Tube contained teases of the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Harpua was unfinished and contained a Vibration of Life tease. During the Harpua narration, Trey talked about some of the Harpuas and Phish shows at Madison Square Garden of the past 40 years, and a bed appeared from beneath the front of the stage with an actor playing Jimmy and a puppet version of Poster Nutbag. Trey then interrupted the song before the "I want a dog" lyric and said Jimmy had lacked a strong female influence over the years and introduced actress Annie Golden as Jimmy's grandmother. While consoling Jimmy, she told him it was time to tell the truth about the owner of Harpua. After telling Jimmy that the old man had given the puppet to Esther and helped Jimmy's cousin Reba make liquid meat, a vinyl record (with a rhombus on the cover) was brought forth and Jimmy's grandmother said "it's time... it's New Year's Eve and I can't let you ring another new year without knowing the real story of Gamehendge!" leading into The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday and a glowing rhombus rising to frame the entire stage. The band then began the first performance of the Gamehendge saga since July 8, 1994 (1,194 shows), with Golden and Trey providing the narration and performers acting out the parts of Colonel Forbin, Rutherford, the AC/DC Bag, Tela, Errand Wolfe (later billed in post show credits as "The Wolf"), and the Sloth. The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, The Lizards, Tela, Wilson, Divided Sky, Colonel Forbin's Ascent, Fly Famous Mockingbird, and Split Open and Melt featured an off-stage backing chorus. The multi-beast and McGrupp were also performed by puppets. Tela performed acrobatics on wires during her song, with Jo Lampert (as the Wolf) providing additional vocals during Wilson. The Sloth's lyrics were changed to "I'm squeezing that Charmin. Thank you Mr. Whipple. I'm still squeezing that Charmin. Thank you Mr. Whipple." Colonel Forbin ascended the rhombus during Colonel Forbin's Ascent (which had lyrics changed to "weary body"), and a large Famous Mockingbird puppet (with a top hat) flew over the crowd during Fly Famous Mockingbird, which also featured Annie Golden on additional vocals. Before Melt, Trey asked Jimmy's grandmother if she knew that the mountain was a volcano, and the Lizards reappeared to dance to the ensuing Melt jam, eventually leaving the stage one by one as the rhombus was lowered again.
Jam Chart Versions
Teases
Debut Years (Average: 1993)
On This Date

This show was part of the "2023 NYE Run"

Show Reviews

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Review by phish123

phish123 What can you really say after witnessing a show like this. Tonight was my 375th show and I was left completely speechless. The energy in the garden was beyond anything I’ve experienced before. Every song played incredibly well with mind blowing jams and bust outs. Thank you Phish for all you’ve done for me and so many others over the years. Looking forward for what’s still to come.
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Review by Esperanzan

Esperanzan This was actually a flawless show. FLAWLESS. If you thought it was anything less than a 5 star I don't know what to tell you – literally how could this have been any better? It is currently milling around in the low 4.4s, putting it below shows like 07/15/16, which shows that Phish could literally perform absolute perfection in the last couple years and it would still not be considered an all-timer.

EVERY old song was performed perfectly. They had clearly practiced. More common songs like Possum, PYITE, Loving Cup, YEM were performed with more conviction than I have heard in years. If that wasn't enough, we got the best AC/DC Bag since the 90s and (IMO) the easy jam of the year pick, plus one of the best Melts in recent memory. If that wasn't enough, the show had flawless stagecraft and genuinely funny moments. If that wasn't enough, Trey was shredding in ways you almost never hear him shred nowadays. If that wasn't enough, we got the first ever two-set NYE gag. And if that wasn't enough, er, it was literally a full Gamehendge, first since 1994. What I described before even considering it as a Gamehendge show is enough to put it in the 4.5/4.6s. There is something for everyone here. Every Phish fan is catered for. NOBODY can be unhappy.

I really hope that score rockets up once everyone sleeps on it and those who attended actually get around to rating, or once the 1 star-bombers get their ratings removed, because there is no reason this shouldn't be in the top 10 highest rated shows on this site, ever.
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Review by KatyLied

KatyLied A top tier show to rival the greatest of the great. If you thought this was anything but amazing you are too jaded for 4.0. For those of us who weren't old enough to see Phish in the 90s, we can have our unique moments too. You love to see a good mix of new songs and old relics of the past.

Highlights: A Life Beyond The Dream, AC/DC Bag, Mockingbird, Melt.
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Review by n00b100

n00b100 A few things about this, already one of the markers in Phish's timeline:

1. I have seen a decent number of folks say that doing this - in an anniversary year, and in a decade-anniversary year, which they have historically done something major and based in nostalgia, lest we forget - shows that the band is out of ideas or whatever. And the more I think about it, the more I think that it's the opposite - rather than being out of ideas, the band (or, I guess, really Trey) has a ton of ideas, and they're more often than not based around the band itself. Kasvot Vaxt and Sci-Fi Soldier were concepts based around getting away from being Phish and even building a whole lore around the getting away from being Phish. Last year's NYE show and its nods to Phish's continuity (so to speak) was probably what they would have done this year if TMWSIY wasn't on the table. But TMWSIY would always be on the table until they just finally did it, the ultimate serotonin hit for nostalgia seekers, the bustout everyone chases, the rumor that wouldn't go away. And now they've done it, and that roadblock has been cleared away for good, to where (like Izabella or Destiny Unbound) the next performance, if there ever is one, can just be a good time and not A Whole Big Thing. Maybe I'm wrong, and they'll just keep recycling things they've done before for these gags (or, like the spelling gimmick at Dick's, do away with them altogether), and it'll show the band in terminal decline some of the naysayers apparently want to see. Or maybe I'm right, and a whole new world has opened up for the band now that they've fulfilled the one wish every fan seeing shows since the 90s has kept in their back pocket. We shall see.

