December 30th remains the most storied date in Phish history. The trend continued in a big way in 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the band delivers a set worthy of hyperbolic praise. The epic show has a special feeling right from the start, as Phish opens with “Wilson,” just as it did 25 years prior at its Madison Square Garden debut.
“I feel like I’ve walked out onto a cliff that I can’t get off,” Trey Anastasio says in the midst of Phish’s 2019-closing residency at Madison Square Garden in New York. “I’m just going to walk backwards and fall off the cliff.”
On November 6, 2020, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio’s Ghosts of the Forest touring project reunited for a one-off performance at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Originally streamed as part of an eight-week interactive virtual residency that raised over one million dollars for those affected by alcoholism and addiction, the transcendent concert features a string section and backup vocalists.
The term “jamming” had been applied for decades to loose, largely improvised interactions among musicians, usually in an informal setting. In the 1920s, jazz musicians would interact after their regular gigs to drink, laugh and play. This aesthetic also became integral to the development of bluegrass in America and Cuban music in Havana, and has since informed rock, soul and hip-hop.
For Phish fans, the musical gold shines brightest during the band’s serpentine, long-form arrangements on the concert stage. But the bridge for newcomers to appreciating Phish lies across the quartet’s more melodic, straightforward songs, which are best accessed on its studio albums. Here’s a playlist for new arrivals to Phish world