12.28.98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NYNine years ago, I was one of the many freaks in attendance for the first night in Phish's epic four show holiday run at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Set I: Axilla, Stash, Farmhouse, Taste, Sleep, Albuquerque, Driver, Tube, Golgi Apparatus, Good Times Bad Times
Set II: Carini > Wolfman's Brother, Birds of a Feather, When the Circus Comes to Town, Quinn the Eskimo > David Bowie
Encore: Been Caught Stealing
Click here to listen/download 12.28.98 via phiSHows.com.
Set I opened up with Axilla, which was great because my buddy Modeski loved that song. We were pre-partying at Senor's apartment (he lived five bocks from MSG) and he mentioned that he wanted to hear Bowie and Axilla. I knew it was going to be a special night as soon as the show opened.
It was that version of Farmhouse that got me hooked forever. I remember Senor asking me at setbreak, "What was the name of that Marley song Phish covered after Stash?"
He was convinced it was a Marley song and not a Phish original. They played a few more mellow tunes like Sleep, Albuquerque, and Driver. I think Trey might have been on acoustic on some of those songs. I can't recall. I was rolling pretty hard that night and my memory is fuzzy.
I do remember that fatty Tube. Blew me away. Some nights, Page steps it up and that was one tune where he was truly the Chairman of the Boards. Tube was the highlight of the first set for sure. I was pretty excited to hear Good Times Bad Times. I remember thinking about halfway through Golgi how that would be the end of the show and then setbreak would begin. But they busted out GTBT and the crowd went apeshit.
Carini > Wolfman's is the perfect example of a phenomenal one-two punch to start off a second set. Supposedly there was a girl in the audience who held a sign that said "The Mighty Quinn" and that's why the boys played Quinn the Eskimo. They segued into David Bowie which was what my buddy Modeski wanted to hear.
The encore was a sizzling cover of Jane's Addiction's Been Caught Stealin'. 1998 was the Year of Cover Phish and they didn't disappoint during the MSG run with several random covers on the first night; Albuquerque, Good Times Bad Times, Circus Comes to Town, Quinn the Eskimo, and Been Caught Stealin'. And that was just the first night.
Looking back, that 1998 run was one of the best times I had following Phish. I had just moved back to NYC after living on the West Coast for almost two years. Phish was practically playing in my backyard and we did some serious partying at Senor's apartment. I was also totally spun out at that point. I was abusing a lot of pain killers and was rolling for four straight days. I don't think I slept during those shows and I'm lucky that I barely made it out alive.
MSG 1998 was the last great holiday run for the boys before they went on hiatus. Miami in 2003 was a kick ass party but it didn't come close to the late night mayhem. Plus, Phish was on the top of their game in 1998. If you saw a Phish show circa 97-98, you know what I'm talking about. Phish shows were magical and they were some of the best parties I have ever been too.