Musings on MSG

Madison Square Garden '09 (Brian Ferguson)

Madison Square Garden ’09 (Brian Ferguson)

Madison Square Garden is one of the most celebrated Phish venues in the land. Playing the Garden for five consecutive years between ’94 and ’98, the band continued adding shows to their stands in each year but ’96, topping out with a four night stand in 1998. Four-night stands at MSG seem commonplace in the modern era, however, as this upcoming holiday run will be the third in three years. No building has hosted Phish more times than MSG, and these upcoming shows will,  coincidentally, be their 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st at the World’s Most Famous Arena. And this year the band will have a full head of steam heading into New York! On the heels of a smoking fall tour and recording their next album, Phish’s momentum will have had little time to slow come December 28th, unlike the past two years in which the guys didn’t play between Labor Day and the New Year’s Run. Needless to say, the time is near, the mission’s clear.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Though the band has played the Garden at least three times a year since their return, only a few of those nights have truly stood out—namely, 12.31.10, 1.1.11, 12.28.11, 12.28.12, and 12.30.12. If I had to bet, this year will be different. Does this year have the potential to go toe to toe with 1998’s hall of fame run, also a four-nighter at MSG? If the band plays their cards right and really throws down, perhaps we’ll have a debate on our hands. Wouldn’t that be something? It would have to be the best stand of the era, but coming off the hottest tour of this era, why not?

What used to define those legendary mid-to-late ’90s shows was a certain grit and grime that matched the old school arena congruently. This fall, with Trey laying back on rhythm more than at any time during this era, jams took on a far gritter and psychedelic feel than at any time in 3.0. If fall tour was any indication, and it always has been, we could be looking at the dirtiest MSG shows of a notably clean modern era. And wouldn’t that be the perfect way to cap a truly monumental year of Phish?

As a fun exercise, I ran through my memory and have posted my favorites of everything in MSG history. Enjoy!

Best show: 12.31.95

New Year’s ’95 was the peak of everything Phish had done in their career up to that point; a culmination of their career. Many fans view this show as the band’s finest night of music, thus is needless to say that it comes in 1st in MSG history.

Best Set: 12.29.97 II

This set delivers for the duration with not a singe lull. Jams for days, one of the best “Tubes” of all time and impeccable flow. The only weakness of this set is a fairly routine “YEM” that doesn’t quite do the rest of the set justice.

Down with Disease -> David Bowie -> Possum, Tube, You Enjoy Myself

Best Run: New Years 1998

Four outstanding nights of music, ending what I believe is their best overall year of their career.

Best First Set: 12.31.98

Nobody was quite sure what had hit them when the lights came up after this one.

1999 > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Ghost -> Ha Ha Ha > Cavern

Best Third Set: 12.31.95

One of the best “Weekapaugs” of all-time and monster “YEM.” Plus a couple rarities to cap things off.

Auld Lang Syne > Weekapaug Groove > Sea and Sand, You Enjoy Myself, Sanity, Frankenstein

Best Encore: 12.30.97

The best encore in history, regardless of venue.

Carini – > Black-Eyed Katy -> Sally Reprise > Frankenstein

Best Modern Show: 12.31.10

A colossal night of Phish with a second set for the ages

Best version of (parentheses represent close seconds):

Tweezer: 12.28.12 (12.30.94) 

Reba: 12.31.95

Mike’s: 12.31.95

David Bowie: 12.29.97

Wolfman’s Brother: 12.28.98

You Enjoy Myself: 12.29.98

Piper: 12.30.11

2001: 12.29.98

Antelope: 12.29.97 

Weekapaug: 12.31.95 (12.31.97)

Harry Hood: 12.30.95

Gin: 12.30.10 v. 12.29.12—pick em (only versions)

Twist: 1.1.11 (12.28.12)

Ghost: 12.31.98 v. 12.31.10—pick em

Down With Disease: 12.29.97

Carini: 12.28.98 (12.30.12)

Light: 12.2.09

Tube: 12.29.97

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373 Responses to “Musings on MSG”

  1. dorn76 Says:

    Def want to hit the TTB, thanks Sumo.

    Love the new album my wife grabbed, Made up Mind. Serious swanky blues, romantic ballads, etc.

  2. dorn76 Says:

    Def want to hit the TTB, thanks Sumo.

    Love the new album my wife grabbed, Made up Mind. Serious swanky blues, romantic ballads, etc.

  3. DavidSilver Says:

    All these great new records and y’all be listening to Wingsuit? Yuns got serious issues.

  4. dorn76 Says:

    self paddlin’


  5. dorn76 Says:

    Said the guy who popped pills during his radio gig, then hooked up with that slutty agent chick.

