Tonight (Tuesday, August 25th), Phish will air their August 15th, 2011 show at Chicago, IL’s UIC Pavilion as the 22nd episode of their ongoing archival webcast/cooking series, Dinner and a Movie. Tune in below at 8:30 p.m. ET and scroll down to follow along with our 8/15/11 Stream Companion.
Phish Dinner and a Movie Episode 22: 8/15/11, UIC Pavilion
Previous Dinner and a Movie Stream Companions have included a little paragraph here about the past episodes of the series, but it’s stopped being so little after 22 weeks. Now, it’s a list instead, so you can easily peruse the past episodes and revisit their respective Stream Companions:
Phish Dinner and a Movie – Past Episodes
In the lead-up to tonight’s stream, SiriusXM Phish Radio has a slew of fun programming in store including a replay of 7/8/94 at Great Woods and new episodes of Trey Anastasio‘s “Rubber Jungle Radio” show and the fan-hosted “Crowd Control” with Molly from Portland.
Here’s what’s happening today on Phish Radio ⚡️🐰
— PhishRadio (@PhishRadioSXM) August 25, 2020
Tonight’s Dinner and a Movie brings us a “gem” of a show from Phish’s 2011 summer tour, which started early with a three-night run at Bethel Woods in May and extended through Super Ball IX at Watkins Glen in late June. A month later, the tour picked up once again with a two-night run at The Gorge and zig-zagged up and down the west coast before culminating in Chicago for a three-night run (not counting the first edition of the band’s annual Labor Day Weekend run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado).
Although much of 2011’s offerings get lost in the re-listen shuffle, 8/15/11 remains a go-to 3.0 show for many fans for various reasons, from its fan-prompted “Alumni Blues” (“That green ball came up here just enough times…”) to its location-appropriate cover of “Jesus Just Left Chicago” to the Phish debut of Mike Gordon‘s “Babylon Baby” and the bust-out of “Anything But Me” for the first time since 2009 (and last time since). That’s not to mention the show’s incredible, four-song (five-song?) encore and all-around fantastic second set built around an “Element” theme.
The “Element” set may just have gotten the “themed set” ideas rolling ahead of the start of a new tradition at Dick’s, where Phish played the “S” show a few weeks later on the first night of the Colorado run. The band would continue their fist-night setlist antics at Dick’s for several years after.
Now, let’s talk about that “Element” set. Phish is known to go into shows somewhat blind in terms of what songs they will play. They may have a few in mind, but there’s not a specific setlist to speak of. On some special nights, however, a theme emerges—from a full-album cover to a hearty helping of Zeppelin. Whether intentional or spontaneous, these thematic threads tend to add to the mythology of a given show among fans.
On 8/15/11, Phish used their second set to encompass the four classical “elements,” Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Though short on both total runtime (less than 80 minutes) and extended jams (the 13-minute “Undermind” was the set’s longest), the theme-oriented set laid a clear path that the band rode with intensity throughout the performance.
A gritty “Sand” set the tone for the set, descending into the darkest depths of the ocean for some ethereal percolation before rising to the “Light” at the surface. As the “Light” grew brighter, the jam it welcomed grew darker. While relatively brief at just over 10 minutes in length, this outstanding “Light” was pedal-to-the-metal from its very first notes, Trey harkening back to his Machine Gun glory days with a barrage of dextrous riffs.
After careening into dissonant tension, the jam moved into ambient space, allowing them to smoothly shift gears into a well-placed “Dirt” breather. The fantastic all-around playing from the four band members continued with this crisp, powerful rendition of the fan-favorite ballad.
As “Dirt” faded out, “Waves” rolled in. While not as sprawling as the tsunami-sized “Waves” soundcheck played ahead of the Bethel shows a few months prior, this version maintained the set’s high intensity for a thrilling ride. Toward the ten-minute mark, “Waves” moved into heavily-distorted, feedback loop cacophony. Gordon began to toy with what sounded like the bass line for “Timber (Jerry)”, a selection that would have fit perfectly with the “Element” theme. Instead, Jon Fishman helped steer the band into “Undermind”.
