Squirming Coil contained a Sesame Street theme tease from Page. Mike performed the Phish debut of Sixteen Candles solo on piano. Tom Marshall contributed the vocals to the Phish debut of Champagne Supernova as Harpua, Poster, and Jimmy were confronted by the “Über Demon” and the “evil sound of hell.” This show featured the return of Caravan, which had been shelved since December 2, 1994 (160 shows).
Theme from Sesame Street tease in The Squirming Coil
Debut Years (Average: 1990)

This show was part of the "1996 NYE Run"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by n00b100

n00b100 1996 is almost certainly the most divisive year of Phish's initial incarnation, mainly in the sense that nobody really knows what to make of it. There are certainly some fine shows and some killer jams, as there are in every Phish year after, I dunno, 1989?, but as the year falls in between the crazed rock heroics of 1993-95 and the funk/space/ambient smooth operators of 1997-2000, there's never a sense of 1996 having anything essential to pin it down. It doesn't need to, certainly, but the best years have something going for it other than "hey, these shows aren't bad", and 1996 doesn't really have that.

Of course, there ARE some truly classic shows in 1996, and some of the fun as a fan is to sort through and find the ones you consider best. To me, then, the best of 1996 is not one of the officially released shows, but this gem from the New Years run, when the band was beginning to edge towards the minimalism that made 1997 such a joy to listen to (thanks to the Halloween show and the lessons learned from adapting Remain in Light), but hadn't quite snapped everything into place yet. The first set of this show is a fine example of what a good first set (as opposed to a classic first set) would look like, with some nice jams, smart flow and song selection, and something to talk about at set break like the beautiful rendition of The Squirming Coil here. The Taste is rock gold, and La Grange is definitely not played enough, so those count as solid highlights as well.

As always, the second set is where it's at, and this second set reminds me of the famed 12/30/97 show, with super-deep jams alternating with big goofy fun stuff to mark the show as a New Year's run event. Bowie gets the party started off right, with a pitch-black, claustrophobic jam that builds up powerful tension with the clanking energy that defined mid-90's Phish before letting it all go in the traditional guitar-virtuoso closing section, every instrument being absolutely bludgeoned into submission. A Day In The Life, while oddly placed (it's such a good closing song, wouldn't you think?), helps cool things down before the band launches into Gin, which is a very nice Type I version with Page blessing us with some shimmering complementary organ work. The Gin jam leads into an always fun Lizards (I always get a kick out of the crowd cheer at "the trick is to surrender to the flow"), and immediately after The Lizards wraps up we get into a truly classic YEM. The jam out of the tramps section is very hot, and the Rotation Jam (I wish I knew for certain who was playing what) is also tremendously energetic and upbeat, to the point that you'd just think it was a great jam without knowing that there had been instrument switching going on (although the lack of prominent guitar probably would've had you suspecting something). As the jam reaches its natural conclusion, Mike begins fooling around on the grand piano, and (of all things) begins playing Sixteen Candles. Mike sings it so over the top that it practically burrows its way back under the top and goes over it again, which makes it even more insanely hilarious. We then get the vocal jam, which is particularly frenzied tonight, culminating in a (probably Sixteen Candles-inspired) doowop parody.

And then comes the icing on the cake - Harpua. I don't LOVE Harpua, but I don't deny how fun it is, and this particular Harpua has a special place in my heart due to the Oasis parody. I like Oasis just fine - I've liked them longer than I've liked Phish - but Champagne Supernova is by no means my favorite Oasis song, and is in fact an example of the bloated excess that ended up sinking Oasis (at least in America), so I can get a chuckle out of this song being called "the horrible sound of hell". Tom Marshall actually does a reasonable Liam Gallagher (and by "reasonable" I mean "terrible, but funny terrible"), and Phish's rendition is a funny way to lead us back into the meat of Harpua, which brings the second set to an end. Rocky Top is as good a way to close out such a night of madness as this one.

