Phish New Year’s Eve 2018 – 2019: Setlist & Recap

By Andy Kahn Jan 1, 2019 7:57 am PST

Phish rang in 2019 with a New Year’s Eve concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Following an exciting run of shows leading up to Monday’s finale, the band delivered three sets over nearly five hours as they once again celebrated with an elaborate gag that came before the countdown to midnight.

The quartet took the stage at The Garden for the 60th time at 8:10 p.m. and opened with “The Moma Dance” setting the early pace of what would be a 12-song first set. “Stray Dog” made its first appearance since debuting as part of the recent Halloween Kasvot Växt set. Bassist Mike Gordon then fronted the group on his grinder “555.” A fiery first set “Sand” featured blistering guitar work from Trey Anastasio within the tightly delivered jam. Keyboardist Page McConnell wished the audience Happy New Year and in reference to their 2017 Baker’s Dozen performance exclaimed “It’s still ‘Lawn Boy!’” before leading a take on the classic. Hinting at the theatrics that would come later in the evening, “Steam” presented lighting director Chris Kuroda a chance to test the hazers that blanketed the stage in white.

A straightforward and rocking “Chalkdust Torture” snapped the arena full of energy ahead of the instrumental captivator “What’s The Use?” Page’s funky Clavinet propelled the hypnotic “Play By Play,” which was also making its first appearance since the Kasvot Växt set. Trey switched to a different Languedoc guitar (“Mar Mar”) for the tender ballad “Waste.” Drummer Jon Fishman was then tasked by Trey, who said it was his favorite Phish/Fish song, with leading the instructional rocker “Ass Handed.” The opening set drew to a lively close with the classic “Run Like An Antelope” leading the charge into the first setbreak.

Set two started with “Down With Disease,” which produced a steady and lengthy improvisation, exemplary of the collectively cohesive style of jamming that was prevalent over the past year. They followed the expansive “DWD” jam with a mellow take on “Farmhouse.” Though it didn’t start snowing like in 2002, “Seven Below” did precipitate the second extended jam sequence of the set. Once again riding that egalitarian approach, the ethereal improvisation maneuvered with intensity and focus, without relying on heavy soloing from any one member of the band. Trey eventually picked up the tempo and initiated a bluesy charge that they stayed on for a few minutes before shifting to a funky segment with stop-start breaks and reactive “woos” from the audience.

It was a natural transition into “Twist,” which spun out a bit more deep-pocket groove. “Harry Hood” looked like it would fill its common role of set closer, which it did, but not before the second pass through the Kasvot Växt tune “Passing Through.” The new song ended with the audience echoing the band prior to the foursome launching into the conclusion of “Hood.”

After a setbreak that featured space-themed music on the PA, Phish returned to the stage at 11:43 p.m. for the third and final set of the night. Trey and Mike were wearing metallic space suits and had wireless microphones. Like the Kasvot Växt set, Trey was playing a wireless white Fender Stratocaster and Mike was playing a wireless white bass (which appeared to have a GoPro camera attached). “Mercury” was selected to usher in the new year, as the band incorporated acrobatic dancers who emerged during the “The tomb of the red queen is painted in Vermilion” lyric section. Confetti fell from the ceiling as the 10 dancers were raised on harnesses above the stage. Soon it was revealed they were partly supported by nets, coinciding with the lyrics “but the net’s unbreakable, don’t worry about falling.” The dancers continued to hover above the band, eventually, some of the hanging lights joined in and began to move up and down while emitting bursts of haze.

A computerized voice announced 30 seconds until midnight and then led a countdown to the traditional playing of “Auld Lang Syne” as the calendar turned to 2019 and metallic balloons and streamers blanketed The Garden. Trey and Mike were then attached to harnesses before the band launched into the Kasvot Växt anthem “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” When they hit the “This is what space smells like (dangling in thin air)” chorus the pair was lifted into the air, appearing to float over the stage. They landed back on stage for the conclusion of the song, taking advantage of being wireless by roaming around and playing to the crowd positioned behind them.

Trey went back to his standard Languedoc for the rest of the night, which progressed with “Simple.” The backend of the set came together with a sequence featuring “Saw It Again” and “Limb By Limb” and the pairing of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” with the old standby “Suzy Greenberg.” Mike and Trey returned for the encore dressed in their civilian attire. The two-song finale featured the Gamehendge saga “The Lizards” and the consistent hard rocking closer “Character Zero.” The celebratory evening ended one minute before 1:00 a.m. as Trey told the crowd they hoped to see them again later this year.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Madison Square Garden [See upcoming shows]

20789

59 shows — 12/30/1994, 12/30/1995, 12/31/1995, 10/21/1996, 10/22/1996, 12/29/1997, 12/30/1997, 12/31/1997, 12/28/1998, 12/29/1998, 12/30/1998, 12/31/1998, 12/31/2002, 12/02/2009, 12/03/2009, 12/04/2009, 12/30/2010, 12/31/2010, 01/01/2011, 12/28/2011, 12/29/2011, 12/30/2011, 12/31/2011, 12/28/2012, 12/29/2012, 12/30/2012, 12/31/2012, 12/28/2013, 12/29/2013, 12/30/2013, 12/31/2013, 12/30/2015, 12/31/2015, 01/01/2016, 01/02/2016, 12/28/2016, 12/29/2016, 12/30/2016, 12/31/2016, 07/21/2017, 07/22/2017, 07/23/2017, 07/25/2017, 07/26/2017, 07/28/2017, 07/29/2017, 07/30/2017, 08/01/2017, 08/02/2017, 08/04/2017, 08/05/2017, 08/06/2017, 12/28/2017, 12/29/2017, 12/30/2017, 12/31/2017, 12/28/2018, 12/29/2018, 12/30/2018

The Music

12 songs / 8:10 pm to 9:30 pm (80 minutes)

6 songs / 9:58 pm to 11:09 pm (71 minutes)

10 songs / 11:43 pm to 12:59 am (76 minutes)

28 songs / 26 originals / 2 covers

2000

10.14 [Gap chart]

N/A

All

Auld Lang Syne - LTP 12/31/2017 (39 Show Gap)

Down With Disease - 18:29

Auld Lang Syne - 2:24

Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Hoist - 1, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 3, Round Room - 1, Fuego - 1, Misc. - 13, Covers - 2

The Rest

45° F with Rain at Showtime

Koa 1 / Fender Stratocaster

Capacity: 20,000

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