Saturday 12/31/2022 by phishnet


[Great thanks to Megan Glionna (user @MeganGlionna, @themegandance1 on Twitter and @the_megan_dance on IG) for recapping last night's show! -Ed.]

December 30, 1997. 25 years ago. I was nineteen and up to no good. I sauntered into MSG for what would be the best Phish show I have ever seen.

I had seen a few incredible shows that summer, but college and a lack of funds kept me from seeing any Fall ‘97 shows. I had also been listening to a lot of house music and was getting into the rave scene, so my attention was slowly turning away from my favorite band. I was expecting that Phish would put on a great set of shows for their first multi-night New Year’s Eve run in New York City, but my interest in other music made me less concerned with what or how they would play. But, the opening 921-show bust out of “Sneakin’ Sally,” the Pentagram “Harpua,” the curfew breaking, the encore with the final “Black Eyed Katy”… it was the perfect capstone to an epic year of dance party, cowfunk Phish.

© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)
© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)

To say that expectations for the December 30th show run high would be a massive understatement. This is the night I never want to miss. The night before the night. No pressure from the big gag, no constructed setlists, just a chance to tear the roof off the Garden and make the floor bounce. But this year was different, thanks to a powerhouse show the night before. When Phish plays a show as consistent and creative as December 29, 2022, you have no choice but to go in the next night with zero expectations.

So that’s what I did. I wasn’t expecting a 12/30/19 “Tweezer” or a 12/30/97 "AC/DC Bag," I was just excited to see my favorite band live- not dissimilar from how I felt those 25 years ago.

We started off the night with an Osiris Media happy hour at Bar Moynihan where vibes were high. Twitter celebrities mingled with old friends, and we all felt as though we’d already won. There was nothing else to prove on this run, so we made useless predictions and raved about the show the night before.

© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)
© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)

Coming onstage to a hero’s welcome, the band opened with “Down With Disease.” Perhaps in a nod to the requests to “turn Mike up” on Twitter, the bassist sent us into the classic ripper in good fashion. Ten minutes into the song, I was already breathless from dancing. This 14 minute and 14 second version had a galloping jam, showing us that the rhythm section of the band was going to be in the pocket tonight. I was hoping to see “The Moma Dance” (maybe a nod back to the "Black Eyed Katy" on 12/30/97?). The band easily found its way in this jam, which was layered and stunning right off the bat. Somehow a ballad in slot three worked, maybe because it was “Pebbles and Marbles.” Despite debuting almost twenty years ago, this song has only been played 27 times. So it feels special, not to mention the absolutely heart wrenching lyrics that could melt even the Grinch’s cold heart.

Then this “Theme from the Bottom.” Wow. One of the longest versions in history, it clocks in at just under 15 minutes. I will be shocked if the band didn’t spin some 1997 Phish (like the rest of us) before the show yesterday. Mike was totally leading this jam, dropping bombs and pointing us towards funktown. This jam went places, and how fun for a song that makes me feel nostalgic for 1995. The jam was definitely modern Phish with Trey putting his effect pedal to good use and a big, evil-spaceship-landing, synth party to close us out. Damn. A jammed out “Theme.” Didn’t see that coming.

© 2022 PHISH (Rene Huemer) (shot 2022-12-29)
© 2022 PHISH (Rene Huemer) (shot 2022-12-29)

And then “Reba.” There is nothing like being in Madison Square Garden when Trey Anastasio plays “Reba.” It taps into a deep, inside ache and the music feels like it is pulling your soul out from where it is buried (or maybe that is just the mushrooms). A proper ending with whistling closes out a flawless version and the 400th time the band has played this song. From a song that debuted in 1989 to a song that debuted in 2021, “The Howling” has found its place in the Phish repertoire. I think the most successful of the Sci Fi Soldier songs, this funky, disco ditty never fails to light up the dance floor.

An excellent “Foam” was next and highlighted Page’s incredible work on the piano. Just another reminder of how the Chairman of the Boards adds depth and sophistication to Phish’s playing. I thought I heard a bluegrass twang to Trey’s intro on “Run Like an Antelope” and Fishman kept a driving pace for the entire song. The Garden seemed about to explode during this version of pure hose and rock and roll madness. The band was one step in front of the crowd at all times during this set, which is just how we like it.

© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)
© 2022 PHISH (Steph Port)

If they were one step ahead of us during the first set, they were light years beyond in the second. The band came on stage and noodled around. Fishman played his Leave it to Beaver sample and the band launched into “No Men In No Man’s Land.” This song rocks and is one of my favorites to hear for its dancey groove. The band easily slipped into a great jam with Mike leading the way towards our impending doom with a sick bass line. His work gave the jam a dark undercurrent, but ever sunny Trey was heading for the light. The jam was searching and beautiful with Trey building some lovely, tonal peaks with extended notes and an exclamatory ending. The band flowed right into "Golden Age," the first cover of the last three days. You know what they say when Trey nails the lyrics to this song, and this almost 18 minute version did not disappoint. A jazzy jam with an uplifting feeling, the band seemed patient and tuned in. It was delicate, which made it even more perfect when Trey played a bluesy riff to build some grittier peaks.

Thrilled when I heard the opening to "Sand," this song always delivers the goods. During the jam, Trey had his right leg perched up on his pedal board and was leaning into it playing with hunger and focus. This version is also about 18 minutes long and the kind of jam only Phish could create. It was textural and driving, with Page making good use of the organ. Playing with younger musicians this summer and fall, there is no doubt that Trey’s time with Goose and Billy Strings has been influential. He seems truly inspired. His generosity and goodwill in lifting them up has translated into elevated playing with Phish.

Honestly, after “Sand,” we all needed a bit of a breather, and there are only a few ballads I would take over “If I Could.” It's a throwback that Phish can now play with a sophistication and soul that they were only learning to access in the mid-1990’s. This version is stunning and I had a real interpretive dance moment. Don’t sleep on Phish’s ballads.

© 2022 PHISH (Rene Huemer) (shot 12-29-2022)
© 2022 PHISH (Rene Huemer) (shot 12-29-2022)
And to close out this tremendous five song second set, an absolutely blistering version of the Page song, “I Always Wanted It This Way.” Although it’s just under 15 minutes, this version gets places. The last five minutes are just tremendous, thrashing rock and roll peaks. All I could think was, “Whose house is this?” Phish owns MSG and this whole set felt like one big mic drop. There was nothing left to do, except come out for an encore and destroy the room with "Chalk Dust Torture." They left the incredibly engaged crowd in a puddle on the floor.

When Trey sang, “Set the gear shift to the high gear of your soul,” it just all seemed so obvious. I had gone in with zero expectations, just a lot of gratitude and good will. Hot take, but it turns out the universe likes this attitude! All night I kept running into people I had been hoping to see at the perfect moment, exchanging tight hugs and good vibes. I had the best conversations, so many laughs and danced until my feet ached.

Last night was my 60th Phish show and my 12th show this year. Not big numbers in this community, but meaningful. This year I saw the most Phish shows I have seen in a year since 1996. Something that was dear to me when I was young, is still dear to me now. That feels special. And now I get to experience it with the appreciation that it deserves. 25 years ago I saw the best Phish show I might ever see, but I didn’t have the best experience because I was young, took things for granted, and was choosing the wrong people and things to care about. Maybe the music was better (maybe, which is saying something), but the experience was not. Or maybe I am aging well, just like our favorite band.

© 2022 Megan Glionna
© 2022 Megan Glionna

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, comment by Jeremy8698
Jeremy8698 As the reviewer for the past 3 years of this extraordinary nite of tunes, I have to say hats off and thanks for a meaningful and evocative review. Was bummed to miss it but glad to read your words.
, comment by Nomidwestlove
Nomidwestlove Truly a great recap, thanks Megan!
, comment by rhsmitty23
rhsmitty23 Great review- was there the first 2 nights!!!
, comment by d_fox
d_fox Great review and spot on.
, comment by sjoshuac
sjoshuac Nice write up man. Awesome show! I had the chills throughout, goosebumps on my goosebumps. Interesting, this was also my 12th show this year, by far the most I’ve ever seen Phish in a year, and 70th overall. What a year!!! See y’all tonight to ring in the new year! No place I’d rather be!
, comment by MMori7
MMori7 Very nice review Megan! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on this run on HFPOD!
Happy new year!
, comment by Johnny_B
Johnny_B Great review, Megan! This was also my 60th show, and my tenth of the year. Sometimes, life makes you take some time off. Before 2018, the most shows I’d seen in a year was 6 (1997).

My tenth shows often have some weird vibe, so it was nice to just have a straight-up stellar 12/30 show for my 60th. 10 was the Jennifer Dances show, 20 was day 2 of Coventry, 50 Trey got stuck on a platform. This show makes me less nervous for show 100.
, comment by Lemming
Lemming I like your style Megan. Please allow me to share my story in your comment section since I’m not sure where else to put it.
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 Appreciate the review and perspective.

