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n u g s . n e t | Phish 12/30/97 Madison Square Garden (mp3/flac)
n u g s . n e t presents
In the Fall of 1997 I would come back from every show I was lucky enough to catch and say to my girlfriend, “That was the best Phish show I’ve ever seen!” We had just started dating and she had yet to see Phish herself, so she would ask “How is it possible that every time you see these guys you say it was the best show you’ve ever seen?” Well, the second night at Madison Square Garden of the ’97 New Year’s run was no exception. From the first downbeat of Allen Toussaint’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” I knew we were in for something special. This song had been number two on my wish list of covers for Phish to bring back, second only to “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” (which, of course, they played at Big Cypress and sound checked at Coventry).

Clocking in at three hours and nineteen minutes, this show broke a lot of rules, and frustrated many a taper. The monstrous second set and extended encore clocked in around 2:18, which proved to be a problem for any taper rolling 2 hour tapes. In fact, the band’s masters in The Archives are cut and do not exist in any contiguous form. Luckily there are some interleaved multitrack tapes which can be spliced together in the future. But for now, I’ve dusted off my own DAT masters (somehow the taping gods were with me that night and I ran a 3 hour tape for the second set). The sprawling “AC/DC Bag” to open Set Two, Trey’s shenanigans during the Harpua, the blistering Izabella, breaking the curfew with Guyute so the band could play two New Year’s Eve shows, and the half hour encore throw-down featuring the “Sally” reprise out of Black-Eyed Katy into a ridiculous “Frankenstein.” Thank goodness for 3 hour tapes!

The minute I popped in the DATs and cranked up the stereo, I was back on the floor of The Garden reliving the whole night. After all the Live Phish soundboards, it was humbling to crack open one of my old audience tapes. The tapes exhibit many of the flaws inherent in an arena audience recording from the taper section, yet the tapes crackle with that raw excitement of midtown Manhattan on the night before New Year’s.

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SET1
Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley
Taste
Water in the Sky
Punch You in the Eye
Stash
Chalkdust Torture
A Day in the Life
SET2
AC/DC Bag
McGrupp & The Watchful Hosemasters
Harpua
Olive Loaf Rap
500 Miles
Harpua
Izabella
Harry Hood
My Soul
Sleeping Monkey
Guyute
ENCORE
Carini
Black-Eyed Katie
Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley
Frankenstein