While Phish and their fans won’t be making their annual pilgrimage to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO this Labor Day Weekend, the band is offering up a special Dick’s weekend triple-feature for Dinner and a Movie episodes 23–25 to help bridge that great divide.
On Friday night of the Labor Day triple-feature, Phish will revisit their Dick’s performance from September 1st, 2017 (9/1/17). On Saturday, we’ll head back to September 1st, 2012 (9/1/12). Finally, Sunday night’s stream will revisit the band’s Dick’s show from September 6th, 2015 (9/6/15)—featuring the “THANK YOU” encore “Harpua”—on its fifth birthday. The three shows will stream for free on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, respectively, at 8:30 p.m.
The three-night Labor Day Weekend “Dicks-pectacular” will serve as episodes 23, 24, and 25 of the series, which has continued each week since Tuesday, March 24th with the exception of the postponed 11th installment in accordance with the music industry’s “Blackout Tuesday” movement in early June.
For the nightly meals, the band curated a special Labor Day Weekend cookbook with chefs Mark Welker, Mike Pyers, Doug Rankin, and Molly Nickerson. As the band noted in the announcement, “Beyond being known for their incredible talent and innovation, these … chefs have something else in common: They’re all Phish fans.” All of the weekend’s recipes are neatly compiled here.
With each of the weekly episodes, the band and its philanthropic arm, The WaterWheel Foundation, have raised funds for a different charity or non-profit organization. To date, the Dinner and a Movie fundraisers have generated more than $650,000 in donations. Thats an incredible sum, and the Phish fanbase as a whole should be proud of that showing.
All three of this weekend’s webcasts will benefit The Mockingbird Foundation, the Phish fan-run non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to music education for America’s youth which also maintains fan resources like Phish.net.
While the extent of the fundraising efforts’ success is a testament to the generosity of the fans, I think I speak for most fans/viewers/donors when I say that my five- or ten-dollar contributions via Dinner and a Movie throughout the year have felt like the ultimate bargain. Despite our big summer together being put on hold, Phish and their team have given fans a weekly breather from the harsh realities of life in 2020, a chance to feel those feelings we forgot. Dinner and a Movie has made this time in isolation a little more manageable for everyone—and for that, we are forever grateful. You can peruse a list of all the past Dinner and a Movie episodes and Stream Companions below:
Phish Dinner and a Movie – Past Episodes
Episode 23: 9/1/17, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Episode 24: 9/1/12, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Episode 25: 9/6/15, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (THANK YOU Encore)
This week’s three special installments mark the first episodes of Dinner and a Movie to not fall on a Tuesday evening—and that’s not the only shakeup coming for the archival webcast series. In an update issued on Thursday, Phish also announced that Dinner and a Movie will change from a weekly format to an “approximately once-a-month” schedule going forward. Mark your calendars—the next Dinner and a Movie will take place on Tuesday, September 29th. [UPDATE: Due to the Presidential debate taking place on September 29th, the next episode of Dinner and a Movie has been moved to Wednesday, September 30th].
A three-day run of Dick’s shows over Labor Day Weekend feels like the perfect “Season Finale” for Dinner and a Movie, just as it usually serves as the season finale after a long summer on tour. With a round 25 episodes down and a few weeks off and a shift in schedule format on the horizon, it sure does feel like an intuitive stopping point. The fact that the triple-feature ends with a big, emphatic “THANK YOU” from the band (more on that later) only reinforces that notion. Either way, we’re glad, glad, glad that they plan to keep it going from here, even if it is at a less-frequent pace.
So, while we pine for the “simpler times” when the infectious diseases would stay with the prairie dogs in the parking lot and we could still go in and see the show, let’s dive into the three fantastic shows on the docket for Dinner and a Movie this weekend. Scroll down to tune in to each of the three Labor Day Weekend episodes of Dinner and a Movie and read along with their respective Stream Companions.
FRIDAY: 9/1/17 (Ep. 23)
[Friday] – Phish Dinner and a Movie Ep. 23 – Dick’s – 9/1/17 – Full Show
Ah, 2017. The 3.0 noob Summer of Love. Although there wasn’t much of a “tour” to speak of that summer (between July and early September, the band performed at just five different venues), 2017 will forever be remembered as the summer of the Baker’s Dozen, Phish’s historic 13-night residency at Madison Square Garden. There was, however, a top-notch Dick’s run that followed a month later, and our Labor Day Weekend Phish Dicks-pectacular gets started with the fiery first show of that run from September 1st, 2017 (9/1/17).
