A Look Back At The Phish Baker’s Dozen Residency
It’s been two years since Phish held their historic Baker’s Dozen residency at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Across 13 nights — from July 21 to August 6, 2017 — the Vermont jam band performed 237 distinct songs without repetition, with each night taking on a specific donut-flavored theme. With a run time of around 34-and-a-half hours across 26 sets, the group served up 176 originals, 61 covers, 19 debuts and 23 bust outs (with a gap of 50 shows or more). To fans, Baker’s Dozen marked one of the band’s finest runs since the late-1990s. However, the run earned recognition from the outside world as well, with the quartet earning a banner in the rafters of MSG for their record-breaking residency.
The innovative nature and format of Baker’s Dozen led to dozens of much-hyped moments. For this week’s Sunday Cinema, here’s a look back at Phish’s now-iconic residency and highlighting 10 of its best moments. As a note, the list is restricted to pro-shot videos previously released by Phish, which may explain why some notable moments did not make the cut.
It’s Ice (July 23, 2017)
One of the improvisational highlights of Baker’s Dozen’s first weekend fell on night three, more widely known as “Red Velvet” night. The band’s rendition of “It’s Ice” was jammed past the 15-minute mark, with the Rift tune used to wind down the first set ahead of the frame’s final take on “More.” While “It’s Ice” traditionally gets a brief ending jam, on Sunday, July 23, the group eschewed tradition, opting to extend the ending jam for nearly 10 minutes — making it a first of its kind.
Lawn Boy (July 25, 2017)
The “Lawn Boy” from night four has become one of the most celebrated moments of the Baker’s Dozen. With a theme of “Jam-Filled,” fans were expecting heavy improvisation across the show, though no one expected Phish to spin the 1990 title track into a monumental 30-minute rendition. The all-time “Lawn Boy” defied all expectations, though started out innocently enough, with opening the tune with his innocuous lounge singer intro. However, over the course of half-an-hour, the band continued to extend the number, taking the improvisation in adventurous directions and leading to the now-famed catchphrase, “Is this still ‘Lawn Boy?'”
Chalk Dust Torture (July 28, 2017)
On the sixth night of Baker’s Dozen, the band offered up one of their best-ever versions of “Chalk Dust Torture.” The unfinished number fell at the start of the second set, sandwiched between “Have Mercy” and the debut of Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing.” The 24-minute tune served as one of the improvisational highlights of “Chocolate” night, with the Type II jam moving through jazz, funk and quick-paced psychedelic rock ahead of its high-octane peak.
Blaze On (July 29, 2017)
Halfway through the Baker’s Dozen on night seven, Phish kicked off the second set of “Cinnamon” night with an extended take on “Blaze On.” The 23-minute rendition quickly rose in popular opinion as one of the band’s best-ever takes of the Big Boat track, highlighting the jam potential of the relatively new number. The improvisation was as patient as it was adventurous, with the group deftly navigating between groovy riffs and blistering peaks.
A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing (July 30, 2017)
On night eight, or “Jimmies” night, Phish offered up the longest-ever rendition of “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing” after the second set’s opening “Drowned.” Ringing in at 18 minutes, the Undermind tune was used as a springboard for improvisation, heralding back to the group’s expansive 2004 rendition at SPAC. The group savored the number, offering up a spacious and laidback improvisation characterized by experimental and electronic-tinged elements.
Mike’s Song (August 2, 2017)
To begin the second set of the “Holes”-themed night 10, Phish opened with a standout rendition of “Mike’s Song.” Marking the first time the fan-favorite had pushed past the 20-minute mark since ’97, the group offered up a textured improvisation that expanded into its much sought-after “second jam” for the third time in the 3.0 era. The main bulk of the jam was classified with patient and cascading improvisation ahead of a high-energy peak and spacey transition in the debut of “O Holy Night.”
Taste (August 2, 2017)
After “O Holy Night,” the band continued to push their improvisational abilities. For the third song of night 10’s second set, the group offered up an 18-minute take on “Taste,” marking one of the song’s all-time performances in its 22-year history. Ringing in six minutes longer than any rendition up until that point, the adventurous performance frequently veered from a jazz opening segment into ambient portions and a harder-edge rock transition into “Wingsuit.”
Scents & Subtle Sounds (August 4, 2017)
As Phish began the last weekend of their Baker’s Dozen residency, a main highlight of Friday’s “Lemon” night came in the form of “Scents & Subtle Sounds.” During the 11th night’s second set, the band transitioned from “What’s The Use?” into the Undermind tune. During the first portion of the song, the group recalled the set’s earlier performance of “No Men In No Man’s Land” by working its chorus into the jam. After the rock-heavy opening half, Phish shifted gears, offering up blissful improvisation to close out the unusual performance.
Most Events Aren’t Planned (August 6, 2017)
During the final night of Baker’s Dozen, Phish’s lone debut during the “Glazed” night came in the form of “Most Events Aren’t Planned.” Taking direction from one of McConnell’s most celebrated side projects, the group offered up an 11-minute take on the Vida Blue track. The first half of the song was dark and grinding, though the number accelerated throughout, ultimately building in a shred-heavy peak.
Simple (August 6, 2017)
On the final night of Baker’s Dozen, Phish also offered up one of their finest jams of the residency with the second set’s opening “Simple.” Marking the fifth time the group had used the number to open the second set and its first placement at the top of frame two since 1995, the night’s “Simple” spanned over 25 minutes. The group covered a lot of ground across the take, moving from percussive and synthy funk jams into airy guitar solos and a soaring climax.