12/29 and 12/30 have been magic. We are lucky. Truly.
, comment by pittphanAJD
pittphanAJD Great review. I hope they carry over the Great vibes to tonight. See yall at MSG. Happy New Year!
, comment by Col_Radicones_Ascent
Col_Radicones_Ascent Loved this review, I barely remember specifics and only the feeling of pure adulation is present from last night's show.
Awesome review and cheers to #60, my 60th is tonight!
, comment by finallysweptaway
finallysweptaway Great review! One moment that particularly grabbed me was the crowd swell in the middle of Antelope. Such a beautiful moment of collective energy bubbling over, a reminder that the night was transcendent both from the band, who does "all the work!" as they told us the prior night, and from the crowd. No matter how the dust settles after multiple relistens, last night felt special throughout.
, comment by drobs22
drobs22 Great review! I like how you pointed out that it was your 60th show, no big numbers...I believe its about timing and since you have been in the mix since the mid 90s you have seen the evolution of the band and the energy you bring is unique. Its so pointless to me to compare stats and why so many have to bring their numbers as some kind of proof of real fandom.

Anyways, I sure love some MSG and wish I could be there to dance with everybody. Sounded like they're bringing the heat this year and your heart is in the right place. Enjoy yourself!
, comment by RealOutkast
RealOutkast Great write up and perfectly sums up my experience last night from section 104. I was transported many moments to a higher level. I always find a spiritual joy that I have never been able to capture elsewhere in my life. I think this is what makes Phish that special thing in all of our lives. The last part of the review overwhelmed me with such a happy and reflective emotion of my 31 year Phish journey!
, comment by Ismellhomecooking
Ismellhomecooking Last night was my 66th show. Thank you for putting to words perfectly what my mind and heart were feeling. I was transported back to that magical moment when I fell in love with this band. There were moments I was so overjoyed it hurt to smile and I was almost brought to tears. I love this community. Can't wait for the next one!
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten show of the year. no contest
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Sounds like a keeper! Appreciate the retrospective context too as a fan with fond teenaged memories of 12/30/97. What's in store tonight?
, comment by ArkPhan
ArkPhan Great review! I can’t wait to see what they have in store for tonight!
, comment by cowfunk97
cowfunk97 Beautiful last paragraph. Couldn't be said better.
, comment by sirhotpants
sirhotpants Terrific review - I appreciate the subjective experiential context you use to frame the recap. Totally agree with the assessment of the night as groove-oriented from start to finish, the whole house was gracious and locked in last night. Thanks for the write-up!
, comment by Brain_of_Brass
Brain_of_Brass I so enjoyed reading this. As a late-comer (thanks to my 30-year-old son), I really connect with your message and careful explanations of the music I'm still feverishly learning.
As one who went from terrible life choices from 1975-1986 to extremely driven life choices from 1986-2020, any prior incarnation of Phish and their community would have been wasted on me.
I'm an old dog, but because of folks like you (and celebrating right now by listening to the MSG closer), I feel better about my choices.
Thank you, Megan. And thank all of you good people out there. You matter to me and give me hope.
Happy New Year. You deserve a peaceful and loving 2023.
, comment by EarthOak
EarthOak 12-30-97 was epic. Was there and 19 yrs old too. No 12-30 show has matched that awesomeness but yet some reason the 30th is heralded as the holiday tour must see. 29th this year for me was the heater. Let’s all stop chasing the dragon and settle into reality. Just an observation about the 30th oh and the “never miss a Sunday show” come on… that’s over now. Very energetic well tempo’d shows and really nice to see that energy again and much appreciated departure from the SLOW that was plaguing many many shows this year (all 4 April shows here were just molasses slow) Guys thanks for brining it hard all 4 nights I am a tough critic but I believe fair as well, no sunshine buttsmoke here. Much love
, comment by 100PercentAgave
100PercentAgave Great interpretation what exactly makes this band so damn special. What a night in their house (house, house, house) with you all!
, comment by FarTooManyRaccoons
FarTooManyRaccoons Thank you for sharing this wonderful review. Very much enjoyed reading your perspective and had an absolute blast at the show that night!
, comment by AikoAiko
AikoAiko I too was in The Big Round Room on 12/30 and your awesome review aligned with my experience. I do not study numerology or the Kabbalah..... there is something magical about 12/30 in the World Of Phish! Every 12/30 show that I have attended have all been mind-blowing phenomenal in their own unique way! On this 12/30, every tune was performed so well.

Megan, I truly appreciated the final paragraph of your review...... recognizing how fabulous the moments that you are experiencing NOW, as you are growing as a Human Being and as a Phan in our awesome Phish community. My motto is "the best Phish show is tonight's Phish show". Yesterday is gone but Be In The Now!

Have a phun 2023!
, comment by kingcrowing
kingcrowing What a fantastic show... sadly I wasn't able to find a great spot to be during a lot of this show but the music was incredible!
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