Last night, Phish took the stage in Noblesville, IN for the second of three shows at the amphitheater formerly known as Deer Creek, now known as Ruoff Music Center.

Bucking a recent trend, Phish abstained from a lengthy jam to open the show, instead opting for “Turtle In The Clouds”, which made its 2022 debut. What you see is what you get with this goofy, fun Kasvot Växt tune, and although performed well, it stayed in its lane.

A great pass through the title track of Phish’s 2004 album Undermind followed. Though it didn’t color outside the lines, this version had some nice energy behind it. Guitarist Trey Anastasio seemed particularly keen on keeping the pace up here.

One of the greatest joys of the past few tours has been the unexpected setlists. Phish has been experimenting with some exciting and surprising song placements, and a big jam can pop up anywhere. That the band keeps us on our toes is, next to the music, the best thing about it. But “Drift While You’re Sleeping” didn’t work in the third slot last night. It was a solid pass through the Ghosts of the Forest track, but it was just odd timing. With its anthemic, guitar-hero ending, it just feels like this one is better suited for later in the set or the encore.

Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23” followed. The band seems to always have trouble with the beautiful, arpeggiated middle of this song, and last night was no exception.

For the first time December 8th, 2019, a gap of 59 shows, Phish dusted off “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan”. Once through the form, the band pulled back, finally relaxing into some improvisation. Bassist Mike Gordon set the tone early, and after patiently wading through the minor key, the band seamlessly transitioned into major, igniting the jam which built up nicely before returning to the coda.

Another 2022 debut followed, this time with the bouncy and sprawling “Runaway Jim”. This one meandered a bit, eventually wrapping up after about nine minutes and giving way to a slow and deliberately funky “Camel Walk”. This was the first time in the night the band felt a little oiled up.

Fan-favorite “Timber” landed in the eight-slot, and the dark jam showed some real promise before Trey abruptly pulled the plug, wrapped it up, and strummed the opening riff to Phish’s ode to gospel, “Julius”.

The set didn’t end there. Score one for the supporters of “Make Phish Dark Again” with the “Split Open and Melt” set closer. Mike and drummer Jon Fishman connected early, laying a heavy foundation upon which Trey and keyboardist Page McConnell could add their brand of menacing, musical psychedelia for 11 minutes.

All in all, it was a song-heavy, inside-the-box set, with very little stretching from the band. Other than “Drift While You’re Sleeping” and “Split Open and Melt”, the other eight songs in the first frame were all 2022 debuts.

It’s hard to surprise a Phish audience with the most played song in the band’s catalog (though not so much anymore), but “You Enjoy Myself” doesn’t open second sets. Last night’s version was the first to open a second set since 5/9/89. And of its 622 performances, it was only the fourth time the Phish staple has ever landed in that spot. The band absolutely nailed it, and after a very short vocal jam, the members picked up their instruments and launched into Type II territory, completely breaking from the song.

Phish – “You Enjoy Myself” > “A Wave Of Hope” [Pro-Shot] – 6/4/22

After six minutes of dreamy jamming, Trey segued into “A Wave Of Hope”. The energetic, ’50s-style rocker from Trey’s solo album, Lonely Trip, set the band up nicely for some straight-ahead rock and roll jamming on the back half. Fishman directed this one, in particular pushing Trey, but not allowing any of his bandmates to relent, and as a result, Phish truly soared and explored for the first time on Saturday night. Though the song debuted at Deer Creek in 2021, and this was only the sixth time the band has performed it, last night’s version was certainly the one that all future renditions will be measured against.

An unexpected but rather big “Bug” followed. It was a perfect change of pace from the first 40 minutes of the set, but it didn’t let the energy diminish at all.

Phish – “Bug” – 6/4/22

[Video: shinepigeon]

As the last notes of a breezy pass through “Gotta Jibbo” rang out, Trey called for the disco-ish Sci-Fi Soldier original, “The Howling”. They extended a bit here and it felt reminiscent of the dancey funk Phish has been known to conjure during “2001”.

Phish – “The Howling” – 6/4/22

[Video: concertvids]

It’s hard to say when Trey is at his best, but he’s damn close when he’s closing a second set with a raging version of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”. It was an excellent finish to a big Saturday night second frame.

Phish – “Good Times Bad Times” (Led Zeppelin) – 6/4/22

[Video: MyTallTripod]

But the biggest surprise of the night was waiting for us in the encore. For the first time ever, Phish performed a slow, funky “Maze”, very much in the same vein as what the band does with “Llama” from time to time. It was “Maze”. Page and Trey traded solos and built to a peak. It was cool, it was just slower. And funkier. It’s definitely worth a listen if not for the sheer novelty. And it was only the second time any version of “Maze” landed in an encore. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear them do with us with other tunes in the future.

Phish – “Maze” – 6/4/22

[Video: Gregory Marcus]

The playing, pacing, and song selection of the second set were great. It was almost impossible to predict anything they ended up doing, yet it all worked. The anticipation is high for tonight, June 5th, the last concert on the eight-show mini spring tour.

Setlist [via]: Phish | Ruoff Music Center | Noblesville, IN | 6/4/22

Set One: Turtle in the Clouds, Undermind > Drift While You’re Sleeping, Strawberry Letter 23, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan > Runaway Jim > Camel Walk > Timber (Jerry the Mule) > Julius, Split Open and Melt

Set Two: You Enjoy Myself > A Wave of Hope, Bug > Gotta Jibboo > The Howling > Good Times Bad Times

Encore: Maze[1]

[1] Slow funk style.

Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan had an Odd Couple theme tease from Trey. Maze was played in a slow funk style.