We’ve come to the end of 2012 and Phish’s four-night New Year’s Run at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tonight the quartet returned to MSG to finish off the run with their seventh three-set, New Year’s Eve performance at “The World’s Greatest Arena.”
[Photo via @phishfromtheroad]
Phish has always been known for their “quirky” lyrics and no song is quite as quirky as Kung. The Jon Fishman-penned ditty features the line “we can stage a runaway golfcart marathon.” Over 23 years after the debut of Kung, the quartet showed that can indeed “stage a runaway golfcart marathon” as this year’s “gag” turned MSG into a golf-themed, garden party complete with golf carts driving wildly around the stage. The golf theme continued into the third set after Tweezer Reprise followed Auld Lang Syne as each song Phish played referenced golf – Sand, The Wedge, Fly Like An Eagle (Steve Miller Band), Wilson (an image of a Wilson-branded ball was shown on the scoreboard), Lawn Boy (performed a capella), Driver and Iron Man.
Watch The “Gag”…
What a Phish-y maneuver to base this year’s NYE “Gag” on a throwaway line in a song they’ve played 34 times over the past 23 years. How obscure. The other theme was “Garden Party” which was clear once fans entered the venue and saw astroturf laid out across the whole floor as well as parts of the stage. When Phish came out for the first set they opened with Ricky Nelson’s Garden Party. The former teenstar wrote the song in 1972 after getting booed off the stage at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival concert held at MSG in 1971 because he played new material and not the classics from his youth. Its chorus of “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself” fits nicely in a world of Phish fans who all want different things from the band.
The rest of the first set was similar to the other opening-stanzas of the run – high-energy rockers played proficiently. Walk Away followed Mike’s Song for the first time, providing a perfect bridge between Mike’s and the patient, funky Weekapaug Groove that brought the first set to a close. For set two, Phish showed off the improvisational skills they’ve honed so impressively over the year. Both Piper and Ghost featured exploratory excursions worth hearing again and again, while 2001 was expanded longer than usual providing the soundtrack for a Garden Dance Party. You Enjoy Myself brought Set Two to a close with a fierce solo by Trey Anastasio that included a Birds of a Feather tease.
When the band returned for the third set, they were brought out in golf carts and spent the first few minutes hitting soft golf balls into the crowd. The fitting original Party Time kicked off the final set of the year before Kung signaled the start of the “golfcart marathon.” During Chalkdust Torture the carts screamed around the stage a furious pace, dropping off actors of all shapes and sizes dressed in golf gear who helped the quartet ring in the new year with the traditional Auld Lang Syne. At Friday’s first show of the run, Phish performed Tweezer but left Tweezer Reprise unplayed. Tweezer Reprise finally got the call following Auld Lang Syne and featured dozens of singers and performers on stage creating a spectacle that needs to be seen to be believed. A typically intense Sand came next and led into the Phish debut of Fly Like An Eagle by Steve Miller Band in full (Phish briefly jammed Fly Like An Eagle into David Bowie on October 7th, 1989). The group pulled off the cover well with Trey and keyboardist Page McConnell sharing vocals. Speaking of Page, the normally demure keyboardist took a turn fronting the band as the show came to a close. Not only did he provide lead vocals for a beautiful a capella rendition of Lawn Boy, but he left the safety of his rig to front the band in true lead singer style for the first full Phish performance of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. McConnell also took the opportunity to thank everyone for coming and mentioned that 2013 will be the 30th anniversary of Phish which garnered Garden-rocking cheers.
 Phish debut.
 Auld Lang Syne tease
 Birds of a Feather tease
 With backup singers.
 A Capella.
 First Phish performance in full.
Notes: The venue’s floor and the riser on the stage were covered by green fake grass for this show. Prior to the show, people played garden sports including croquet and mini-golf, while a few women “sunbathed” on the riser. During the first setbreak, golfers came on stage and hit soft golf balls into the crowd. Light contained an Auld Lang Syne tease. You Enjoy Myself contained a Birds of a Feather tease. Trey, Page and Mike came out for the third set in golf carts and began hitting golf balls into the crowd. Fish then arrived on a golf cart wearing donut pants and shirt, an argyle vest, and a golf hat. Golf carts were brought back on stage during Kung, then began racing past the stage periodically More and more golf carts joined the marathon. During the Chalkdust jam, golfers began getting out of the carts, hitting balls into the crowd and dancing on stage. One of the golfers did the New Year’s countdown from on top of a cart. Ping pong balls were fired from cannons during Auld Lang Syne. Tweezer Reprise featured a number of backup singers. Iron Man was preceded by Page coming to the front of the stage in a jacket, USS Nimitz ball cap and holding a golf club to wish the crowd Happy New Year and reference the start of the 30th year of Phish. This show featured the Phish debuts of Garden Party and Fly Like an Eagle as well as the first full Phish performance of Iron Man.
A capella Lawn Boy video:
Here’s The Skinny from the final night of Phish’s NYE Run 2012…
- Venue Capacity / Attendance / Type: 20,000 / 20,000 / Indoor Arena
- Previous Shows at Venue: 12/30/94, 12/30/95, 12/31/95, 10/21/96, 10/22/96, 12/29/97, 12/30/97, 12/31/97, 12/28/98, 12/29/98, 12/30/98, 12/31/98, 12/31/02, 12/02/09, 12/03/09, 12/04/09, 12/30/10, 12/31/10, 01/01/11, 12/28/2011, 12/29/2011, 12/30/2011, 12/31/2011, 12/28/2012, 12/29/2012, 12/30/2012 – 26 Shows
- Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: 10 / 70 minutes (8:35pm – 9:45pm)
- Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set: 8 / 69 minutes (10:05pm – 11:14pm]
- Number Of Songs / Length – Third Set & Encore: 12/ 70 minutes (11:42pm – 12:52am]
- Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals/ Traditional: 30 / 6 / 23 / 1
- Biggest Bustout: Iron Man, 192 shows [2003-12-31]
- Average Song Vintage: 1995
- Debuts: Garden Party [Rick Nelson], Fly Like an Eagle [Steve Miller Band]
- Weather: 36° and Light Snow at showtime
- Wardrobe: Mike – Sgt. Pepper’s Jacket (1st & 3rd), Black Vest (2nd) / Fish – Mumu, Golfer’s Outfit (3rd) / Trey- Black Button Down and Jeans / Page – Black short-sleeve
- Average Song Gap: 14.39
- The Spread: Junta – 1, Rift – 5, Hoist – 1 , Party Time – 2 , Misc. – 3, Billy Breathes – 1, Story of the Ghost – 2 , Farmhouse – 3, Joy – 1, Picture of Nectar – 2, Lawn Boy – 1, Cover – 6, Traditional – 1
- Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: You Enjoy Myself 18:33 / The Horse :59
- Audio: Live Phish