BoxOffice Insider: New Year’s Rockin’ Eve – Phish, Ozzy, Billy Joel Among Top Draws To Ring In 2019
Scott Barbour / City of Sydney / Getty Images – New Years
Australia rings in 2019 with a breathtaking display over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The traditions are countless when it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve throughout the world. The annual ringing-in of the new year is perhaps the quintessential live experience – and rock ‘n’ roll, with its many diverse styles, is a huge part of the tradition. One event that has grown into an annual staple in the run up to New Year’s Eve is the appearance of Phish in a multiple-show stint at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In eight of the last 10 years, the veteran jam band has appeared at the Manhattan arena with a New Year’s engagement (excluding 2014 and 2009) and a total of 13 times since its first show at the venue on Dec. 30, 1994.
Based on box office counts recently reported from the 2018 run, the four-night affair beginning Dec. 28 set a record gross among the band’s New Year’s engagements at The Garden, as it has every time since 2010. The latest stint racked up $6.3 million in sales from a total of 76,085 sold tickets, topping the 2017 event by almost a half-million dollars. Although the latest gross is the group’s highest during December at the venue, the 2018 attendance is the fourth-highest among the New Year’s stands. The 2013 run still holds the record with 77,140 sold seats over four nights, followed by 2015 with 76,954 and 2016’s total of 76,538.
With the recent shows in the books, Phish has now played a total of 60 performances at Madison Square Garden since its first show there in 1994. That debut performance drew a sellout crowd of 19,165 and grossed $431,212. As is typically the case when looking at archived box office results, the ticket prices can reflect the greatest variance from one era to another throughout the years. The 1994 show featured a sole ticket price of $22.50, but last year’s tickets ranged from $79 to a high of $99 – still quite economical compared with many New Year’s events in 2018.
As an aside, Phish’s highest-grossing run at the arena was not one of the New Year’s events, but the “Baker’s Dozen” series of 13 performances in July and August of 2017.
The total take from those concerts topped $15 million from a ticket count of 227,385. Historically, the band’s overall gross total at Madison Square Garden lands at $64 million from more than 1.1 million sold tickets, according to Pollstar’s box office archives.
On the opposite American coast on New Year’s Eve, the Forum in the Los Angeles market also hosted a high-profile sold-out rock concert to ring in 2019. The Inglewood arena welcomed 12,465 hard rock and heavy metal fans to Ozzfest, a one-night-only event featuring Ozzy Osbourne along with alumni from past Ozzfest tours in a main stage lineup. Ticket sales from the Live Nation-produced concert totaled $1.2 million with tickets priced from a low of $59.50 to $179.50.
In a press release last October announcing the concert, Ozzy remarked, “So I thought, we didn’t do Ozzfest in 2018, so let’s do a New Year’s Eve Ozzfest.” Sharon Osbourne added at the time, “What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with some of the greatest performers in this genre and our longtime friends Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Jonathan Davis (of Korn) and Ice-T (with Body Count, the only band making an Ozzfest debut).”
The single-show New Year’s Eve event in L.A. was a departure for the Ozzfest brand that debuted in 1996 with Ozzy-led festival dates in two U.S. amphitheaters. Although just a two-city event in its inaugural year, from 1997 through 2007 Osbourne and the other artists in the festival lineup took to the road for multiple-date tours. Beginning in 2008, Ozzfest varied in scope during the following decade – a one-day event in some years, a string of dates in others and sometimes skipping a year altogether.
Joining the ranks of New Year’s Eve headliners was Billy Joel with a sellout crowd in the house at NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island in New York. With a gross of $2.2 million, the arena box office logged sold tickets totaling 14,515. It marked Joel’s 33rd concert at the arena during its history and 25 years since the last time he played there on New Year’s Eve. His 1993 performance was one of six concerts during a 10-day span at the arena between Dec. 29 and Jan. 8, 1994.
More recently, his Aug. 4, 2015, concert was the last one held in the original arena before a renovation that stretched more than a year and a half, and he was the first headliner out of the gate to play the newly revamped facility on April 5, 2017. That event drew 14,835 fans and amassed $1.7 million in revenue.
Other artists with a New Year’s Eve concert reported to Pollstar include Kaskade who played a sold-out show at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, topping $1 million in sales. Pop star Kesha made an appearance on the final night of the year at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., with 5,947 fans in attendance. Lynyrd Skynyrd took its Last of the Street Survivors farewell tour to WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla., on Dec. 31 with ticket prices topping out at $501. The legendary rockers sold out the venue with 3,450 present and $396,219 in sales.
Trombone Shorty played on New Year’s Eve at The Anthem in Washington, D.C., scoring a $325,525 gross from 3,995 fans. s