2. Having watched the second and third sets, I can certainly imagine that a little something might be lost in translation on the audio-only version. That said, I'm certain that the oceanic roar at Jimmy's grandmother taking us to Gamehendge would not, nor would the tight and well-oiled performances (Llama and PYITE, for example, were as strong as they've been since 2009), nor the majestic and dirt-nasty jam in AC/DC Bag. Visual extravaganza or no visual extravaganza, at the end of the day The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday is about the songs - I always smile thinking about Trey just sorta lamely giving up the narration in 3/22/93 II - and the songs were performed with gusto and with the consideration that comes from knowing you're going to do this.

3. Not that anyone's ever going to give a damn about the first set, but the first set's a reasonably good listen, and the opening duo of a sweet little jam in Everything's Right and the fun Mary Tyler Moore-infused upbeat blissful hose jam in Tube are worth your time. Reba was nicely played as well, and benefitted from Trey's chops being as good as they've been in this era, give or take a 2015 or 2021.

4. The third set is the stronger musically in terms of jams, with Melt really drilling into oceanic depths and YEM tight and driving, but the second set is much more celebratory and (as noted) Bag is one hell of a damn piece of musical improvisation. They're both among the best of the era, quite easily, when you throw in the historical factor - and you have to, there are precious few shows in any era with *this* kind of historical factor, after all.

5. Hell of a show, man. Can't wait to see what comes next NYE, and I'm glad we've got this keepsake forever, the final canonical form of Trey's greatest musical accomplishment. Happy new year, everyone.
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Review by shawncon

shawncon This was the most special Phish show I have ever attended. 67 shows and jimmies night of the bakers dozen has been my high watermark up to this point. This is what dreams are made of. This is the feeling you get when your are 7 years old opening presents on Christmas morning. I will never get over this.
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Review by LunaticMoose

LunaticMoose Typically on .net, after a particularly good show, it will tend to get littered with 5 star ratings and reviews until it inevitably gets balanced out with 1 star ratings because people didn't think it deserved such a high rating, to plateau at a 3.8 as shows since 2009 typically do.

This is one of those shows where that isn't necessary - because even though I'm obviously having a little bit of recency bias right now, I well and truly believe that this show is worthy of 5 stars. Besides the obvious factor that goes into this of HOLY SHIT GAMEHENDGE, the factors that make this more than just a Gamehendge show puts it to a high standard.

First of all - the band was locked in. The playing was to a particularly good point where it even made me enjoy A Life Beyond the Dream - my 2nd least favourite Phish song. There was this moment during the (jammed!) AC/DC Bag, where Trey stared off and you could just tell he was absolutely in the zone. Although there were flubs, it's unlikely to find a flubless show among the pantheon of incredible shows. The difficult compositions within the Gamehendge saga were obviously practiced, and the extra choir and synths(?) added to the high level of musicianship.

Second of all - HOLY SHIT GAMEHENDGE. There isn't really much to explain with this point, except for, it's The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, except with a whole broadway stage production taboot. Everything, from the costumes, to the Rhombus stage design, to the new expanded lore (Split Open and Melt is about the Gamehendge mountain being a volcano???), made this show such an iconic experience that can really translate to relisten. You can feel the energy in the room, and the energy is crazy. If this is the peak of 4.0, I'm totally fine with that, yet the Sphere shows may blow this completely out of the water. 5 Stars.
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Review by weekapaugphil

weekapaugphil I say this as someone who found this band a year ago, got into them because of the last NYE run and has spent the last year listening and becoming a Phishhead myself:
THAT WAS THE GREATEST MOTHERFUCKING SHOW I'VE EVER GOTTEN TO WITNESS.
For a year, I've heard the joke that Phish would do another Gamehendge set and I never actually thought they would do one again, but HERE WE ARE!! After a year of studying the lore and completely becoming one with the band, this was the greatest gift I could ask for.

Thank you Trey, Mike, Page, and Fish.
Your Phan, Phil.
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Review by Errand_Wolfe

Errand_Wolfe I've been obsessed with the Gamehendge saga for decades. Being a fantasy and concept album fan, Trey's college thesis is a fun romp filled with wild characters. Sadly, my first Phish was a year after the last performance of the suite. So I've been essentially chasing the white whale since 1995, making and posting mixes, hunting pins, shirts, buying prints by phan artists, the ranger gear, etc, etc, -- calling it as a possibilty at various shows over the years while friends said "not gonna' happen" -- holding out hope.

Hope rewarded.

Since I saw the t-shirt design with Madison Square Garden transformed into a castle, I knew this was the show. I mean - they telegraphed it - sort of in the way last year's had lyrics to "Ghost" on it. They even did a last second merch drop of some "Save Gamehendge" socks!

The first set started with "Everything's Right" (just hold tight!), a nice "Tube" and an awesome performance of Trey's "Ether Edge" - followed by "Reba" - the first Gamehendge related song of the night. A couple of Ghosts Of The Forest songs followed, capping off the set with a "Character Zero."

After set break, Phish launched into "Down With Disease" -- and then the fun really began.

