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Link Tuesday, 12/31/2002
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Set 1: Piper, Guyute, NICU, Horn, Wilson[1], Mound, CoilThe Squirming Coil > BowieDavid Bowie

Set 2: Waves[2] > DividedDivided Sky, Lawn Boy, Carini, Rift, HoodHarry Hood > Character Zero

Set 3: SampleSample in a Jar, Seven Below[2] > Auld Lang Syne > Runaway Jim -> Time Loves a Hero, Taste, Strange Design, WotCWalls of the Cave[2]

Encore: Velvet SeaWading in the Velvet Sea

[1] Castaway intro and "Tom Hanks" guest appearance.
[2] Debut.

Teases:
· Low Rider tease in Piper
· Dave's Energy Guide tease in David Bowie
· What's the Use? tease in Runaway Jim
· San-Ho-Zay tease in Walls of the Cave

Noteworthy Jams: Piper, Waves, Seven Below, Runaway Jim, Walls of the Cave (key version)

Average Song Gap: 28.57

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: Phish returned from their hiatus with their first public show since October 7, 2000. The pre-show music alluded to the end of the hiatus with such songs as the theme from Welcome Back Kotter, Feels Like the First Time, Back in the Saddle Again, Reunited, and The Boys are Back in Town. The final selection was Foreplay/Long Time, during which time the band took the stage. Piper included a Low Rider tease. Prior to Wilson, a scene from the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away was played in the arena (referring to Hanks’ character searching for his volleyball/companion named Wilson). Trey subsequently introduced Hanks to sing the final lyric. Major news media reported the Hanks appearance, but the guest singer was actually Page’s brother, Steve McConnell. Mound was played for the first time since November 19, 1996 (276 shows). Bowie included a DEG tease. This show included the debuts of Waves, Seven Below and Walls of the Cave. Appropriately, Seven Below began about seven minutes before midnight. During the song, the crew lowered a disco ball from the scoreboard and created a “snowfall” on stage. Dancers dressed in white as snow creatures took the stage and circled the band before dispersing into the crowd. Some of the dancers ascended ladders and donned stilts to become snow angels. At midnight, white balloons and confetti were dropped on the crowd. A dwarf remained on each front corner of the stage, popping balloons, while the snow angels continued to dance. The transition between Jim and Time Loves a Hero (first since August 11, 1998, or 151 shows) included a What’s the Use? tease. Walls included a San-Ho-Zay tease from Trey. The evening was capped with perfect post-show music: Let’s Stay Together.

Links:
LivePhish Download LivePhish Download

Song Distribution:
3 Round Room
3 Rift
2 The Story of the Ghost
2 Billy Breathes
2 Lawn Boy
2 Junta
1 Farmhouse
1 Stash
1 Hoist
1 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday
1 The White Tape

Songs by Debut Year:

, attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

It all started one year earlier. Actually, Super Bowl Sunday 2002. I started hearing voices and having symptoms of schizophrenia. I spent two weeks in the hospital and after they finally got the medication right they let me out. I lived fine for about six months.
Right around the time the tickets for Madison Square Garden went on sale, I stopped taking the medication. I was really lucky to get tickets over the phone the day they went on sale. A few weeks later I ended up in the hospital again when the voices and symptoms just took control again. I was in the hospital for six weeks and got out on Dec 10th, the week Phish was on Saturday Night Live with Al Gore.
I was completely broke from not working for the previous six weeks. I had been sober for two months and I really, really wanted to make it to MSG. For Christmas, my parents gave me $250 and a ticket to a Big Wu show in Minneapolis on the 27th. During the setbreak of the Big Wu show, my friend called me on my cell phone and told me that he didn’t want to go to New Year’s anymore and that he gave his ticket away to a friend. So I had no ride.
I got home from the Big Wu show and almost started crying. I turned on “Strange Design”, a song that has helped me deal with schizophrenia all along. But instead of crying I started laughing. I was sitting on two tickets for the first Phish show in two and a half years, and all I wanted to do was bring a few companions on this ride.
A little later my friend Jason called me and he was more then happy to be my companion along with his girl. We left for Chicago the next day, picked up Annie, and headed out to New York. We got outside of MSG and it was very crowded. Everyone was looking for a ticket. I split up with Jason and Annie right when the doors opened. Annie didn't have a ticket and Jason was going to help her find one.
I got inside and sat down and just loved the pre-show music. Every song just made me feel so good. Some of the songs I remember were the Welcome Back Kotter theme song, “It Feels Like the First Time”, and “The Boys Are Back in Town”.
It was getting closer to show time and I was still by myself. I figured I was a big boy and I could handle being by myself for this show. But right as the lights turned out, I saw Jason about fifty feet away. I ran over to him and gave him a huge hug. Right then, the band walked onstage and the crowd noise was so overwhelming that you couldn’t hear what the band was playing, or if they even were playing.
The crowd noise died down and it was “Piper”. The song was just building and building and right around when Phish starts singing the lyrics to “Piper” I just started balling. After all I went through since the last time I was at a Phish concert, they were finally back and I was free from being in the hospital and free from schizophrenia.
I spent the entire show completely sober and danced the entire show. The biggest treat for me was when they played “Strange Design”, the song that was the key to my recovery. I’ve never had a show I attended be so important.
Score: 31
, attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

As I sit in the car with my sister on our way back from dinner, she turns to me and asks "Hey Justin, do you want to hear something really cool?” I then say (In a very excited voice) "YES". She then puts Slip, Stitch, and Pass in the CD player and she starts going through the CD. I then turn to her and say, in a frustrated tone, "Phish again?" and she just nods her head and turns it up. I think to myself, "how come she likes this group so much, is it because her boyfriend loves it also? Sure they're all right, but how come she loves them?"
But as I sat there, I heard something that changed me forever. “Mike's Song” had come on. The opening to that song brought me into Phish. After that night I kept on asking my sister if she had any more "cool" songs like that. She gave me about 3 three CDs and I listened to them all. I had been sucked into this beautiful jam-filled machine. It was amazing. In fact, I loved it so much that I picked up a guitar and began to take some lessons and try to do what Trey did.
After listening to all the CDs my sister had, I needed more. Unfortunately at this time I was about 12 or 13 so I was "too young" to go to a concert (my mom's words, not mine). So I waited and waited till I was finally old enough to go to my first Phish show. By the time I reached this age, Phish had just started their Hiatus. Just my luck.
The day I heard Phish was returning, I froze and said to myself very quietly, "I'm going". So a few weeks later and a couple hundred dollars well spent, I was off to see Phish. Since it was my first Phish concert I didn't know what to expect. I was so excited, and the fact that it was New Year’s added to the excitement. When the lights went down and the crowd went up, I stood and screamed as loud as possible. They came on stage and played a concert that I will never forget. I heard many things about them being rusty that night and they might have been, but they were perfect for me. The set list was strong, the jams were outrageous, and they looked extremely happy to be on stage. My personal favorite had to be “Guyute”, only because I love the middle of the song. It just brings me up.
The energy was definitely flowing that night. From “Piper” to “Wading In The Velvet Sea”, they played like the true kings they are. And the fact I could share it with the person who got me into this amazing phenomenon (my sister, plus her boyfriend) added to the experience. I also noticed that there were a few celebrities in the audience. During “Runaway Jim” I shook hands with Saturday Night Live's Al Franken, and during one of the set breaks I saw actor Fred Savage.
I am now 17 and I have been to about five shows all together. Each one is better than the last. But nothing compares to Madison Square Garden, December 31, 2002. This show has truly changed my life and I will always remember it.
Score: 2
jwelsh8 Phish.net Staff , attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
jwelsh8 (Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion . . . )

Where to start? I guess I can look back to the morning of August 14th, when I became consumed by the rumor storm as the online community was whipped into a frenzy and it all became official: Phish would play again. Or on December 3rd, when I received confirmation that the tickets were being shipped and I was going to get in. Either way, I knew that there was no place other than Madison Square Garden that I wanted to be when the lights went down and those four musicians walked back out onstage.

