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Say It Loud, Say It Proud: Phish Loves Dicks

Posted 4 years ago by Icculus - 37 comments Link:

After two excellent performances at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Friday and Saturday, Phish played long and hard at Dick's last night for the third, and final, show of their first -- and now legendary -- Labor Day Weekend run. Before Friday, who would have thought that Phish would take Dick's for strong, playing song after song, show after show, largely with passionate precision, bringing multiple jams (regardless of length) to often spine-tingling climaxes? Masters on their instruments, and accompanied by a genius light designer in Chris Kuroda and a top-notch crew, Phish rarely cease to amaze their fans. And amaze, for the most part, they did.

While Sunday night's show featured nothing as majestic as the short-but-extraordinary "Tweezer" from Saturday night, nor a setlist as original and inspired as Friday's "S"-songs show, it nevertheless was very well-played, featuring effortlessly smooth flow, and thrilling versions of numerous tunes. Put simply, Sunday night's show helped to secure the Dick's Labor Day run among the finest three-show runs in recent years.

Rather than strain credulity by applying a cornucopia of well-worn adjectives to the songs performed last night that were ordinary and customary versions, this "recap" focuses on the show's highlights and lowlights. It was written after receipt of comments from several Phish.Net working group members who attended the show (including @sausagemahoney, @ZZYZX, @jraras, Elayne, Marcie and @Bizarro_Jerry). If you suspect this perspective will bore, or annoy, you ad nauseum, do us both a favor, and read no more. No hard feelings.

After Fishman took the stage last night wearing a dress with X's instead of Zer0's, Phish opened with the first "Maze" since 12/9/95 Albany, a show that is among the "top 100" shows in Phish history (were anyone ever bold enough to create such a list). Fine as it was, it was not as inspired as either the "Back on the Train" or the "Bathtub Gin" that followed soon after it. Although relatively short, "Gin" raged in a way that made one reflect on the handful of best-ever versions that came before it. It was a spectacular, inspired version, perhaps the chief highlight of the show, that is absolutely "must hear," even if it is arguably not as fine as the Bethel "GoldenGinTeca" from earlier this year. Nevertheless, It alone makes last night's show worth downloading. Do not ever be fooled by either the brevity of a jam or the setlist of a show. Gems on the level of last night's "Gin" should not be overlooked.

Last night's first set also featured the debut of "The Way It Goes," a wonderful song by Gillian Welch that Mike sang. (This song appears on Gillian Welch's new album, "The Harrow & The Harvest.") It was followed by "Halfway to the Moon," a Page original that, like "Beauty of a Broken Heart," deserves to be played far more often than it is (even if Trey doesn't -- yet -- play it to its potential). The first set also included the first ever "Halley's > Tube," a combination that begged to be improvised-on mightily but, unfortunately, was not. And as grand as a "Roses > Chalk Dust" first set closer might appear on paper, these versions were rudimentary.

Fishman's wardrobe change at setbreak appeared to make a difference. He returned to the stage to begin the second set in his traditional Zeroman mumu, and the second set (albeit a bit short) eventually proved to be up there with the most exciting sets in recent years. No joke. An energetic, blistering "Rock and Roll" set-opener gave way to -- of all things -- a sudden, obviously unrehearsed, sloppy, abbreviated version (two verses) of "Come Together." It was the first and only version since 12/8/95 Cleveland, 537 shows ago. The "Twist" that abruptly followed "Come Together" proved to be an entertaining version, with "Low Rider" teasing that did not quite reach the level of noting in the setlist proper, but was nevertheless great to hear.

"Piper" needs to be heard to be believed, especially by fans of The Modern Lovers, and their song "Roadrunner." This song was arguably teased in last night's "Piper," if not also vocally hinted-at by Trey (who wouldn't sing, and never sang, "Radio On"). This "Piper" is among the finest versions in the last decade to be sure. Page even uses his theremin for a brief time during the jam. Quite a treat for everyone at the shows and watching the webcast. This "Piper" screams "DOWNLOAD ME," and you should listen to its screaming.

Following "Piper" was a perfunctory, but still lovely, "Harry Hood," which preceded a "Roggae" that, while no 8/5/11 Gorge version (arguably best-ever), was nevertheless still a magnificently sublime, "top" version of the song. If you're new to Phish, and you dig "Harry Hood" and "Roggae," please, I beg you, listen to all versions on the "Hood" jam chart, as well as all versions of "Roggae" noted in its song history. These gorgeous tunes deserve as much of your attention as you can possibly spare, and they will not disappoint. Listening to them will give you a greater appreciation for the improvisational skill of Phish. Guaranteed.

