(Writer: Cody Lantz)

Phish hit the stage Saturday night for the second show of their 2018 New Year’s Run at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Vermonters laid all of their cards on the table during this scorcher of a show, mixing Kasvot Växt tracks, covers, soaring guitar peaks, and outstanding improvisation throughout two sets of music.

The band got off to a roaring start kicking things off with the highly energetic instrumental, “Buried Alive”, which last found itself in the opening slot this past Halloween. From there, guitarist Trey Anastasio started up the opening notes to “Blaze On.” The early set rocker kept the energy moving along. Signaling keyboardist Page McConnell to take a solo, Trey shouted, “Play it Leo!”, to the crowd’s delight. After a brief pause, the quartet went into their third Kasvot Växt song of the run with, “Turtle in the Clouds.” This was met with excitement and cheers from the crowd and featured nice synth textures from Page as well as dance moves from Trey and bassist Mike Gordon. Up next the band took us to Gamehendge with the first performance of “The Sloth” since the “Baker’s Dozen” residency. Phish then fired up “46 Days” to keep the high-energy first set going. This featured nice shredding from Trey which eventually gave way to a spacey jam, and transitioned into the first cover of the evening with the Talking Head’s song, “Cities.” Always a crowd pleaser, the audience was surely happy to “find themselves” in this city on such a night. Next, the band kept the covers coming by busting out Taj Mahal’s “Corinna” for the first time since 12/28/16. Phish then looked to Cyril Ferguson’s “Ya Mar” for the third straight cover of the night. With another “Play it Leo!”, command from Trey, the calypso themed tune had everyone dancing to the island grooves, forgetting that they were in wintery New York, if only for a few minutes. A funky “Wolfman’s Brother” came in the closing slot of the first set, but soon found itself segueing into “Party Time.” The quartet sang the “Party Time” lyrics over the “Wolfman’s” groove, closing the high- energy set in fine fashion. This “Party Wolf” was a highlight of the night and is definitely worth a re-listen.

Phish at Madison Square Garden 12-28-2018 (21 of 35)

Phish returned to open the second set with the dark rocker, “Carini”. Just as the band was starting to find their footing with the song, Trey pulled the rip chord and started up the beginning notes to “Tweezer.” Disappointing no one as this nearly 20 minute “Tweezer” had it all with funky strong interplay between all four members, start-and-stop breakdowns with “woos” from the audience, a huge bass bomb dropped from Mike Gordon, and a groove reminiscent of a “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider” sequence. Guitarist Trey Anastasio brought this groove to a powerful peak before the band eventually segued into the second Kasvot Växt track of the night with “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long.” This new song took a murky turn and featured “Funk for the people, Bob Weaver!” chants from Trey. The band then segued back into “Tweezer”, playing around the main riff of the song for a few more minutes. This “Tweezer > Death Don’t Hurt Very Long > Tweezer” sequence is hands-down the highlight of the show, and a must re- listen. From there, the Vermonters reached for another classic cover in the form of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” as Page McConnell took lead vocals. Up next, drummer John Fishman signaled the start to “2001” and the Space Odyssey cover kept the set grooving along while a fierce “First Tube” brought the standout second set to a climatic close.

In the encore slot came the night’s sixth and final cover with The Rolling Stones’ “Shine A Light”, and “Tweezer Reprise” sent everyone home complete with “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” quotes. Phish returns to the Garden Sunday night.

Set 1: Buried Alive, Blaze On, Turtle in the Clouds, The Sloth, 46 Days > Cities, Corinna, Ya Mar, Wolfman’s Brother

Set 2: Carini > Tweezer > Death Don’t Hurt Very Long > Tweezer > No Quarter > 2001 > First Tube

Encore: Shine A Light, Tweezer Reprise

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