The Baker’s Dozen

The Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Well, well, well… The band that has continued to outdo itself throughout their thirty-four year career did it once again with—unquestionably—the greatest event they have ever thrown. The Baker’s Dozen wasn’t just a run of shows, it was a summation of Phish’s entire career and a statement of where they stand today. Their residency at Madison Square Garden showcased the band’s endless musical catalog, unparalleled improvisational prowess, carefully contoured set crafting and cleverness of mind—the four central elements that define Phish. Meticulously planned and perfectly executed, the Baker’s Dozen will be talked about, listened to and remembered by the Phish community for the rest of time.

Jim Pollock

In the months leading up to the Dozen, perhaps the most popular topic of debate among fans centered on whether the band would repeat any songs during the course of the run. With thirteen shows spanning two and a half weeks, the band would essentially have to play an entire tour—Fall ’16 spanned exactly 13 shows—without repeating a song. Could they do it? Sure. Would they do it? That was an entirely different question.

Conventional wisdom said that if they chose to go the “no repeats” route, they would be forced to play long improvisational passages, thereby cutting down the number of songs per show, a stepping stone towards their goal. They would have to feature more than just a smattering of covers to supplement their original music, something they had done throughout their career. Fans debated back and forth, but in the end there was only one answer, as the band in question was Phish. Of course they wouldn’t repeat a song. This feat was likely impossible for any other band in history, but for a band that has made a living for three decades by breaking musical precedents, there was no other choice. 237 songs in thirteen nights, and not a single note repeated. Only Phish. Only Phish.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Not since the late 90s, and dare I say not since their hallowed Fall ’97 tour, has Phish brought all facets of their superior game night after night after night, delivering sculpted musical journeys that will go down in the annals of their illustrious history. But unlike their legendary tour of Fall ’97, when Phish destroyed America, the mind-quests of the Baker’s Dozen were not birthed from a single musical paradigm, but from styles spanning their entire career, and sprinkled with some new sounds as well. In the yesteryears of Phish’s first Golden Age, the band honed in on a musical focus each tour and they fleshed out their ideas through that unique prism while often moving beyond those styles. But the brilliant sets of MSG featured improvisational escapades of all shapes, sizes and colors, forming a sonic smorgasbord that spanned the totality of the band’s musical spectrum. From the ambient sounds of “Wolfman’s > Twist > Waves” to the laid-back candy grooves of “Mike’s Song” and “You Sexy Thing;” from the soaring, bliss-drenched jams of “Chalk Dust” and “Ghost” to the murky abstractions of “Drowned > A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing;” from the knee-deep funk of “Everything’s Right” and “46 Days” to the psych-jazz of “Taste,” Phish showcased their diverse musical genius with utmost flair for thirteen straight nights.

Even more than their lights-out jamming, however, Phish’s set crafting stood out as the defining element of this run. The thirteen second sets were each thought out sagas with unparalleled flow—fantasy-like Phish. These seamless musical adventures wrapped one so intimately in their narrative arcs that it often surprised the listener when the final page turned—“Whoa—what just happened?!” And this wasn’t just the case on few of the nights, but nearly every evening of the run. Second sets contained nimble contours that guided the collective and delivered it to the Promised Land. Even during some of their most prolific tours, the band often did not consistently present coherent musical statements as they did at the Baker’s Dozen. And unlike previous tours, when certain shows and jams stood out amongst the rest, the Baker’s Dozen provided a counter-example—the entire thirteen nights was the highlight. Each night stood alone in its excellence, offering a flavor of its own. Every night was the best. We had ascended to Phish heaven.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

On top of the to-die-for music, the band threw a heap of classic Phishiness into the Baker’s Dozen with nightly, pre-announced donut themes, creating a community-wide mystery each day and making sleuths of every fan as they tried to figure out what the band would play to match the flavor of the night. Referencing themes with new covers, puns, lyrics and song titles, the band was in peak prankster form crafting these detailed affairs, clearly enjoying the process. The clever nature of the Baker’s Dozen added the proverbial cherry on top of the most unique and original extravaganza of Phish’s career.

