Eighteen thousand. That is about the maximum capacity for a little establishment in New York City called Madison Square Garden. Seventy-two thousand is the amount of people you can fit within the NYC institution in four days.
Four days is the average number of days in a Phish New Year's run.
Ten minutes. That is the average amount of time it takes Phish to sell all 72,000 tickets, every year for the past four years. And four is the number of years Phish has held a contract with Madison Square Garden to ensure a steady home for such a massive tradition.
The band has played the Garden more than 30 times, thanks to the famed New Year's run, with a few breaks in between to explore some other locales, including the American Airlines Arena (which holds 19,600 capacity with similar sellout times to the Garden) in 2003 and in 2009. Phish's brief encounters with the Miami kind went over like glow sticks at Ultra Music Festival and has left the rumor mill churning, "NYE in MIA?"
After hearing this multiple times this year on the road, I've dug up the top five reasons why phans are right to be buzzing with Miami lust.
5. Contract fulfillment with Madison Square Garden.
The idea of this contract was stuff of legends before Jim James of My Morning Jacket spoke to Andy Greene at Rolling Stone in 2012. James reported that they were putting together a New Year's show in Boston because Phish "booked, like, the next four years" at the Garden.
Now, four years from 2012, obviously wouldn't mean much to us in 2014, but when Phish returned to MSG for the 2010/2011 NYE run, rumors of a signed four-year contract spread like wildfire, prompting phans to already anticipate what would happen after the four-year contract was up.
At the time Jim James spoke, he paused, interjected a speculative "like," and added the magic number buzzing around, which leads a lot of phans to believe that James really just means the band has dibs on the venue for a duration of four years, not four years on top of the two previous NYE stands at MSG.
For the record and for your consideration, Phish has recently played MSG on New Year's Eve during the following years: 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14.
4. New York's Upstate Live magazine reports final year at the Garden.
During a review of last year's New Year's Eve show, Johnny Goff reported a bit of sentiment when discussing the placement of "Silent in the Morning" in the set list, saying, "Also, notably 'twas the final line of the lyrics, 'I think that this exact thing happened to me just last year' having significance as the boys wrap up the final year of their contract with MSG."
Phish phans are relentless, and there is no doubt that Goff's golden egg of speculation didn't go unnoticed.
3. Phans are weary of Madison Square Garden's construction and New York winters.
A quick search on messageboards shows that not only is the band's following growing weary of cold-weather-state shows in the dead of winter but that the construction going on at the Garden has proven obnoxious as well.
According to reports on Phish.net, "I just hope that the message about how this venue is no longer that awesome for shows is getting back to the band. The renovations between [sections] 11 and 12 were the nail in the coffin for me this year." Another phan writes, "Please play somewhere else. MSG is getting old!"
The construction at MSG is on-going as New York eventually plans to relocate the arena altogether in the next ten years, which makes the place seem a little unsustainable for carrying on such a tradition much longer. Plus, we all know Elton John or Prince are going to want to get in there one more time while the venue is still at its current location.
Maybe it is time Phish moves on for a bit?
2. 2014 Fall Tour is totally different from previous fall tours.
Yes, Phish not only carry on through a heavy summer tour schedule but start up again in October for some shows leading up to the famed Halloween concert where they "dress up" as another band for a set and play it their way.
Fall tour usually packs in some Midwest dates leading up to somewhere like Chicago or Atlantic City for the Halloween bash, but this year the band will be going full on westward, spending most its tour in California with two rare shows in Washington and Oregon, leading up to a Halloween in Las Vegas (that is going to be so nuts!).
These shows are a change of pace for the foursome, which is all anyone needs to believe that the New Year's run will follow the same change of pace and bring the guys all the way back east to the Magic City.
1. American Airlines Arena is better!
Well, it is bigger, at least. Where the Garden holds approximately 18,200 at its capacity, the American Airlines Arena can hold a bit of a bigger party at a capacity of 19,600. That gives an extra 1,400 people the opportunity to boogie down when the circus comes to town.
What's more is that Phish could even just return to the swamp like they did in 1999 at Big Cypress (I dream big) and that land invited upward of 48,000 folks celebrating the new year by having their faces melted in true Phish fest style.
Florida is a weird and wild place, little understood by folks who don't live here. Speculation is for a New Year's run in Miami at the American Airlines Arena, but let us not forget, my Midwestern and Northern companions, it is hot here always and a New Year's festival at Big Cypress would annihilate any Madison Square Garden show or, for that matter, any American Airlines Arena show, but tradition puts New Year's shows in arenas, and so that is where the energy is flowing.
Whether you join the collective consciousness on this one or not, Phish will be playing somewhere and has been playing somewhere for more than 30 years on New Year's Eve. The Triple A may just be ready for a bit of those free-spirited Phish phans this year to wipe our memories of LeBron James and too many Disney on Ice performances right away.
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