Thirty Years Later

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

What a finale! Capping a year of shows that were etched into our collective memory one by one, Phish destroyed Madison Square Garden over the course of four nights in a style unseen since the late-Nineties. Dropping a bevy of timeless jams, sought after bustouts and an array of new material, the guys showcased all the reasons that they are now—after their thirtieth year of existence—riding a wave like never before in their career. In a calculated move, Phish filled their Holiday Run with nine sets of exclusively original material, showcasing their eclectic musical virtuosity that won over all of our hearts in the first place.

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

Over the past couple years, the band had fallen prey to their extensive autumnal offseason, rolling into Madison Square Garden with little momentum and dropping spotty performances. This year, however, following a fall tour and the recording of a new album, that was not an issue. Finely oiled and playing with precision from the first set of the first night, the guys made no bones about their single minded holiday mission—to take care of business. Through the course of four nights, Phish nodded to their roots, the three “eras” of their career and a bright future, bringing the audience on a musical tour de force that cut to the core of this grand experiment. I said before this run that it had all the ingredients to become the most prolific stand of the modern era, and lo and behold, that is exactly what happened.

On each night the band dropped top-level improvisation, the likes of which we dream. “Steam,” “Disease,” “Carini,” “Chalk Dust,” and “Light” led the way with outlandish, mind-bending excursions that we will be listening to until the end of time. “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Sand > Piper” and “Simple” played supporting roles in the open jam category, while “Stash,” “Twist,” “David Bowie,” “Harry Hood” and “You Enjoy Myself” anchored the band’s structured improv—all pieces with ample playback value.

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

12.30.13 (A.Nusinov)

But this holiday run was about so much more than jams. This run was a celebration of our four musical super heroes from Vermont, and their illustrious thirty-year history. The band’s own nod to their earliest days culminated in an unforgettable second set of New Year’s Eve atop a faux tour truck in the center of the Garden. Ever lessening the gap between themselves and their audience, Phish replicated the stage set up of their first-ever show at the University of Vermont and played a set’s worth of über-old school material, the most recent of which was “Glide” debuted in 1991. Along side a divine “Reba” and a closing “Split Open and Melt,” the set featured the central Gamehendge tales of  “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,” “Icculus” and “Lizards.” And amidst “Icculus,” Trey cut to the chase, instructing the audience in the ways of The Book, imparting the message of Gamehendge to a new generation on the most high profile night of the year. In another setting in another time, one might have taken move as being drenched in nostalgia, but as Phish has now reached a modern peak that few believed was possible, this message was an affirmation of all that was right in the land of Lizards as we crossed the threshold into 2014.

12.29.13 (A.Nusinov)

12.29.13 (A.Nusinov)

Beyond celebrating their unequaled past, however, this holiday run also kick-started the future as the band brought back most of the songs from their Halloween set. Phish interspersed their Wingsuit material throughout the four nights, highlighted by the dramatic placement of “Fuego” directly after midnight on New Year’s Eve. While all the other new songs were delivered in straightforward fashion, “Fuego” featured a tasty improvisational segment in a sure-fire preview of the next big jam in the Phish universe. Each new piece brought a jolt of excitement, as it evoked memories of Halloween while upping the ante of what is to come next summer.

To end their thirtieth year, Phish—finally—played a modern Madison Square Garden run that both upheld and paid homage to their prestigious past in the World’s Most Famous Arena. Scribing an unforgettable four-night chapter in their ever-expanding legacy, Phish—the four-headed, one-minded musical monster of Vermont—proved, once again, that it has no parallel in the history of live music.

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

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1,265 Responses to “Thirty Years Later”

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  1. MrCompletely Says:

    Looking for codes or orangeness for the first 3 nights. thanks!

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    First! & ahead of schedule per Stoney’s on Monday timeframe. Bravo Miner.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Both posted at 1:52 PM PST…still counts.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    C– check twitter DM

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    cheers. I changed computers and lost a lot of saved URLs to mediafires and such.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    @jerome – jinx, you owe me a bong hit

  7. MiA Says:

    Great writeup. Worth the wait.

  8. bob dylan Says:

    my eyes were deceiving me @MrC. no ALACs.

  9. Dorn76 Says:

    I’d like a binger too, @jg.

  10. MiA Says:

    Andrea’s pictures are great. So glad the post included those.

  11. jtran Says:

    great piece miner

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    MrC if you make it to ATX or I make it out PDX I’d be more than happy to oblidge.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    What does Andrea do w/ her camera settings or is it the final editing to get those effects? Df this would be an opertune time to chime in. Or if the lovely & talented A Nusinov is lurking would love to know. Concur w/ MiA great shots not just at MSG but pretty much all the time.

  14. tela's_muff Says:

    good recap Miner!

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    still looking for any 12.28, 12.29 btw and thanks


    So, I’ve listened to very little of the run except the 31st, my nights were pretty hectic, tho I tried to hit the highlights I saw mentioned here or on Twitter via the LP app every day. My first impression is one Miner noted, that not having the long layoff really helped a lot…

    Bottom line to me is that there were some really nice centerpiece keeper jams but it’s all about 12.31 II throwback set of course

    So blown away they actually played with vintage style gear setup & minimal effects! Really cool! It sounded so fresh…

    You bet your sweet ass they had our rapt attention through that. My son’s 2 favorites are Lizards and Split so even he was super into it, and he’s pretty jaded on the webcast thing.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    My wife was shocked I called Reba right before they played it. I thought it was super obvious at that point. “Time for a jam tune, gonna be Reba!”

  17. sumodie Says:

    Lol, nytimes print version changed header to:

    “Drug Use Runs Wild As Phish Rocks City”

    Older online header:

    “Phish Fans Encounter Crackdown at Garden”

    228 arrested or received summonses during first 3 shows

    But the front page ran a lead article on the end of herb prohibition in CO:

  18. bob dylan Says:

    wallowing in self pity over here. move west after band scorched the coast. missed the nye run at msg which was not to be missed. no fall tour.


    at least without miners posts, i didn’t know wether the shows were good or not. D’OH

  19. bob dylan Says:

    but seriously, thanks Mr M. keep up what you do for those of us sucking at phish.

  20. btb Says:

    Jah provides

  21. vapebraham Says:

    Miner! You nailed it. Great piece.

    Cheers to the truck set. I was sold at the quality forbin’s>mockingbird. even the narration was stripped down.

  22. sumodie Says:

    Looking forward to reading Miner’s recap

    Also want to watch the webcast of sets 2 & 3 nye

  23. neemor Says:

    New Years in the Everglades next year.
    It’s only right.

  24. Unit Monster Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner

  25. neemor Says:

    Andrea’s last shot is timeless.

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