second link instructions 2:52pmdj blender the import will mess up for

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Kinda dig Devotion To A Dream

  12. sumodie Says:

    AC Twist, Jibboo, Light, Sally, Sand, Halfway

    Endorphin’d out now

    Cant let holiday feasting turn my legs into lead

  13. bob dylan Says:

    anyone thinking about seeing the black crowes with tedeschi trucks band on saturday?

    bill graham civic center

    lady and i might be going

  14. DavidSilver Says:

    Thanks dude. It depends if I have to work a double or not.

  15. bob dylan Says:

    Jordan 1’s. next he’s going to be asking to go to flight club on the weekends. yikes!

    high end truffle shop? sign me up!

  16. RoosterPizza Says:


    Is there a link for the new room?

  17. RoosterPizza Says:

    got it

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    If they had like a recliner chair thing in the bill graham upstairs I’d never leave. That room had great mojo.

  19. bob dylan Says:

    ya half the reason i wanna go is to see the venue

  20. dorn76 Says:

    Other half should be to hear Derek rip shit up, though not sure the Susan thing allows him much chance for that.

    Would LOVE to see them with the wife. Could earn big points. Playing a little theater in Collingswood, NJ in April.

    Gdad! Need the info…

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Loved my first nights out for dinner in that little burgh this Summer. Crazy how they fixed that place up.

    Waiting for daughter to hit hay so I can put on a dinner playlist. Gonna drop Wingsuit>Wombat as a backdrop to some yummy gringo tacos.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Just in case you aren’t already in on this

  23. the Baker Says:

    ^Kinda dig Devotion To A Dream

    TOTALLY AGREE jg…I would love to hear IT; where IT belongs, 1st set sing-a-long spot…or 2nd set opener on 12/31 would even make a “cooler” point!


  24. sumodie Says:

    Derek & the Crowes is a very worthy combo, even more so in a great venue like BGCA

    When we caught TTB at Red Rocks before Dicks’12, Derek ripped up plenty

    and he generously gave ample room for his bandmates to rip up even more shit

  25. sumodie Says:

    BGCA isn’t much to look at on the inside

    But looks can be deceiving…

Leave a Reply