August 6th, 2017 was the culmination of Phish’s sure-to-become-legendary run of concerts at Madison Square Garden which they had dubbed The Baker’s Dozen. What had started as a joke twenty years before (“Wouldn’t it be funny if we did a medley of songs by Boston and Cream…it would be like the doughnut…”) became thirteen consecutive concerts at the world’s most famous arena – okay, they took Mondays and Thursdays off but the room stayed dark on those nights so it totally counts – with each night following a doughnut theme. Heck, the band even handed out real doughnuts to the crowd every night.
And get this, they didn’t repeat a single song during the entire run.
176 original songs
61 cover songs
19 debut songs
Now I ask you: what other major act could pull off such a feat? And do it so well that die-hard fans would suggest that these might stand as some of the best shows of the band’s career? The answer is: none.
None other bands could even come close to doing anything like this.
It was a great room to be in on that final night. As great as the show was, as excited and appreciative of the whole experience as everyone was on that night (band included), as amazing as the encore was, replete with the hilariously perfect Lawnboy Reprise and the bone-chillingly magnificent Tweezer Reprise, how can anyone that was there not instantly think first of The Banner rising to the roof when we remember that night.
It was to absolutely thunderous applause that a banner commemorating Phish’s unprecedented thirteen-night run rose to the rafters of Madison Square Garden before the encore, where it will remain until someone (undoubtedly Phish) bests the record.
To be fair, Billy Joel holds the record for performing the most-ever shows at MSG; as of this writing he’s up to eighty-eight concerts in the classic room versus Phish’s fifty-two. But really, has Billy Joel even played forty different songs in all those concerts? Fan as I am, the dude has been on his Resting On My Laurels tour since the mid-’80’s.
And yeah, then there was that mind-numbingly great encore. Part comic (Lawnboy Reprise), part sentimental (On The Road Again), and part over-the-top cathartic, celebratory raging rock and roll (Tweeprise), when taken together it was the perfect coda to an utterly epic run.
I feel very blessed to have attended the final five nights of this historic string of concerts and I promise you: crazy as it sounds and pricey as it will undoubtedly be, if they ever do it again I’ll be going to every single show.
I’d be crazy not to, really.