The time has finally arrived, and Phish’s much-anticipated 13-night Baker’s Dozen run at New York’s Madison Square Garden is fully underway, as the band delivered a night-one performance on Friday that playfully centered around a coconut theme. Fans getting to the show on the early side were given coconut donuts from Federal Donuts as they entered (something that will continue each night), and the band returned to the theme a few times throughout the show, weaving it into two solid sets that deftly mixed covers in with carefully chosen originals, giving the first taste of what’s to come in the extended run but not providing too many hints to settle the great debate of whether or not the band will repeat any tunes during the remaining 12 outings.
Opening up with their debut of “Shake Your Coconuts” by Junior Senior, Phish may have set a template of kicking off each BD show with a song referencing that night’s donut choice, though whether or not it becomes a pattern will be settled in the next couple of shows. The rollicking opening number got the crowd going before the loudspeakers played the opening to “Martian Monster,” from the band’s Thrilling, Chilling Sounds Halloween show, with the quartet dropping into the funky tune at the oft-repeated words “Your trip is short.”
The band then sauntered through “Timber,” which led right into “555” with Mike Gordon taking lead. After the song, Trey Anastasio jokingly asked the crowd “Are you tired yet?” A quick start and re-start from Jon Fishman kicked off “Pigtail,” with Anastasio continuing to joke that the flubbed into may be the band’s “best composition yet.” “Halfway to the Moon” preceded one of the first-set jam highlights, with a playful “Reba” turning into some beautiful, languid lines from Anastasio, whose “coconuts and chloroform” lyric got a rise out of the crowd and caused him to chuckle through his singing.
The band really hit their stride, ratcheting up the energy with the first appearance of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” since their Ziggy Stardust Halloween tribute last year. The cover featured some rocking solos from Anastasio, who seemed to be channelling a young Santana for his energetic, flowing licks. The first part of “Walls of the Cave” brought things down to earth slightly, though the song revved up to close out a more-than-adequate first Baker’s Dozen set.
Phish returned to the stage for round two, with Anastasio eliciting a cheer from everyone in the stadium with the classic riff to “Tweezer.” The crowd-pleasing staple ended up being the longest jam of the night, taking the tune in multiple directions before moving into “Seven Below,” which continued the second-set jamming before a sweet “Billy Breathes” faded in, marking the song’s MSG debut. The band re-energized the room with the bouncy singalong “Sparkle,” with Anastasio trying out some banjo-like picking on his guitar and each of the four musicians seeming to have fun with the delirious vocal play that closed it out, a good sign for the marathon run that lies before them.
Anastasio’s solo band cut “Everything’s Right,” which Phish recently debuted during their tour-opening run in Chicago, followed with its positive lyrics that gave way to some swampy jamming and eventually some psychedelic interplay between the guitarist and Page McConnell. A bright “Slave to the Traffic Light” took some spacey and melodic turns before “Suzy Greenberg,” which was highlighted with some fantastic clavinet work from McConnell, seemingly closed out the set. The band then came together for a formal end, gathering around the microphone for one of their signature a cappella performances, this time debuting a cover of Harry Nilsson’s light-hearted “Coconut.” For the Dozen’s first encore, Phish came out with “The Mango Song” before one last flourish of rock-and-roll in Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.”
See the full setlist below as it appears in our Box Scores section, along with some video from the night, including the pro-shot set openers streamed for free by the band. Phish return to MSG tonight and tomorrow to continue their 13-show run.
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set I: Shake Your Coconuts*, Martian Monster, Timber Ho! > 555, Pigtail, Halfway to the Moon, Reba, Moonage Daydream, Walls of the Cave
Set II: Tweezer > Seven Below > Billy Breathes > Sparkle, Everything’s Right > Slave to the Traffic Light, Suzy Greenberg, Coconut*
Enc: The Mango Song, Good Times Bad Times
Notes: *Phish debut