Phish Shares Bust Outs On Night 3 of Their 2018 NYE Run
(Writer: Cody Lantz)
After the “Tweezer Death” that took place at Saturday’s show, many fans were left wondering how the band would top that. Phish face-planted us into rock with another stellar performance Sunday night at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. The “Never miss a Sunday show” saying rang true tonight with big first set bust-outs and multiple jam vehicles throughout the sold-out show.
The Vermonters came out of the gate opening with “Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues” which was last played 7/29/17 at the “Baker’s Dozen.” This rarity, played at what seemed to be a slightly slower yet funkier pace than usual, was a fun rocking way to start off the evening and ensured that Sunday night would be something special. Next, guitarist Trey Anastasio fired up the opening notes to “Mike’s Song” featuring some great funky clav playing by keyboardist Page McConnell. The “Mike’s Groove” that followed took everyone in the audience by surprise as the band segued into the biggest bust-out of the night with “Glide II”, which Trey Anastasio recently dusted off during his solo acoustic tour in Boulder Colorado on December 14th. The quartet nailed the second ever Phish performance of this tune, last played on 5/16/95 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Next, drummer John Fishman started up “Weekapaug Groove” to complete the first set “Mike’s Groove”. “Weekapaug” featured strong interplay between all four members, but was left unfinished as the band transitioned into the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless.” This first set placement had the audience in a frenzy. After another highly energetic start to a show, it was finally time for a “cool down” moment, and with that Trey reached for an acoustic guitar. What came next was the second biggest bust-out of the night and the Phish debut of the delicate instrumental piece “Bliss”, from their Billy Breathes album. Coincidentally, Trey had recently played this on his solo acoustic tour.
The band then paired “Bliss” with “Billy Breathes”, played for the first time since 7/21/17 at the “Baker’s dozen.” After a brief pause, Phish picked the tempo back up with the Big Boat tune, “No Men In No Man’s Land.” A loud cheer erupted from the audience with the lyric, “You’re happy that we’re here”, and the song featured some nice guitar peaks from Trey. The last surprise of the set came as the quartet started up “Tube.” This “Tube” went into a deep jam that became nearly unrecognizable but then soon found itself transitioning back into the unfinished “Weekapaug Groove.” As the band finished “Weekapaug”, they segued back into “Tube” at the bluesy breakdown segment of the song, and was met with huge cheers from the audience. This “Tube > Weekapaug Groove > Tube” sandwich was the third jam sequence of the Sunday night first set. Phish had one more song in them as “More” took its usual position as first set closer.
The band opened the second set with the lone Kasvot Växt song of the night with “Cool Amber And Mercury.” However, things really took off with the “Everything’s Right” that followed. Phish fell into some nice “type II” improvisational playing as the newer song continues to show its strength and reliability as a jam vehicle. Out of the “Everything’s Right” jam, the quartet transitioned into the Trey Anastasio staple, “Plasma”, which got funky and deep rather quickly and was the seventh only performance of the song by Phish. Next came the highlight of the second set with “Light.” You can always expect a great jam to come from this tune, and the Vermonters certainly delivered on that tonight. This 20 minute “Light” is a must re-listen with outstanding interplay and improv by all four members, featuring multiple rhythmic shifts. Phish then slowed things down in the ballad slot with “Wading in the Velvet Sea”, before firing up “Split Open And Melt”. This eighteen-plus minute “SOAM” melted everyone in attendance as the murky and evil jam churned and churned before it’s climatic end to the set.
How does Phish end a Sunday show like this? Well, with a quadruple encore of course! The Vermonters played quick romps through, “Funky Bitch”, “Wilson”, “Rocky Top”, and “Cavern” to close out another high-energy show at Madison Square Garden.
With first set bust outs, segue sandwiches, deep jams, and a quadruple encore, this show had it all. We’ll see what tricks Phish has left up their sleeve with one more show to go for their New Year’s Eve Run. Phish returns to the stages Monday night for their last show of 2018.
Set 1: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Mike’s Song > Glide II > Weekapaug Groove > Crosseyed and Painless, Bliss > Billy Breathes, No Men In No Man’s Land > Tube > Weekapaug Groove > Tube, More
Set 2: Cool Amber and Mercury, Everything’s Right > Plasma > Light > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Split Open and Melt
Encore: Funky Bitch, Wilson > Rocky Top > Cavern