An annual end-of-summer tradition that stretches back to 2011, Phish’s runs at the Denver-area soccer stadium have garnered a hallowed reputation among fans. Phish loves Dick’s, and Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, and Page McConnell treat the run accordingly, serving up setlist hijinks and, most importantly, consistently incredible improvisation.
Heading into Phish Dick’s 2017, however, the impending run was as much a mystery as it had ever been. Though there were undoubtedly plenty of surprises to behold (like the “Squirming Coil” bass solo…#neverforget), 2016 had seen the band ditch their annual “spelling” setlist shenanigans for the first time. These shows also marked the first performances by the band since the Dozen, where they had planned a special theme for each night and–oh yea–didn’t repeat a single song.
Would the band bring back the setlist spelling tricks, or was that whole concept a thing of the past? Would they try to continue their “no repeat” streak from New York, or did the end of the Dozen signal the pressing of the proverbial “reset button?” After the truly unique and impressive undertaking of the MSG residency, could the 2017 Dick’s run possibly be as special as the 13 shows that preceded it? Night one would not answer all the questions that swirled around in the days and weeks that preceded the tour-closing weekend, but it would answer the most important one: Despite the apparent absence of theatrics and themes and donuts and literary puzzles, Dick’s in 2017 was still can’t-miss Phish.
Phish got Dick’s swinging with “Blaze On,” the first of four selections from 2016’s Big Boat played on the Friday night. The tune immediately answered one of the biggest pre-run uncertainties: Phish would not be carrying their New York “no repeat” mission over to Colorado. In fact, every song played on Dick’s night 1 was also played at some point during the Baker’s Dozen—though there were surely no complaints on this night. Don’t worry, kids, this was good news: all your favorite songs were now back in play.
The show-opening “Blaze” wasted no time as Trey led the band into major key improv before the focus shifted to a groove built on funky Page grand piano riffs and reverb-laden Gordon pops. The bright, arena-rock guitar lead returned from there, as Red peppered dextrous lead lines riding the cresting sonic wave to its breaking point. Fifteen-minute “Blaze On” jam to kick off the run? Oh yea. Not a bad way to start…
A straightforward “555” and a better-than-usual “Breath and Burning” followed before oozing into “Theme From The Bottom”, which gave Chris Kuroda a chance to show off the new marionette rig we’d become so accustomed to seeing indoors on the wide, flat environs of Dick’s.
The “Free” that came next saw Trey squeeze some extra effects out of the Kaoss pad he had introduced for the band’s Radiohead cover on “Lemon Night” at the Baker’s Dozen, and fans rejoiced as the ensuing “Tube” got a nice dose of of the “jam” that fans continue to campaign for to this day. A shimmering “Roggae” and the third Big Boat tune of the night, “More”, brought set one to a close.
— DidTheyJamOutTube? (@TubeJamUpdate) September 2, 2017
This show, however, was all about set two. The rare five-song set was packed to the brim with the fearless improvisation and stylistic nuances that had gestated during the 13-show stint at the World’s Most Famous Arena. “No Men In No Man’s Land” got the ball rolling as it moved through various distinct passages over the course of 24 thrilling minutes—from funk-synth 80s jazziness, to reverb-laced and echoing dissonance, to cascading robotic sci-fi flourishes, to almost Radiohead-like pulses pushed by Fishman’s immaculate percussion. More Kaoss pad Trey, cavernous echoes from Mike and, finally, a well-earned peak…this jam was creative, patient, and potent, as the band took a slow, scenic route to a massive musical payoff before returning to the song’s theme. Phish fired up “Carini” next and took the tried-and-true improv vehicle on another 20+ minute ride.
After a two-song, 45-minute segment to start the set, some may have predicted a breather in the next slot. Instead, Phish asserted that they weren’t finished jamming with a 17-minute take on “Ghost”. By the time the “Ghost” jam hit the 10-minute mark, the “hose” was on full blast and remained there for several glorious minutes before returning to the set-opening “No Men” theme to raucous applause.