They started in on "Harpua" a rarity played 4 times in the last decade, and... another Gamehendge related song. Half way through the song, a bed emerged from the stage featuring actors playing Jimmy and his grandmother (played by actress Annie Golden) who began telling him about how the man who owned Harpua was also the same man who gave Esther the doll in her eponymous song as well as the one who helped Reba make liquid meat. The stage then transformed into a giant Rhombus framing the band and it was official - we were seeing the first Gamehendge since 1994.

Actors, dancers and puppets brought beloved characters of Colonel Forben, Tela, Rutherford The Brave, The Sloth, McGrupp, The AC/DC Bag, Errand Wolfe (my namesake here played by the amazing Jo Lampert), a multibeast and the Famous Mockingbird (which unfortunately ran out of juice and softly "crashed" into the crowd before the final theatrical handoff of the Helping Friendly Book.)

The suite included all of the original songs from Trey's "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday" thesis (with the exception of "Possum" which showed up at the end of the final set), as well as later add-ons to the saga like "Punch You In The Eye," "Llama," "Divided Sky" - but sadly, no "Icculus" which has actually never been performed as part of the "official" Gamehendge sets. So maybe it was never intended to be played, or it got nixed at the last moment because of the Mockingbird malfunction.

Everything sounded great and the work Phish put in really showed. They threw in some sonic twists - cool reverbs, backing vocals, etc to really punch it up!

There were other add on songs not played, of course, like "Esther," "Axilla" (part II was played on Thursday) or "Kung." Either way, it was a absolute dream come true and a game changer in how some of us view the future. After having such a longed for, fervent dream granted -- part of you is like... "what now?"

After midnight, the Lizard dancers retook the stage as a "volcano" erupted and they were pulled down during "Split Open And Melt" and the Rhombus receded. As the crowd reeled from the experience, Phish rounded out the set with a rousing "You Enjoy Myself," "Loving Cup" and the aforementioned "Possum" with an encore of "Cavern," "First Tube" and "Tweezer Reprise," keeping the rager going to the last minute!

I'm still processing this one, but it's going to live on as one of my favorite Phish experiences. Thanks to the band, my friends who were there for it, the crew, the crowd... just everyone.

What a beautiful buzz, indeed!
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Review by andrewrose

andrewrose Just when you think they might finally be out of tricks.

What, no 40th anniversary tour?

Ho hum, another NYE MSG run. They had already done 7 shows at the Garden this summer, and while it had its moments---and 2023 has had its moments (with arguably Spring Tour containing the most dense population of them)--is it heresy to say that things were starting to feel a little stale? After the post-Covid revival of 2021 that saw Phish reach musical career highs not seen since arguably 2003 or the late 90s, and a solid if less consistent follow-up in 2022, it only made sense that things might start to drag a little this year.

I thought the summer run was fun, but it was missing something. The sense that anything could happen, maybe? The sheer volume of shows and long jams (not the kind of thing you'd normally complain about!), many of which share similar DNA that can start to feel too familiar. You take it all for granted, just as the venues and tiered ticketing and concessions take your dollar for granted in turn.

It had to happen eventually, didn't it?

And why wouldn't they do it on New Year's Eve at home, on the 40th anniversary year? Why didn't we see it coming? Ok, apparently lots of folks saw it coming; if you were poking around .net or otherwise in the days leading up to the show, rumours were spreading—but rumours always spread, Gamehendge is always the .0001% chance rumour, isn't it? It looks increasingly like there may have been strategic leaks, who knows. If you're one of the folks that made a last minute effort to get to the Garden on such a tip, my hat's off to you. If you did most of the run but skipped NYE, or sold a ticket, I weep for you. If like me you were only checking score from afar with mild curiosity, we'll just have to be content to know that it happened. So how was it?

I've only given the Gamehendge a single listen through, and haven't even heard the rest of the show, so a comprehensive review this ain't. But I gotta tell ya, I got chills hearing them slowly reveal what was gonna go down towards the end of Harpua, and tears when I heard the roof blow off when it was clear what was going to happen. A tight, rehearsed, but not rigid performance, just the right amount of flourish from third parties, a phenomenal jam in Bag, and a real sense of purpose and significance through the classic songs. Page so enthused on Lizards, Trey and Fish really locked in and giving 'er old school and up-tempo on Llama. Slow Llama who?? A gut-wrenching Divided Sky.

I'll save the updates to canonical Gamehendge lore to other scholars. But suffice it to say that they had fun with it all, weaved the 40 years together so seamlessly.

The thought now, is what happens next? This really does feel like the closing of a chapter. Sure, there's Mexico, The Sphere, Dover on deck. But beyond the venues and travel packages ... now that the cat is out of the bag (and Jimmy has a grandma!) ... what kind of story are they gonna tell? Where's the music gonna go?

I'd argue there's a thread they were starting to weave in Spring that never really took off. Looking back now, it's not wild to think that knowing the year would be working its way towards this moment, how could they really stray too far from the narrative (or the narration, if you like)? The summer MSG run now has the spectre of this performance, and indeed much of the year will end up a footnote to this moment (that's not a problem; we don't usually have difficulty indulging countless footnotes).

But with that tidy bookend now in the rear-view mirror, it's anyone's guess where things could go next. Jazz Odyssey 2024!

Happy New Year all. Stay safe and kind this year.
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Review by Patrickwookman

Patrickwookman Over the past 26 years, I've left many Phish concerts, stating what I had experienced was 'the best' or 'my favorite' show. The band has consistently delivered brilliance, creating magical moments I have been grateful to attend. I can confidently say that 12/31/23 was the best and my favorite Phish concert ever. 