And then it came down to the run’s twenty-sixth and final set. Within, ironically, the one show without a strong musical connection to its theme—this stanza unfolded like a poem that encapsulated the ethos of Phish’s career.

“We’ve got it simple ‘cause we’ve got a band.”

Behind the spectacle that is a Phish show—behind the lights, the crowds, the jams, the energy, the madness, and the beauty—there is a band, four lifetime friends who have had the ride of their lives making music with each other. Though the ride hasn’t always been easy, the choice has always been simple—this musical project is what these guys were put on this planet to do—to play together in a rock and roll band. The joy they derive from playing in Phish is self-evident, and play they did in one of the defining jams of the Baker’s Dozen.

“I’m a part of you, and you’re a part of me”

Baker’s Dozen (A.Nusinov)

This cosmically significant lyric from “Come Together,” when taken in reference to the Phish community, depicts how integral the band and its fan base are to one another, illustrating how the two forces have come together and risen up to form one of the most fabled communities in rock and roll history. Phish has never been shy about their symbiotic relationship with their notoriously passionate fans; it is, self-admittedly, what has driven this whole experiment from their humble Northeast beginnings. The exchange of energy between the band and its loyal followers at their live shows creates a unique, communal catharsis that none of the participants—on either side—find anywhere else in life. Forays into the unknown result in moments that transcend our individual nature and blossom in the one energy of which we are all comprised. Illusory boundaries of the self are shattered in explosions of metaphysical truth, and no one is never the same again. These ego-dismantling experiences allow all involved to tap into the one consciousness, the one soul of which we are all made, and revel in the divinity of existence.

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky / He’d like to come and meet us / But he thinks he’d blow our minds”

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

“Starman” holds a important significance in story of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. After he is contacted in a dream, Ziggy becomes the rock and roll messenger of an infinite Starman, who will descend from space to save humanity from it’s imminent demise. Ziggy spreads this messianic message of hope and love through his music, prompting people to follow him and believe in Ziggy, himself, as a prophet. The parallels between the story of Ziggy and Phish are striking. Phish has come into existence in this time and in this earthly dimension to invoke a musical and spiritual ecstasy within a western American society that has lost touch with the cosmic truths that exist within each and every person. Phish are messengers of the beyond, our Ziggy Stardust through whom the infinite is manifested.

A Phish show transcends music and enjoyment, giving fans a glimpse of reality beyond words and beyond the mind, something eternal. Peak live experiences remind participants that there is more to existence than what is routinely perceived. And I don’t think there is one person in the band’s massive fan base that wouldn’t claim that Phish and their music has saved them at least once in their life. Phish provides us inspiration and vitality, belief and spirituality, which we carry with us into our lives beyond the dance floor. Like modern day shamans, Phish has been our spirit guides through this crazy world, and has brought to us peace, community, and unconditional love. And beyond all of that, Phish—for three hours at a time and for decades on end—has “let all the children boogie,” providing fans an outlet to let go of life’s difficulties, and to bask in nothing but the timeless moment. In their own way, Phish has saved the universe.

You Enjoy Myself

7.23.17 (Andrea Nusinov)

Culminating this final set came Phish’s seminal composition-turned-throw down, “You Enjoy Myself.” Not only is this piece one of the most well-loved selections in the band’s musical cannon, but its silly and oft-dismissed title holds a significance in this set. “You Enjoy Myself”—you (the fans) enjoy myself (Trey, the composer / Phish, the musicians). This title is a selfless statement of Phish’s mission—they bear their souls for our enjoyment, or put from their perspective, “Our intent is all for your delight.” Sure, Phish has been the band members’ path to well-being and success, but their ultimate purpose is so much bigger than that. Trey has said it over the years many times in many ways, but perhaps most directly in “Joy“—We want you to be happy.” It’s plain and simple. To say they have succeeded in their goal would be a colossal understatement.

