On Saturday night in the Bay Area, Phish kicked off their two-night stand at the Chase Center in San Francisco, CA.
There are a handful of cities where Phish faithfully shifts into a higher gear and San Francisco is one of them. After a night of rarities and bust-outs in Sacramento, the band got off on a different foot with the second most frequently performed song in their canon, the straight-ahead rocker “Possum”. You’d be hard-pressed to find a “Possum” that didn’t deliver and this one was no exception. The jam felt relaxed, loose, and exciting all at the same time, setting the tone for the rest of the set.
Another staple followed. “Haley’s Comet” always has that will they or won’t they element when it comes to the jam, and while early on it felt as though they would, they kept it short and slid into a lighter-than-usual “46 Days”.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) October 17, 2021
Phish seemed determined to keep the audience incorrectly guessing what they’d do next as the perennial set closer “Slave To The Traffic Light” landed in the fourth spot, and they slayed it. Drummer Jon Fishman pushed the tempo up a bit more than usual and that allowed guitarist Trey Anastasio to deliver one of his more elevated and energized solos of the year.
Fishman sustained that pace as Trey launched into a charging “Simple”. While the “Simple” jam seemed to be heading into gooey and mellow type II territory, on a dime the band switched into their familiar brand of dancey funk rock.
Giving the audience a chance to catch their breath, Phish delivered strong versions of the Sigma Oasis tune “Shade” followed by the first “Winterqueen” since 6/23/2019 at Merriweather Post Pavillion.
The start-stop breakdown funk of “Meat” preceded a raucous and thundering “Run Like an Antelope” set closer.
Phish – “Run Like An Antelope” – 10/16/21
[Video: Kevin Collins]
Though this first frame felt a bit like a second set in reverse order, the pacing felt great. The energy and cohesion were there. Including three traditional, almost 40-year-old tried and true set closers will help with that.
“Bathtub Gin” opened the second set and it didn’t take long for the band to hook up in the jam.
18 minutes of pulsing, multi-sectioned modulation opened the second set as the band took “Bathtub Gin” in a few distinct directions before it bled into “Everything’s Right”. This jam went where “46 Days” usually promises to go and didn’t earlier in the night: heavy, minor key, rock and roll darkness. It eventually dissolved into the rarely played fan-favorite “Frankie Says,” performed for only the first time since 8/8/15 and only the sixth time since the band reunited 12 years ago.
This will go down as one of the definitive versions of this “Story of the Ghost” tune. A mellow, happy major key jam eventually modulated minor and entered murky, effects-laden Type II terrain replete with some start-stop breakdowns that encouraged some “woos” from the audience. As the band descended into the muddy depths of the backside of this 17-minute “Frankie Says”, Trey teased “Bathtub” before slipping into the beginning of what would become a terrific and flawless pass through “The Wedge”.
Phish – “Frankie Says” [Pro-Shot] – 10/16/21
At this point in the tour, Trey is clearly relishing throwing curveballs when the audience is expecting… literally any other pitch. “Moma Dance”, the first set mainstay, is a tune that has always begged for the opportunity to show what it could become late in the night, an opportunity it’s never really had in its 170 previous performances. Last night it closed a set for the first time ever. Anyone who witnessed it will agree that it needs to close more shows in the future. This one raged and eventually turned into something you’d more likely hear in a “Walk Away” jam than the spacey funk groove of a traditional “Moma Dance.” In a show full of highlights, this one was unmatched.
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) October 17, 2021
Appearing in an encore for only the fifth time since its debut in 1997, “Carini” extended and amplified the already massive energy from the night. For nearly 20 minutes it went from darkness to lightness, up into space, then back down to earth before the band locked into one of their patented, transcendent, improvised progressions that soared to its conclusion. What an incredible encore. What a fantastic show.
In Phish history, traditionally Saturday nights are for rock and roll. And Sunday nights plumb the depths of exploration and experimentation. And when you listen to this show, you’ll find it completely fulfilled the first half of that tradition. So let’s see what Sunday night has in store for the west coast.
Phish’s fall tour continues tonight, October 17th with the second of two shows at the Chase Center in San Francisco. For tickets and a full list of tour dates click here.
Click below to revisit Live For Live Music‘s full coverage of Phish fall tour 2021 including photos, videos, and concert recaps:
Phish Fall Tour 2021 Recaps
10/15/21 Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA – Recap
10/16/21 Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
10/17/21 Chase Center, San Francisco, CA – Recap
10/19/21 Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR – Recap
10/20/21 Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR – Recap
10/22/21 Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ – Recap
10/23/21 NICU Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA – Recap
10/24/21 The Forum, Inglewood, CA – Recap
10/26/21 Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, CA – Recap
10/28 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Recap
10/29 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
10/30 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
10/31 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Chase Center | San Francisco, CA | 10/16/21
Set One: Possum, Halley’s Comet > 46 Days -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Simple > Shade > Winterqueen > Meat > Run Like an Antelope
Set Two: Bathtub Gin > Everything’s Right > Frankie Says > The Wedge, The Moma Dance