Of all the months of the year, December holds the status as the best month of Phish. While one could easily make arguments for the great shows throughout summer, the phenomenal November’s and even the March and April shows of years past that blew the minds of fans throughout the northeast. Yet when all’s said and done, December has to rank as the best of them all.
Combining the culmination of a years worth of touring with the frigid temperatures that seem to amp a crowd cramped into a stadium just a bit more than in an open-air amphitheater, with the collective energy that resonates during the Holiday Season, Phish has always seemed to take their music to another level when the calendar turns to the last month of the year. Add to it their nearly annual four-night New Years Eve run that leads up to a three-set celebration, and there’s more than enough evidence of why December is always the Phish month to remember.
Over the next three posts, Tackle & Lines is going to explore three December runs in particular – 1995, 1997 and 1999 – to both highlight the innovative and celebratory moments of each month, but more so, to try and understand further what made these months so special in their respective years, and throughout Phish’s career. We’ll analyze full shows, deconstruct jams and repeated themes, analyze the styles explored and developed, and try to better understand what pushed the band to the musical heights reached in each of these Decembers.
Before we begin, below are three examples of the energy, exploration and raw power that have defined December Phish.