The show started slow, with the Phish jukebox full of credits. While they didn't play anything extraordinary, the anticipation of a fabled Gamehendge gag produced an aura of fanciful intrigue from all in attendance.

A short Down with Disease opened set two, making me wonder if the band's nerves had fabricated a stiffness they couldn't shake. And then...it happened. Om-pa-pa oom-pa-pa oom-pa-pa oom-pa-paaaaa. When Harpua hit, it was clear we were about to go on a voyage. Jimmy rose from the stage on his bed, holding his beloved cat Poster Nutbag, only to soon toss the feline away after learning it had died, requesting a dog in its place before being joined by his grandmother. The magic that ensued was a fantasy. From Colonel Forbin and Rutherford the Brave's introduction to the Lizards dancing merely, life in this moment was but a dream.

Trey Anatasio's love of Broadway and attention to detail were fully displayed, with nothing left to the imagination, providing structured visuals for his 1987 senior project while attending Goddard College. There was an AC/DC Bag, a majestic Tela entering on a massive Multibeast, the slowest of slow Sloths, and, the highlight of the night, a SCORCHING Wilson that will go down as the most excellent version of all time. 

After a '15-minute break,' The fantasy had no end, sequencing into Colonel Forbin ascending the Rombulus above the stage and a mockingbird soaring to great heights over a crowd of awe-struck fans mystified by what they were a part of. 

After midnight, the band continued with a blazing Split Open and Melt and YEM, both songs paying tribute to the band's 40-year history of creating magic. The audience drank from its Loving Cup, riding down the road to a rocking Possum, before ending their mystical expedition with a thrilling Cavern, inspired First Tube, and beloved Tweezer Reprise.

After chasing a Gamehendge set for over 20+ years, I am grateful to have been one of the many in attendance at what will go down in the annual of Phish history as an, if not the, greatest show they have ever performed. It was as if The Beatles played Sergent Peppers or Pink Floyd played Dark Side of the Moon. It was like watching Michael Jordan, Kobe, or Tiger Woods play on a musical stage. I thank the band, their crew, and the staff at Madison Square Garden for a night I will cherish forever. 
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Review by palmersinnocent

palmersinnocent If you have been an invested phan you got the dividends from this performance. On the other hand, it's almost impossible to explain the sentimental value to people outside of the circle. You won't see this reach any mainstream press like the whales did, it's just a special present for staying present with this band on our journey together. It was so fun and fulfilling to see this go down (from the couch.) It felt like the love circle that flows between the band, it's fans and friends was moving freely last night and restored the sense of mystery that anything CAN happen.
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Review by BilboBaggins

BilboBaggins Tonight was genuinely the best thing I've ever seen, heard, witnessed in my life. I would put tonight against any show this band has ever played ever, and it would be equal or better. If you think otherwise, I don't want to know you, or you weren't there. Gamehendge, Harpua, YEM, Cavern> First Tube> Reprise, fucking everything. I mean come on, this is all time
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Review by Brettinthebathtub

Brettinthebathtub My favorite part of this show was the crowd. In 2009 when they came back to Hampton, listening to the the crowd at the first few notes of Fluffhead is indescribable. It's love and joy and relief in one gigantic, beautiful noise. A huge sound.

After Harrpua, when they went into TMSIY, if you listen it wasn't a huge, loud cheer like Hampton. It's not just applause and screaming, you can literally hear and feel people realize what was about to happen, and stand there trying to process. It was absolutely beautiful.

I'm not normally a fan of crowd noise on recordings, but if they release this one, I hope that they keep it because it's an absolute testament to what this band means to all of us. This one was really special.
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Review by 12_29_97_4eva

12_29_97_4eva 12/31/23 was a hugely cathartic night. Not just for me, of course. The euphoria was audibly palpable at the beginning of Harpua and at the revelation that, yes, they were indeed going to play Gamehendge. I'm a 1.0 kid who grew up idolizing college-aged camp counselors at sleep away camp who were playing A Live One on the bunk stereo, and was pulled into the "secret club" feeling of being a Phish fan through tape trading and posting on the weird corner of the early internet era that was rec.music.phish. Getting your hands on Trey's senior thesis or one of the few live performances of Gamehendge and learning it inside out made you feel even more like you were part of this weird, distinct, but awesome thing separate from pop culture and prying eyes and public knowledge. And that made being part of the Phish community feel even more special.

In 27 years of seeing Phish shows, I never entertained the possibility of seeing a performance of Gamehendge. It didn't even make my wishlist, because to wish for it seemed preposterous. Better keep white whales limited to individual songs. Chasing the Harpuas, Forbins, and Icculi of the Phish canon is difficult enough - and special enough when you see them.

In 27 years of seeing Phish shows, the two songs I've wanted to catch more than anything have been Harpua and Forbin's>Mockingbird. I've had too many close calls, near misses, and twists of fate. In Summer '03, I eagerly awaited a four-show run to Camden and IT and was gutted watching the setlist to 7/29/03 roll in (it featured Harpua and several other bustouts). In Summer '09, the one show I attended was a rather dreadful one at Merriweather, which was sandwiched between a Hartford show with an Icculus to remember and a SPAC show with Harpua.

And worst of all, after five glorious shows at the Baker's Dozen, exhausted and about to start a new job on July 31, 2017, I sold a ticket below face value to Jimmies Night on July 30, where I would have seen Harpua and Forbin's in one fell swoop - what would have been the perfect exclamation point to one of the finer stretches of shows I've experienced in 27 years.

