Last Update: 2015-06-04
“Magilla” is a piano-based jazz instrumental that represented Page McConnell’s first original song contribution to the band’s repertoire. “Magilla” debuted with a batch of new songs on 9/13/90 during Phish’s final performance at New York’s famed Wetlands, and it was played at the majority of shows during that fall tour. “Magilla” remained a regular in the live rotation through early 1991, occupying a spot in where Phish had once played jazz standards like “Caravan” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
Several early appearances of “Magilla” featured guests. Carl Gerhard produced a few memorable versions, including 2/8/91, 5/17/91, and 11/20/91. Other guests included Paul Guinness on trombone (4/16/91) and Dave Grippo on sax (5/12/91). Given the way the horns complemented the song, it was no surprise that “Magilla” was a regular on the 1991 Giant Country Horns tour.
Trey Anastasio Band, “Magilla” – 2/18/10, Milwaukee, WI
Despite being included on Phish’s 1992 release, A Picture of Nectar, “Magilla” began appearing less frequently and, after a semi-breakout on 3/25/93, seemed to be destined for mothballs. The re-emergence of horns in 1994 brought “Magilla” back for a short while; of its six appearances in 1994, three were accompanied by either the Giant or Cosmic Country Horns. These 1994 versions are notable for being played in a more shuffle style than previous, straight-jazz versions.
After a 260-show absence, Phish surprisingly launched into an inspired version of “Magilla” on 2/26/97 in Stuttgart, Germany, inside a “Mule” duel. Several offerings since then have evolved from particularly strong versions of other tunes, such as on 7/10/97 out of “Julius,” the brilliant 7/21/97 Creature Double Feature of “Wolfman’s Brother” into “Magilla,” and on 8/1/98 inside “2001.”
“Magilla” was then relegated to a concert rarity, with appearances on 5/19/00 at LA’s Key Club during Phish’s performance for the Mark and Brian radio show, on 7/4/00 Camden out of “Saw It Again,” and its final full appearance by Phish to date on 7/22/03 at Deer Creek.
Outside of Phish, “Magilla” has taken up residency in several of its member’s side projects including Bad Hat, Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes, and Vida Blue. Most notably, since 2010 “Magilla” has become a Trey Anastasio Band concert staple.
While full performances of “Magilla” by Phish are seemingly a thing of the past, it is far from forgotten, as it has found a home in “Simple” where teases take place on 12/31/98 MSG, 7/8/03 Chula Vista, 10/26/10 Manchester, NH, and 7/27/14 Merriweather, among others.