Phish have to work pretty hard to surprise fans with their annual New Years Eve stunt. In years past, they’ve turned their stage into an aquarium, suspended themselves above arenas in a giant hot dog and appeared to shoot their drummer out of a cannon. But somehow, the band delivered as they rang in 2019.
In a pro-shot, nearly half-hour video from their Madison Square Garden set revealed the complex production of Phish’s latest hi jinx. During the third set of the night, guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon took the stage in space suits. They played “Mercury,” a jam that Phish.net calls “one of the most ambitious Phish songs debuted since the band returned in 2009– a multi-part composition with prog-rock influences…” The band brought the song’s lyrics – “but the net’s unbreakable / so don’t worry about falling” – to life, with aerial acrobats dangling above them, doing synchronized moves as the band embarked on a spacey jam.
That jam was interrupted by a countdown and balloon drop, which led to the biggest surprise of the night: Gordon and Anastasio taking flight high above the Garden crowd as they played “Say it To Me S.A.N.T.O.S,” a song the band debuted the song on Halloween as they played a special set as a fake Scandinavian band Kasvot Växt.
Gordon proved he had no problem with heights as he kicked and danced along to the song; A GoPro camera attached to his bass adds extra intimacy to the video.
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Phish don’t play as many shows as they used to, but the performance proved they are still as tight and imaginative as ever.