I hadn't forgiven myself for Jimmies night. It was one of those defining FOMO experiences you talk to your therapist about (and by "you," I mean "I talked to my therapist" about it). I'd tried making peace with the fact I'd probably never see these songs. And look, there's part of me that recognizes that's perfectly fine. We've all seen tons of great shows, legendary ones even, with plenty of songs from our wishlists. I'm no exception.

But many of us still hold out hope for those white whales, don't we? It's why Gamehendge got the reaction it did. It's why countless people were elated to see their first Harpua and Forbin's. 12/31/23 relieved me of the burden of the chase once and for all. Though I am grateful for having attended that show for a multitude of reasons (just as I am grateful for being a Phish fan for a multitude of reasons), the catharsis that came with seeing Harpua and Forbin's for the first time is the greatest gift the band could have given me. There's no more what-ifs or close calls in my Phish experience anymore. What a feeling.
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Review by phishcuitsandgravy

phishcuitsandgravy For those wondering, the last full gamehendge was 1,109 shows ago.

I’ve been to 90 shows since 2013, last night being my 51st at MSG. I’ve seen some all time 3.0 shows, but when they announced they were telling us the story of gamehendge, it was the most euphoric feeling I’ve ever felt. I did nothing but dance, scream, and cry like a mad man for the next 2 sets.

Thank you Phish so much. You made it all worth it.
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Review by mighty_Q

mighty_Q This was my 27th show. I went to 12/29 and 12/30, thinking I didn’t need to be here for the gag and theatrics of the NYE show. I had my best friend with me for his first three shows.
I thought might as well go if I’m in New York. Scored a pair of lower bowl tickets. Little did I realize I was in for the best phish show I’ve ever seen.
On paper, it is near impossible to put forth a logical argument that this show is not among the greats (just considering Set 2 -> Set 3 -> Encore). As I’m riding out of the city on the train and listening to the show again, it is also hard to be critical of anything these guys played last night. (Even first set). They were on fire.
As a younger Phan, you kind of know that the prime is gone. You wish you could have been at those 97’ 98’ shows that everyone cherishes. Therefore, you do not expect that seeing a top 5 show ever is possible. Last night is making me seriously reconsider.
Not only did they do gamehendge, they played an incredible show musically. Listen to the ACDC Bag jam, SOAM, and YEM. Listen to the crowd roar at the gamehendge announcement. I just don’t know what more you could ask for. The fact that they are still together after 40 years selling out the world’s most famous arena and lighting it on fire is hard to fathom. What an awesome time and way to ring in the new year. Thank you Phish.
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Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, SUNDAY 12/31/2023
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
New York, NY

SET 1:

Everything's Right: Very solid jam, focused and delivered with clear intent. Great way to get the NYE show off the ground!

Tube: Good version here, nicely jammed. Not quite up to what Seattle and Alpharetta this year delivered but entertaining nonetheless and perfect placement.

Ether Edge: Standard. >

Reba: Standard.

Taste: Standard.

Ruby Waves: Standard.

A Life Beyond The Dream: Standard.

Character Zero: Standard.

SET 2:

Down with Disease: Shortest since 6.17.12.

Harpua[1] - Whoa. This is nuts!>

The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday: Place just goes absolutely bonkers! So incredibly cool. >

The Lizards: Page sounds amazing during his solo on the baby grand! Treys tone in his solo is on point, sounds awesome. >

Punch You in the Eye: Standard. >

AC/DC Bag: This jam starts oof patiently – love that. It is organic and it is taking time to get there when it gets there. By the late 9’s and early 10’s they are absolutely soaring, beautiful stuff. This is fairly brief and by the mid 11’s they seem to be diving into the muck and the mire. They trudge around in those depths but not for too long. There is a gradual rising and by the mid 13’s you will find Page killing his baby grand and egging on Trey to bring his best Hendrix game. He does just that. He absolutely wails like this might be the last time. The effects that accompany this are mind bending. Wow, this is exceptional Phish, in any era. Mike obviously approves as he cannot keep his foot off that fight bell, lol. Big props on how they wind this one down too. Lots of patience is shown as they gradually bring it down yet at the same time Trey is still crushing some big runs, yet the effects are still loudly in play. There is a segue notated here but honestly the song really does end and there is dead space before Tela starts up. That AC/DC Bag is an easy all timer and highly recommended! >

Tela: Wonderfully done. >

Llama: Lots of that nasty reverse reverb, woo hoo!!! Nasty! >

Wilson[2] - Fun! >

The Sloth: Slowest gun in the west, lol. >

Divided Sky: Oddly enough, the last time they played this was at MSG, 8.5.23. The last 5 times they have played DS, it has been sub 13 minutes. Kind of interesting in that – for the most part since 94 – this tune has been at least a 15 minute affair. Trey’s note – the note – at the end of this one is note perfect. Beautiful.

SET 3:

McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters: Love the story telling in here, very funny. >

Colonel Forbin's Ascent: Standard. >

Fly Famous Mockingbird[3] - Outstanding, love the outro vocals, powerful! >

Auld Lang Syne: Happy New Year! >

Split Open and Melt: First time they have ever opted for this coming out of ALS. Cool placement. This one is very dark and psychedelic with just the right amount of effects without losing those listening at home. I like the section where they boil it down to not quite nothing but they definitely back it out of all that intensity and then set it up for the closing homestretch. Would recommend this version. The very last part of the conclusion is a bit rushed.

