, attached to 1994-12-31

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

"Phish always does something crazy New Year's Eve," my sister told me after she found out that I had scored tickets to Boston Garden. "Get ready for a party!" I was more than ready for my first New Year's show. I had seen the boys for the first time that summer at Great Woods, and the Divided that capped the Gamehendge set told me that I would be with this band for a long time to come. Now in my hometown, and just a few subway stops away, I was ready for a New Year's party.
"Party" is the best way to describe the beginning of this show. Plastic horns and New Year's noisemakers were quieted only when Paul began blasting the ultimate pump-up song, "Rock and Roll Part II" (the "HEY!" song) from the PA as the band took the stage. After jamming along for couple seconds Trey counted off a rip-roaring "Golgi" that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. My seats were awful at this show -  straight back, deep behind a low overhang. Despite the poor acoustics and annoying safety light in my eyes, I was swept up with the energy of this set. A Tom Marshall-sung "Antelope" soared, and "Glide" reminded us how happy we all were that we had arrived. For me, the centerpiece of this set was the "Divided Sky", although it was marred by an incessant fire alarm that went off several rows behind me. The ventilation in the old Garden wasn't the best, and needless to say, the room had gotten quite smoky by the time "Divided" came around. Nevertheless, Trey played it off with a smile as he jammed along to the fire alarm for a bit before busting back into a wonderful "Divided" finish. A rampaging "Funky Bitch" closed the set. When the lights went up, I couldn't believe the amount of gray haze hanging in the air. As always, I sat down to rest my dance-weary legs and did some people-watching. I was sitting with three friends, none of whom knew much about the band. Their bright eyes told me they were hooked. It's always great to see new fans in the making. The lights went down again and I jumped from my seat.
The second set contained the real meat of this show; three years later I still get chills about that "Maze". This was my first live "Maze", and needless to say, I was blown away. Even after dozens of shows and countless hours on tape, this still ranks as one of my favorite versions. "Bouncin'" pleased my friends, and though I hate to say it, this is probably one of the tightest versions ever. As sick as I am of this song, I always enjoy hearing this version on ALO. The end sounds like an old music box cranking away until Mike thumps the finish. "Mike's Song" blew the roof off the place, and I was completely swept up in the groove. An appropriate "Amazing Grace" ended the set.
Toward the end of the second set break, voices suddenly rose from the PA. Is that"...hey, that's Fish's voice, talking about how all this playing was making him hungry! He orders a hot dog, LARGE fries, and a LARGE Coke. This has us all scratching our heads until his order appears during the "My Sweet One" opener, and the song was aborted for "2001" as the food revealed itself. With growing amazement I suddenly realized that something"...something very big"...was rising from the stage next to Fishman. At the peak of "2001", the giant hot dog, fries, and Coke were unveiled. I couldn't believe it when they opened the hot dog and climbed in. Surely they're not going to -  yes, they began to rise, even as the New Year counted down. The boys busted into "Auld Lang Syne" (playing on portable instruments) as they sailed in their hot dog across the arena and back, throwing souvenir ping pong balls to the audience, dropping balloons -  truly one of the strangest sights I have ever witnessed. Anyway, they eventually glided back to the stage and played a great "Chalk Dust" and raging "Suzie". The "Slave" really moved me; I have since compared all subsequent "Slave"s to this one. Truly majestic. "Simple" was an odd choice for the encore (the third in the New Year's run), but it certainly left me smiling. Dazed and confused, we made for the exit.
The party was still going on outside after leaving the Garden, and the subway ride home took over an hour. No problem -  there was a great show to be discussed. Though often overshadowed by the 1995 New Year's "jamfest," the show at Boston Garden had an incredible party vibe the equal of which I did not feel until Phish returned to Boston bearing sixty thousand balloons two years later. In the meantime, I was happy as could be. The lights of the city were whisked away as the subway went underground, and visions of hot dogs danced in our heads.


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