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Why is Phish’s 13-Night Run at Madison Square Garden Iconic?

Phish, the American rock band, popularly known for their improvisations and blending genres consistently captivates their audience with bursts of dazzling musicianship. While they have loyal fans who are constantly wowed by their performances, did you ever wonder why was their 2017 concert series in Madison Square Garden unforgettable?

Phish played 13 straight shows in Madison Square Garden in 2017. They performed 26 sets across 13 nights, with a total of 237 songs. No song was repeated for the entire duration of the concert. 

Phish’s Iconic “Baker’s Dozen” Concert Series

The 39-year-old band Phish held the Baker’s Dozen concert series in Madison Square Garden in 2017. It was scheduled for thirteen consecutive nights, from July 21 to August 6. The band performed a total of 237 songs. One hundred seventy-six of the songs were original compositions of the band, 61 covers, 19 debut songs, and 23 bust-outs. (Source: Jam Base)

The concert series spanned 26 sets, with a run time of almost 35 hours. The band named each night of their concert series with the name of a donut to give their audience an idea of the night’s concert. It became somewhat of a game for most Phish fans trying to analyze what songs will be played during the night with just the name of the donut that represented the set.

The series was a success, with a championship banner raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden. The mayor of New York also officially designated August 6, the last day of the 13-night run, as Phish Day. At the time, the band played 52 shows in MSG, coming close to the legendary Elton John’s and piano man Billy Joel’s number of shows in MSG. (Source: Live for Live Music)

Who is Phish?

The band was formed at the University of Vermont in 1983. Trey Anastacio III started playing with Jeff Holdsworth. The two then met their drummer, John Fishman, when they heard him playing his drums in their dorm. The trio was joined by bassist Mike Gordon who responded to their flyer searching for a bassist. (Source: Guitar World)

The band played small gigs, and in two years, Holdsworth quit the band, being replaced by keyboardist Paige McConnell. In the band’s biography written by Parke Puterbaugh, the band claims that their name came from an idea when one of the band members made the sound of air coming out of a balloon. They almost named the band phhhhssssh but realized no club would book a band with that name, so they simplified it to Phish. (Source: Thrillist)

Phish is loosely classified as a jam band. Their musicianship shows a wide variety of musical styles from reggae, bluegrass, blues, and, most of the time, experimental. They are often compared to another band, the Grateful Dead.

But what sets them apart is that their live shows are always energetic and entertaining. The band members make sure that the crowd lets loose and enjoys their time in their concerts. Phish was likened to a carnival in the past, with trampolines and huge balls bounced by the crowds. Band members also often wear far-out costumes like Viking helmets with matching swimming goggles. (Source: Guitar World)

But what draws the crowd is when the band jams. They’re known to veer in and out of their songs, playing extended solos, experimenting as they go. They also have a fifth unofficial band member in the personality of Chris Kuroda. Kuroda is the band’s lighting designer. As the band usually plays extemporaneously, Kuroda must respond accordingly. (Source: Thrillist)

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