13 Standout Moments From Phish's Baker's Dozen Run at Madison Square Garden
Sunday night (Aug 6), Phish concluded their historic “Baker’s Dozen” run at Madison Square Garden. Over the course of two and a half weeks, the jam titans played 13 shows and close to 250 different songs, with numerous debuts and not one repeat. And they made it special for fans: Donut-shaped tickets were supplied through Phish’s own online ticketing system, they handed out a different flavored donut each night and came up with a corresponding song or two to match the day’s special pastry. Ben & Jerry’s made a limited edition donut-spiked ice cream “Freezer Reprise” and New York City even got in on the action, declaring Aug. 6 “Phish Day.”
Below, sample our own baker’s dozen picks for the best moments of Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run.
1. The 30-Minute Lawn Boy
Throughout its history, “Lawn Boy” has always been a jokey lounge number sung by pianist Page McConnell. It taps out after three to four minutes typically. But not this time. Performed as the second song on the “jam filled” donut night, a 30-minute “Lawn Boy” stretched into new places, with peaks and valleys that eventually inspired its own fan-made t-shirt days later: “Is this still Lawn Boy?” it simply asked. Guitarist Trey Anastasio wore it on stage days later, perhaps wondering the same thing. The band would reprise it once more on the final night, during the encore.
2. Sunday Morning for Sunday
The Velvet Underground are no strangers to Phish, who covered Reed and Co.’s entire album Loaded at their 1998 Halloween show. But for the “red-velvet” donut night, they opened with the band’s classic “Sunday Morning” in unusual fashion. Anastasio came out on drums and drummer Jon Fishman walked out moments later in his Sunday’s best and taking lead vocal duties. Afterwards, he flicked holy water on his bandmates. Blessed.
3. Forecast: Chocolate Rain
For decades, Phish has taken time out to sing a cappella numbers. Sometimes it’s goofy, in the case of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” or more poignant, as with the case of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” last summer. On the band’s chocolate donut night, they got goofy once more and opened with a version of Tay Zonday’s 2007 viral smash -- complete with the iconic head bobs. Zonday immediately approved.
5. A Cosmic Harpua
The second Sunday featured donuts covered in “Jimmies” i.e. colored sprinkles. So it made perfect sense to whip out “Harpua,” a fan favorite and rarity that features a new narration each time about a young boy named Jimmy whose cat is murdered by the titular dog Harpua. This story went more abstract than usual and featured Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon reading a donut-based theory about how the universe works.
6. Split Open’s Disease
The second night out of the gate provided one of the run’s most spontaneous moments.
After a powerful 11-minute “Split Open and Melt,” Anastasio steered it back into “Down with Disease” -- the second set’s opener. And it wasn't just a quick tease. The rest of the band quickly got behind him and returned to the song for just over seven minutes, including the song’s chorus.
7. A Holy Night
Though outsiders would likely label Phish and their fans a cult, the band itself doesn’t really delve into overt religious themes -- much less Christmas hymns during the summer. But that’s exactly what they pulled out with “O Holy Night” on the 10th night -- the night of donut holes -- putting their own spooky spin on it.
8. Crosseyed Jam
Phish has been covering “Crosseyed and Painless” from the Talking Heads’ album Remain in Light since Halloween 1996 -- and this might be the mother of all versions. Another highlight to come out of the “jam-filled” donut night, this “Crosseyed” goes on for more than 30 minutes.
9. Strawberry Shuggy
Along with “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the strawberry donut night featured the first-ever version of Shuggie Otis’s soul classic “Strawberry Letter 23,” a faithful recreation that featured Anastasio on lead vocals. If there’s one new Baker’s Dozen cover that needs to make it into the band’s regular rotation, this might just be it.
10. A Boston Cream Mashup
On the night of the Boston Cream donut, the band combined Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” in a rather seamless way. They also threw in a bit of Cream’s “White Room” and Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time” for good measure. Anastasio joked afterward that the next night’s donut flavor would be “Kansas Metallica.”
11. An Ode to Lemon
On the night of the lemon donut, the band whipped out a version of Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place,” which features the line “Yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon.” Cool, sure, but the better lemon song from a musical standpoint opened the show -- and it found the band digging deep, with a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”
12. An Epic Tube
Back in the ‘90s, Phish’s song “Tube” could stretch into long, drawn-out funk jams, but that practice seemed to all but disappear this century. Until the powdered donut night. Here it closed the first set and stretched into over 14 minutes. Donut-themed covers aside, throwback moments like these had fans salivating throughout the run.
13. The Banner
Phish concluded night 13 with a monster version of “Simple,” the return of one of their most-sought after covers (Jimi Hendrix’s “Izabella”) and “Tweezer Reprise,” a nod to the first night when they played “Tweezer.” What could be left? A banner commemorating the run was hoisted into the rafters at the end.