You Enjoy Myself: Very chill jam coming out of the tramps section that gradually builds to some loud rock and roll. Great trilling by Trey at the end. >

Loving Cup: Lengthy version, longest since 6.12.19 in St. Louis when the Blues won the Stanley Cup. They solicit a brief woo jam in here. Still, they rip the hell out of this one. Would recommend! >

Possum: Ahh, the old ‘loosely associated with the Gamehendge saga song. Brings the house down for sure. The last two tunes played in this set were raucous!

ENCORE:

Cavern: More old school, LOVE IT!!! >

First Tube: How are these old timers able to muster all this energy? Killed this one somehow. Another raucous tune. >

Tweezer Reprise: Nice!!! What a way to end this one and cap the run. Phish rules!!!

Summary: Never thought they would play GH again. Most didn’t. But what an epic throwdown this was! This band continues to surprise after all these years. Love them so much. Thanks Phish for staying true to your roots. Happy New Year everyone! I am not attempting to put a rating on this one, wouldn’t even know where to start. The current rating on Phish.net is 4.743/5 (813 ratings)

Replay Value: Gamehendge, Split Open and Melt, Loving Cup

[1] Unfinished.
[2] Jo Lampert on additional vocals.
[3] Annie Golden on additional vocals.

Tube contained teases of the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Harpua was unfinished. During the Harpua narration, a bed appeared from beneath the front of the stage, with an actor playing Jimmy and a puppet version of Poster Nutbag. Trey talked about some of the Harpuas of the past 40 years, then interrupted the song before the "I want a dog" lyric. Trey said Jimmy had lacked a strong female influence over the years and introduced actress Annie Golden as Jimmy's grandmother. While consoling Jimmy, she told him it was time to tell the truth about the owner of Harpua. After telling Jimmy that the old man had given the puppet to Esther and helped Reba make liquid meat, a book was brought forth, and a glowing rhombus rose to frame the entire stage. The band then began the first performance of the Gamehendge saga since July 8, 1994, with Golden and Trey providing the narration and performers acting out the parts of Colonel Forbin, Rutherford, the AC/DC Bag, Tela, Errand Wolfe, and the Sloth. The Multibeast and McGrupp were also performed by puppets. Tela performed acrobatics on wires during her song, with Jo Lampert (as Errand Wolfe) providing additional vocals during Wilson. Colonel Forbin ascended the rhombus during Colonel Forbin's Ascent, and a large Famous Mockingbird puppet flew over the crowd during Fly Famous Mockingbird, which also featured Annie Golden on additional vocals. Before Melt, Trey asked Jimmy's grandmother if she knew that the mountain was a volcano, and the Lizards reappeared to dance to the ensuing Melt jam, eventually leaving the stage one by one as the rhombus was lowered again.
SHOW RATING
Your rating:
Overall: 4.743/5 (813 ratings)
TEASES
Theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show tease in Tube
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Review by DiamondE

DiamondE I can’t believe what I witnessed in that room. This is up there with Big Cypress for me. Very different experiences but both utterly stupefying.

Seeing a Gamehendge show is the kind of wish that I never even verbalized because it seemed so impossible. But with actors and puppets and the RHOMBUS? And played to near perfection? Still feels like a dream.
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Review by starsky

starsky There is not much I can add to a long list of already great show reviews, but I am compelled to add my take:

This show is nothing short of a masterpiece. The band clearly put a great deal of preparation into this performance and it showed. There was equal measure of camp and grace - each song had a newness that opened novel emotional pathways in my brain.

I say this as a fan who simply got lucky - I'm not one who has been seeking out "the Gamehenge show", I went to the New Years show on a whim, with somewhat low expectations, not having gone to a New Years show since 1995. I don't pay much attention to the rumor mill, but my wife who does started mentioning some rumblings about a Gamhenge show - enough that we read the Wikipedia page the day of the show (I learned some things that I didn't know - like AC/DC Bag was a robot! Who new?!). Still I dismissed the possibility and was honestly, completely surprised when they actually did this - my surprise was quickly replaced by awe at the beauty of this music and the sheer emotion that erupted in the arena - every song was new - unlike anything I've experienced in 60+ shows! I mean Fly Famous Mockingbird with choral backing, what is that?!!

I have to admit a little ennui has been entering my phish brain lately. Don't get me wrong, this is my band, I've grown up with them and been lucky enough to join them on 32 years of their 40 year journey. But they play, every night, at such a high level it's easy to begin to take them for granted. But this show has reinvigorated me (and I dare say, probably the band), made me realize how special is this gestalt.
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Review by MamousFockingbird

MamousFockingbird No "Kung"? 0 stars.

Just kidding. I never thought I'd ever get to see Gamehendge; everything else is pretty much a footnote. My girlfriend looked at me at one point (I think during Tela) and asked "what the hell is going on?". All I could say is READ THE BOOK. Phish continues to be the greatest rock and roll band on the planet.
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Review by wallsofthecave2020

wallsofthecave2020 I drove from Virginia Tech (I'm 18) all the way here after finding a cheap resale ticket, and I was not disappointed! It was my third show, but definitely the best so far! Many of my personal favorites were played such as Taste, PYITE, Llama, Divided Sky, Forbin/Mockingbird, and YEM. I really enjoy Colonel Forbin and the Mockingbird and I wasn't sure I'd get to see it live since it seems so infrequent in the recent years.

Nevertheless, absolutely everything I found to be spot on, and the production was such a great addition to the show. I might say this is their best New Years production, especially since it specifically correlates with the songs.