The set closing "Ghost Forget > Walls" combo is a lot more powerful and aggressive than it may appear on the setlist. Trey attacks "Ghost" with a punchy machismo not often encountered in "3.0." This version is almost entirely about "Guy Forget," the first version since 10/1/2000 Phoenix (199 shows ago) and, appropriately, in the final few measures of the "Ghost," Trey remarks: "And now you all know who the ghost really is, the ghost is Guy Forget." The "Walls of the Cave" that follows, concluding the set, is strong and fiery. And although the "Backwards Down the Number Line" encore may have disappointed some of the more hard-core fans in attendance, it was nevertheless well-played, and its spirit warmly trumpeted the friendship and love that infuses fantastic Phish shows -- like this one.

In sum, Phish delivered at Dick's. All three nights. While there has certainly been too much rebarbative "rip cording" of jams in recent months, which occasionally will make even an "It's All Hood" fan wince, there is no question that Phish has performed quite well, and consistently so, this year. Hopefully, the rumors are true about a benefit show in a few weeks to raise funds for relief from Hurricane Irene, which wrought severe damage to Phish's exquisitely beautiful home state of Vermont. (One of only a handful of "must-see" U.S. states, in my opinion.) Regardless, no one wants to wait too long for another Phish show. Keep the love flowing Phish's way and, hopefully, the positive vibes will bring the band and its fans ever closer, and harmoniously, together. Meet you at will call?

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jsriegler Reply
jsriegler Can't wait for the next show...whenever it is. Gotta love it. Great summer!
Score: 1
whrdina Reply
whrdina Watched all three shows from the couch, while certainly not the same as being there, the stream was amazing and the video stream pleasantly consistent for 3 amazing shows. My only request is for a "Kuroda" cam that lets me forego the MTV stlye editing and just watch a static shot of the stage from far enough away that I can see the lightshow, when the stream cut to this perspective, I always yelled at the tv when it cut away. Overall, I think the stream is as beneficial for us old school folks with families and jobs as the garlic grilled cheese was when we were young and had the freedom to go on tour for 2-3 weeks every year. I love that phish's playing remains as innovative as the ways they bring themselves to us. Go couch tour!!
Score: 9
tmwsiy Staff Reply
tmwsiy " 'Piper' needs to be heard to be believed "

Exactly. Words can't really describe this Piper. Extraordinary. And without question, one of the better Pipers ever, and not just past ten years.

Very, very strong three night run.
Score: 2
Peacey Reply
Peacey Hiatus?
Score: -4
TheMightyGin Reply
Excellent review. To my ears easily the best show of the run. I had some problems with the sightlines and sound the 1st two nights (really, the grounds are great and the staff was awesome, but there's no reason to be playing Dick's rather than Red Rocks). Fortunately, I found it last night. Truly a vintage Gin, you can download for this and not be disappointed. It took me two songs to get back up off the mat. Fortunately, I was back in it for a nice trio of Gumbo, Tube, Halley's. Not sure the Chalkdust was "rudimentary." Clearly Trey was holding something back, for a moment I thought we may get one more before break. But that is a nice, clean version regardless.

