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”

  1. Dorn76 Says:

    I like air quotes.

  2. jtran Says:

    funny to hear everyon’es thoughts on flowless 12/30. I personally think set 2 flows great.

    Set 1 too (listening now actually)

  3. jdub Says:

    Devotion to a Dream let the air of the building in that spot quite frankly. Once it got going it was fine, but I felt like they let a hanging curveball over plate go by. Fuego would’ve crushed after the Mikes but they had other plans for that clearly. Or go right into Ghost.

  4. Dorn76 Says:

    I only echo what I hear here. 🙂

    If I were to have an original thought, it would be along the lines of, “what the fuck is flow”, THAT SHOW RIPPED MY FACE OFF.

  5. Fly Says:

    Dorn, are you an Eph?

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    So the Pharoah Sanders Quartet was amazing last night. His signature sound and style is distilled with age.
    The show opened with an incantation. Full Pharoah flutters over a bowed sustained bass note and symbol shower. Then they got the room grooving, Pharoah filling the space with his golden cosmic melodies. And he had a seriously swinging band! The drummer (the only whitey) was young and firey. But not overtly so, a real jazz touch in the school of Elvin Jones. The bassist was so true to his role that he ‘walked’ his solos!
    His piano player was very much in the McCoy Tyner tradition. Appropriately so, as Pharoah seems to be carrying the Trane torch.
    In fact we got three Coltrane tunes: ‘Naima’, ‘Alabama’ and ‘My Favorite Things’… ‘Things’ was the definite peak of the show, as Pharoah got into the more altissimo technique and employed his use of sax feedback and overtone conjure. Magic Sax. Black Vagic.

    I did feel like: maybe this will be the last time I see Pharoah. His solo’s were less extended then previous times, and he went off stage to take a seat when he wasn’t playing. (One time out the door even. Maybe for a bathroom break).

    But a super powerful show all and all. My lady, my guitarist and his lady, and my tenor player all got to see Pharoah for their first time. Inspired.
    Bought ’em all a round post show so we could soak in the after glow instead of departing so quickly.

    Oakland Yoshi’s FTW.
    See Pharoah if he comes around your town. A true great who still going… but time will tell for how much longer…

    *Oh yeah! and the band went out on a theme reminiscent of ‘A Love Supreme*

  7. Gavinsdad Says:

    Hey @T3 – you are a billion times better at this than me but I was the guy saying the Carini groove (early) sounded like a breakdown I heard in fall 13 but I couldn’t determine where (Worcester? Htfd?). Is that what u linked above?

  8. Dorn76 Says:

    Dunno. What’s an Eph?

  9. Dorn76 Says:

    Ass sphincter says what?

  10. Gavinsdad Says:

    Yeah @dorn I don’t know much about flow…like, I wouldn’t have thought of it too much pre 3.0 cause I took what I could get. But I def learned something about it when I caught the element set at UIC live. I went in one end of the set and got spit out the other side. That was like one big song so I guess I use that as my flow baseline.

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Thought Devotion was Saw it Again at first. Intro beat very similar

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    Stoney C, thanks for the Del drop. Hadn’t heard about that. Didn’t find ‘Event II’ that eventful. Maybe this one’ll have a little more heat.

    Sumo, this Kenya mix seems way up my alley.

    Plord, saved the playlist, awesome choices you made.

    Alf’s Mix was dynamite!

    Those Kiwi’s and their pets huh?…

    … and yeah, Hartford Tweezer wins in 2013 for having the most polarizing reaction amongst the community. I should give it another spin. I just remember not feeling any real tension in it. Just a long confection based ride down the river Major.

  13. Fly Says:

    Was wondering if you went to Williams. Recall some mention of Williamstown, MA.

  14. Dorn76 Says:

    As usual I’m about as subtle as an anvil to the head.

    I think I get flow, when it’s present I’ll swim along. Felt 1/1/11 big time as a story from beginning to end, for example. Hard for me to separate from my own head, as I think every show flows like a river when I’m spun.

  15. marcoesq Says:

    Check it out, littleum. Def goes into the netherworld first before riding the rainbow ponies. At least 3 main themes throughout. Takes a few spins

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Plus, as I’m not a scholar and clearly not a PT set picking dude, I always thought phish mixed tunes between set 1 and 2 so much more than they actually do. That’s clearly not the case but oftentimes I’d see big set 1 tunes in set 2 and vice versa. (Reba Bowie gin I’m looking at you)

  17. frottage Says:

    > “don’t take those .net jam descriptions too seriously. with their new “pink” campaign, they only denote three Tweezers as being “key” versions (though there are about 55 “noteworthy” ones).”

    it is not a bad idea as a general principle to take every single suggestion from the .net editorial staff with a grain of salt so large as to make the use of the word “grain” seem a little silly

    i’m fond of this disclaimer from

    > “The Best Segments Project differs from the lists in the GD Taper’s Compendium in what Ribot_for_President calls “good taste and common sense.” “

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    I’m way guilty of the same when lifted @dorn. I really enjoyed 1/1/11 in the room and thought it was flowish

  19. chris Says:

    Time flows like a river

    I wish the band would play liquid time one day. Good song that never made the grade

  20. Gavinsdad Says:

    I would love for one of my kids to attend Williams and someone else to pay for the experience. Wife and I would stop in that town on drives back south from SW Vermont. Beauty of a campus.

  21. Dorn76 Says:

    Ahhh, the Ephs!!!

    Had a great friend from boarding school who attended that fine institution in the shadow of what another friend called the Armpit of Massachusetts (N. Adams). What a gorgeous campus. Story was likely of the epic ride home from 12/9/95 from Albany across Rt. 2.

  22. frottage Says:

    > … and yeah, Hartford Tweezer wins in 2013 for having the most polarizing reaction amongst the community. I should give it another spin. I just remember not feeling any real tension in it. Just a long confection based ride down the river Major.

    leaving aside the “great artists” stuff,
    you can’t say they don’t know their audience

  23. Dorn76 Says:

    Onion belt Wednesday isn’t until, well, Wednesday.

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    shall do Marco, with open ears… I remember trash talking the AC Carini at first cause I was not so into the long (Major, ‘Catfish’, whatever) second half.
    But then I realized AC Carini has 5 minutes or so of my favorite stuff from Fall tour. ‘)

    catching up on Soyeah. dude nails some of this shit.

  25. marcoesq Says:

    A lot of Fall tour took me multiple spins to enjoy. I was same way with ACarini, now love it; Think it’s that minimalist playing we’re not used to

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