I didn't sleep as well as I could have the night of the 30th. And Istarted to zone out at breakfast and at Les Halles for desert. And my wife Laura knew I was becoming my old self. I couldn't hold it back any longer. I was going to see Phish in, what, seven hours? By the time I got to the gathering at Mustang Sally's and started to put so many smiling faces to names that I only knew from emails, I had become a bundle of nerves. How many times can you check an envelope to make sure tickets are still inside? And when we made our way through the throng of anxious fans at the Hotel Pennsylvania to meet with friends, I couldn't stop moving. The frequent roars from the street-level crowd made their way into the tenth floor rooms of the hotel and did not do anything to help calm me down. I was in full pre-show mode, and just needed to be inside the Garden, as soon as possible.

It was pretty easy to make our way through the crowd of miracle seekers on the way to the show. I did my best not too look smug as I passed those with fingers in the air, and wished them "Happy New Year" and "Good luck." (I can not imagine that any tickets miraculously appeared as the gates opened, but who knows.) And the line to check bags was pretty easy and non-intrusive; you could have snuck in pretty much what you wanted, it seemed. But after that checkpoint, things got warm and snug for the next twenty or thirty minutes; the rush to get in when the doors opened caused a bit of a bottleneck where ramps sloped up and turned ninety degrees. While we weren't in the pack long, it did get warm and uncomfortable.

But once we made our way through the ticket-checking gates, fans yelped and jumped for joy in the cool air as they wound their way skywards up the escalators. Our tickets were not marked with Gate numbers, and that is what appeared above the doors, so I just kept telling Laura that we should simply keep going up until we couldn't any more. We finally found ourselves on the 400 level and made our way to our seats: four rows back, just a seat or two Page-side of center. Pretty damn sweet, actually. I had never sat behind a stage before, and I had a feeling I was going to enjoy it.

At 8:19 p.m., The Hiatus ended. It is almost pointless to try and describe what is was like when the lights went off. The roar, the energy. Yep, it reached a fever pitch. And as it would be for the rest of the night, I could not see the faces of the band members; I was only imagining the smiles and nods of acknowledgment. Without any delay at all, they went to work. I could tell it wasn't going to be the “YEM” that I was expecting. As I strained to hear over the din, it did not take me long to hear the paced build up of “Piper”. Yes, of course! As my friend Rich later said, it was right under our noses! It was perfect. Just in case the crowd needed to be fired up any more, “Piper” did as it always has.

As I recognized the beginning of “NICU”, I leaned over to Laura and told her I was thinking of Brian. My friend Brian was admitted into the intensive care unit one night just a few weeks after I hugged him goodbye after Big Cypress... and he would never wake up. Building up to this show, I thought back on the stories he and Joel would tell of NYE 1995 at Madison Square Garden. I knew that he was up there smiling down on all of us.

The “Wilson” was interesting. From where we sat, balloons were blocking our view to the scoreboard. As we ducked down, we were able to make out the Castaway clip before they went into the song. Right before the "Black, boom, ba-bitty boom" section, Trey introduced "Tom Hanks." A man came running out, received the applause, and then sang the part. He then ran off. From where we sat, we really thought it was Tom Hanks. The man was too tall to be Tom Marshall. Needless to say, we were completely duped and had people thinking in Pittsburgh and Chicago that Tom Hanks came out.

What a fun first set. It was not at all what I was expecting; no Round Room songs, nothing goofy or funny, no talking to the crowd. Just business.

Throughout the night, it was kind of fun to watch the crowd from where we were perched. We easily identified Rich and his crew with his rainbow wig; I caught some guy, Mike side, in the second or third row with a Pittsburgh Steeler-Your-Face shirt, I saw a guy in the middle of the front dressed as "TAB Cowboy Trey", Laura and I saw the girl playing the flute during “Wading In the Velvet Sea” (which was really odd); we couldn't help but think of Bittersweet Motel and the "chicks in the front row" song. It is true that, by the end of the night, the women had displaced most of the men riding the rail. While we couldn't see the band's faces, we could soak in the smiles of everyone else.