So there you are - a NYE show that can stand up to the best, with the antics, wildness, and general hilarity that you'd expect from an NYE show, along with two first-rate jams to boot. 1996 may not be my favorite year, but that doesn't stop 12/29/96 from being one of my favorite shows. Here's hoping enough people agree that one Mr. K. Shapiro takes notice some day.
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by MDosque

MDosque What can I say? This was my first show. I was 15 and cruised down 95 from Central Bucks County with six friends, one of which included the daughter of "Johnny Z". He is the music biz guy that started Metallica (you can see him interviewed in the very beginning of the Behind the Music). Anyway, he is old school Haight guy morphed into a metal head in the 80's and again morphed into the fella that helped start the Biscuits and others on the backs of the Phish jam band wave. Anyway he escorted us to prime seats in that crazy old Spectrum and I am forever grateful to him for it. I had been into Phish from the moment I heard Hoist and A Picture of Nectar and had no idea I was getting myself in a 15 year and counting love affair. After a little green that our silly high school asses sneaked into our lungs during a "walk" through the lot, we walked into that great deceased building next to a guy dressed in a full-length green gumby suit and a girl with dreads down to her ass. I was scared and thrilled. Got to the seats, immediately hit the J that came our way and we are off.

First Set:
Poor Heart set the tone, don't remember Caravan, loved Cavern, and I recall looking at the old head during Taste and him shooting a surprised look back that said...Holy Shit..this band really is the real deal. GP is still an all time fav and "Maybe I Can be a fly" is a moment of bliss for me everytime I hear it. This is old school Phish at their finest with Page tinkling away. My memory of the set gets hazy from here, but I was baptized indeed.

Set Break: Quick note...if you are reading this review, then you sought it out on purpose and will of course know how insane the bathrooms were in the old Spectrum. Wow. Going down those stairs...classic.

Second Set:
I was young to see a show and my friends that are my age did not really jump into it until 99 (unfortunately when the band and scene suffered when you look at it in hindsight). I was lucky. This set makes them jealous...it should. Bowie was screaming, A Day in the Life was perfect and Gin was tight. Lizards is another one of those "Phish sound" songs for me. No other band can make that music and it is so unique and distinct. Fuzzy memories every time I hear the song. Good version. Here we go...YEM. Pure Phish magic and fun. Tramps, and great crowd energy. The rotation jam was something special to see live and I am sure the majority of fans have never seen such a thing and never will. Lucky me. They executed it just right. The Oasis spoof was hilarious and true. They suck. They finished off the set with Harpua, which is another classic old school song that gets played less than often nowadays. Encore was simple and icing on the cake after the second set wackiness.

To sum it up, I was lucky. This show is fantastic. I just listened back to it for the first time in a while and was inspired to take some time to write this. I will always think of Phish like this and that is why the expectations are always so high for our band. They were different and we relished it. I will never forget standing there as a 15 year old wannabe hippie who got this first taste of a truly special band. I knew I was in for the long haul.
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by babylonfighter

babylonfighter Remember it like it was yesterday. A super night of tightness by the band and sadly pain the next day (that still haunts me) for this brother. I was stoked as the 28th had left a residual smile on I and I face so was ready for a second helping. My GF at the time was not a big Phish fan but had seen them probably ten times. Why she went to some shows with me I have no clue. I think it must have been that she could not deal with me having fun without her. I went to shows without her but for some reason she cursed me on this jam packed night....
The Unfortunately part for me is because my GF at the time got SUPER drunk (amongst other recreational substances she just could not handle) and was basically catatonic from set break on.
Because she asked like 100 times if it would be over soon in the second set...we left during the segue back into YEM. I was beyond pissed, well beyond frustrated she even came in the first place as I had a lot of friends there and had two awesome seats that one if my boys had been hoping for. I was sure that she wouldn't end up going as her family was in town for the holidays. So in essence I was looking forward to a show sans the buzz kill she became at this point on our relationship.
So.....reluctantly I caved and we left....as soon as we hit the cold air outside she puked buckets, perhaps everything she had ever drank it seemed and then I carried her to the car (she could not even get up off the ground alone) on my pissed off back. Grr! I missed my only shot at Harpua and truly never forgave her....still haven't.
Now at 79 shows after the next 2 MPP shows I still have not gotten another chance. Jah rest her soul as she is now deceased (a tragic accident) but I sure would like another shot and have paid my dues so feel selfishly that I and I deserve one.
Maybe I will get one in Columbia....I sure hope so.
Stay safe, love and take care of one another.
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by feckless_animus

feckless_animus I remember this being some of the most fun I've ever had at a show. The other reviews do it justice. I'm mainly here to float a conspiracy theory.

