Phish Jams Their First Show of 2016

After an energetic night one and spectacular New Year’s Eve show, the boys took the stage for night three at Madison Square Garden. Phish’s first song on Jan. 1 was “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan.” The lyrics could not have related more to a crowd of people nursing hangovers and wondering what exactly happened last night.

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Page McConnell got down to business early in the first set with “Heavy Things.” After a few moments of onstage, private discussion between Trey Anastasio and each other member of the band, they picked back up again with “How Many People Are You?” a Mike Gordon and Scott Murawski original. The song was upbeat and Gordon seemed pleased to be in the spotlight, while Anastasio added flare on guitar. On to “Stash,” the crowd fulfilled its duty to sing the “whoa-ohs” and to double clap right on cue. The song also provided an opportunity for a rather spacey and almost eerie jam in which McConnell and Anastasio played off one another quite well. The “Stash” jam eventually crescendoed into an intense, screaming guitar solo that left the crowd cheering for more.

Like “Stealing Time,” “Undermind” was the perfect chance for McConnell to pounce on the keys, providing the light, playful sound to an already funky tune. Then came the best part with Anastasio circling back to incorporate the riff from “Stash” and then to a “Stealing Time” tease.

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A straightforward but near perfect “Rift” and phans were ready to put their wingsuits on. “Wingsuit” allowed both concertgoers and the band to relax if only for a few minutes. Since its release in 2014, the song has solidified itself in their repertoire, beginning with a breezy intro but making its way to an explosive display of instrumental technicality. The pressure from “Wingsuit” subsided with an easy-going “Ocelot.” McConnell the lounge singer stepped up to the mic and delighted fans with “Lawn Boy.” He introduced Gordon who took a few minutes to deliver a bluesy bass solo. “Run Like an Antelope”—an eternally pleasing song—included a scorching solo from Big Red, which hit every single note. “Antelope” returns with teases of “Stash” and “Stealing Time.”

After set break, the boys returned to the stage and captivated the audience with the unmistakable, ominous intro and bass line of “Down with Disease.” The jam provided opportunities for each member to put their best foot forward. It was a perfect second-set opener that seamlessly blended into “Dirt” and then to “Halfway to the Moon,” where McConnell stole the show with a thunderous storm of keys and vocals. “Theme From the Bottom” was passionate and heartfelt, characteristically starting out slow and chill, as it built into an incredible jam (my personal favorite of the evening). This was followed by a 17-minute “Light” that delivered a round-the-world deconstructed jam with ups, downs, space and intensity that was largely led by Anastasio with a “Manteca” tease.

The evening, already speckled with Fuego, led to a strong performance of the album’s title track. Although relatively new, fans sang along enthusiastically—a sure sign of both acceptance and enjoyment. The band then segued into “Slave to the Traffic Light,” a senior song for the quartet, that provided a passionate and emotional close to the second set. After a brief intermission, Phish returned to the stage for “Farmhouse,” the solo encore track that ended the evening.

Night three of Phish’s New Year’s run was filled with some amazing and thoughtfully layered jams, but there was an uncharacteristic lack of band-to-crowd dialogue; they even seemed to leave the stage more abruptly than usual. Perhaps we weren’t the only ones feeling the fatiguing effects of the prior evening that left a blank space where our minds should be.

Setlist via Phish.net

Set 1: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Heavy Things, How Many People Are YouStash, Undermind > Rift, Wingsuit, Ocelot, Lawn Boy, Run Like an Antelope

Set 2: Down with Disease[1] > Dirt, Halfway to the Moon > Theme From the Bottom> Light > Fuego > Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Farmhouse

[1] Unfinished
· Stash, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, and How Many People Are You teases in Undermind
· Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Stash, and How Many People Are You teases in Run Like an Antelope · Manteca and Linus and Lucy teases in Light