Saturday 08/31/2019 by phishnet


[we'd like to thank Josh Cohron, @cohron1, for recapping last night's show - ed.]

A lot of Phish thinking these days seems to revolve around, “What’s next?”

Since the end of the final notes of the THANK YOU Encore at Dick’s in 2015, questions arose about how the band could possibly top 2015’s Summer Tour. Would, or even could, this era of Phish ever reach the heights of that almost-universally-loved tour? An up-and-down 2016, which probably relied too heavily on Big Boat material, was followed by the signature run of this era: The Baker’s Dozen.

The same, natural questions were had by fans of Phish after the Dozen ended: Where does the band go from here? The first thing they did was play a monster show Friday night at Dick’s.

Photo © Phish, Jake Silco
Photo © Phish, Jake Silco

2018’s Summer Tour was building steam as it headed towards the now ill-fated Curveball. Our fanbase, ever looking forward, wondered how the band would respond to the festival that wasn’t. Would there be a nod to Curveball? Not really, but the first thing they did was play a monster show Friday night at Dick’s. And then went on to have a stellar Fall Tour and New Year’s run.

2019 was another year that seemed a bit up-and-down; integrating two new albums’ worth of material seemed like a bit much at times. And then Night 3 of Alpine happened. The 38 minute “Ruby Waves” jam mixed in with bustouts and drooling and everything else let us all know that the band can turn it on, and take almost any song deep when they choose to.

Thus, going into the first night of Dick’s 2019, I couldn’t help but think, “What’s next?” Would there be another monster show played on Friday night? And, maybe most importantly, what chapter in The Book talks about the plague?

After much speculation about how the band would acknowledge the medieval disease which canceled camping and "Shakedown Alley," Phish opened Friday night’s show with the second version ever of “Can’t Always Listen” and its “Watch my dog bark at his own shadow on the ground” lyrics. A spirited version of “Free” followed, with a lyric change from Trey to “Flea” which had him laughing at himself early in the show.

"No Men In No Man’s Land" got its annual play at Dick’s, not quite reaching the heights of the last three versions played at the venue. A solid “Back on the Train” was followed by a “Rift” that recovered after a bit of a rough start. “Steam” seems to have found a nice place as a first set song allowing for exploration.

Photo © Phish, Jake Silco
Photo © Phish, Jake Silco

A rather bumpy for “Poor Heart” saw Page shine at the end of the tune. “Undermind” provided its usual slinky playing. “Train Song” followed and, as was a bit of a theme in the first set, started a bit haphazardly. Typical soaring play from Trey in “Wingsuit” was followed by the versatile “Blaze On” which served as the first set closer.

It was a fine first set, if not a bit of a warm-up for a band that hadn’t played a show in almost seven weeks. As is my wont, that same old question rang in my head, “What’s next?”

Everything’s Right” opened set two and the band seemed ready to deliver the improv the first set was lacking. This song has become a favorite jam song and it delivered in a big way. After clocking in at nearly eighteen minutes, the jam dissipated into “Mercury.” “Mercury” is arguably having its finest year since being debuted back in 2015. Excellent versions have been played in Mexico, Camden and Fenway. I think it’s safe to say we can add the Dick’s version to that list as well. The multi-sectional jam went “Type II” quite quickly and featured strong playing from all four band members. If you don’t listen to full shows but are more of a “highlight seeker,” check out the forty minute combination of “Everything’s Right” > “Mercury” immediately.

Shade” was a well-earned breather after taking the first two songs of the set deep. “Light” followed and the ensuing jam seemed to be straight out of Fall Tour 2018. Proving that old habits die hard, a seamless segue into “Party Time” followed and I believe everyone is fully on board that “Party Time” was actually played.

Sand” came next and departed from its rocking start to slower-paced jamming and then right into “What’s the Use?” The typically spooky song was brought to near silence at times and Mike dropped multiple “bass bombs” which rattled the entire stadium. A strong version of “Harry Hood” closed the set. Featuring all kinds of improv and trilling play from Trey, “Hood” served as the perfect set closer as it usually does.

Photo © Phish, Jake Silco
Photo © Phish, Jake Silco

The first Kasvot Vaxt song of the evening, “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S” was chosen for the encore and the rock anthem had everyone in the venue grooving one last time.

Night 1 of Dick’s didn’t quite reach the heights of the previous two opening shows at the venue, but it was a solid show nonetheless. Following a hit-or-miss first set, the second set delivered tons of improv and excellent versions of “Everything’s Right,” “Mercury” and “Harry Hood.” And maybe it’s time for another night of Dick’s to reign supreme.

With two shows left this weekend, I already can’t help but wonder, “What’s next?”

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, comment by raidcehlalred
raidcehlalred Great review(!) I'm wondering: How, from a fun/humor POV, is Trey going to top that opening 1 - 2? So funny. Here's to a deep Plasma -> Golgi pairing ....
, comment by Schnitzelburg_Groove
Schnitzelburg_Groove Nice review! I am glad we’re getting to do our 4th consecutive Dick’s run together.

Set II was big, big fun. All of it.

For me, Set I was highlighted by Free, No Men, and a cathartic Wingsuit.

Can’t wait for tonight’s show.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten One minor correction... Shakedown Alley was in full swing. Right by entrance F.

Can't keep a good dog down.
, comment by DaleCooper
DaleCooper Great review! Agree with it. Set 2 was a riot and really makes me excited for the rest of the weekend. Thanks for the write up!
, comment by kipmat
kipmat Well done, @cohron1! What's next? :)
, comment by EvenCarlSagan
EvenCarlSagan Now THAT is a damn good review!!!

, comment by davludes
davludes Great review. Fun show all around. I was sitting near an isle and I always laugh at what song people choose as a pee break. You going pee during train song?!? Silliness.
, comment by Slewfoot
Slewfoot Perfect review. Exactly how I feel about the show. Thank you!
, comment by Franklin
Franklin solid review... tough because of the expectations going into the show, but I think you did the whole show, good points and bad points, justice.
, comment by babble2thenag
babble2thenag The author has removed all text from this comment.
, comment by climberForbin
climberForbin Coincidence or not?
No Men In No Man's Land, Blaze On, Mercury, and Shade all debuted in Bend, OR 7/21,22/15
, comment by floofy
floofy Great review!! This was my first show, I was so happy to get such an awesome Hood (is the song that got me into the band)!! N2 and N3 were far superior but man that Hood was special for me
, comment by KidCough
KidCough Relistening now, I was in a weird frame of mind in that show maybe, but my friends and I all came out thinking that was a weak effort. Wingsuit, Everythings Right and Mercury were definitely the highlights for me I would have to say -- luckily the next 2 nights were hot hot heat.
, comment by Midcoaster
Midcoaster This is a fantastic recap. Why? Well, @cohron1 is talking history. When we walk into a storied venue (Hampton, CCCC, MSG, heck, even Mansfield), our expectations launch as far backward as they do forward. How can one recap all of that history? Well, we could start by not listening to what the naybobs say and by looking forward to what's next. I, too, felt the momentum going into Curveball, to the point where I felt like a new sound would be born.

Thanks for the show notes and thoughts, @cohron1. Way to keep one foot in the past and one foot firmly on the pedal of the future!
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