Please note: this recap was written by @PYITE.
Some people hold specific venues in high regard because of past performances. I think it's fair to say that UIC Pavilion is one of those venues. A quaint and decidedly log-jammed sweat lodge is just the kind of place that good Phish shows happen. After two nights here, it should be safe to assume that the public's hopes and dreams for this run are being met.
In an absolutely entertaining evening, Phish put together a show that was light on run-of-the-mill repeats, heavy on a mix of songs you haven't heard in a while, and jams you won't soon forget.
The first set is a textbook "fun" set. The "Dinner and a Movie," "Ha Ha Ha" opener was unique with the latter fulfilling the request of sign makers from the previous evening. The subsequent "Chalk Dust Torture" signaled a decided uptick in energy and featured a tremendous tension build from Trey that seemed to be drawn to fever pitch, with a chaotic peak that had the crowd buzzing before it's eventual release. A personal favorite of mine, "Mexican Cousin" put a smile on my face, along with those sharing the affinity for "not cool" songs and people who generally like getting Anitra Ed on tequila.
"Walls of the Cave" is one of Phish's finest compositions from start to finish and while this version didn't touch the heights seen recently in Lake Tahoe, it's hard to not enjoy. Trey was energized and song catapulted the set into "Runaway Jim," spring boarding immediately into a jam where Trey and Page played off one another building layers of staccato textures and loops. The segue into "Foam" is a classic and will always draw back memories of the early nineties.
Following a vacuum solo'd "I Didn't Know," perhaps inspired by a pair of shirts featuring "a picture of Otis Redding," the band ran through "Ocelot," "Ginseng Sullivan" and "The Wedge" before arriving at "Limb By Limb." A standout version where the band moved effortlessly through styles ranging from calypso rhythms to straight rock. It was a jam that was in a sense, a perfect segue into and out of itself where all four members helped drive the variety and then find their way effortlessly back into the exact place they were at it's beginning. Really special. While the set would have been perfectly capped by the jam, Trey quickly decided to play one more song. The end set wildcard is really becoming the norm, and tonight it featured the reemergence of an amazing song from Exile On Main Street, "Let It Loose." A song that is a perfect match for Page's strengths as a singer and was a brilliant end to the set.
The second set was much more focused on the jams and overall flow. A stanza that was locked in on an arc that ebbed and flowed between tempos and emotions it was a very fine effort, propelled by the 20+ minute jam in the opening "Down with Disease." Following the opening solo, the stage went black and a dark jam began to emerge following the giant guitar riffs. Over the course of the ensuing segment all four band members played an active role in ensuring that the song didn't stay in one place for too long. Almost taking turns in the lead, they moved through layered patterns that shifted from rock to spacey and then back again. Fish pushed the final portion with driving rhythms that fueled the song into a ocean swell that pushed and pulled to the final vibrating, ambient segue into "Twist." With driving tension throughout the jam built into it's final chorus of "wooo's" and found emotional release in the happiness of "Backwards Down The Number Line."
The crowd was more than enthused to dance their cares away only to have the party continue with "Golden Age." In what has to be considered one of the best things to happen since 2009, this song and it's infectious groove has developed into a unique vehicle that balances dance and musical exploration. "A Day In The Life" provided the first real breather of the set, but was short lived as "You Enjoy Myself" would close things out with a brief jam that pushed slightly with big riffs from Trey and pulled Mike off the traditional drum and bass groove and closed the set in the way only “YEM” can. The encore certainly held a candle to the previous night, with a triple play of "Heavy Things," the always amazing "Slave" and a raucous version of "Rocky Top."
While it would have been completely satisfactory to leave Chicago on those notes, thankfully, there's still one last night here.
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March 27, 1993
25 years ago
Set 2: Buried Alive > Halley's Comet > It's Ice > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar.
 Fish on trombone.
 All Fall Down signal in intro.
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