By the time the dust had settled and the band had kicked into “Harry Hood,” the set had already cemented itself as one of the best of the summer, with an hour-plus stretch (“NMINML” > “Carini” > “Ghost”) of top-of-the-line Phish fireworks that will surely be on many fans’ playlists for years to come. The “Cavern” set-closer and the “Horse”/”Silent” > “Zero” encore were just the icing on the cake.
Setlist: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/1/17
Set One: Blaze On, 555, Breath and Burning, Theme From the Bottom > Free, Tube > Roggae > More
Set Two No Men In No Man’s Land > Carini > Ghost > Harry Hood > Cavern
Encore: The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Character Zero
SATURDAY: 9/1/12 (Ep. 24)
[Saturday] – Phish Dinner and a Movie Ep. 24 – Dick’s – 9/1/12 – Full Show
On Saturday night, we head back to the second night of the second-ever Phish Dick’s run on Saturday, September 1st, 2012 (9/1/12). This was also the night immediately following the now-legendary “F— Your Face” show (which, coincidentally, served as the first-ever episode of Dinner and a Movie back in March).
With the Dick’s crowd frothing after the lewd antics from the night before, Phish stepped onstage and matched the audience’s energy with an ultra-rare, show-opening “Run Like An Antelope”. After working through “Backwards Down The Number Line”, the band dove into a welcome first-set “Tweezer” which eventually made a smooth transition into “Fluffhead”.
A pair of fan-favorite covers—”Roses Are Free” (Ween) and “Funky Bitch” (Son Seals)—and the gooey funk of “The Moma Dance” kept the energy pumping before a rendition of Los Lobos‘ “When The Circus Comes To Town” offered a late-set breather. “Golgi Apparatus” and “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” rounded out a strong if relatively uneventful set one.
“Golden Age” began to truly find its footing as a jam vehicle in 2012, and while the set-opening jam on 9/1/12 didn’t rise to the heights of many that would follow, in nonetheless showcased some intriguing interplay between the four band members over the course of its thirteen-minute runtime.
The “Golden Age” jam flowed beautifully into “Prince Caspian” and begat some exploratory improv of its own before landing in “Light”. Yep, that light, the “D-Light”, one of the strongest candidates for “Best Jam of 2012” and still, to this day, the longest-ever jam on the Joy tune at nearly 24 minutes in length. While the first half of the jam seemed to hear the band searching for their footing, they hit their groove—and hit it hard—on the proverbial back nine.
The whole “Golden Age” > “Prince Caspian” > “Light” segment has been the subject of countless relistens in the years since, but if you’re just looking for one, the Dick’s “Light” stands on its own as a definitive early-3.0 jam. I can still remember replaying this “Light” on repeat all throughout the next day like it was yesterday. Crazy to think it’s been eight years.
If we’re being totally honest, the rest of the set gets a little lost in the shadow of “Light”. That’s not to say it didn’t produce some fun moments—like the “No Quarter”-infused “Mike’s Groove” that closed it out—but when you think back to 9/1/12, you’re not thinking about “The Wedge” or “Silent In The Morning”. It’s all about that “Light”.
The encore, while not particularly notable musically, did offer some added levity to the performance. Jon Fishman emerged onstage for the curtain call holding a banana. As Trey joked, “We’re gonna let Fish finish eating that banana that he’s eating over there. … You ready, Fish?”
“Yeah,” the drummer grunted. “I finished the banana. … I don’t think I’ll pass out now.”
Anastasio added, “Fish rocked so hard that last set that when we went offstage, he said he almost passed out… from rocking. He almost passed out from rocking, so they gave him a banana. Picture him there, back there in his dress, little guy with a banana. It made us think of this song…”
By this point, Page and Mike had already started the appropriate “Sleeping Monkey” accompaniment. Amid laughter, Trey explained, “It’s very hard to sing with [Fish] looking at me with that look on his face.” Finally, the requisite “Tweezer Reprise” brought night two of Phish Dick’s 2012 to a close.