Second set was really one long highlight, I agree the "Low Rider" was more of an extended tease than a full version. I was jealous of all the Hood's over the course of the summer and had been hoping they'd bring one to Colorado. Turns out Trey was holding back for a nasty Ghost--what are they doing at the end? I don't know this--not to mention the sick Piper and Walls of the Cave. Sure, the encore could've been one more song but I've got no sense to complain. Sometimes you think you have a mind-line to the band but it turns out you don't because they are 3 songs ahead of you and doing it better than you can think up, anyway.
Score: 3
goldphish Reply
It was also a half moon last night, thus the "Halfway to the Moon"?
Score: 1
Jimmymac03 Reply
Jimmymac03 Great review. This was my first webcast experience and I loved it. Of course nothing is as good as being there, but you can't always be there. I completely agree with whrdina's post btw. I too have a family now and just don't have the time to devote to seeing as many shows as possible. I love the webcast! Have a nice dinner with the fam, put the kiddo to bed, walk the dog (perfect time to fire one up) and kick back for the couch tour! An amazing way to be in on the fun without the cost of travel. Thanks for providing this opportunity for us! Thank you Phish!
Score: 4
lamoni Reply
Was Fishman wearing an X dress because During the S show every letter of the alphabet was used except X? Maybe.
Score: 0
Cerias Reply
As I have a family now as well, I have been enjoying the couch tour this summer. But last night I was able to see them for the first time since Shoreline 9/17/99 with Phil Lesh and Warren Haynes. I was not disappointed. Right from the start with the tight, rocking' Maze, you could tell that there was an energy onstage and off that they were feeding on. They just seemed to be having FUN. My seats were in the stands, and while I was a little worried about the possibility of wind corrupting the sound, the weather was beautiful and so was the sound. My personal favs from tonight were the EPIC Bathtub, Maze, a short, but well-played Gumbo, Come Together, and of course the Ghost -> Guy Forget Walls. I am not a fan of Piper. I have always dubbed it the "song that goes nowhere" (at least in my experience), but last nights certainly got my attention. It was aggressive and fierce and definitely needs to be listened to. All in all, I was ecstatic to have been there last night and as it has been almost 20 years since I first saw them, I am enormously pleased they are still performing at such a high level. Well done boys, can't wait to see you again ...
Score: 1
HotPale Reply
HotPale What a welcome phrom my phamily out here in CO! I think I'm gonna love it here! Thank you Phish for easing me into this transition with such blisssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!
Score: 1
kowphish Staff Reply
kowphish Wonderful 3 night stand in Denver for sure. The boyz put their best foot forward for the final shows of the year (officially as of this comment). Wish I was there. Icculus calls it perfectly and on point. I however will fluff it a bit just for fluff sake, but I think deservedly so. The whole show is a keeper, I will just point out a couple songs that hit home for me. The Welch/Rawlings cover of a song that was released 2 months ago is a treat. If Mike suggested it to the band he should be complemented. For one Welch/Rawlings may be one of the best song writers since Dylan and there came be several songs to choose. Phish's execution of the song is brilliant. Page after the Cairo intro to get his timing plays a solo that one can be imagined in a late 19th Century cowboy saloon in the mid-west. Then Trey not to be denied, though faint, attempts and succeeds at a sweet pick-less finger only electric guitar solo. The first set has a great song selection and is all very well played. Set 2 however is something that can bring the age gap in the fan base together. Come Together is a classic and a treat to hear them run through it after R&R but Roadrunner (reminds me of the Mirror in the Bathroom tease 11/27/98, but more!) where did the inspiration come from for this, I don't know, but thanks and wow, it took Piper to another level along with spacey ending. Harry Hood, my favorite, hit the mark perfectly continuing an incredible groove and followed by the Roggae that had Trey dancing around Mike's campfire bass lines, it sealed this show as a top 100 (I am bold enough :) . You had to be dancing to Harry at this show, one of the better versions this year and in 3.0. Harry Hood is a song the song that makes Phish jams beautiful and this one is up there. Roggae is the closest improvisation type jam Phish has to the Dead's Dark Star. Trey and Mike do wonders with this song. For me one of the better versions of this song is on Hampton Comes Alive (you listen to Mike's signature bass line in that versions and Trey playing around it you are hooked), and this version is in that realm. Those were the highlights for me, and I didn't even get into the HTTM, Ghost Forget. A tremendous way to end a historic 3 night stand.
Score: 5
Live_Eels Reply
How come there was no mention of Page on Theremin during Piper as is usually noted in the setlists??
Score: 1
Back_of_the_worm Reply
Back_of_the_worm A+
thank's for writing this. you saved me a lot of time explaining to my friends. I'll just FWD them this blog and a copy of the shows. To each and everyone that contributed to the vibe/positivity of this 3 night run (especially the girl walking around with the sign "I Love Dick's" ;) i say; thank you for being part of my experience...even u phal.
Score: 1
Back_of_the_worm Reply
Back_of_the_worm A+
thank's for writing this. you saved me a lot of time explaining to my friends. I'll just FWD them this blog and a copy of the shows. To each and everyone that contributed to the vibe/positivity of this 3 night run (especially the girl walking around with the sign "I Love Dick's" i say; thank you for being part of my experience...even u phal.
December 09, 1995

Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY

Set 1: Maze, Theme From the Bottom > NICU > The Sloth > Rift, Bouncing Around the Room, Free, Billy Breathes, Dog Faced Boy, Chalk Dust Torture

Set 2: Timber (Jerry), Wilson[1] > Gumbo, You Enjoy Myself[2], Lawn Boy, Slave to the Traffic Light > Crossroads, Sweet Adeline

Encore: Loving Cup

[1] Quotes from talking Beavis and Butthead doll.
[2] Silent jam. Vocal jam featured quotes from talking Beavis and Butthead doll.

Notes: Wilson and the YEM vocal jam featured quotes from a talking Beavis and Butthead doll. YEM also included a silent jam and a quote of the theme from Shaft.

Score: 1
theHC Reply
I flew down for the Friday/Saturday shows, but alas, had to drive home Sunday to relieve my great mom who had generously volunteered to watch my two boys. The drive was made easier knowing that the video stream was waiting at the home plate.
Friday night fun followed by Saturday Night In-Sanity... well, I guess Sunday is how you answer the call to those first two, definitely EPiC, shows.

It seemed that Page was a little quiet and it was nice to see him shine Sunday evening. The theramin section was breathtaking... the camera angle provided a superb vantage point to him magically moving his hands, turning the little knobs, and looking over to the rest of the band to be sure he was right in the sweet spot. Mission Accomplished.
Score: 1

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