After weeks of anticipation, Phish has announced plans for the NYE edition of their ‘Dinner and a Movie’ stream series. They’ll revisit their famed 12/31/95 performance at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve starting at 8:30pm, with a twist – they’ll be bringing back the Band v Audience chess match for the stream.
Taking place over two tours in the mid-90s, Band v Audience chess matches are a testament to the high level of nerdiness both shared. The band would start the show with a chess move, and fans would then have the duration of the first set to contemplate their move, meeting at the Greenpeace table (prior to The Waterwheel Foundation‘s founding), debate the move at setbreak and make their move collectively. A fan (usually a local) would be invited to go on stage before Set 2 began to make the move on the chess board.
Phish’s New Year’s Eve performances are legendary to say the least, and for the first time since 2008, the band will not perform live due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether they’ve created an aquarium on stage, flown in on a hot dog, created their own time factory, put on Broadway scale productions, turned MSG into an ocean or moved the stage to the other end of the venue, Phish’s New Year’s performances continue to raise the bar. This year, phans will be celebrating from home but still have a way to engage with their favorite band.
On 12/31/95, the audience tied the band, and fans have always speculated if the matches would return. The band has teamed up with Chess.com to host the Band vs. Audience online chess game which will start right at the top of the show and move ‘at a decent clip.’ Fans will have 5 minutes to move their piece (the band will have no more than that as well), and at the end of 5 minutes, whichever move has the most votes is the ‘audience’ move.
During set breaks, the band will join fans from their various homes, playing a few moves and providing scintillating commentary on the game. To join the audience in voting for moves against the band, register for free at Chess.com. After verifying your account, join the official club for the audience side. Phish will post and send out the actual game link on December 31.
The dinner part of Dinner and a Movie will feature two chess cheese board recipes for extended grazing. Marissa Mullen has put together two options for fans – “Olive Cheese Dreams” and “Billy Bries” – with an easy ‘cheese by numbers’ guide. And for dessert, chessboard cookies! Recipes are available here.
While the streams for Dinner and a Movie have been free all year, charities have been the focus with each edition. The beneficiary for the Phish NYE stream will the band’s charitable wing, The WaterWheel Foundation. Since 1997, the band and their fans have collaborated on a nationwide charitable endeavor by raising funds and donating the proceeds across the country. This year alone, collectively we have raised and donated nearly $750,000 to 27 different nonprofits during the Dinner And A Movie series. Join the band in continuing to support those in need. Donate at phish.com/waterwheel.
Setlist via Phish.net
December 31, 1995, Phish at Madison Square Garden, NY, NY
Encore: Johnny B. Goode[
 No whistling.
 Narration discussed how Phish makes time in the Phish Time Factory.
 Phish debut; Tom Marshall on vocals.