The first set contained many fun songs of a rarer variety. The seemingly disappearing "Guyute" made it's first appearance of the summer tour followed by the best performed version of "Fuck Your Face" to date. "Foam" was also a nice rarer touch that was placed nicely within the set. The common "Ocelot" was a fun mid-set energy paced performance as was the second performance of Little Feat's "Rocket in My Pocket".
The last four songs in the set truly characterized the last effects of this particular first set. A very fun-filled, funky "Back on the Train" led us to a unique performance of the still rare "Guelah Papyrus". The "Tube"--albeit shorter than most would prefer--was one of the better played "Tube"'s in the 3.0 era. The Page led jam (included Trey's reference of "Page's House") brought the boiling energy in the pavilion to a near over-flowing level as did the set closing "Run Like an Antelope".
Opening the second set with "Birds of a Feather" was a nice throwback to the summer of 1998--as "Birds" has becoming more of a rarity in this era in Phish (especially as a second set opener). The "Possum" was a wonderful escape from generally standard versions of Phish's most performed song of the last three years. The band's (lead by Trey's direction of course) new slowed down, almost scary twist in the middle section of standard songs (i.e. Bethel Woods' "Runaway Jim" or "Boogie On Reggae Woman"--a cover that has been regularly rotated since it's return to sets in 1997) is a unique and very entertaining stand out.
At this point in the show, the band unveiled their newest piece in "Steam". To be completely honest, I haven't reached a level of excitement for a new Phish song since the debut of "Sand" in 1999 (yes, by Phish not just with Trey's solo band). The slow, grounded funky approach to this song sounds similar to a hybrid of "Ghost" intertwined with "Sand". "Steam" is the best song the band has written in the 3.0 era. This isn't an opinion either. It is a fact. The exploratory potential for this song is endless.
The "Piper" brought a very fun and explosive energy to the set and perfectly segued into a very well crafted version of "The Lizards".
The most memorable portions of this show were the "Sneaking Sally through the Alley" and "Harry Hood". The "Sneaking Sally" brought possibly the thickest, funkiest groove that has possibly developed out of this popular cover song since the band brought it back into rotation at Madison Square Garden in 1997. The eclectic bass driven melody elicited one of the band's most cohesive jams since quite possibly 1998. This performance will surely be remembered as one of this tour's most significant--as will this jaw-dropping "Harry Hood".
The "Harry Hood" instilled the awe inspiring beauty that this song was meant to during it's played perfection. The introduction to the song brought playful interplay between Trey and Mike that draws comparisons to the version found on the official release of "Hampton Comes Alive" from 11/20/98 (and similarly subsequently transitioned into "Character Zero"). The peak of the jam was completely flawless and to everyone's delight and surprise segued into the extremely rare "Have Mercy" only to dissolve effortlessly into the remaining portion of "Hood".
The set closing "Character Zero" was a rocker per usual but did contain several unique phrases during the jam portion that mirrored the exploration during "Possum" earlier in the set. Before the band finished their closing jam, Trey tossed in a brief tease of "Smoke on the Water" possibly to remind the crowd of the following evening's show to come in Cincinnati.
The "Slave to the Traffic Light" encore was brilliant. This incredible concert could not have ended on a more fitting note. The "Slave" was nearly flawless and left the crowd with a magical ambiance as the show soon transitioned from present time to memory.
To simply state that this show was "incredible" or "awesome" does this genius no justice. Phish is currently performing at possibly their best combined level since the pre-hiatus era--or possibly earlier.
Please, do yourself a favor and see as many shows as you possibly can in 2011. I know I will.