“What a beautiful buzz”

For all involved, band and fans alike, what a beautiful buzz the Phish experience is—the most beautiful buzz on planet earth. And with “Loving Cup,” this poignant, message-laced set of music concluded in an explosion of arena-wide exaltation.

“The life I love is making music with my friends”

With the encore, the epilogue of a seventeen-day odyssey, Phish brought this set-long statement full circle, back to the simplicity of music and friendship with the heartwarming cover of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” Its lyrics and meaning in the context of a career-defining residency need no interpretation.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way, is on the road again

“Won’t you step into the freezer.”

And what other way to finish the Baker’s Dozen—after one last sprinkle of clever humor in a “Lawn Boy Reprise”—than with “Tweezer Reprise.” Phish’s go-to shot of musical adrenaline and rapture punctuated a signature run of shows that will go down in band—and music—history. We have all stepped into the freezer and found a home in the universe Phish has created. It is the most majestic, invigorating, and life-affirming universe we have ever known. It is a universe of truth, and it is most definitely a donut.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

3,687 Responses to “The Baker’s Dozen”

  1. phlorida phan Says:

    Sounds like the FrontRangeBB warmed it up nice this weekend. That’s just the right recipe for a Cat5 BiCoastal Hurricane to come wreck the town here on Thurs.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    Mornin Pholks.

    Just had this thought about being elderly, and getting into Qigong while listening to Phish jams.

  3. phlorida phan Says:

    Stang took down a 2011 M3 with exhaust on Friday. 40mph roll start, had a full car on him by the time I shifted to 3rd, and kept pulling when we let off. Probably had almost 2 car lengths on him by 100mph. Tried getting a race with this Dr. this morning in a new M4, which he couldn’t grasps the 3 horn honk deal ( after I honk the 3rd time, is when you hit the go pedal ) so after telling him such a couple times, he didn’t go when I went, so I left him behind. Would’ve been a close race, oh well. Maybe I’ll catch him around and teach him the street race tactics.

  4. phlorida phan Says:

    Me and Dr. M4 did go from a 20 roll, but we got cut off by a car before I could even shift to 2nd. After that is when we tried the 40

  5. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i’ll bite, TIII…Fall ’97. THE tour closest to my heart. caught Philly through Albany and the NYC NYE run. 19 years old, patch work pants, an ’84 Chevy Celebrity, and a shit ton of booms to sell. good times. 20 Years Later and i’m still definitely upside down.

    this weekend was rad. BB like Voltron. i, personally, loved the Spafford show. i really boogied down- sweatin’ and dancin’. and i was given, like, 100 stickers from Spafford kids during the show telling me i was killing it… i think they thought i was killing it, ha!

    the different personalities between all of the BB makes the BB for me. getting 8 together was cool; getting 8 into the bus with Phamily B behind the wheel was almost legendary; Phamily B speeding by some cops, revving the engine and pretty much blowing a stop sign was definitely legendary. Phamily B is a certified Air-Cooled, Manual Transmission VW Astronaut Pilot- he passed the test.

    some times we are supposed to be were we are. i felt that way this weekend. i was supposed to be at Spafford and i was supposed to be in Ft. Collins. leaving Ft. Collins, shorty after hopping on the god-forsaken highway aka I-25, i passed a woman stumbling along the shoulder. i stopped the bus, walked back up to her, and asked if she was alright. lady was pretty fucked up. i got her in the bus, put on some groovy tunes, and took her to the shelter off of Broadway in Denver. that lady could have been hit or picked up by some weirdo. instead she got some Jerry music, a ride in an old VW, and safely dropped off. i almost passed her up, but i couldn’t and i am so happy i didn’t.

    once i got to Denver, and dropped off my new friend, i had some time to kill before heading to a family birthday party. i randomly called up my friends, who recently got engaged. i haven’t seen or talked to them since Dicks. we went to a buddy’s bar, had a hair of the dog, and then they asked me to officiate their wedding this summer. it was unbelievalbe.