Setlist: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/1/12
Set One: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer -> Fluffhead > Roses Are Free > Funky Bitch > The Moma Dance > When the Circus Comes, Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
Set Two: Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light, Boogie On Reggae Woman > The Wedge, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Mike’s Song > No Quarter > Weekapaug Groove
Encore: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise
SUNDAY: 9/6/15 (Ep. 25)
[Sunday] – Phish Dinner and a Movie Ep. 25 – Dick’s – 9/6/15 – Full Show
Here we are, Dinner and a Movie Episode 25, the final installment of this de facto “first season” of the archival series. Appropriately, this evening’s viewing takes us back five years to the day to September 6th, 2015 (9/6/15). Much like Friday’s Dinner and a Movie show from 2012, fans came into Dick’s 2017 riding high on the back of a fantastic summer of Phish. This Dick’s run served as the band’s first outing since their 10th festival, Magnaball, in mid-August, which itself had felt like a victory lap after an all-around great summer tour (there’s something about Phish and those odd-numbered years).
With so much momentum leading into Dick’s in 2015, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Phish would deliver something special. Fans were therefore left wondering when the run’s first two nights came and went without any trace of the “spelling” setlist tricks for which Dick’s runs had become known. Then came tonight’s show, night three, the final show of the summer. Despite some indisputable highlights and surprises, set one came and went without a gag. Set two: no gag. It’s over, the Dick’s tricks are a thing of the past… or so we thought. On 9/6/15 at Dick’s, Phish reminded the sold-out Colorado crowd why it’s never safe to leave early.
But we’ll get to that. First stop for 9/6/15 is “The Landlady”, the A Picture of Nectar instrumental that broke free from its longtime running partner, “Punch You In The Eye”, for the first time since 12/3/94—a gap of 767 shows—to get the party started. The set got much less unusual from there, as the band worked through a string of more heavy-rotation numbers like “Free”, “The Moma Dance”, “Seven Below”, “Prince Caspian”, “Backwards Down The Number Line”, “The Line”, “Scent of a Mule”, “Saw It Again”, and “Halfway To The Moon”.
Things took a surprising turn once again when the band linked up at center stage for an a cappella rendition of oft-forgotten Party Time ditty “The Birdwatcher”, marking only its fourth live performance and last to this day. With time for one more before the break, Page McConnell dusted off his beloved keytar to lead the band through a rousing “Frankenstein”.
It’s nary a bad sign when a set starts with “Wilson”, and that notion held true as set two moved into “Down With Disease”. “DWD” got the most improvisational attention of any song on the night, as the band worked through dissonant space and followed a soothing melody to a big tension-release peak. Going unfinished, “Disease” eventually moved into a string of well-loved live Phish mainstays like “Carini”, “Steam”, “Piper”, and “2001”. The crowd erupted as the no-stop set flowed into “Tweezer”—and collectively sighed when it was cut short by “The Horse”—but nonetheless reveled in the opportunity to reflect on last year with a sing-along “Silent In The Morning”.
A “Slave To The Traffic Light” set closer? “Please and thank you,” thought the crowd gathered at Dick’s (and tuning in via webcast). “Tweezer Reprise” encore? Okay, seems a little anticlimactic, but who doesn’t love some “Tweeprise”? This was a fun Phish show, and the set two song list looks pretty damn great on paper. But still… It felt like something special was missing. With so much history at this venue—and so much recent magic to look back on—something was still left to be said.
You know where this is going: “Tweezer Reprise” wasn’t the end of the encore; it was just the beginning. As the final feedback of “Tweeprise”—the sound that so often signals the end of the night—echoed through the stadium, a much more uncommon sound blasted through the PA: “Oom pah pah, Oom pah pah, Oom pah pah, Oom pah pahhhhh…”
“Harpua!” Just when we all thought things were winding down, that old call for adventure alerted us that the show was far from over. The endlessly-chased early-days tune, which follows a stone village swamp man, an ugly dog (Harpua), a young boy (Jimmy), and an ever-unfortunate pet cat (Poster Nutbag), hadn’t made an appearance since July 2013 at Northerly Island.
“Welcome, everyone. Man, this has been a really fun summer. What can I say? It’s so good to be back here at Dick’s, you know we love Dick’s,” Trey laughed as he got the story started, noting that they loved playing “Harpua” in Colorado as they’ve been doing it since the ’80s. It always features a new variation on the story and often winds in and out of surprising covers and other antics—meaning that “Harpua” typically shows up multiple times on a written setlist in a show in which it appears.
With all the excitement of this surprise encore “Harpua”, fans may not have initially thought about spelling. Trey gave sleuthing fans a hint, however, when he instructed them to only mark “Harpua” down once when they’re writing out the setlist. “Keep that in the back of your mind,” he said, fighting back a smile.
