As with the previous nine nights of their Baker’s Dozen run, Phish got the speculation mill grinding away when they announced yesterday’s “Holes” donut flavor and theme, causing fans to predict the return of “In a Hole” and covers like “Fixin’ a Hole” and many more, but the band proved once again they still have plenty of surprises on the precursor night to this weekend’s Madison Square Garden finale.
Phish came out of the gates with a wholly unexpected debut of Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole,” an ’80s tune that was more recently popularized as the gritty theme song for HBO’s The Wire. Page McConnell took the spotlight with a standout organ solo in the tune beofre Jon Fishman quickly led the way into the shuffle-beat of “Buried Alive,” with McConnell pounding away at the keys, to get the crowd moving. “Kill Devil Falls” kept the energy up before an extended “Guyute” and an “I Didn’t Know” that saw Fishman bring out his vacuum for the first time in the run.
“NICU” kept the first set moving before Mike Gordon stepped up for a jammy “Meat,” then the band dove into one of the set highlights, a powerful “Maze” that had Trey Anastasio’s guitar sounding like an airplane taking off from The Garden stage. A cover of Norman Blake’s “Ginseng Sullivan” followed, and the first set closed out with a run of “Waiting All Night,” “Heavy Things” and a barn-burning “Run Like an Antelope.”
2017 has been a banner year for 20-minute jams from Phish, as the band has played more of them this year than any other in the 3.0 era, and that trend continued with the second-set opener last night, an extended “Mike’s Song” which took the band to great peaks and some ethereal valleys and saw the return of the elusive “second jam” (read the story behind the section’s 2015 resurrection here). A dissonant outro gave way to the band’s a cappella debut of “O Holy Night,” with the quartet obscured in heavenly onstage smoke. That, in turn, segued into a “Taste” that the band fully opened up, nearly bringing a second 20-minute jam.
The seamless second frame rolled on with “Wingsuit” which gave way to a cover of “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” that featured a funky breakdown. The set then rounded out with a crowd-pleaser in the patient, ten-minute “Weekapaug Groove.” Returning to the stage for the encore, a slot that has brought both surprises and staples during the Baker’s Dozen, Phish launched into The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” a faithful version of the classic tune that featured Anastasio stressing the lyrics “4,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire” to close out the night’s theme.
See the setlist below as it appears in our Box Scores section, along with video highlights of the evening including pro-shot footage of the extended “Mike’s Song” second-set opener. Phish return to the MSG stage tomorrow night to open the final three-night run of Baker’s Dozen.
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Set I: Way Down in the Hole*, Buried Alive, Kill Devil Falls, Guyute, I Didn’t Know, NICU, Meat, Maze, Ginseng Sullivan, Waiting All Night, Heavy Things, Run Like an Antelope
Set II: Mike’s Song > O Holy Night* > Taste > Wingsuit > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Weekapaug Groove
Enc: A Day in the Life
Notes: *Phish debut