    the magic of Friday night’s BB throw down continued throughout Saturday. And then the universe decided to throw a little curve ball just to keep me on my toes. driving the bus back up to the mountains on Sunday it “broke down” just past Idaho Springs. i figured that it had ran out of gas so i hitched to get gas, hitched back to the bus, put two or three gallons in, waited, tried to start it, no start, i figured fuel pump- no big deal- fucking Tuesday problem and shit. i called AAA, ate a hoagie and collard greens that i had picked up from Il Porcellino earlier in the day, snuggled up in the bus, watched some of a James Bond movie and caught some Z’s. tow driver woke me up. got the bus on the tow truck. driver was cool as shit. had a nice ride the rest of the way to Leadville. driver dropped the bus in the driveway. at this point, the bus had been sitting flat (it was on an incline when i put the gas in it on I-70) with three gallons of gas in it for over two hours. for shits and giggles i tried to start it before going inside the casa. litte fucker fired right up. ha!

    enjoy the week, BB. spinning lots of Fall ’97 this week. cheers!

  6. phlorida phan Says:

    Also, I got approved for my State of Florida MMJ card on Friday. Now just need to send these local “extractors” to see Stoney. They have a decent co2 dab, just need to get beaten over the head by the tane gang. Flav is nowhere to be found in these co2

  7. sumodie Says:

    20YL indeed…

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Newest analog Africa release sounding pretty dope so far

  9. phlorida phan Says:

    When I die, I wanna come back as Heady’s Bus.

  10. bobby weird Says:

    ^ pretty much, this. started new office gig today. thought I finally found the right arrangement. instead, haven’t filled out a single form, but they did already wheel 160 case files up to me, with the caution that “nothing has been done” on most of them, and “all the clients are calling…” let you know what I need? a PC, a phone and access to the server would be nice. Oye….

  11. MiA Says:

    I used to get vapor lock in my ’69 VW when it was hot. I doubt Idaho Springs is hot though. Also I think you have a fuelie don’t you Heady?

    Got the car up this weekend, and ready to pull the engine next weekend. Kinda getting stoked for fall wrenching.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    20th anniversary of fall ’97

    no official release??

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    heady you were with the BB in fall 97? nice

  14. theBaker Says:

    Qigong, Heady-BUS reincarnations, b00bie’s got a J O B & FR Spafford…Happy Monday—>IT’s gonna be a DOOZIE!!!

    *check-out Venus & Jupiter in the pre-dawn Sky marra-morning…BRIGHT & coolio 😉

    Cheers BB

  15. theBaker Says:

    &PhamB chauffeur’N, taBoot…

  16. theBaker Says:

    …&PHloPHanFORCE, resident dragster!

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Super Honored to be the Chauffeur for the BB driving the bus!

    Good Times!

  18. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    I believe in Phamily B.

    @MIA- ’82 is full injected. I really think I simply ran out of fuel. My gas gauge is squirrelly. I’ll find out when I fill it up this evening. Little bus had a big Summer. Time for a little TLC before winter hibernation.

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    Finally gonna watch the Chasing Trane doc tonight.

    Thanks again Wilbard for letting us know it’s streaming on PBS for a little bit.

  20. wilbard Says:

    ^ np lilum.. it def just skims the surface of a figure like Coltrane but it’s got me and mrs w on a jazz documentary kick. We quite enjoyed that BBC doc “1959: The Year That Changed Jazz” (on YouTube)

  21. wilbard Says:

    Here’s a new HA mix:

  22. phlorida phan Says:

    Could be the greatest thing you see today. If you don’t laugh out loud at least once, you win the prize.

    Mans Not Hot > JamFlowMan

  23. garretcorncob Says:

    Seems like as good a time as any to throw Phish Destroys America onto the ol’ youtubes at work, sounds like.

  24. vapebraham Says:

    Heady’s heady bus tales, the Stang chronicles, a Bill Bonney sighting – everything’s right.

  25. Jerome Garcia Says:


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