This recap was a collaboration between @pzerbo and @lumpblockclod.
Phish closed out yet another successful tour at the UIC Pavilion tonight that has seen visits to an outstanding and diverse set of venues and witnessed a solid dose of innovative and thrilling jams. From the awe-inspiring natural majesty of the Gorge, to the shining spectacle of Phish under CK’s light’s at the Hollywood Bowl, to the blissfully peculiar hybrid of Vegas and Telluride that was Tahoe, and the history-drenched over-sized party of Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park, the tour remarkably gained yet more steam as it went indoors to conclude in Chicago. The quality of performances in Chi-town have caused even the most JadedVet™ to stand and applaud, with gloriously extended improvisation (“Waves” -> “Undermind” on 8/15 and “Down with Disease” on 8/16), debuts (“Babylon Baby”), rarities (“Let it Loose”), extended encores on both of the first two nights and all-around solid play. Heading into the final show of the leg, expectations ran high and, as always, anything was possible. Let’s dim the lights.
Uh, wow! “Colonel Forbin’s” opener? The first show-opener since 11/3/89 at the Tree Café in Portland, ME (1,249 shows), Trey opted against the narration to play the sequence straight into a well-played “Mockingbird.” A punchy “Gumbo” followed, great energy but typically restrained “for 3.0.” Then the shocker of the evening... nobody saw it coming... “Possum!” The 12th “Possum” in 31 shows this year (~39%), the work-horse of recent setlists, you’ll hear no complaints from this camp – the Outside Lands “Possum” was also ‘capital AW’ awesome, FWIW – and it rocked the house, as always.
Why... “Weigh!” The first of 2011 (last played 12/31/10 MSG), this version of “Weigh” perhaps referenced the many carnivore-friendly local culinary options (from @chopcg via @YEMblog: “Weigh is for all the fans who will be weighing themselves after gorging on Chicago pizza, hot dogs, Italian Beef & sausages.”) Then a crisp > into a perfectly placed “Divided Sky” that delivered the requisite “extra mustard” for said sausages, as it has for much of 2011. Then a much needed pause... ahh.
The set then slips back into second gear with a languid “Alaska” that provided a brief respite for folks to catch their breath before “Bathtub Gin.” This version stayed mostly within the lines – nothing quite approaching the Bethel version of 5/28/11, for example – but was surely satisfying for all in attendance, and after a brief pause gave way to the always high-powered “Maze.” Rocking hard– nothing out of the ordinary for recent versions. Then a high-energy “Cavern” and to-the-house “First Tube” closer, with the “crowd going apeshit” (@chopcg). Party time! Great set... fifteen minutes!
Set two starts out with the now ubiquitous “Crosseyed and Painless” (11 of its 23 performances have been in 2010-11) To be honest, typical of 3.0 “C+P” this version didn’t stray far from the main theme, before dissolving into a delightfully spacey wash with strong hints of “No Quarter” before cleanly, if not compellingly, dropping into the song proper (a relative shame in a run with little to complain about, since the Rhodes piano intro to “NQ” has the potential for a majestic segue every time they play it). No sooner did “No Quarter appear to open up into a jam than it morphed into “Timber.” “Timber,” which had been teased or hinted at several times this tour, in turn contained extended “Crosseyed” teases (SPOILER ALERT: this may become a theme). Much like “C+P,” “Timber” quickly became spacey before giving way to “Tweezer.” The band plowed right through the composed parts of “Tweezer,” before again opting for the spacey route.
“Caspian” follows and reins the energy in a bit before yielding to a welcome “Piper” whose jam was briefly reminiscent of the monster 2/16/03 Vegas “Piper,” (aka the “Viper”) before dissolving back into a spacey wash and returning to the “Crosseyed” chorus. Then, the funk: “Ghost!” Fantastic setlist call. Unfortunately (first world problem, no worries) a quick ripcord in favor of “Makisupa.”
Keyword referenced some of Trey’s favorite music ("Dank Sinatra," "Nat King Bowl," “Harry Chronic Jr.,” “Herby Hancock” and “Van Inhalin”) and, of course “Page’s House!” Then the bust-out of “Sleep” followed (last performed 8/7/09 at The Gorge, 105 shows). A typically brief but always welcome “Buffalo Bill” bent over next, giving way to the first set closer “Golgi Apparatus.” Then the penultimate second-set closer “Character Zero” took over, with even more “Crosseyed” teases. Then the “final answer” set closer: “Run Like an Antelope.” Not merely content for “C+P” teases, “Antelope” also delivered a “Makisupa” tease. The Phish always surprise, I suppose. “Fish’s House” drum solo! What an energetic, rocking, fun set! Well done, sirs.
“Funky Bitch” continues the charge with yet more “Crosseyed” vocal quotes, laying down yet more funky goodness. “Show of Life” is not nearly the perfect seltist choice for everyone, but creates some space before the best 2+ minutes in rock and roll, “Tweezer Reprise” with the now-obligatory “Crosseyed” vocal refrains throughout the song.
UIC3 was perhaps lighter on the jam and heavier (much) on the teases than the first two Chi-town, but there is no way to end talk of this run other than on a positive. Great show! Good times, Phish fans. Be well. We’ll see you back for recap duty over labor day weekend.
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