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)

4,191 Responses to “The Baker’s Dozen”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    damn, lilumb. Seems we lose the best and brightest anymore. my heart is heavy for you and their families and friends.

  2. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    Twenty years ago today I hopped on the road to catch Philly thru Albany. 19 years old, homemade patchwork pants, a 1984 Chevy Celebrity, a pretty girlfriend, a bunch of boomers, and some good dancing shoes.

    Phish Fry last night was awesome. Very well received.

  3. hoedown Says:

    I’ve officially reached 20 years later today, Heady. Wish I remembered more than the Buried Alive opener and Gingsen encore. I was young….and Phish lot got the best of me.

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    Heady! We’re glad glad glad that you’re a glide!

    Hoedown! That’s about as good a start and ending as any!

  5. dorn76 Says:

    “Pretty girlfriend”… hahaa

  6. dorn76 Says:

    #Nodoubtaboutit

  7. vapebraham Says:

    Vibes to Lu. Vibes to stoney. vibes to ghostship. vibes to Phish 20 years later. yeah man, those Philly Dec. ’97ers are just hazy memories of groovetronica. This BD Simple (currently spinning) reminds me of those days.

    Long live the BB

  8. vapebraham Says:

    my pretty g-friend from ’97 is now mrs. tosh. 20 years later’d

  9. vapebraham Says:

    Hoedown: u got me beat. in retrospect, i only really remember being at 12.3.97. Not entirely sure I was at 12.2.97, but i’m hard pressed to think why I wouldn’t have been there.

  10. vapebraham Says:

    BD Simple – jam of the run?

  11. vapebraham Says:

    Tube on powdered night is super clever.

  12. hoedown Says:

    So just this week I get a text from my wife during the work day that says:
    “Do you know Vapebraham?”

    Uh fuck yeah I do. So funny. Small world yo.

  13. vapebraham Says:

    nice, h-down. yo

    BD I am the Walrus (7.29.17) brilliant version with the the halloween sound effects. had to turn it off it was so intense. kids here. about to take another beating from my kid on NBA2K.

  14. Willowed. Says:

    The Magna Tweez Caspian

    My god. Heaven.

  15. Dusty Says:

    Loved those mid week philly ’97 shows. Something about that gumbo sticks with me being dark and cow’d. My new lot franchise is about up. Mobile pit foot licking station. Was going to use fish spas but thought of local regs. Still planning on pushing pork floss on stick. Via unicycle in Boulder, Portland and Asheville of course.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Cervantes was THE groove spot last nt. Green is Beautiful > Dragon Smoke. Straight funktastic fire. Eddie Roberts Alan Evans Chris Stillwell Chris Spies Nick Gerlach & the cat on congos paid homage to Grant Green tracks that were quite literally note perfect. Dragon Smoke a rare treat outside of Tues nt of the Daze Between @ Fess. Super sick grooves. Boogie’d.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    97 Philly crowd all Clappy as fuck! Lololol

    Move from simple to dog faced pure silk mastery

  18. realoutcasty Says:

    Thought the same about the clapping Stone. Too funny

  19. Stoney Case Says:

    Ya Mar the highlight of 12:2:97

    So psick and fluid

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    I am pretty sure that someone from Philadelphia started the stash clap, and the Woo!. Hard to be the little brother of New York City and Boston and not feel some type of way.

    ::slow clap to self::

  21. joe Says:

    missed the anniversary yesterday

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7d1FTUtSFg

  22. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    Was the first Stash clap 3.21.1992? Because that is a Philly show, ha! I was at the Tahoe Tweezer show… Stoney may be on to something. Ha!

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Came home all faded last night and put on the 11/30/97 Wolfmans. Wow. From about 10 minutes to 18 or so (may be way off, I was twisted) is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I was laying there just crying I was so moved. Gonna spin again soon. 97 is much more than the funk.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Kinky

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1uSkbmB1UEo

  25. vegas wolfmans Says:

    @telas and whoever else is interested. Had a few minutes and threw together my favorite albums of 2017 list. I’m no music critic, just a guy who listens to a shitload of music. I don’t claim these as the “best” albums of the year, just things that resonated with me. Not in any ranked order and I’ve surely omitted some essentials. Many of these albums have already been discussed on the bb, which is a testament to our collective excellent taste! Worth noting that there is no hip hop on this list. While I recognize that Kendrick is a genius, I just haven’t really been moved by the genre over the past couple years. I’ve included a few eps because they were too good not to… I’m curious to know what y’all have been spinning, so please share. I’m of the belief that we can cover more ground together than we can alone in our search for the good shit.

    kevin morby- city music
    four tet- new energy
    godspeed you! black emperor- luciferian towers
    dope lemon- hounds tooth (ep)
    blank range- marooned with the treasure
    michael nau- some twist
    blockhead- funeral balloons
    tony allen- the source
    gizzard- sketches of brunswick east
    dave rawlings- poor davids almanack
    ty segall- ty segall
    six organs of admittance- burning the threshold
    kamasi washington- harmony of difference (ep)
    grails- chalice hymnal
    duke garwood- garden of ashes
    bonobo- migration
    pontiak- dialectic of ignorance
    moon duo- occult architecture vols 1&2
    all them witches- sleeping through the war
    hand habits- wildly idle
    juana molina- halo
    chicano batman- freedom is free
    wooden wand- clipper ship
    tosca- going going going
    mythic sunship- land between rivers
    mount eerie- a crow looked at me
    heliocentrics- a world of masks
    thundercat- drunk
    war on drugs- a deeper understanding
    mount kimbie- love what survives
    floating points- reflections- mojave desert
    kacy & clayton- the siren’s song
    comet is coming- death to the planet (ep)
    barnett & vile- lotta sea lice
    gold star- big blue
    wand- plum
    hgm- hallelujah anyhow
    fleet foxes- crack-up
    vijay iyer sextet- far from over
    forest swords- compassion
    nick hakim- green twins
    terekke- plant age
    mark mcguire- ideas of beginnings

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