    Broke poor Donna’s heart.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Just had a bunch of kids here for pizza making and cookie decorating. I’m down for winter, cold temps, and holiday cheer in general. Helping lift my spirits.

    @dorn – that TTB show is totally on my radar. Actually pair of shows. TTB for some reason has evaded me for a couple years. Our schedules never say synced up. Took wife to Scottish Rite Theatre (awesome freemasonic overtones!!) for Indigo Girls. Now she will come w me to TTB. Trying to get bros-in-law involved and mebbe even a couple others. Ready for it. You ans I just need to get pints at my local haunt. Troegs mad elf nite there tonite but I’m not a fan of that one.

  7. bob dylan Says:

    ya the other half was to see TTB. black crowes accounted for the 3rd half. So it seems I’ve got enough halves to make a whole reason to go.

  8. DavidSilver Says:

    Now I’m breakin Megan Fox box.

  9. Gavinsdad Says:

    Geo W – here’s your tequila spot:

  10. sumodie Says:

    Wowza, that tequila bar looks sweeeet!

    (good tequila & mescal don’t need any crap added to them….so delicious)

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    BGCA, a historical spot for sure. But in a way, not one of SF’s true jewles. Great if there’s a show you wanna see, but not on the same ‘wow what a venue!?’ level as the Warfield, Fillmore, Bimbo’s or Great American.

    not to disuade show going at all. but for all the awesome shows which have happened there, it’s kind of a box.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    You hetty cats definitely want to catch TTB. Bobby D TTB w/ Crowes which closes out 2013 for the Crowes is gonna be serious business. 100% not to be missed. TTB & Crowes toured this summer played festies including Locken which was a sit in fest. Cross pollination should be thick in SF. Potential for magical moments inside BGCA. Everybody’s game is elevated bc well it’s SF & musicians can feel/tap into that psychedelic Bay Area sound/mystique. All TTB albums are $$$. Revelator Everybody’s Talkin (live) & Made Up Mind. Band is incredible. Derek shreds. Susan wails. Awesome to see Derek & Susan’s relationship musically & otherwise on stage (those kids they made are quite the musical thoroughbreds to be sure) esp when w/ SLF. Do it. Promise it’ll be dope.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    That goes for Gdad dorn too to be clear 😎

  14. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Finally have an idea with enough gravity to warrant another episode of The Adventures of Wingsuitman (TAOW). By the BB, for the BB. And some time to improve my “drawing” as well.

    Any high-Newton-count ideas for episodes are welcome (priors will be incorporated too, thanks for the suggestions).


  15. little umbrellas Says:

    TTD love represent. $¡!Trucks!¡$

  16. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    TTB played 30 min. away from me on Saturday, missed it, argh.

  17. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Yet to go to Bimbo’s. Or the SF Yoshi’s, or Carousel. Been to GAMH, Warfield, Fillmore countless times, and Slim’s, Masonic, DNA, Cafe Du Nord…all great rooms.

    lum, ever go to Berkeley Square?

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    … is that the Berkeley Community Theatre?

  19. Gavinsdad Says:

    Word LU but I dig it for the dirty wood paneling drab olive upholstery meh vibez. Timewarp’d

  20. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    this place, sir lum

  21. plord Says:

    Friday the 13th. My unbirthday, an irregular celebration of the time two innocent looking tabs of plain white blotter forced me to evolve or perish. A rough night in all respects but the rash and life-changing decisions I made that evening set the stage for literally my entire life since 1995. The Big Reset Button. The California Maneuver. Certain kinds of permanent sobriety.

    So much for all those superstitions. Friday the 13th has treated me well.

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    One minute, “Must get to MSG”
    The next “CouchTour will suffice”

  23. tba Says:

    miner great post. i’m a little late but wow u did a well thought out job. really enjoy the way u don’t take shortcuts. more and more thinking u should run, or at least help run the vault. shapiro might be a nice guy, but if he is so hip where is Gorge 98????? Or how about a Front Box set with as many old masters as they can find. Finally how about a fall 97 box set. dick’s was great but dead spring 90′ didn’t come until he passed. imho not just one person can run the releases. by the way how about all colonial keene shows. was shapiro even around then? i actually am working on making my own 2013 fall video box set for personal use. thankfully many ppv.’s are still up, but if possible still need the official worcester webcasts video and hartford if they have did that video. I have mkd’s worcester but want the official. if anyone can help please have miner get in touch w/ me. thank you so much ps don’t mean to diss shapiro, more of a vote for miner, and miner will tell u we don’t agree all the time, but the guy is relentless in his thinking and work in regards to every angle of Phish. We have it lucky people, plus we can always ignore him when he misses , spac night 2 2012 :<) Phish really needs to bring more imagination to the table in not only releases, but the shirts and mercy are yawn, unless u like pollock's dmt oriented weird posters

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