In this version of the “Harpua” story, Jimmy is an East Coast kid who moves out to Colorado. As he tries to get used to the elevation, he gets himself an oxygen tank. As Jimmy settles in for a fun night in with oxygen and his records, he turns on “After Midnight”. The band, in turn, dove into a cover of the J.J. Cale classic.
The story continues as “After Midnight” plays—Jimmy’s hanging back, listening to Clapton, having a great day, eating edibles, sucking on his oxygen tank. “Feelin’ good,” continued Trey. “Until suddenly he doesn’t feel so good anymore, for some strange reason … things are starting to get a little weird in his head…”
As Jimmy struggles to get his bearings, still sucking on his oxygen tank, as the music goes dark and the band moves into White Tape deep cut/nitrous freakout, “N02”. Turns out, Jimmy’s oxygen tank wasn’t really filled with oxygen after all… “He sucks a little more on the oxygen tank and starts thinking to himself, ‘I wonder if I should have bought this oxygen tank in the parking lot at the Phish show…”
As the “N02” wore off, the pleasant tones of “Keyboard Army”—the long-lost, four-keyboard musical experiment born from “Acoustic Army”, which we revisited for Episode 12 of Dinner and a Movie (6/19/95) in June—faded in. At this point, Jimmy sees little Poster Nutbag, and the furry little creature helps bring him back down to Earth. The pet cat comedown served up a funky rendition of Haunted House favorite “Your Pet Cat”.
The respite doesn’t last long, as Jimmy once again drifts back into a dream state. In this dream state, Mike Gordon eats Poster Nutbag. Sure, it doesn’t really track with the rest of the story, but this is “Harpua”, so Poster’s gotta go.
As Jimmy waxes philosophical about eating his cat, he asks himself, “How did I get here?” As he thinks, he begins to sing, and Talking Heads classic “Once In A Lifetime” comes out, as played by The Phish from Vermont for just the second time ever and first time since the 1996 Remain In Light Halloween show. Some lush, adapted “Harpua” harmonies helped close out the Talking Heads cover before Trey stepped aside as the narrator to offer the band’s sincere gratitude for a wonderful tour.
“I can’t really begin to tell you how much the four of us appreciate and feel blessed to be part of something thats become so, to us, this community and this scene that we look at every night, that’s become so beautiful and so unique,” he professed. “I know we’re up here playing the music, but this is kind of our chance to say that to you. … It’s such a good feeling and you guys are kind of creating it all, so we feel like we’re a small part of that, whatever that is. And we want to thank you guys, really, from the bottom of our heart.”
On that note, and with that dedication in mind, Phish wrapped up the encore with their first-ever rendition of Brotherhood of Man‘s “United We Stand”. Beyond the heartfelt speeches, the special surprises, the extra-long encore, the cover completed a written message: The first letter of each song in the encore spelled out “T.H.A.N.K.Y.O.U.”
With the curtain call of their final night of the 2015 summer campaign, Phish said “thank you”—or, more accurately, they spelled it. The spelling gag that everyone had thought was gone hadn’t really fizzled at all. Just when we all thought we had the game figured out, Phish simultaneously fulfilled, defied, and exceeded our expectations—and expressed their gratitude for their loyal fans—in one fell swoop. Now, five years later to the day, at the end of a 5-month string of weekly webcasts, the band reminds us that the sentiment still rings true. If that isn’t “Phish” in a nutshell, I don’t know what is.
We’ll see you for the next Dinner and a Movie Stream Companion on Tuesday, September 29th. Keep your heads up and stay safe out there. ‘Til next time…
Setlist: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/6/15
Set One: The Landlady, Free > The Moma Dance > Seven Below > Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line, The Line, Scent of a Mule > Saw It Again, Halfway to the Moon, The Birdwatcher, Frankenstein
Set Two: Wilson > Down with Disease > Carini > Steam > Piper > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Tweezer Reprise, Harpua > After Midnight > NO2 > Keyboard Army > Your Pet Cat > Once in a Lifetime > United We Stand
 Fish on Marimba Lumina.
 Page on keytar.
 Unfinished. Narration included Jimmy being a guy from the east coast coming west and needing an oxygen tank. Trey sucked from an oxygen tank.
 Contained Harpua narration.
 Contained Harpua narration from Mike about eating Poster Nutbag.
 Phish debut.