Happy Anniversary Phish: Both Anniversary Video Montages

By Scott Bernstein Dec 2, 2016 11:45 am PST

Each year on this date we share a look back at the history of Phish through a pair of video montages the band has presented at concerts celebrating their anniversary.

Thirty-six years ago tonight, Phish took the stage for the first time ever at the University of Vermont’s Harris/Millis Cafeteria in Burlington. At the time, the group, which consisted of guitarists Trey Anastasio and Jeff Holdsworth, drummer Jon Fishman and bassist Mike Gordon, performed under the name “Blackwood Convention.” Little did the handful of attendees know that more than three decades later the band would still be going strong.

2016 started in an unusual way for Phish as they played five shows in the month of January for the first time since 1990. A New Year’s Run that ended on January 2nd was followed a few weeks later by the band’s Mexican debut as they hosted Phish Riviera Maya, their inaugural destination event. Summer Tour got off to a memorable start with a show in St. Paul filled with bust outs, but while the run certainly had its moments the tour didn’t match the heights of the previous two summer jaunts. The foursome picked up steam as the summer progressed and ended with one of the best runs at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado over Labor Day Weekend since the tradition began in 2011. Fall Tour 2016 was a winner filled with incredible jams, inventive setlists and a spot-on musical costume of David Bowie’s The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars on Halloween in Las Vegas. The band will end the year with another New Year’s Run at Madison Square Garden in New York City December 28 – 31.

Phish hasn’t been big on looking back as they focused on moving forward, but they did make an exception on New Year’s Eve ’13/’14 when they simulated that Blackwood Convention gig by performing “in-the-round” atop a truck at Madison Square Garden. The band even tipped their proverbial hats towards 12/2/83 by using hockey sticks as microphone stands as they did that night. Late in the evening, a wonderful video montage containing highlights from the first 30 years of Phish was aired on the venue’s scoreboard. Take a look:

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On December 2, 2003 Phish displayed a 20-year video montage on the screens at The Fleet Center in Boston during setbreak of their 20th Anniversary Concert. Check that one out:

Now, getting back to that first Phish gig from 33 years ago, about 17 minutes worth of audio from that performance circulates. Listen:

Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro shares his notes on “Show #1” via Phish.com:
Phish (Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and Jeff Holdsworth) was called “Blackwood Convention”. This was their 1st show – a semi formal Christmas dance in Mike’s dorm commonly mistaken by the band to be 10/30/83 (including in the Phish book, Bittersweet Motel and onstage 10/30/98). A hockey stick was used as a microphone stand. This show included the 1st performances of: Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress (The Hollies cover sung by Jeff), Proud Mary (John Fogerty cover sung by Trey), In The Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett cover sung by Jeff), Squeeze Box (The Who cover sung by Trey), Roadhouse Blues (The Doors cover sung by Jeff), Scarlet Begonias (Grateful Dead cover sung by Trey), and Fire On The Mountain (Grateful Dead cover sung by Trey). The “soundcheck” jam was performed in front of the audience. Happy Birthday was sung by Trey to Sue three times before the band took a long break. After the break, Trey said something like “you guys are so excited about our music” and bantered with Sue in a friendly confrontation. Someone put a Michael Jackson “Thriller” tape on the stereo and Trey played drums along to Billy Jean and Human Nature. After teasing Good Lovin’ and Beat It, Trey said “Big surprise now, more Michael Jackson” and noodled around a bit more before the show and recording ended. It’s worth noting that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video was released on this day. This was, of course, the band’s 1st performance at UVM.
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