Following Friday’s rain-shortened, single “long-ass set“, Phish had some ground to make up when the band returned to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday. The Vermont foursome delivered that yardage at the Commerce City, CO stadium, performing a robust show with several significant jams and a 19-year bustout from Round Room.
Opening with “Punch You in the Eye”, Trey Anastasio immediately set an exploratory mood by letting the intro breathe by drawing out his muted echo notes. When the composed sections came along, however, the guitarist seemed to have difficulty keeping up. He found his footing, though, note by bloody note in the following “Wolfman’s Brother”, as Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, and Jon Fishman all patiently waited for Big Red to get on the bus. As Page scoped out the landscape on his Wurlitzer, Trey broke through the surface and into a nice peak in this early-show jam.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) September 4, 2022
At one point toward the outro, Trey became entangled in some strands of confetti launched from the crowd, finishing the song wrapped up like a mummy and loving every second of it. A single strand of white paper got wrapped around his mic stand, serving as a weathervane for the rest of the show.
The satisfying “Wolfman’s Brother” would only prove a staging ground for the “Walls Of The Cave” to come next. The band was fully dialed in here for some deep spelunking in what would prove the improvisational highlight of a first set that contained some big jam vehicles. While Trey gave all of his guitar effects a test, Page laid textures of spacey synths as Mike and Jon held a steady rhythm for a 16-minute telling by song’s end.
Phish – “Walls of the Cave” [Pro-Shot] – 9/3/22
Page continued to steer the vessel as he fired off the jovial chords to “Heavy Rotation”. Played for just the third time ever after being taken off the shelf in Atlantic City, the keyboardist’s solo track provided a nice cool down after “Walls”. Mike Gordon then took his turn as line leader as he plucked out the slinky intro to Stevie Wonder‘s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” to get the place grooving.
Spirits were high as Trey then began the intro to “Stash”, though his continued Bob Dylan-like experiments with the cadence and flow of his vocal delivery should have served as a canary of things to come. The jam never really developed and the plug was pulled prematurely, only to segue into the rollicking intro to “Free”. Gordon got to run wild over the wide open landscape as Trey threw echoes off the back of the stadium before segueing into “Mike’s Song”.
This time-tested vehicle would, unfortunately, meet the same fate as “Stash” where the tune wasn’t given the space to breathe. Just as Phish would deliver a big jam in an unexpected place in the next set, the first set was regrettably plagued by missing improvisation in expected places. To compound matters, Trey took “Mike’s Song” into “Bug”, though managing to ring out some type I glory in the newly sentimental singalong before ending the set.
Returning for the second frame, Phish immediately got the stadium rocking with “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”. During the break, Mike underwent a quick wardrobe change as he donned a fluorescent neon yellow windbreaker which ultimately proved a canvas for lighting director Chris Kuroda who could change the garment’s color with whatever light he cast on it.
The exchange of puzzled looks was palpable as Trey segued into “Kill Devil Falls”, not seen in a second set since New Year’s Eve 2015 per Phish.net. Everything about it seemed wrong until the song’s natural conclusion when the band dropped straight into a pre-set jam. Trey found his place deep beneath the surface using his low octave pedal, only to burst through after some middling noodling and into some fierce leads propelled by Page’s phasers.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) September 4, 2022
After stretching this one past the 15-minute mark, Trey hammered on straight into “Sigma Oasis”. The jam appeared to be building toward something, only for the guitarist to topple the LEGOs for “Thunderhead”. The Anastasio/Tom Marshall-penned Round Room cut had been played only six times prior, all of them in 2003 with the last occurring on December 1st.
The song’s wah-wah outro then led us gracefully to the shores of “The Moma Dance”, with the band locking into a groove just as one would expect. Between Trey’s oscillating guitar tone and Page’s Wurlitzer, they gave the song some unique texture in what could have just been a simple funky jaunt. Just as it felt like this set was beginning to tread water, the opening notes to Led Zeppelin‘s “No Quarter” rang out from Page’s Rhodes. While the keyboardist glaringly flubbed the lyrics at the beginning, you can never go wrong playing Led Zeppelin through stadium speakers. Free space.
The dogs of doom howled for more as the non-stop second set rolled into “Also Sprach Zarathustra”. While Trey laid down rocket fuel for the intergalactic dance party, sparks flew from Fishman’s snare drum as the band built to the peak of all peaks. The jam was loaded with enough yes-anding and callbacks for an improv comedy troupe.
With time for one more, Fishman changed up the rhythm into “Split Open And Melt”. Phish saved the best for last here as this “SOAM” threw the rulebook straight out the window with Trey sounding like a David Lynch movie in all the best ways. The atonal industrial glory was perhaps the most attentive I was the entire show as one had to marvel that, for those few minutes, the band truly did not care what it sounded like. Looking into the crowd, some people got it and some people definitely did not. In the end, Trey pulled the group from the madness to wrap the second set.
Taking the Dick’s stage once again for the encore, Trey picked up his megaphone for “Fee”. At the tail end of Fee’s voyage, Trey hit a quick harmonic to segue into “Slave To The Traffic Light” for an encore double dose. The cathartic tension-and-release jam was just about what you’d expect from a “Slave” encore.
The Phish from Vermont returns to Dick’s tonight, September 4th, for one more go-round before breaking for fall.
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Phish – “Sigma Oasis” – 9/3/22
Phish – “The Moma Dance” – 9/3/22
Phish – “Fee” > “Slave To The Traffic Light” – 9/3/22
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/3/22
Set One: Punch You in the Eye, Wolfman’s Brother, Walls of the Cave, Heavy Rotation, Boogie On Reggae Woman (Stevie Wonder) > Stash > Free > Mike’s Song > Bug
Set Two: Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S. > Kill Devil Falls > Sigma Oasis > Thunderhead > The Moma Dance > No Quarter (Led Zeppelin) > Also Sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss) > Split Open and Melt
Encore: Fee > Slave to the Traffic Light
 Trey on megaphone.
Trey teased There is a Mountain in Walls of the Cave and Sigma Oasis. Kill Devil Falls, Sigma Oasis, and Moma Dance were unfinished. Thunderhead was performed for the first time since December 1, 2003 (544 shows). Trey teased Thunderhead in Moma Dance. Fee featured Trey on megaphone.