Ahead of a two-night stand at Columbia, Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion and their highly anticipated summer festival, Curveball, in Watkins Glen, New York, Phish headed to Raleigh, North Carolina’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on Friday night. The show’s first set featured a relatively straightforward run through twelve tunes and silly extended banter following “Wombat” and before the first rendition of “Guelah Papyrus” in 2018. For the wild, heavy-hitting second set, the group dialed in, offering up a sandwich housing “Run Like An Antelope” within “Runaway Jim”; a rare, jammed-out “NICU”; a surprise reference to Drake‘s “In My Feelings” during the set-opening “Meatstick”; and a pristine “You Enjoy Myself” closer.
Opening the first set, Phish came out with “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan”, kicking the show off with a fairly straightforward rendition before moving into “Funky Bitch”. With Mike Gordon leading the vocals, “Funky Bitch” helped the group settle into the start of the performance. The jam was built to its peak in tandem by Trey Anastasio‘s soaring guitar and Page McConnell‘s emphatic work behind the keys, as the funk-fueled song served to more fully lock in the crowd. After a brief pause, Trey Anastasio led in a steady rendition of “Ocelot”, featuring a jam highlighted by Trey’s sustain-heavy solo, followed up by a feel-good take on “The Wedge”. While the show had a somewhat sluggish start up to this point, the song’s jam portion, though somewhat truncated, saw the band heating up.
Up next, the group offered up “Wombat”. Though there were some difficulties with the vocals, the funky tune quickly settled into its propulsive groove, with Page switching over to the synth for an electronic-tinged, effect-heavy jam grounded by Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman‘s tight rhythm section. Despite the spacey jam, the song came to a rough ending, causing Trey to take the mic and acknowledge the tune’s problems, making for some hilarious, endearing, and truly awkward banter.
During the banter, Trey first offered to the crowd, “That was a little song we call ‘Wombat’,” with Page chiming in “Thank you” as the two grinned at each other, seemingly acknowledging the rendition’s difficulties. From there, Trey dedicated “Wombat” to Abe Vigoda, later laughing as he added, “It’s kinda like the theme to the Fish TV show.” With Fishman starting a drumbeat, Trey started fist pumping, with everyone on stage clearly enjoying themselves and in high spirits as Trey asked the crowd, “You guys know that show?”, a moment later adding, “It’s a great show. Perfect.”
After stating “That ‘Wombat’ kind of got me confused,” Trey started to walk toward Mike and Fish before suddenly and dramatically dodging backward and shaking his head violently, causing Fishman to ask, “What’s going on over there?” with a grin. Continuing the bizarre interlude, Trey explained a bug just flew in his mouth, as he wiped off his mouth. Recognizing the unusual amount of banter, Trey then exclaimed into the mic, “We’re talking! This is so weird!”, eliciting huge cheers from the crowd. “Fish is talking! I’m talking! Say something!”, he added, gesturing to Mike with a laugh—the bassist, deadpan, noted, “It’s locusts.” Then added, “I have my own locust over there.” To transition out of the conversation, Trey noted, “Well, now that we’re talking, Mike and I want to dance,” with the guitarist doubling over in laughter ahead of the start of “Guelah Papyrus”.
Marking the song’s first play of 2018, the song was highlighted by Trey and Mike’s synchronized dance moves and Page’s meticulous performance behind the keys. Eventually growing more frenetic, the take on the tune helped to start to get the show back on track, falling ahead of a relatively quick, though spirited, run through “Birds Of A Feather”. From there, the band moved deftly into “Saw It Again”, which featured a jam filled with heavy effects, ahead of “Timber”, featured references to the previous song, “Saw It Again”, throughout.
Up next, the group offered up “Limb By Limb”, which saw one of the more extended, and decidedly one of the strongest, jams of the first set. The group followed up “Limb By Limb” with a gorgeous rendition of “Farmhouse”, with Trey deviating from his normal guitar solo and highlighting his preference during the Raleigh show to sustain notes repeatedly. Closing out the first set, Phish ended the frame with a heartfelt take on “More”, with Page ramping up the song with an electric performance behind the keys.
For second set, Phish returned with a fun set-opening “Meatstick”, with Trey singing “Kiki, do you love me?” following the Japanese lyrics, a nod to Drake‘s viral-sensation hit “In My Feelings”. From there, Mike led in a take on The Who‘s “Drowned”, a fiery song with an extended jam highlighted by Page, who tore up the keys during the tune, and yet more sustain-heavy offerings from Trey. The band slowly built up “Drowned” with a triumphant Trey solo, with Chris Kuroda truly stepping out with his mesmerizing, moving lighting rig.
Eventually, a smooth and tight extended transition welcomed into “NICU”, showcasing Mike’s powerful, precise bass. With Trey’s exclamation, “Play it, Leo!”, Page took a high-energy solo between verses. Phish took the opportunity to jam out “NICU” into type-II territority, starting out with an initially percussive portion before the jam opened to become more open and spacious. Up next, marking the third time ever the song had been played, Phish offered up “Thread”, a new tune the band debuted in 2017 in Chicago. The song housed a darker, grinding jam with the lyrics “You’re alone” heavily repeated throughout before lightening things up for a propulsive “Runaway Jim”.
Early on in the “Runaway Jim” jam, Phish started heavily teasing “Run Like An Antelope”. Instead of returning to “Runaway Jim”, around two minutes in the song, the band full-on transitioned into “Run Like An Antelope”, earning a huge roar of approval from the crowd. Per Phish.net, this marked the second time that “Runaway Jim” and “Run Like An Antelope” have fallen immediately next to one another, with the other time being in 1997 in Denmark, though the Denmark performance did not see the group jam between the two tunes. Sticking in “Antelope” for a while, eventually, the group transitioned back into “Runaway Jim”, which featured Trey singing “You’re alone”, referencing the “Thread” jam that came earlier in the set.
With a frenetic build, Phish deftly landed in the dubby “Makisupa Police Man”, with Page and Trey grinning ear to ear as they worked through the tune and Page gave a shout-out to “Hindu Kush”. The laidback jam saw Page transition over to the synth before the group came together to finish off the uncompleted “Run Like An Antelope”. Continuing with the heavy hitters, next, the band moved into a tight, dialed-in rendition of fan-favorite “You Enjoy Myself”, with all gears and firing and Mike crushing through his standout solo. To close out the second set, the group ended on a high note with the extended, pristine vocal jam of “YEM”. Returning for encore, Page led in the vocals on The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life”, with Trey eventually taking over the lyrics before the group built the tune into a chaotic, cacophonous close.
Setlist: Phish | Credit Coastal Union Music Park at Walnut Creek | Raleigh, NC | 8/10/2018
Set I: Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Funky Bitch, Ocelot, The Wedge, Wombat, Guelah Papyrus, Birds Of A Feather, Saw It Again, Timber, Limb By Limb, Farmhouse, More
Set Two: Meatstick, Drowned, NICU, Thread, Runaway Jim > Run Like An Antelope > Runaway Jim > Run Like An Antelope > Makisupa Police Man > Run Like An Antelope Reprise, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: A Day In The Life