While it doesn’t quite jive with the set’s “Element” theme, one could argue that the song’s wordplay-centered title—a play on the word “undermined”—served as a subtle “mining” reference. Or, it could have been a miscue—Mike did seem to be heading for a more nature-oriented tune before he was musically overruled. Or, you know, it could have no meaning at all and it was just what they felt like playing at that moment. It’s lines of questioning like this that make Phish such an interesting and enigmatic band to follow.
However “Undermind” may have related (or not) to the “Element” theme was rendered irrelevant as the all-time great rendition got going. After starting out with a pulsing, Gordon-led groove, Trey and Page McConnell (on theremin) helped guide the jam into a swirl of serene tones before smoothly redirecting into “Steam” for some more full-throttle shredding. After petering out under feedback sustain and a simple drum beat, Trey counted the band into a set-closing cover of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Fire”. Once again, the “Fire” was red-hot.
While the climactic “Fire” closed out the “Element” theme, the band still had plenty of time left before curfew. For some shows, the encore is merely an afterthought. This is not one of those shows.
A new theme, “Animals”, began to emerge for the encore as the band returned with “Camel Walk”, which remains the song’s only encore appearance since 1999. “Guyute” the ugly pig scampered in next, again serving as a surprising encore choice (only encore version since 2000). “The Horse” was the next animal in line before its faithful companion, “Silent In The Morning”, gave the sold-out crowd a chance to sing along.
Finally, a soaring “Harry Hood” served as the fourth song of the extended encore (fifth if you count “Horse” and “Silent” separately), the ultimate cherry on top of a highly memorable show. For those tracking the encore’s “Animal” tangent, you could argue that “Harry Hood” sort of fits, as it takes its name from the mascot of a milk company and, uhh, cows make milk. You could also argue that I’m grasping for straws here, and I couldn’t really make a case that you’re wrong. The requisite nerd factor gets the best of every fan from time to time. Damn you, Phish. Never change.
Tune in at 8:30 p.m. for Phish Dinner and a Movie Episode 22: 8/15/11 at UIC Pavilion. Check out some photos from the show via photographer Dave Vann below:
Setlist: Phish | UIC Pavilion | Chicago, IL | 8/15/11
Set One: Back on the Train > Rift > Guelah Papyrus, Scent of a Mule, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Wolfman’s Brother, Anything But Me, Babylon Baby, Reba, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues
Set Two: Sand > Light > Dirt > Waves -> Undermind -> Steam > Fire
Encore: Camel Walk, Guyute, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Harry Hood
 Phish debut.
 Page on theremin.
This show marked the Phish debut of Babylon Baby. At the start of Alumni Blues, Trey said “that green ball came up here just enough times” in reference to a fan’s ball with “Alumni Blues” on it. Undermind featured Page on theremin. The second set deliberately featured many songs relating to the elements Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.
Pick up some fresh new Pollock DAAM goods from @phishdrygoods: https://t.co/zvXscYGgOm. A portion of proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to The Waterwheel Foundation. pic.twitter.com/HyvMXKiblE
— Phish (@phish) August 25, 2020
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Next week’s Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s August 15, 2011 show from UIC Pavilion in Chicago. IL. The full show will play on Tuesday at 8:30PM ET at webcast.livephish.com or Phish’s Facebook page. “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye”, as they sing in Oklahoma! and Phish HQ’s Betty Frost brings us her sweet corn risotto recipe, along with a cucumber gazpacho starter and some flourless tahini brownies for dessert. Thanks, Betty! Recipes can be found at phish.com This week’s beneficiary is The Mimi Fishman Foundation, a volunteer-administered, fan-driven non-profit dedicated to raising funds for a diverse range of charitable organizations that each, in some way, touched the life of the founder, Mimi Fishman. Jon Fishman’s mother Mimi established the foundation with the idea that partnering with bands like Phish could truly influence charitable giving and philanthropic engagement. Organizations supported by TMFF are focused on the health and wellbeing of children and families with a particular emphasis on visual impairment. For more information visit mimifishman.org. . . 📸 Dave Vann #phishdinnerandamovie #phish