Phish closed 2010 by reviving one of its most famous stunts, the “flying hotdog.” The New Year’s Eve gag was an appropriate way for the band to close a year marked numerous song bust outs and a return to a more concise, boogie-oriented form of jamming.
The group opened its third set with an extended version of “Meatstick.” As the song progressed, numerous dancers representing different ethnic backgrounds emerged to do the “Meatstick” dance from Phish’s 1999 tour. The members Phish quietly put down their instruments and started to dance as the song seamlessly moved into a pre-recorded version of “Meatstick.” With the audience distracted, The Vermont Quartet slipped behind the dancers and off of the stage as the clock ticked towards midnight. Phish then emerged on the other side of Madison Square Garden in a giant hotdog that was suspended from the arena’s ceiling. The hotdog moved across the arena and toward the stage where Phish rejoined the “Meatstick” dance. As the clock struck midnight, the members of Phish picked up their instruments and jumped into the traditional New Year’s Eve song, “Auld Lang Syne.” Appropriately enough, the next song the band played was JJ Cale’s “After Midnight,” a cover the group revived at its famed New Year’s festival Big Cypress in 1999.
Phish first used the hotdog to fly across the Boston Garden on December 31, 1994. The band revived the stunt at Big Cypress in 1999 and later donated the prop to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. The Vermont Quartet borrowed the hotdog from the Rock Hall for last night’s show. The members of Phish also teased “Auld Lang Syne” during “Ocelot,” “NICU” and “First Tube.”
Last night’s show also featured the debut of “Burn that Bridge,” a Trey Anastasio/Amanda Green original the guitarist first played with Trey Anastasio Band & Classic TAB in early 2010. Phish also played the number at a few soundchecks, including Austin City Limits. In addition, Phish offered the bluegrass number “Beauty of My Dreams” for the first time since July 22, 2003, the rare Party Time track “Gone” for the first time since December 30, 2009 and the classic cover of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” for the first time since October 30, 1998. The inclusion of these songs helped make 2010 the year played the most unique songs in a single year.
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via Phish.Net
12/31/2010 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye, AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance > Scent of a Mule, Burn that Bridge$this->footnoteID(‘1’,’‘), Weigh, Ocelot$this->footnoteID(‘2’,’‘), Beauty of My Dreams, Gone, Rock and Roll
Set 2: Wilson > 46 Days, Sand, NICU$this->footnoteID(‘2’,’‘) > Down with Disease > Ghost, You Enjoy Myself -> Manteca -> You Enjoy Myself$this->footnoteID(‘3’,’‘)
Set 3: Meatstick$this->footnoteID(‘4’,’‘), Auld Lang Syne$this->footnoteID(‘5’,’‘), After Midnight, Backwards Down the Number Line, Piper > Free, Waste, Slave to the Traffic Light, Grind
Encore: First Tube$this->footnoteID(‘2’,’‘)
 Phish debut.
 Auld Lang Syne tease.
 Manteca quotes in vocal jam.
 Portions pre-recorded; Lyrics sung in multiple languages.
 a cappella with Meatstick singers.