To put the Friday show into perspective think about this: Two Rolling Stones songs (“Sweet Virginia,” and “Shine a Light”) were played in the same set, The Who’s “Sparks” was played for the first time since 11/29/96, the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” was played for the fourth time-ever, the first time since 11/21/98, “Sweet Adeline” was played for first time since 08/01/99, “Silent in the Morning” was played for the fourth time-ever without it’s typical intro “The Horse,” “Soul Shakedown Party” was played for the third time since 2004 and “Suskind Hotel” was played for the second time-ever. On paper this show would make most Phish junkies drool. It is easily the biggest stat-building show of the summer. However, as crazy as the show concept was and as sporadic as the song selection might have seemed, or felt, there were definite highlights. The Mike Gordon-penned song “Suskind Hotel” was a pleasant first set surprise, providing the first inspired weekend solo from guitarist Trey Anastasio. The crowd energy in the first set seemed to really take off during the “Sneaking Sally through the Alley > Sparks > Scent of a Mule, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” run, the later featured some smoking guitar work from Anastasio as well. By set break everyone at the show was buzzing with “S” excitement—would the “S” theme continue in the second set? If so, what songs would they play? Truth is, at that point it didn’t matter if the first set lacked flow, the “S” buzz had taken over and that carried into the night’s second set.
Perhaps by sheer luck, Friday’s second set flowed better than the first and the opener “Sand” only fueled the crowd energy. A few of my personal second set highlights include a very beautiful and often underrated “Scents and Subtle Sounds” that gradually slid into a pretty divine “Slave to the Traffic Light,” which could have easily ended the set and left the crowd roaring for an encore. The “Sanity” and “Sweet Adeline” that followed and the “Sabotage” encore continued the “S” madness and were all fun, at times hysterically funny, and totally unexpected. Was Friday night a mind-blowing show? No, it really wasn’t. But it sure was fun as hell and was absolutely entertaining to be there.