As Phish, the quintessential Jam Band of this century, played the most famous venue in the world MSG, the Jam world took notice and many made the pilgrimage to the Big Apple for this experience. I decided to head up for Jerry Garcia's birthday in hopes that Phish would play Grateful Dead covers or classics, or anything; they did not. The doughnut flavor for the night was Maple and I got one single bite. Unlike Sam Cutler, I enjoyed the doughnut and as a grown adult I can honestly say I have had many donuts and will continue to try donuts. The theme for evening was lined up with the Maple flavoring and included “O’ Cananda” a nod to our friends up North. I cant say this was the one cover I’ve been waiting for my whole life! But meh…
This reflection is coming a bit late but I wanted to think about what this epic run has meant to me and to the Phish community, as a whole. The August 2nd show was lackluster but only in comparison with the set list of other Bakers Dozen nights. As a Phish show goes, it was par for the course but we were treated with some amazing renditions of “Daniel Saw The Stone” that had MSG bouncing like a trampoline and the “Opossum” that was by far the best I have ever heard live. The four-man drum/Marimba Lumina solo was fun and creative it shows that quirky side of Phish that we all love. Other than that, just experiencing New York City and one of the greatest bands on earth was enough for me to give this show the JBP seal of approval.
What does this run mean for me? Phish has always been a huge part of my Jam upbringing, they are a band that must be seen to believe and they always give an outstanding performance. But for me 13 nights in New York City is just not doable, not ever, never. It's very cool that the band can do stuff like this for its North Eastern fanbase and it shows how important Phish is not only to the Jam scene but to the American zeitgeist itself. Think of it, Phish holds the record for shows at Madison Square Garden, Madison Square Garden! The self dubbed “most famous venue in the world” (Eye Rolls) It's a great but come on, Red Rocks! Anyway, I would love to see the boys do a residency here in Virginia at the Mothership in Hampton Coliseum. Will residencies like this be the new standard? Doubtful, but as the boys get older they will have to change business models and this is one hell of a way to change.
I only made one night but by god, I made it. After the show I ran into Marc Brownstein from the Disco Biscuits and I told him that we needed more Zappa, especially at Lockn’ Music Festival this year. There were many celebrities and musicians that came to these shows and gave their respects to Phish and the after show scene in the city was crazy! NYC is Music City.
What does this run mean for the Phish community? This is one of the most historic occasions for this community as a whole, not just for Phish but for all of us. It proves the validity and importance of improvisational music in today's society. Phish’s ravenous fans create this mythos and legend around the band and the material. This mythology continues to seep into every day culture. Think of all the ESPN references and newscasters and famous people who enjoy this band. Things are growing and people are seeing the importance of what Phish can do. Metallica was just talking about Phish and the residency at MSG today, Metallica! Phish is one of the most important bands in America today, Period.
While, I only made it to one night of Madison Square Garden's for the Baker's Dozen, I had an amazing time meeting up with my friends and enjoying my 27th show in New York City, the Big Apple. Perhaps if they decide to do another residency of this magnitude, I will try to hit more shows. We shall see what the future holds but as they sang on the last night “On The Road Again.”
May The Jam Gods Be with You,
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.