After skipping Summer 2017 to make donuts in New York City, Phish returned to Alpharetta on Friday night to remind the world just how much they love the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater at Encore Park. From 2010’s “Killing in the Name” through the Fall 2016 shows, it is obvious that the foursome from Vermont has a southern comfort at this 12,000-capacity venue.
“First Tube” opened the show for the first time since 2013’s Merriweather Post performance and got the sold-out crowd off to a rambunctious start. “No Men In No Man’s Land” kept the water at a boil and forecasted a band determined to lay down some early-show magic as Mike Gordon went from good to great during the high-energy jam. To complete the three-course early-bird special, “Ghost” followed and lifted off immediately.
Initially carried by Jon Fishman, the floating transition into Type II territory was spaced out by a patient and focused Trey Anastasio. Page McConnell set off on an ethereal journey that begged the question, is this still first set? As the groove picked up, Trey trained his guitar to do burpees with an Encore Park echoing command for the ages. Mike Gordon applied a forceful bass as Trey and Page delivered a spacey, Pink Floydness to the mesmerized crowd.
The 20-minute missions finally came to a successful end followed by a standard “All of These Dreams.” “Back On the Train” and “Free” both saw a looser and more confident Trey, but didn’t take off into the Ghostlands that came earlier. A sample and bass-heavy “Martian Monster” was greeted with excitement as Jon Fishman chipped away on the wood blocks before “Tube” completed the delicious first-set tube-sandwich. The band went back in time to some old-school exploration and crushed a short inner-tube jam that got the audience showing off their 90’s dance moves. “555” gave Mike a chance to sing and led to the first-set “Wall of the Cave” closer, allowing Chris Kuroda to cast some serious shadows on the satisfied crowd. On a tour with several strong first sets, this one took the cake (and all the candles) as the hottest yet.
The crowds greeted the second set opening “Tweezer” in a way that only Nickelodeon’s Kel Mitchell can, “Aw, here it goes.” Page sounded like he was delivering his message live from inside of a sewer as the synth bounced back and forth around Alpharetta. Fishman’s smooth operating set up a nice groove for Gordon to chisel away at before the entire band went on a mission to one-up the first set “Ghost.” Removing the awe-inspiring ensembles and dressing more like a busboy did something to Gordon on Friday. There was really no mess to clean up so it allowed him to go into the back of house and crack some eggs during the always anticipated tune.
Nearly 16-minutes into “Tweezer,” Trey began patiently waiting for a track to explode, and put the heater to the freezer in the form of “Blaze On.” Find-me-in-the-club Trey dropped some serious whammy effects and was dialed in before “Prince Caspian” took over. The “Caspian” never got a chance to set sail before getting swallowed whole by the lurking deep-sea monster known as “Carini.” The dark and dank thunderstorm of a jam transformed into a light and airy merry-go-round Type II ride. Mike rode along as Trey nailed yet another highlight to this picture-perfect Friday night masterpiece. 2015 Trey was resurrected from the Dead with some melodic leadership that found the whole band hauling ass—Page driving the synth like an arcade sit-down racing game in preparation for Watkins Glen International.
Finally, a bathroom break. Oh wait, nope. “Simple” threw a curveball without a lasting effect, but the blissful “Winterqueen” followed as CK5 turned Encore Park into a glitter-filled snow globe before the band returned to the hits.
“Harry Hood” hit the joyous fans with another hose down complete with Trey showing his love one last time before the set closer. Returning to the stage with “More” left the capacity crowd wanting just that as they walked out of the venue grateful for the performance they had just witnessed.
With 33.3% of the Summer 2018 Alpharetta run complete, it is safe to say that Friday, 8/3/18, will be inducted into the 3.0 Hall of Fame. Phish was playing like their current residency on Sirius XM (Channel 29) was depending on it and after the sold-out spectacle on Night 1, you can feel good about the rest of the weekend.
You can listen to fan-recorded audio of last night’s show below, courtesy of teamikoiko via Jam.Buzz:
Setlist: Phish | Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park | Alpharetta, GA | 8/3/18
I: First Tube, No Men In No Man’s Land, Ghost, All of These Dreams > Back on the Train, Free, Martian Monster, Tube > 555, Walls of the Cave
II: Tweezer > Blaze On > Prince Caspian > Carini > Simple > Winterqueen, Harry Hood
Check out the full gallery from Christian J. Stewart Photography below.