[We would like to thank user Aaron Presuhn for recapping last night's show.]
On a cold Wednesday night, The Phish from Vermont returned to The Petersen Events Center, University of Pittsburgh campus. Contrast tonight’s weather with the last time they played here in 2017...when it was about 95 degrees. Walking up that damn hill in searing midday heat after drinking a Founder’s KBS was no fun. That show happened to fall on my birthday, and it was a heater to go along with the weather. I was excited to see how tonight shook out!
It looks like Phish is going to make this mini fall tour a no-repeat affair, which is completely fine by me! Hey, if they can do it for a Baker’s Dozen, they can certainly achieve it over the course of 8 shows!
After a meet-up with some friends at Dancing Gnome, we migrated over to Hitchhiker Brewing for a few drinks and some tacos. Then we made our way to the venue and met up with more friends before heading in.
Our group was scattered throughout the venue, and my buddy and I posted up in section 123...Mike side. The Pete is a smallish venue, so there’s not really a bad seat in the house.
Lights went down around 8:05 and Gordo kicked off the show with “555." While at Hitchhiker, I happened to glance down at the time on my buddy’s wife’s phone. It said 5:55. Imagine that. I pointed it out and shared a sly nod and wink with him, but she was thoroughly unimpressed by our obviously superior knowledge. :)
Up next was “AC/DC Bag." Let’s get this show on the road! The always-reliable rocker got the crowd going. Bag wound down into the jazzy, instrumental “Cars, Trucks, Buses” from Billy Breathes. This was the third time I’ve caught this relative rarity, last being a few years ago in Reading. Quite a treat!
“Water In The Sky” > “Sample In A Jar” provided an opportunity to grab a quick beer, and I made it back to my seat in time for “Theme From The bottom.” This was a well-played version with some pretty Trey/Page interplay. “Funky Bitch” was as danceable as ever and then we get to a nice “Wolfman’s Brother.” This version wasted no time finding a few minutes of some patient, bluesy funk before building back up to a quick peak. "Wolfman’s" and the "Halley’s" that followed were highlights of the first set for me.
“Halley’s Comet” featured some nice, full-band jamming. This version was longer than most recent versions, if memory serves. The jam wound down into a cover of Los Lobos “When The Circus Comes.”
Time for another Gordon tune, and a debut cover from his new album! I’d only ever heard the album version of “Victim” before, but I thought it worked well in the Phish repertoire. Mike’s bass was hot, and Page’s work on the keys particularly shined with this tune.
A short, but sweet, “Run Like An Antelope” closed out the set in proper fashion.
“Cavern" was an interesting call to open set 2. I’m not sure if it’s ever opened a second set before? Next up is a definitely highlight of the show. “Runaway Jim” is usually a fairly reliable jam vehicle when it shows up in the second. Would this version beat the Longest Phish Jam Ever? Not quite, but it accomplished a lot in it’s relatively short 13-minute run time. It quickly left the song proper and delved into some eerie territory. Mike’s bass was working overtime and Page was laying down some spacy alien-sounding work with the keys. It briefly came back up into some quiet, serene jamming, before taking another quick dip into outer space.
This beautiful jam wound down into the Phish debut of “Ghosts Of The Forest," the title track of Trey’s new project. From here, we flowed into “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing.” The second time I’ve caught this tune...always a treat for me. I do love me some 2.0 songs.
The ensuing “Prince Caspian” emerged organically from a nice little "Ocean" jam...water theme tonight, anyone? This "Caspian" didn’t reach the heights of the version we got here in 2017, but Trey’s guitar was on fire here, and although short, the peaks were great!
Page’s piano chords started up “Fuego," and what a "Fuego" it was! Again, we’re not talking length here, but this one got DARK. Unlike Charlie Murphy...when Phish wants to take me to The Abyss, I will follow quite willingly. This "Fuego" dwells in the abyss. After a fiery peak with some great shredding, this one sinks down and goes through a few minutes of DARKNESS.
What better way to celebrate that jam than with the always fun “You Enjoy Myself." This song tends to follow me around, and I’ll take it every time! You know what to expect from a "YEM." Mike and Fishman were great with the drums/bass combo, and Trey danced around like a maniac. The vocal jam ended with an explosion into “Good Times Bad Times” to end the set on a rocking Zeppelin note.
Now when people ask me why I go see this band all the time, one of my answers is usually “because you never know what to expect.” While cliche, it’s certainly true. “HYHU > Terrapin > HYHU” is Phish being their silly best. I’m a Pink Floyd super fan, and hearing this Syd Barrett tune made my evening. Boy, that Jon Sullen Melancholy has the voice of an angel, doesn’t he? :)
"Julius" rocked us all out of the building, and that was that!
A well-played first set, and a second that had some stand-out moments and amazing flow. I don’t think the jamming quite reached the heights of their last outing in the burgh, but I enjoyed the shit out of this show. Hope you did too!
Couch tour is on the agenda this weekend, and then maybe I’ll see some of yinz in NYC in a few weeks!
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