Wednesday 07/20/2016 by jugglerswithfire


Cheers everyone and welcome back to the second night of Phish at the historic Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in one of my favorite domestic cities, San Francisco. As was touched on in yesterday’s recap, there is a magical energy that is unparalleled when Phish tour moves from the breathtaking venue of the Gorge to indoors where I think Phish fires on all cylinders. Indoor Phish shows create a feeling of intimacy which allows the fifth member of the band, CK5 to truly shine his light and harmonious bliss ensues creating the trifecta of band, lights, immaculate sound and unity with the crowd. Disclaimer: I was not able to attend the show live regrettably, so this recap is based on my critical listening to the show. Without further ado, here we go!

BGCA Night 2
BGCA Night 2

Photo: Jake Silco

Right out of the gates, Phish delivers a short type I energetic version of one of their classics “Chalk Dust Torture” to get the party started in a high gear. Some people in the Phish community think first sets don’t matter, but this first set started with a bang! The band dropped the opening notes of “Free” keeping the level of energy high, and executed flawlessly leaving fans feeling the feeling they forgot, with beautiful funk interplay between Trey and Mike. After a great opening, the set continued to deliver a dance party with the new song played five times this tour, “Breath and Burning.” This song has a wonderful calypso sound and really features the wonderful sounds of Page’s organ.

Theme from the Bottom” is up next, which continues the high level of playing and energy in the room. Phish has been known for non-sensical lyrics, but this song has always been a favorite for me, “Keep what’s important and know who’s your friend”. If you thought this first set was slowing down, a treat awaits you as the band drops a short funk filled version of the crowd favorite Talking Heads cover of “Cities” which has been played four times this tour. The action doesn’t stop here as the opening notes of “Maze” fill the room. One of my friends has a shirt that says always “Bowie” never “Maze”, but this version may change your mind. Page side rage side fun as usual during this version, and you can hear the roar of the crowd and feel the energy in room as it sounds like the room is ready for blast off.

photo by Noah Cole
photo by Noah Cole

Photo: Noah Cole

The friendly funky “Wombat” shows it’s face for the first time since 11/2/2014, giving a nod to one of the many entertainment lives lost in 2016, Mr. Abe Vigoda. If you aren’t enjoying the show by this point, you can crawl along the floor and enjoy a standard well played version of “Split Open and Melt.” Making its second appearance this tour is a fast paced version of “Sparkle” which keeps the energy high before dropping into the short but psychedelic “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” Closing the set, Phish in fantastic form performed a 2016 tour fan favorite, “Space Oddity.” This is a most welcome addition to the repertoire and one of my favorite a capella songs they have ever performed, and a perfect way to end the first set as the crowd and band energy fills the auditorium.

The second set exploded from the beginning with the crowd pleasing notes of Mike’s bass and we as we are led into the ripping abyss of “Down With Disease” which broke into type II territory around the 8 minute mark. The jam was heavily led by Mike and Page with strong contributions by Fish and Trey, all four firing on all cylinders creating a cohesive jam. The jam started quite melodic and built to an intense release ending with dark psychedelic delight. The fire of “Fuego” keeps the crowd rolling with a beautiful ending before descending into a fan’s dream in the 3rd quarter, “Ghost.”

Photo by Jake Silco
Photo by Jake Silco

Photo: Jake Silco

This moment highlights why we see Phish time after time. From the euphoric moment the jam begins, you can tell the band plans on taking care of business and unleashes the full on HOSE. Although the jam isn’t necessarily the longest, there is no time wasted and you are in a state of bliss and glory immediately. As the audience bakes in the bliss, “Ghost” ends and the first “Scents and Subtle Sounds” (without the introduction section) of the tour fills the auditorium. What ensues is a melodic version of the song, with Trey leading the jam and all four members playing as a close knit unit before beginning “Light” leaving us indeed with a wondrous glow complete with a “Manteca” tease which is always a welcome addition of antics and fun. This show continued to deliver with song placement as the band ended “Light” and decided to let the lead out with another tour debut “No Quarter.” Phish always does an amazing job covering this tune, and this is no exception. Who doesn’t love a 4th quarter raging “No Quarter?”. The set ends with the crowd pleaser “Fluffhead,” (Mike still says, Yes!). Taking a breather for a moment, the band chooses to lead the encore “Bug” and close out the show with the always raging “First Tube.”

Overall, this show rates one of the most cohesive shows from start to finish that Phish has delivered this tour. The band seems to be reaching a level of synchronicity in their playing and that will surely continue as the tour goes on. From someone who was not there, this show had amazing song selection, placement and the level of energy was extremely high. Enjoy yourselves out there, and as always we look forward to what the next shows will bring. If you haven’t purchased the new edition of the Phish Companion, support Mockingbird for music education for the children, and read the book!

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, comment by MoPhish
MoPhish Great review! I love the energy they're bringing on the west coast leg of this tour. Can't wait for Dick's!
, comment by raidcehlalred
raidcehlalred thanks for the great review ....
, comment by PhunkyBallOfTits
PhunkyBallOfTits There is a bug tease in fuego. Wonder if that sparked the encore. Great show and solid recap.
, comment by User_11821_
User_11821_ Nice little rundown. The magic of the room all three nights was out of this world.
, comment by Pdizzle72
Pdizzle72 Nice review. Energy was super high this night. Great song selection throughout the night. Probably the best show of the tour!!!
, comment by Devious_Jelen
Devious_Jelen One of the best shows I've seen in years!

No Quarter > Fluffhead!?!?!?! Incredible!
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