By the end of the 2nd set, I thought "what else could they even play?" At previous shows I hoped for more but I already felt very satisfied only halfway through!

I also missed my 12:20 train and got lost in the city because they started YEM and I refused to leave early.

Anyways, I may be a younger fan who knows less, but this was definitely a great experience! A set like this I believe has not been played since I was alive.

Thank you, Phish!
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Review by DownWithSteam

DownWithSteam All I can say is WOW. What a night! MSG is just a 40 min train ride away from where I live, so I have been so fortunate to witness so much Phistory over the past few years there. A chase bridge fanatic who loves Phish, I found myself back on the bridge for another New Years show. My friend who goes to every show with me was sick bad with covid and missed this whole run. So I had to do this one solo. I am so glad I did.

Now to the music. First set actually may have been a contender for the best first set of this YEMSG run. Sick tube, Solid reba with whistling. Life Beyond the Dream is beautiful. Thats a new song I am always ready for.. Ruby Waves also had a nice little jam. Cant complain much about this first set.

Okay, a quick disease with a nice punch. Great option to start this 2nd set. At this point we hear Harpua. It was my first ever. I gave it the pop it deserves. Now we are talking Phish. Then- we found out the rumors were true. We were going to witness GAMEHENGE, with illustrations. Inside this beautiful place. I loaded up the bowl and got ready for this adventure. My whole section was just so happy to be there and we celebrated new years early. Fact of the matter is the rest of this 2nd set was tight and combined with the stuff on stage, the narration and the music it was just bliss. I was smiling almost the whole set.

Then we took a long 15. Bathrooms were PACKED and buzzing. HOLY SHIT was the mood. I needed another beer. ASAP.

Now what else can I say? This freakin 3rd set and this encore. Was something truly special. The mockingbird flying, corbins ascent - a new year ringing in - a volcanic melt - A TIGHT yem - long version of CUP for the drink crowd. A possum for the ages. (I said what I said) - yup I had then realized I had witnessed a 5 star show here tonight from Phish.

Now to the encore. Cavern, which opened the first show I ever saw at MSG (12-2917) - in that moment I had no idea what magic I would witness from this band 6 years later in this incredible venue -in this incredible city with this incredible band. Oh and did I mention that the highlight of the show didnt even happen yet? The first tube. Magic. Trey pulled something fierce for us there. It gave me some goosebumps. And a sick tweezer reprise to end it.

If you are not giving this show 5 stars, youre a weak troll.

However... this was still not better than Big Cypress, so I want to make sure thats straight. But this was the best thing I ever witnessed live. This was a peak ill remember a long time from now. Thank you Phish. Please never stop YEMSG.
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Review by Phishiscool

Phishiscool Despite a lackluster opening frame, a back alley abortion disease, and underwhelming visual gag, this show gets a 5 star from my overly-critical self.

Maybe it's 4 night legs that challenge the stamina of big red. I know 4 nights shaves a few years off my time. Maybe it's the ongoing desire to introduce newer songs into newer roles. Maybe I'm jaded, and santos is awesome (though I highly doubt that). The fact is, on a night of nights, this couch-touring phan got more than enough, and isn't that the point?

The first set was perhaps the weakest of the run. Reba and taste give me all the good feels, but standard versions kept my mood sterile.

Once trey slashed disease at its birth, I thought "oh no... My friends are getting robbed of a ranger."Dead fucking wrong.

Gamehendge. Finally. Dosed.

Mostly standard versions across the board, as the band kept it rather safe all weekend. The Bag, the Melt, the Yem, the Possum all had a Lil extra gas. I take that back about bag. BAG was masterful.

This show deserves to be praised as it's exactly what the doctor ordered. The doctor begged for it. To those jaded phans out there opting to down-vote a show just to feel like a guardian of ancient phish lore, I beg you to sell me your sphere tickets. They'll likely play nothing this grand.

Way to go chives and Bruce!
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Review by mcgrupp81

mcgrupp81 3/22/93 was my introduction to Phish. I have probably listened to it more than any other Phish show. I am tacking on this show with the many others I regretfully didn’t attend, but could have. This is emblematic of you snooze you loose and I hope everyone that attended took it all in. Happy New Year everybody.
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Review by Guttermitts

Guttermitts Put it on my Tombstone : I SAW GAMEHENDGE 12/31/23 I LOVE YOU PHISH! THANK YOU FOR THIS TREMENDOUS GIFT! We’re not worthy - we’re not worthy. The amount of time and effort, energy, love for us ( the fans ) and absolutely craftsmen ship from all who were involved….. I’m really don’t have the words. I’m a baby compared to most of you with only 36 shows at MSG, n1 being my 50th it just couldn’t be more special to me. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to witness something I thought was dead forever to me. I used to listen to 1993-03-22 religiously and dream what it would have been like to be in attendance. I was a dream that came true tonight and I’m pretty sure I left my body during that BAG. I can not express enough how much I LOVE this silly band. I love you PHiSH. I can never repay you. You TRULY are the BEST BAND EVER.
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Review by YEM930

YEM930 Remember the first time you heard Lizards… or gathered with new found friends unwinding Gamehendge lore in the lot. A couple of the endless reasons we love The Phish from Vermont.

On NYE, the planets aligned and a meteorite crashed into YEMSG. High energy from the opening notes, then Harpua lit the fuse and the room exploded!

Focus on the past and that's what will last. A fortnight of turmoil. We’re going to make it after all. The past is gone, it all rolls away. Thunder in a circle, down the pipes. Burst into song and unwind. Hear the rhythm from the soles of my feet. We share these moments, ‘til they melt away. Rush and never waste the day!

