Wrapping up their 7th show in New York State this tour, Phish played a classic Phish show in a lot of ways. The setlist doesn’t do justice to the overall product the band created last night. All songs were placed perfectly among one another which created a real cohesiveness that Phish can’t always capture. Not only were the songs placed well, they were played even better.
The opener really gave a glimpse of how the entire show would go. The Buried Alive > Twist opener is even better than it looks on paper. It was the first time of 3.0 where Buried Alive was played in its true spirit. I felt other times they played it, Trey was struggling to capture the true polished sound of its penetrating lick, hurting the energy the song is supposed create. Last night Trey nailed it. The song did its job, it opened the show up with a jolt of rock energy. They immediately went into a really nice sounding Twist–always exciting for the second song in the show.
The entire first set has the feel of a summer party. 555 further cemented its role as a first-set ditty with more full-band swagger. There’s no question that 555 is the Phish song Gordon has ever written after Mike’s Song. A lot of his songs don’t translate all that well to the rest of the band. The Halley’s > Gin was a welcome combo and while this Gin was considerably shorter than the blowout from Randall’s this one very well could have peaked harder. The real highlight of the first set comes in Wombat. It was the first time the song was extended a bit and boy is this song made for jamming.
The Wombat opened up when Mike switched his envelope filter on and things got dirty. It begs the question when this song is going to get the full second-set treatment (Chicago?!). When they break this song open for good, there might be no going back–for crying out loud, the song is based off of a ’97 funk jam!
The second set once again boasted the largest chunk of improvisational meat. The band went back to Ol’ Faithful of second-set openers: Down With Disease. I’ll let it slide because it’s the first time they used it as an opener this tour and they opened the show with an epic combo. The jam skips the rock segment that normally follows the composed section and searches for a groove quickly. Much of the jam straddles the line between ambiance and a fixed groove before the entire band finally does lock into a rock-oriented groove. The entire jam is solid and its dancibility shouldn’t be ignored. It’s just what the doctor ordered on a nice summer night. The entire jam is so solid that there really is no specific highlight to point to. The song then segued quite nicely into a Back on the Train that extended the night’s dance party more. The jam finds a similar groove to that of DwD before fitting its way into NICU.
More times than not, an NICU will kill the vibe of a second set but this fits the bill quite nicely and they play the hell out of it. Page crushes the song with burning hot solos after Trey calls Leo to the front.
The final trio of songs ushered in some great music to close out the night too. The Fuego, while shorter than the beasts we’ve seen earlier this tour, is undeniably hot. The jam never broke the mold but Trey used it’s fixed structure as a springboard for some soaring licks. They transitioned nicely into The Wedge before closing with an Antelope mashup. Fuegelope, Run Like Diego? Not sure what to name it. But I am sure of the fact that Antelope has been getting an injection of energy this year. The song fell flat a lot of times in 3.0, the same way Buried Alive has. This had the perfect balance of good guitar playing and soulful energy (that both songs need to thrive). Fuego licks were injected throughout the song, in different sections, by both Trey and Page. Each time one person would tease it, the other would catch on. I think my favorite Fuego injection is during the “you’ve got to run like an antelope, out of control” segment since that’s normally the most composed section there is in the song–they still make it work. The Fuego teases continued side-by-side with Meatstick teases in the explosive Character Zero encore.
Last night the band ended with a flawless, high-energy throwdown right before heading into the Midwest today for a weekday stint at Pine Knob in Michigan and a three-nighter over the weekend on Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore.
What I’d like to see them do this week in the midwest: open Wombat up one more time to see what happens, return the song Energy to the second set, work on full-band tension/release climaxes since they are playing so well together right now in every other type of jamming.