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. MrCompletely Says:

    “A true believer….of some kind”

    My time comin’, any day now, don’t worry ’bout me, no

  2. Don Gordleone Says:

    @JG – I think the key thing with drugs/addictions is that it they are coping strategies for a deeper problem. So trying to stop using without addressing the underlying problem is an uphill battle. Most people need help with the underlying problem (usually self-destructive thought patterns) before they can make changes. so, if you want to make a change, my advice is to work on feeling better about yourself first and then evaluate the role of drugs in your life.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    As great as the music was, and it was great, I dunno if anything tops the very audible “OHHHHH NOOOOOOO” you can hear plain as day right as Show Of Life starts.

    That’s awesome.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I have that “the book”. It is a book of poetry for children that is decent, I suppose, though not anywhere near in subject matter to anything thematic to gamehendge. It is the artwork that is very reminiscent with lizards, fanciful (multi)beasts, mockingbirds, and other imagery that fits the motif.

    There are reviews on amazon for it that purport it to be “the book”. But that should tell you something if amazon reviews are your starting point. 😐

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    oh man we could all write some pretty great Amazon reviews of it I bet

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and why shouldn’t we?

  7. Don Gordleone Says:

    If there is a point to gamehendge it seems to be that people can turn any story about stuff that happened into THE STORY whose principals we should all follow as we live our lives. Whether it’s the helping phriendly book or the bible, etc, every time it happens, it’s ridiculous. So think for yourself and be truly free.

    That’s the message I get.

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Lizards Unite!

  9. phishm Says:

    Careful with that book T3. The feds are looking for anyone and everyone that has a copy of it. They have declared that anyone who possesses it is a crook.

  10. MiA Says:

    His book looked more like Shel Silverstein on acid.

    Which is probably just “normal” Shel Silverstein.

    But it was cute.

  11. stapes Says:

    Haha. Definitely remember ‘the book’ guy.

    Lawn Boy still around?

    @phishm – so glad you caught a few of these shows.

    The Chalkdust is really doing it for me.

  12. Don Gordleone Says:

    In recent context, the message has been that Phish is free from any convention – including their own. For example… covering an album on halloween or say, playing from the stage….

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    On the truck, the piano Page is using is a Yamaha CP 90. It actually has a harp of strings and hammers, like a real piano, but it has pickups and is amplified. The hammers actually go up into the strings which sits atop.

    So it is a piano which is electric and modeled as a touring substitute for a baby grand. (very similar shape). But it comes apart in two pieces. Elton John often used one on tour.

    But even better. John Paul Jones used one for Zep. Check out some vids of “No Quarter.” Got it goin through a phaser.

    The red keyboard on top of the Yahama was a Nord, a digital keyboard used for Organ, Clav and other sounds. (I liked the ‘No Drinks’ message written and taped on the front. Bar band proof.)

    So not quite a baby grand but whatevs, easy mistake. Still a harp and hammers and a very nice instrument. Scotty in the Hitmen has one, but it also has MIDI. Badass.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    On the truck, the piano Page is using is a Yamaha CP 90. It actually has a harp of strings and hammers, like a real piano, but it has pickups and is amplified. The hammers actually go up into the strings which sits atop.

    So it is a piano which is electric and modeled as a touring substitute for a baby grand. (very similar shape). But it comes apart in two pieces. Elton John often used one on tour.

    But even better. John Paul Jones used one for Zep. Check out some vids of “No Quarter.” Got it goin through a phaser.

    The red keyboard on top of the Yahama was a Nord, a digital keyboard used for Organ, Clav and other sounds. (I liked the ‘No Drinks’ message written and taped on the front. Bar band proof.)

    So not quite a baby grand but whatevs, easy mistake. Still a harp and hammers and a very nice instrument. Scotty in the Hitmen has one, but it also has MIDI. Badass.

  15. bob dylan Says:

    this DWD sounds NOTHING like DMB. and i like it. page coming in the end here with some nice space background sound. around 14 mins.

    good points don gordleone. cept some of us love oursevles fine, we just like to get stoned.

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    oh the paddles. not sure why. meh

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Simple outro jam reminiscent of 1/1/11 Simple jam.. Remember we all thought that may have been composed at the time? Now they drop shit like that on the reg.. That tells me a lot about how far this band has come in 3 years.

  18. stapes Says:

    I can dig Devotion to a Dream.

  19. the Baker Says:

    Miner,
    Perfect Gettysburg Address/George Washington’s 2nd Innagural above…thanx
    *succinct, sculpted, simple

    I’m decompressing in snowy PA, finishing the oyster stew…&dabbling in little doses of the run…joy

    IT’s time for the FUEGO !!!

    –PHISH needs to contact R.Steadman for Summer ’14 artwork…Rollin

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Disease goes way out. Love how Trey pulls it back together.

    Phish Plays Love. Phishm’s translation for ‘the message’.

  21. MiA Says:

    That Nord 88 is a fantastic sounding keyboard.

  22. bob dylan Says:

    i dont think ralph would fit in their 50/print model they have going. but i’d sure get one if they did.

    bleeker street bar has a huge piece of his hanging on the wall. its the lizard/dino scene from the bar where hunter is losing it. have my pic next to it somewhere.

  23. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Yeah I thought the organ sound on that Nord was pretty good.

  24. bob dylan Says:

    funny the little intro to DWD made me think of last years carini. those drums! will never forget that one (i hope)

  25. colonel forbin Says:

    spot on article. the show was the perfect way to celebrate 30 years of greatness

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