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Link Tuesday, 12/31/1996
FleetCenter, Boston, MA

Set 1: Axilla > PeachesPeaches en Regalia > PYITEPunch You In the Eye, CTBCars Trucks Buses, Stash, HorseThe Horse > SilentSilent in the Morning > DividedDivided Sky, SampleSample in a Jar > TweepriseTweezer Reprise

Set 2: CDTChalk Dust Torture > Wilson > Sparkle > Simple -> Swept Away > Steep > HoodHarry Hood -> CaspianPrince Caspian > Character Zero

Set 3: 2001Also Sprach Zarathustra > Auld Lang Syne -> DwDDown with Disease > SuzySuzy Greenberg, AntelopeRun Like an Antelope, Bohemian Rhapsody[1], Julius[2]

Encore: Amazing Grace[2]

[1] Phish debut; Boston Community Choir.
[2] Boston Community Choir.

Teases:
· Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough tease in Punch You In the Eye

Average Song Gap: 8.12

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, Boston Community Choir (Guest)

Notes: As the traditional Auld Lang Syne rang in the New Year, tens of thousands of balloons (reportedly a world record) fell from the rafters. This show marked the first Phish performance of Bohemian Rhapsody which, along with Julius and Amazing Grace, featured the Boston Community Choir. PYITE included Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough teases from Page.

Song Distribution:
5 Billy Breathes
3 Stash
3 Hoist
3 Rift
3 A Picture of Nectar
2 The White Tape
1 Lawn Boy
1 Junta
1 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1996 NYE Run."

, attached to 1996-12-31 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

It's sometimes said that a Phish New Year's Show does a pretty good job of summing up the year as a whole, and New Year's 1996 would seem to fit this to a tee; highly enjoyable, albeit thoroughly planned in advance with minimal spontaneity and somewhat stagnant improvisation (the band has even admitted as much). In 1996, setlists had reached a level of predictability to the point where my boys and I were able to spend the second setbreak of the New Year's show calling Set III in its entirety"...in order (Bohemian Rhapsody notwithstanding). Like most 1996 shows, you can more or less judge your enjoyment of the show based off of how it looks on paper. This is hardly to imply that New Year's 1996 wasn't an extremely fun show to attend; the impassioned playing, incredible balloon drop and general holiday spirit more than made up for the lack of inventive jamming, or surprises in the setlist.
Though it suffers from "you had to be there" type moments, Set III was easily the highlight of the evening, with the 70,000+ balloon drop during a raging "Disease" making for quite a funhouse-like environment (not to mention the fact that some guy dumped an entire beer on my head). And unlike 1997, the majority of the balloons somehow managed to end up in the audience, not on the stage. The remainder of the set (pre-choir) almost felt like amphetamine fueled Phish, with extra speedy (not to mention lovingly sloppy) versions of "Suzy" and "Antelope" to follow. And yes, the band completely nailed "Bohemian Rhapsody", not surprising considering that this was the same band that nailed the Talking Heads' career masterpiece two months earlier. Unfortunately, the "Julius" set closer suffered from the fact that the gospel choir was extremely difficult to hear.
However, I would be doing this show a great injustice by not giving a considerable shootout to my longtime friend/Phish show buddy Kevin Finkel, who deserves a Phishy purple heart for buying a counterfeit ticket at the last minute, and (not yet being 21) spending the majority of the show in a parking garage. It was not a pleasant evening for young Kevin, compounded by the fact that because our group got split up pre-show, we didn't realize he wasn't in the Fleet Center until after the show was over (this was also before the age of cell phones). Kevin Jonathan Finkel, for your bravery in times of crisis on a cold Boston evening, Phish nation salutes you.
Score: 7
Midcoaster , attached to 1996-12-31 Permalink
Midcoaster My brother thought that the backstage pass was just some sticker received as a gift (we had various commemorative stickers and trinkets, along with our tickets, given to us at will-call, including a Phish condom!). He stuck it to a garbage can and left it there. 10 minutes later, it was gone (obviously). I had never seen a Phish show as crowded before. Bitter cold on the highway down from Maine, sweltering inside.

Second set pulled me inside out; can't explain it, that feeling, but it was free-floating and real. For some reason, the Simple outro reminded me of the Dead's "Bertha," and the jam was exquisite and sustained. Hood-> Caspian was delightful, the best Caspian I've ever seen. I was boogying and listening attentively. It was the first time the arena setting really worked for me. The sound was loud, crisp and bass-driven all out once. The light show intrigued. Hmmm . . .

The third set was rollicking and fun. Bohemian Rhapsody had us rolling in laughter. Such execution! It was such great parody that it stopped being parodic and veered into something else entirely. Amazingly, our crew spontaneously reassembled at the door where we all had entered. Those dogs were raving about the backstage mélée. I was just happy to have been in the house.
Score: 5

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