Phish New Year’s Run: Eternal Joy & Never-Ending Splendor

From their humble beginnings at their first-ever New Year’s show at Exhibition Hall in Boston’s World Trade Center in 1989 to their career high point for the biggest millennium concert in the world at Big Cypress in 1999, Phish has always pulled out all the stops for their New Year’s celebrations.

[Photo by Kenny Pusey]

Interestingly, the proud Vermonters have never once played New Year’s in their home state, opting instead for three of their most notable homes away from home – the greater Boston area, New York City and the climate-friendly settings of South Florida. This year, Phish returns to perhaps their ultimate home away from home – for both the band and fans – Madison Square Garden.

Nobody ever really knows what to expect when it comes to Phish, especially come New Year’s, but today we’ll take a look at history to highlight some of the great moments in years past and assess how similar elements could play out during this year’s festivities.

The Best Show of the Run is a Toss Up – A lot of fans will have you believe that overall, the best night of a holiday run tends to fall on December 30th.  However, I’m not so sure that’s a fair distinction. If you look back though history, December 30th certainly took home top honors on a number of occasions – most notably in 1997 and 2009. But alternatively, New Years Eve has its fair share of wins as well, including 1994, 1995, 1998 and of course 1999. Meanwhile, December 29th even notched itself a win in 1996, while years like 1993 (the 30th and 31st are still duking it out to this day) and 2010 made it a tough call across the board. Thus, it’s a fool’s game to try to game the system; you gotta see ‘em all.

[Photo by Joel Berk]

Look for Big Jams on December 30th – While New Year’s Eve gets remembered for the theatrics of a big production, fans revere the best December 30th shows for memorable extended improvisations like the 1993 Mike’s Song, the 40+ minute AC/DC Bag -> McGrupp second set opener in 1997 or the Big Cypress Antelope. More recently, the trend has held up as well with an impressive Get Back on the Train in 2009 and the monster Tweezer of 2010.

No Repeats – Phish New Year’s Runs have always had an unwritten rule of no repeats. The band may have made an exception or two in recent years, but for the most part there’s doubtful to be many. Thus, you’re likely to hear approximately one hundred different songs over four nights.

PAGE TWO = There’s Something About The Blues, Gamehendge & Big Mike’s Groove’s

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4 thoughts on “Phish New Year’s Run: Eternal Joy & Never-Ending Splendor

  1. esther Reply

    Nice piece!

    IMO, December 30th certainly took home top honors on a number of occasions – most notably in 1997 and 2009??

    I don’t think either of these were the shows of those runs. In both cases, it’s all about the 29th :)

  2. jeremy McWatty Reply

    hoping for a stream this go round!!!

  3. Billy Maycraw Reply

    Well written.

    I still think the Dec 31, 1993 show is incredible. The Auld Lang Syne teases in the DWD jam and in Hood… sick.

  4. josh Reply

    Good stuff here but to ignore 12/30/95 in the 12/30 discussions is just criminal.

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