The “Divided Sky” in the second set will forever be remembered by me for The Pause. While the energy in the Garden when the lights first went out was so thick (as to be expected) I think the crowd was actually louder during The Pause in “Divided Sky”. The band stood there for what seemed like minutes, just soaking in the crowd. It was deafening, to the point that Laura covered her ears. Again, while we couldn't see Trey's face, I was just picturing him standing there with his eyes looking upwards, soaking in the fact that they were back. It was pretty incredible. I do remember a bit of a flub somewhere in the middle, only to be overshadowed by the wonderful ending.

“Hood” and “Divided” in the same set! That was a pretty nice treat. As should have been expected, there was a bit of a glow stick war during the quiet section. While I didn't see any actually hit the band, the stage became littered with rings and sticks. From across the arena, it was fun to see those bright orange sticks emerge. They looked like they were on fire. As a note in my book for the rest of “Hood”, all I have written is "Shit!" Although there was no "Feel Good!" part at the end; it always feels kind of unfinished without that part.

As “Seven Below” began, I had a feeling some sort of jam would take us into the new year. This second new one was actually was pretty damn cool. As it began to get drawn out, the jamming led into the first lil' bit of spectacle of the night as snow started to fall on Page first, then the rest of the band. A number of dancers then came out from below us, behind the stage, all dressed in white. Snow then started to fall onto the floor and all but the two "little" dancers made their way onto the floor; the dancers on the floor were joined by stilt walkers (I had noticed ladders at the halfway point on the floor; it was on these ladders that two figures perched themselves with white gowns that reached to the floor.) At Midnight, pyrotechnics went off at the back of the stage and white balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling. I did not see any of the disco ball or any sort of countdown but I could make out the flashlights (a la Wayne and the Flaming Lips as has been mentioned).

Amidst the confusion, I could make out “Auld Lang Syne”. Well wishes and kisses were all around.

How can I sum it up? I think they entered the show feeling as though they had a job to get done. Laura expected them to banter more, and so did I, actually. At least a “Thank You” to the crowd, or "It is so great to be back". But they just came out and played song after song, almost business-like, and it could have been seen as even rushed. Almost every song was really well done. Trey missed a few cues, but he sounded really good. Page really stood out on the piano (“Horn”, “Mound”, “Coil”, “Rift”, “Taste”). Fishman, as always, was really solid. And Mike sounded good too, although a bit removed standing pretty far to the right, just bobbing his head. Was the show mind blowing? No, not really. Did they sound different? No, they sounded like the Phish we all were missing.

The point is they are back. And while it will take more than twenty-four songs to prove how they grew during the Hiatus, I for one am happy to have 'em onstage again. It feels good.
Score: 1
CarnivalParade , attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
Part 1 of "Cosmic Adventures in Synchronic Time" by Steve Urban

My Mother, Father and Grandfather were all born on the same day: October 21st. My parents met at a discothèque on Long Island. About a week later my mom visited my dad whom was washing his car. He asked her, “What is your Birthday?” She said, “October 21st.” He said, “Me too! And my Father!” At first, she didn’t believe him. Just as many of you won’t believe me. But do you honestly believe that my Mother, Father and Grandfather all being born on the same day is just a mere coincidence? That the circumstances are just random and the dice fell that way? Mathematically the probabilities of such an event are astronomically incalculable.

Furthermore, 2 months into my freshman year another synchronistic event takes place. One of my best friends called me and asked if I could come see the rock band, Phish. It was on, his Birthday, on October 21st 1996 at Madison Square Garden. I remember the audience participated, chanting, “Wilson,” like the tennis company and clapping their hands to intricate Latin jazz instrumentals. Though they were already playing an important role in expanding consciousness, this was the first time Phish entered into my individual consciousness. So October 21st was also the birthday of Phish for me. The reason that Phish entered my world in such a synchronistic way connected to my parents I believe now to have great significance. Because of what would happen next. Something that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams!

Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve 2002. Phish is about to take the stage after a hiatus. I just spent the night spun on 7th avenue family fluff. I’m swigging whiskey and hot cider to keep me warm. Then while waiting for the box office to open, thin strands of a cobweb-like substance cover the outside wall and quickly disappear. I recently discovered that in UFO research this phenomenon is known as “Angel Hair.” According to Wikipedia: “It is named for its similarity to fine hair, or spider webs… it disintegrates or evaporates within a short time of forming. One theory is that it is ‘ionized air sleeting off an electromagnetic field’ that surrounds a UFO.” Someone should have told the aliens that the show was sold out.

Later that afternoon among the ticketless throngs I met a man whom claimed to be “The Sloth” a character from, Gamehendge, Phish's rock opera. In his hands was the legendary helping friendly book! Gamehendge is a mythological world of fairy tale. It’s a parallel reality or possibly the story of Earth’s very distant past. Trey Anastasio wrote Gamehendge as his senior thesis. The story is that of a retired U.S. Colonel whom steps through a portal traveling through space and time. While in Gamehendge, Colonel Forbin discovers a race of lizard people, who have been enslaved by the evil King Wilson. He has stolen the helping friendly book from the lizards, which has all the knowledge inherent in the universe.

This is the book Sloth is holding. “Written by the great and knowledgeable Icculus.” Titled “Well You Can Imagine” by Sean O. Huigin. He found it in the children's section of a used bookstore in Canada. “Yeah! My children are old enough to read Icculus!” When you examine the book there are Phish lyrics and cartoon illustrations of Gamehendge characters like the mockingbird, the sloth and the lizards. The cover even dons the band members Trey and Page. But the author did not know Phish. The book was published in Canada the year Phish was formed. Sloth explained: ”Icculus means I is the accumulation of us.” Somehow the author and illustrator created this book from the chaotic sea of our collective unconscious. The book truly came from, Gamehendge, a place that transcends space and time, as we know it.

I stood underneath the marquee watching waves of energy flow over the bricks and between the windows of the Hotel Pennsylvania. The building was alive! My thoughts stopped in sheer wonder. Then out of the top left corner of my vision I saw a single eye was watching me from above. Pop! Another revealed itself! Pop! Another! Until this pattern of eyes filled the sky. They were geometrically precise lines and overlapping circles. All shapes were in perfect union. I looked away and the psychedelic vision was gone. That night I was introduced to someone in the Phish community who told me to read Drunvalo Melchizedek’s Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life, a book on sacred geometry. Months later, the same geometric pattern I saw in the sky was exactly the same symbol on the cover of the book. What I saw was the unity consciousness grid, naturally making a higher level of consciousness accessible to humanity. Well you can imagine.

Part 2: 11/24/09 Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA and 10/24/10 UMASS, Amherst, MA *Cosmic Adventures in Synchronic Time was Originally published in Surrender to the Flow
Score: 1
WaxBrain , attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
WaxBrain I really enjoyed this show. I really did. MSG was nuts that night. You could walk around the whole place w/out even the slightest problem. I've been to many a show at MSG, and that was the wildest. For actual NYE me and my buddy were like hanging out on the floor. We went back up to our seats in the nosebleeds out of exhaustion and needing to rest. I remember when they came back out and played "Velvet Sea": They couldnt have summed up the evening better in my opinion. At that point the air thick w/ smoke and CO2 and sweat and exhaustion...it couldnt have been a better pick.
Plus they did Carini!
Score: 0
ucpete , attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
ucpete Taste rehashes the WTU? tease...
Score: 0
iovanepr , attached to 2002-12-31 Permalink
I know this was their very first show back, I know the excitement was there, and I know the place was rockin HOWEVER, this show really isn't that good. Parts of it feel very, very rushed (Auld Lang Syne) while other parts feel way too dragged out (Walls of the Cave). Also, trey's voice sounded a little weird right from the very beginning. AND they ended their first show back (which happened to be NYE too!!) with wading in the velvet sea. Come on man!

The guys cant always have "on" nights and this is a perfect example. Move on to the next show...
Score: 0

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