This has all been wonderful but now I'm on my way… to your town… with Jimmy and his Grandmother… we'll help you party down!

Stepped Into Yesterday. Enlightened by the writings of the Helping Friendly Book. The trick was to surrender to the flow. Open up before my eyes and there I saw to my surprise. Who would've thought it, that's where I am. And she comes to me, looking down from the multi-beast on which she rides like the wind from beyond the mountain. It was the loudest thing I'd ever heard, and I knew my time had come. ‘Cause WE CAN still have fun! So nasty, real outcasty. The wind blows high!

The teeth of time have stowed the rhyme of how things shouldn't be. Heard the crack of thunder, the earth began to quake, a thousand birds were headed for the sky. And one famous mockingbird… Flyyyyyyying WITH the Book!

Countdown to 2024…

Watch the volcano big core crack and glow… the lizards plunge below the water line down, down, down.

The staging. The theatrics. The puppetry. The vocals. The chorus.

Boy.

Man!

I feel so humble with you tonight,
just sitting in front of fire. Peaking top the mountain baby. As an 8’ florescent tube Jedi and his merry mates, close the freezer on 2023.
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Review by powerfulpills_77

powerfulpills_77 Absolutely amazing, I’ve been on this train since 97 and had given up hope years ago that Phish would ever bust out a Gamehedge again, let alone that I would be there. The energy at MSG during sets 2 and 3 of this show was like nothing I’ve experienced (lots of moments come close but nothing this sustained for 2 sets) especially during each chorus of Lizards, during Wilson and Bag; it was like we were all releasing everything we had stored up for almost 30 years waiting for this, I was literally bouncing off the walls, watching everyone else doing the same thing. not that every Phish show isn’t great but this was truly something special. I was in one of the last rows up in the 400s for first set with wife and friends (2 of whom hadn’t seen a phish NYE yet so I kept telling them we should try to just suck it up and buy better seats - whatever they do it’ll be worth it); ended up buying seats in 216 that were row 1 for $50 each at set break and headed down. Disease set 2 opener rocked and then opening of Harpua blows my mind and I’m off the wall - only caught this twice since 97, at my first show (Went) and during Bakers - nothing better than the “coming to your town, we’ll help you party down” line. But then the real craziness happens - honestly just hard to put into words. I hadn’t entertained the idea they would ever do it again - my brother asked me at about Christmas time whether I thought they might do it this year, and I told him, no way (unfortunately) but no way. So the thought wasn’t anywhere in my mind - I had stayed off .net so hadn’t seen the rumors from the guy on the ski lift or any others there might have been. Anyway by the time they got to YEM during set 3 my mind was beyond blown. It was more than I could have ever asked for and knew we still had more to go. Thank you Phish for giving all of us who missed this during the early years a chance to witness - and in typical Phish fashion putting a new spin on it. Love you guys.
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Review by 100PercentAgave

100PercentAgave "other than Forbins, I dont even really care about seeing Gamehedge...rather see them jam than story time with trey"
-100percentAgave (3pm, 12/31/23)
Turns out I care much more about Gamehendge than I thought.

This show was an absolute delight to attend,. The energy in the garden was sustained electricity for 2 straight sets, amplified by a near tangible letting go of the jaded opinions, persnickety nit picks, or critical perspectives it can be hard for many to escape. Everyone was just there, listening to phish, and phish was most definitely playing.

The setlist speaks for itself - had that not been announced as "THE REAL STORY... OF GAMEHENDGE!", and there had been no narration or high wire acts, this set list slams! Boy oh boy did they play these songs with the extra mustard you pay for.
I'm not going to give you a blurb about each song, or comment on the great reba with whitstle ending, because honestly no one cares. The important thing to remember is that this show was a comprehensive demo of why we go see phish. I'd be shocked if anyone in attendance disagreed. That alone puts it in rarified air.

in the week since it happened, I've really been wondering, "why do I care about gamehendge?" and even, "is this a [dreaded] nostalgia act?" Gamehendge at some point made an impression on most who stick around with this band. Whether it was live, on tapes, cd''s, mp3's or youtubes, learning about TMWSIY and piecing together the story through lyrics and rambling AUD narrations was a fun part of falling in love phish. It confirmed it was as weird as you thought, and it felt more magical than corny (and it felt corny as HELL!). There is nothing nostalgic about not playing something for 30 years (or whatever), and ultimately doing it one last time just to make your adoring fans happy, truly happy, together, yet again.
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Review by big_baboon

big_baboon Yes it was an amazing, rare, well played show that will remain the stuff of legends. That said, phish has repeatedly expressed the desire NOT to be a nostalgia act over the years. What do they do? Two consecutive NYE nostalgia gags in a row! Whats more, one those gags violates the holy sanctity of the 1.0 legend that is a complete Gamehendge. It seems almost everyone at MSG lapped it up, but between S2/S3 setbreak I overheard someone say on the phone "this band is out of ideas", and that take doesn't lie. Stunts like last night and NYE2022 isn't what got Phish to where they are now and while the after-show glow may be nice, this show will certainly certainly mark a new era for the band. I hope they can recover.
, attached to 2023-12-31

Review by devwil

devwil I say this as someone who felt 4-stars about the show overall due to the jams and an overall tight performance: I think the gag was super underwhelming. It peaked early and went nowhere great visually/theatrically. It was just such a long walk for such an unspectacular journey; "Harpua" has been more exciting with less of a production, even just at MSG.
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