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. chris Says:

    12.30 set 2 is the biggest disapointment I have with these shows. Actually, it had the makings to be The big improv set of the run. Terry clearly set out to drop a second dicks chalkdust on us. Not only that but ghost was really good but too short. Simple hood is a great combo that they did a good job with. Mikes was missing something. When I listen to the -dust I can’t get past the potential it contained. Multipart jam, whaled out like dicks for the first half and a really cool final groove session.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    lemme give her a whirl, gdad, and see what I can determine.

    that Hartford 2001 is purely in the 2001 vein but has some really nice echo’d playing by Trey that takes it to eleven so I don’t think that would be what you are thinking of

  3. marcoesq Says:

    Grantland be messin with some Tilikum

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Carini groove kinda has a little Woosta Drowned essence to it. Around 16:30 in the Drowned when it breaks down to drums and bass before the Jimmy Cliff licks

  5. joe Says:

    manchester 10 Access Me has trey rhythm echo if I understand it correctly. or is that delay?

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ll check that next, marco, but this idea it got me to go back and listen to the Hampton Carini which is just super awesome fun happy time fantastic.

    If you can’t smile and dance your ass off to that jam, well, then I don’t know why you are wasting your time with this band.

  7. marcoesq Says:

    Hampton Carini was first thing that came to mind, was trying to also find a non-Carini example

  8. sumodie Says:

    I initially thought the Hampton Tweezer had an unusual bass bomb. Was it actually the echoplex?

    Heard similar sonic tone at Hartford, 2001 I think….

  9. jtran Says:


    you must not like 99 phish. MSG CDT sounds like a modern 99 jam to me. That whaley, pitch bendy screaming guitar over a full band groove.

  10. sumodie Says:

    LU, great Pharaoh review!

    Also the kind of review that reminds me how miniscule my musical vocab really is


    Dick’s’14? I dunno if it’s on; the general rumor mill had 2013 as the last of the contracts for Dick’s and MSG. No clue if the band renewed either…

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Thanks Marco and t3. I’m just nowhere near a music at my fingertips environment these days

  12. vapebraham Says:

    cheers, to pharoah S. just downed a drtwlf — $$$. gonna try a hop ranch next. 6.4.74 jerry and merl on the playah w/ hrbs. smoooth.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    ahh word, thanks Sumo. Maybe the word Altissimo….
    … when the sax squeaks and barks, those high crazy notes.

    Or as Zappa puts it in Weasels Ripped My Flesh, when the saxaphone ‘blows its nose’.

    But Pharoah does do this one crazy thing where he gets feedback goin between the mic and his sax and does these weird valve tapping things. Awesome stuff. But most of the show was very melodic and note choice oriented.

  14. sumodie Says:

    I enjoyed 12/30 set 2’s flow

    Sure, kinda a 3 part set: Dust; Mike’s >> Hood; Cavern, FTube as add ons that were still great fun

    Say what we will about no Mike’s 2nd jam, that tune still elicted the biggest roar from the crowd that night (fans didnt know how to respond to that dissonant Dust)

    While the initial notes of Mike’s kind of leave be bummed for a bit nowadays, I really enjoyed that entire 4 song Groove

    Big fan of dropping Devotion to a Dream in there. Ghost couldve been longer, but what a terrific flowy sequence from Ghost >> Hood

    Not nearly as good as 12/29 but still a thrill ride

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Bass Bombs not the echoplex though…

    Bass Bombs are from a pedal Mike uses. Moog Tauras. but there is a lot of room to shape the different tones and envelopes there in the high end. Like a synth. So he can get different sounding bombs.

  16. sumodie Says:

    LU, def NOT suggesting you dumb down your music comments. Always better to read up than down…

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    need to listen to 12/30 set II as a whole it seems.

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    ha!! respect. Bout to try this Kenya mix. 🙂

  19. vapebraham Says:

    at the risk of creating a supply crunch, hop ranch is among the best beers i have ever experienced. keep wanting to quit beers, but they keep pulling me back in w/ delicious flavors. working out like rocky just to keep pace w/ these extra calories.

    those of u clever enough to convert shn to flac. grab this. jerry in his prime and in prime form.

    sounds so good. and jerry is like a river. u might have to endure some fierro squaking, but it’s all good. jerry jazz. take the expressway to your heart.

  20. jtran Says:

    interesting article about dopapod. it seems as if they’ve started to really jam within the past 6-7 months, have a new drummer, and judging by the pictures, have a very phish-esque stage set up now.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    Barry Altschul’s Birthday today. Here’s a song featuring him on drums.
    Anthony Braxton Five Pieces Comp 23 E

  22. vapebraham Says:

    ^^^ 6.4.74

    stinkypuss from pennsy on beeradvocate re. aroma of hop ranch: “Incredibly dank aroma that mimics marijuanna.”

  23. vapebraham Says:

    ^^^ i’m not getting much ganj smell, but i am feeling the tropical citrus lovefest in my nostrils. i want to have nose sex w/ this beer.

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    Here’s another with Barry on drums:
    Sam Rivers, Dave Holland, Barry Altschul Live in NY

  25. vapebraham Says:

    i think i just did.

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