On Sunday night, Phish closed out their summer-opening run with a their third of three performances at Chicago’s Northerly Island. After demonstrating that they were in mid-season form and ready to take the summer by storm during their Friday and Saturday night shows, the band rounded out the first of just three multi-night runs of the summer with yet another solid show.
As with the previous night, the first set was stereotypically first set-ish. A (relatively rare) “Possum” opener kicked things off, followed by a standard “555.” A quick, funky “Tube” came next, followed by “Ocelot,” which Trey Anastasio built into a satisfying slow, bluesy Type I jam. Next, Page McConnell–the Chairman–came out from behind his ‘boards to do his cocktail lounge singer thing on “Lawn Boy,” with help from a particularly beautiful solo (by “Michael Elliott Gordon, ladies and gentleman). Page took the opportunity, as always, to profess his immense gratitude to the equally grateful fans in attendance. No, thank you Page, thank you.
“Stash” got the call next, as the band pushed through some minor flubs in the song’s structure and crafted an interesting, dissonant, rhythmically textured framework as the jam built to a peak. “The Line” was, well, “The Line”–fine if you’re into that kind of thing. As they stepped to the line, it felt like Trey may have been a little off the ball rhythmically. No matter–as quickly as it came, the Fuego tune gave way to “Birds of a Feather,” starting a run of high-energy favorites (including “Funky Bitch” and “Run Like An Antelope”) to close set one.
With just one set to go in their 2017 Chicago trip, Phish took the stage on a mission, spinning a set heavy on dark, distorted, almost metal-infused playing throughout. The band got the ball rolling quickly, dropping into fan-favorite improv vehicle “Carini.” Proving to be the improvisational highlight of the evening, “Carini” flowed back and forth between dark, pulsing minor key motifs and anthemic major key peaks, with Page showing off an array of keyboard sounds as cymbal-heavy Jon Fishman beats kept the jam sauntering forward. Trey picked up the reins from there, beginning an arpeggiated lead line on top of a driving piano progression. A sunny major key vamp led by Mike blossomed from there, the band layering textured major lines to beautiful effect before a dissonant mist began to billow up, eventually manifesting as a segue into “20 Years Later.”
Trey took the chance to flex a bit on his “20 Years Later” lead lines, locking into the Joy tune with intense focus. After the song/s structure, the jam kicked into gear on the back of a single, purposeful, hard rock chord from Trey. The vamp got increasingly darker, murkier, and more chaotic by the second, the band playing off feedback and reverb distortion before slowly oozing into the song’s instrumental refrain. “Piper” was up next, and quickly moved into a piano-led jam, featuring some reverb/delay shenanigans from Red. The short-but-sweet jam picked up a jazzy flavor with Fish leading the way, toying with the meter under funky clave from Page and a driving jazz bass line from Mike. The tension built from there, but instead of building to a peak, the band let the bottom drop out of the jam, opening up sonic space for the evening’s sole debut, a complex, metal-tinged tune called “Thread.”
The latest in a handful of new tunes introduced to the Phish canon this weekend, “Thread” is easily the most interesting of the bunch from a compositional standpoint [note: thats just, like, my opinion, man]. Flowing back and forth between bright, sing-along major key ditty and dark, distorted, heavy rock tune, the new tune felt more characteristically “Phish-y” than much of the band’s newer material. The rocking new song featured some Middle-Eastern flavored soloing from Trey and a brief but thoroughly satisfying Led Zeppelin-esque hard rock jam. While it didn’t get the improv treatment to the extent that the band’s “Everything’s Right” debut received on the tour’s opening night, “Thread” undoubtedly has potential as an exhilarating jam vehicle in the near future.
“Bathtub Gin” came next, served with an “extra-dry,” perfunctory piano playing from Page with cascading Trey riffs serving as a welcome garnish, despite some flubs early on. The major key jam was ripcorded rather quickly, as a feedback loop dropped into a bright and bouncing “2001.” The “2001” space odyssey appropriately picked up a “Martian Monster”-like sound, which gave way to a funky stop-start jam (and a hearty dose of ever-controversial “woos” from the crowd). But while some more hardened fans may have lamented the “woos” the lyrical quotes of James Brown‘s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” more than made up for it. Finally, “Cavern” closed out the set, with Trey unleashing a barrage of Hendrix-like riffs over the intro and throughout the tune, before a “Wilson” > “Character Zero” encore sent the crowd back out into the Windy City streets.
Next up for Phish is the Wright State University Nutter Center on July 18 in Dayton, Ohio, then the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA the following day. From there, Phish will descend on Madison Square Garden for thirteen nights, starting this Friday.
SETLIST: Phish | Northerly Island | Chicago, IL | 7/16/17
Set 1: Possum, 555, Tube, Ocelot, Lawn Boy, Stash, The Line, Birds of a Feather, Funky Bitch, Run Like an Antelope
Set 2 :Carini > Twenty Years Later > Piper > Thread, Bathtub Gin > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cavern
Encore: Wilson, Character Zero
This show featured the debut of Thread. The Birds was quoted at the end of BOAF. 2001 contained Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine quotes. Carini was teased at the end of Cavern. [via phish.net]
[Cover photo via Phierce Photo by Keith G.]
If you’re heading to New York for Phish’s 13-night Baker’s Dozen run at Madison Square Garden, don’t miss all the incredible late night shows going on in the City during the run! Check out Our Official Guide To Baker’s Dozen Late-Nights for all the info.
Live For Live Music Phish Baker’s Dozen Run Late-Night Shows
July 21 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)
July 21 – The Motet @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
July 20, 21, & 22 – Twiddle @ Irving Plaza (tix) *
July 22 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)
July 22 – Circles Around The Sun @ Gramercy Theatre (SOLD OUT)
July 23 – Circles Around The Sun (early brunch show) @ Brooklyn Bowl (tix) #
July 25 – Turkuaz at Irving Plaza (tix) *
July 28 – Dopapod @ Gramercy Theater (tix) *
July 28 – James Brown Dance Party – 2 Shows @ Highline Ballroom (early tix/late tix) *
July 29 – Dopapod @ Gramercy (tix) *
July 29 – Perpetual Groove @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
Aug 2 – Matisyahu @ The Cutting Room (tix) *
Aug 3 – Greensky Bluegrass w/ Marco Benevento @ Ford Amphitheatre At Coney Island Boardwalk (tix) **
Aug 4 – “Kraz & Taz” – Eric Krasno Band w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer Band @ The Cutting Room (tix)
Aug 5 – Spafford @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
* (L4LM & CEG Presents)
**(L4LM & Live Nation Presents)
# (L4LM & Brooklyn Bowl Presents)