The second set opens with a lively Possum, and from the song’s start it’s almost immediately clear that the crowd is ready to get lit and go wherever the band’s whims lead. Possum doesn’t disappoint, briskly blazing along before winding down with a sort of yodelled honky tonk send up. What happens next would probably be better labeled "Cavern/Wilson Mashup," because the two songs aren’t simply sandwiched, but are actually threaded together, the band seamlessly flowing back and forth between the two in what appears to be an ingenious impromptu hybrid.
Segueing immediately into NICU, the boys temper the wild vibe a little while still maintaining an energetic bounce. The song then ends with an escalating riff that suggests BBFCFM before launching into Tweezer, which sort of flops after a monster drum lead up. This is one contentious Tweezer, right here. Full of teases and sprinkled with heavy riffs, the song seems poised to pull itself apart a couple of times, touching on grooves only to restlessly spring away before finally dropping into mid-gear jazz, complete with a distinct Woody Woodpecker tease, and then spiraling on into Julius…
Julius is distilled at full strength, followed by alternately meandering and manic jamming that briefly quotes Tweezer before at last ramping up into BBFCFM. This Furry Creature begins with characteristic heaviness but soon saunters on as a jaunty bluegrass tune, not Scent of a Mule per se but close enough to give the feel of yet another impromptu mashup.
Replete with a chorus of yeehaws and hollering that echoes Possum’s wild vocal ending, BBFCFM becomes a yodeling balls-out rodeo that is somehow eventually corralled back into a continued Tweezer progression, thick with a wind-tunnel of weird feedback, that drops heavily into Mound, audience going wild the whole time and then clapping along (at least trying to) as the groove resettles…
Mound just fits perfectly here, played with uncustomary verve and rhythm, the mood beautifully suited to the energy of the evening and the sense of a journey undertaken. What I love about this set is the way it so masterfully demonstrates Phish’s ever playful improvisational dexterity, as well as revealing the band’s living knowledge of so many diverse American musical traditions.
The Slave that follows Mound is played brilliantly, providing a slowly ascending, soulful climax before leaping immediately into a brisk, Page-dominated Suzy Greenberg to close the set.
The encore that ends the evening is something like a cigarette after sex. You’ve just gotta hear this show.