While the rumors of teen pop sensation Justin Bieber crashing the party never came true, Phish more than made up for it by hitting a hole in one with their annual New Year’s Eve gag.
Shortly before midnight, the band took the stage for the final set of a sold out four night run at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. With drummer Jon Fishman ditching his trademark Mumu for a plaid golf outfit, the band hit golf balls into the audience before kicking off the third set with the crowd pleasing Party Time. From there numerous golf carts began racing around the stage as the band went into the obscure song Kung for only the 34th time since its late 80’s debut. As the band sang the lyric We Can Stage A Marathon Golf Cart Marathon it became painfully obvious where Phish was going with this year’s gag.
As midnight approached the marathon became more chaotic as golf carts filled with everything from strippers to midgets raced past the band. You can check out a 15 minute chunk of the action including the midget countdown and arguably the greatest version of Tweezer Reprise in the history of Phish down below.
Once midnight had come and gone it was clear Phish had no desire to give up the golf gag. The band performed a set with songs filled with golf references. Both Sand and The Wedge featured some of band’s best jamming of the run, while Wilson featured an image of the popular golf ball brand of the same name on the arenas mid-court jumbotron.
After closing out the set with a first time cover of Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like An Eagle and a reworked A Capella version of the Phish original Lawn Boy the band returned for a two song encore. Up first front man Trey Anastasio struggled to perform the late 90’s ballad Driver. That was followed by keyboardist Page McConnell leaving his post to come to the front of the stage. After chatting with the audience and reminding them that 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Phish, the foursome from Vermont closed out the night with a first time cover of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man.
Big thanks to MK Devo for the killer videos from all four nights of Phish at MSG.