By Justin Charles

With a few days to sit back and reflect on the weekend of music that Phish threw down just outside of Denver, Colorado, it is safe to say that this run will be talked about for years to come. With over 20 years of jamming, there are so many memorable nights that have been immortalized through tapes and Live Phish releases, so it’s hard to say in the immediate aftermath that a certain show will stand the test of time. I have no qualms about saying this run will be remembered within Phishlore, and that it is easily the best run of 3.0.

From the first note of the first night, you could feel that something special in the air besides the high altitude. First Tube, which has so far only appeared in the encore spot in 2012, kicked the show immediately into high gear with a jam that ventured away from the usual. A brief foray into Bluegrass kept the energy level high with Uncle Pen, before Carini brought out the first real jam of the evening, getting dark and experimental within an extended jam that put it in the upper echelon of recent versions. Following a relatively ordinary Kill Devil Falls, Page thanked the crowd, telling us that “we all love Dicks”, referring to the name of the venue. The crowd responded with a huge ‘we love Dicks’ chant – which was somewhat surreal when you realize you are among 15,000 people screaming “we all love Dicks”.

Immediately following the chant, the familiar intro to You Enjoy Myself caused a mighty stir in a rare mid-first set position. This version was seemingly flawless, ending with a vocal jam referencing the previous “we all love Dicks” chant. A strong Ocelot was followed by a huge Undermind that should be in ‘best ever’ discussion, as it was taken farther and stronger than I have ever seen. At this point, we’ve reached set break and the crowd is buzzing about two things: a seven song first set, and the first letter of each song spelled out “fuck you”. We hoped the second set would surely tell us who this was in reference to.

An absolutely HUGE Runaway Jim started of the second set, building and building on the jams until it reached past the twenty minute mark. This was the type of jam that you lose track of time and song several times, before being reminded they’re still playing Jim. A particularly jammed out Farmhouse erupted next, for the first time NOT issuing groans from the fans. After that Jim, they could have played whatever they wanted – but the Farmhouse still felt like it was taken an extra mile. A solid Alaska followed, before we got smacked with an incredible ‘Chalk Dust Torture’. The jam lost all resemblance to the original song, just building new and interesting improvised grooves. It never felt repetitive or boring, there were always new ideas being brought into the fold, until the band busted out of cover of The Rolling Stone’s Emotional Rescue for the first time since 2000. Mike’s vocal duties on this were spot on and worthy of extra praise. At this point, everyone seemed to have realized that the band had spelled ‘Fuck Your Face’, and on cue the song made its appearance. The song would appropriately close the six song set while many wondered what possible encore would fit this show. After the barbershop quartet took form with Grind, the show closed out with Meatstick, in accordance with the ‘we love Dick’s’ and ‘Fuck Your Face’ themes. 15 songs total.


Set 1First TubeUncle PenCarini > Kill Devil FallsYou Enjoy Myself[1]Ocelot[2],Undermind

Set 2Runaway Jim[3] > Farmhouse > AlaskaChalk Dust Torture[3] > Emotional Rescue > Fuck Your Face[4]


[1] “We all love Dick’s” vocal jam theme.
[2] Crosseyed and Painless tease.
[3] Unfinished.
[4] Emotional Rescue quote.
[5] Japanese Lyrics.

Night two started off with yet another bang – the first Run Like an Antelope opener since 1990, kicking us off with a rip roaring jam. This set was almost the opposite of the previous nights, fitting in a bunch of songs, some at the expense of their length. The highlight was a midset Tweezer->Fluffhead that provided nearly a half hour of straight rocking, kick started with Tweezer.

Set two started off with a fantastic three song suite of Golden Age>Prince Caspian>Light. Golden Age, as has been noted several times, has become a go-to jam vehicle as of late, but this time it was the fantastic Prince Caspian that overshadowed it. For a song that many consider to be a set killer, this particular version went hard. Real hard. The Light was yet another masterpiece, allowing Trey to just absolutely shred as his heart desired. This near 25 minute masterpiece is an absolute must listen. The other memorable part of the set would be a unique Mike’s Groove to close it out; while the Mike’s and Weekapaug were not particularly memorable, it was the No Quarter in the middle that made it special. The show ended with Sleeping Monkey and Tweezer Reprise, as the fans wondered how this band could possibly out do themselves again.


Set 1Run Like an AntelopeBackwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer ->Fluffhead > Roses Are Free > Funky Bitch > The Moma Dance > When the Circus ComesTheme From the Bottom > Golgi ApparatusStealing Time From the Faulty Plan

Set 2Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light[1]Boogie On Reggae Woman > The WedgeThe Horse > Silent in the Morning > Mike’s Song > No Quarter > Weekapaug Groove

EncoreSleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise,

[1] Mercy Mercy Mercy tease (Page).

Night three’s first set was similar to the previous nights as it packed in several favorites in a big set. Cars Trucks and Buses is always a fun opener, and it was followed by solid renditions of AC/DC Bag, Down with Disease, and Bathtub Gin. This set could have also read as a greatest hits CD, as it also featured Possum, Halley’s Comet, Free, Rift, and Maze, among others. There was also a solid Ride Captain Ride fit in there, seemingly a nod to Colorado ’88.

Set two is where the real heat was for this show, however. When a second set opens with Sand, you know you’re going to get smacked with something special, and this time was no exception. Sand quickly evolved into a funky jam session that just kept growing and growing, eventually providing nearly 25 minutes of dancing time before a perfect segue into Ghost. The Sand->Ghost one-two punch is one of Phish’s best and this one did not disappoint. But the jams didn’t stop there – Piper, yet another jam vehicle was the perfect cool down, and while it couldn’t come near the awesomeness that was the previous two songs, it was a solid rendition which led way to Twenty Years Later, a solid song from Joy that has yet to have made an appearance in 2012. An excellent placement of The Lizards instantly re-energized the crowd much to everyone’s delight, before we got the heavy hitting closer – Harry Hood. Another six song set made way to a classic encore with Character Zero, and that was all she wrote.

There’s not much left to say about these three shows that I didn’t already say already, but I can’t stop gushing about how fantastic they were. Usually, people complain about a gimmicky show like night one – but this time, the gimmick actually enhanced the jams, everything was forced to be extended and improvised, and everything ran smoothly. And usually, when you get a show full of jams like night one, the next show is full of songs – not so again, the next two nights were full of similar jams as well as crowd favorites. These are all must listen to shows, and if you haven’t already, you should be downloading right now.


Set 1Cars Trucks BusesAC/DC Bag > Down with DiseaseBathtub GinNellie Kane >Sample in a JarBack on the Train > Rift > FreeRide Captain Ride > MazeHalley’s Comet > 46 Days > Possum

Set 2Sand -> Ghost -> Piper > Twenty Years Later > The LizardsHarry Hood

EncoreCharacter Zero