This was the first (and only) time I was able to make it to a full New Years run. My parents live in central Jersey (and I was home from college for Christmas break), so these two shows were an easy drive south down I95. Somewhere near the city there was a billboard with a giant picture of some unfortunate young girl's red-haired orthodontic-hardware laden prepubescent face (taking up about a third of a full-size billboard, mind you) accompanied by the message, in letters ten feet high: "Happy Bat Mitzvah Cheryl!" (or whatever her name was, I don't remember).

I don't know where the guys were staying those nights (if it's possible they saw the billboard), and my theory is probably wishful thinking, but as soon as Mike started playing "Sixteen Candles," my friend Marie and I looked at each other and bust our guts laughing. Truth be told, we'd done shrooms that morning, so the day was full of little synchronicities. But this one capped the day off, so as to speak.

Does anyone else remember the billboard? Can you confirm or deny?
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by careful_w_that_axe_Miller

careful_w_that_axe_Miller Wow. Set list speaks for itself, absolute screaming white fire.

Second just so good man, wow. That was of the best PHISH I've heard
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by harpua78

harpua78 While fall/holiday '97 gets all the love these days (and certainly deserves it - nearly every show from the Went through NYE is bliss), it would be nice to see more '96 boards released by the band (FL and Vegas are out there of course, but rather atypical shows with guests and such).

This would be a great 1996 release choice. The second set is still my favorite from any two-set show I saw. (8/17/97 II being tops on my list.) It was pure madness. The Bowie that starts it off is full throttle rock with the Philly crowd locked in with the band (Spectrum shows were always great). Gin. Lizards. A YEM for the ages. And the finest rock and roll lighting I've ever witnessed during Harpua (Kuroda = Uber Demon). Sadly, I've never found a AUD that does the music justice.

The night before this was a great '96 show, as were 10/22 and 11/27. Here's hoping that 1996 will get some love soon--and that this year's 12/29 at MSG is as monster a night as this one was 15 years ago.
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround SET 1: Poor Heart: Standard. >

Caravan: Huge bust out, this had been shelved since December 2, 1994 (160 shows) and has never been played since. >

Cavern: Standard. >

Taste: Absolutely an electric version, Trey just goes OFF. Tons of trilling and big peaks. Cannot believe it’s not a charted version!

Guelah Papyrus: Standard.

Train Song: Why would anyone think a clap along would be a good thing during this song? Horrible.

Rift: Standard. >

Free: Standard.

The Squirming Coil: Trey completely blows his part leading up to the: “The muscles flex part.” Check out the Sesame Street theme tease from Page starting at 9:20.

La Grange: Ripped hard.

SET 2: David Bowie: Rock solid version right here. Hard charging for sure. Peaky!

A Day in the Life: They sure loved the Bowie ADITL combination in 96, didn’t they?!

Bathtub Gin: Solid! Nothing to crazy but a good jam here. ->

The Lizards: Standard (great).

You Enjoy Myself: Post tramps jam is so funky, 97 preview. But at the 12 minute mark they kick it into overdrive. Unfortunately…. ->

Rotation Jam: Another Philly rotation jam ???? >

Sixteen Candles: Funny stuff from Mike >

You Enjoy Myself:

Harpua: Funny how Trey rushes to get to the meat of the story. ->

Champagne Supernova: Evil sound of hell, ???? ->

Harpua: Nailed!

ENCORE: Rocky Top: Standard

Summary: I know this is not a popular opinion but this show is overrated. Replay value: Taste. Harpua is obviously fun. I’ve listened to this show tons over the years but it is NOT worthy of a 4.5. I would give it a 3.8 out of 5. Just not a big fan.
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by User_35223_

User_35223_ 2015 .Nettie's Soundtrack!

Also the YEM is one of the best from '96 (that's not saying much, though), as is the Harpua, where our heroes are confronted by that bowl-haired buffoon some call ''Liam Gallagher'', then playing a rendition of Champagne Supernova worthy of the original (once again, not saying much).

Overall: 7.5/10
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by Doopes

Doopes This show was great.. my first taste of what phish really does with the New Year runs!!! They bust it out!! A day in the life was sick, the cameo by Tom Marshal to sing Chanpagne Supernova was hilarious.. the only let down was the encore.. maybe Rocky Top with another song?? but overall a great show with very little let down!! I mean come on now.. look at that set list!!! Caravan, Cavern, RIFT!!, LaGrange?! then crazy second set!! YEM, rotation jam, HARPUA!! just super fun time!
, attached to 1996-12-29

Review by Esquandolas76

Esquandolas76 I had a blast at this show! Phun Harpua
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