Due to torrential downpours and pre-show lightning, the start time for Wednesday’s Phish concert at Pine Knob Music Amphitheatre in Clarkston, Michigan was pushed back as fans sheltered in their vehicles. When the skies cleared and the gates were cleared to open, the band announced that there would be no setbreak so as to get in as much music as possible ahead of curfew. So, would the rare one-setter prove to be a catalyst for something special, a total buzzkill, or just an abbreviated yet “standard” Phish show?

Wringing things out with “I Never Needed You Like This Before”, the first song ever played in the “4.0” era and one that has found its niche in the opening role, the band didn’t seem to have lost any of its mid-tour stride.

“Everything’s Right”, another modern-era opener, was bumped back to the two-slot but stretched out far more significantly than any other rendition in 2022. Clocking in at 17 minutes in length, the jam centered on a gentle drive up until a quick escalator ride brought it to a confident soar and then back to the song’s main groove. Some half-step slides by Trey Anastasio seemed to lean toward “Spock’s Brain”, but they would just prove to be the first in an array of difficult-to-place teases to pop up throughout the night.

“Kill Devil Falls” followed this trend: Trey gunned the engine with some fast-paced hi-diddly-hos, but eventually settled on a definitive melody that Mike Gordon recognized and shadowed immediately. Random cover, new song, or just complete, in-the-moment mind-meld? In the heat of it, it surely didn’t matter. Page McConnell then radioed in the aliens for a landing, and everything settled nicely into “Camel Walk”.

Phish – “Kill Devil Falls” [Pro-Shot] – 8/3/22

Most everybody would have liked this one to strut its stuff a little longer, but a strong “Stash” was an equally welcome place to go. Performed far more tightly than its previous stab in Raleigh last week, this version opened up with tons of room to breathe. At one point, Trey held completely off while the divine sound of a journeying Gordo bass line popped with Page sprinkling piano on top, a sweet reminder that the definitive sounds of this band are not dependent on any one member’s involvement at any given moment.

Jon Fishman then began rolling his toms in a “Timber Ho”-esque fashion, but Trey stepped up and took things for a swing through a major key before eventually finding a clear bath back to the “Stash” form. “Bouncing Around the Room” came next, but all those fast paced trills Trey had thrown into the previous jams left his fingers a little tired for the outro. A standard-aggressive “My Friend, My Friend” let him release the anger and reclaim his footing for what would have normally been a first-set closing “David Bowie”.

This Bowie quickly went into the major realm, a recurrent theme of the night. I still want my “Bowie” jams to terrify me, so the strength that’s shown through the warm light here was a half-win in my book. It’s still a journey to the center of the Earth, but the seatbelts are a lot tighter.

“Carini” felt like the signal of the second half of the night, though it moved quickly into a joyous light rather than its once ominous intent. The whole band fell into a rhythmic build akin to the intro of “Gimme Some Lovin’”, and then things began to glisten in the sunshine yet again. Eventually, it felt like the band was running the changes of a “Sigma Oasis” jam before falling into a full-on “Low Rider” groove—probably the first tease of the night upon which the audience could agree.

Phish – “Carini” – 8/3/22

[Video: Kaiju Basement Tony C]

The “Low Rider” accelerated so naturally into “No Man in No Man’s Land” that it made everybody question why no one has realized the two songs’ similarities before. At this point of tour, and even on a night that was altered by the whims of Mother Nature, Trey, Fish, Page, and Gordo are playing as loose and open as you’ll ever find them—and when they’re that relaxed, you realize that a jam like this “No Man’s”, one that isn’t defined by a specific riff or pocket or groove but rather just an open worm ride, is really what you come back for.

The utter magnificence of simplicity; sometimes they’re the most stupefying moments of this band. When Trey hit what felt like his first minor chord of the night, Chris Kuroda was quick to jump to a full saturation of that Stranger Things red he’s been embracing this tour, but even that couldn’t truly push things into the darkness of the Upside Down. Instead, the jam stayed on the path of positive ascendence and made its way into “Twist”.

“Twist” never really left home but maintained the hypnotic journey vibe of the night. These are the types of jams that will commonly induce bouts of existential rumination on the dancefloor—the kinds that leave just enough room for the top of your head to swing open.

 

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“Drift While You’re Sleeping” has firmly secured its role in the nightcap position. Love it or hate it, it’s clear Trey absolutely adores it. Personally, I think it sounds like a mini pop symphony based on inspirational cat memes, but mostly I’d just rather hear a closing tune that has at least an inkling of room for variation within versions.

Be it the venue or the band’s call, the encore pushed well past the standard 11:00 curfew, meaning that folks would still go home with two-and-a-half hours of Phish at this midweek one-setter.

Now-legendary 7-year old Michigan Trey collaborator Jovi was riding the rail on Wednesday night, and Trey acknowledged her by starting the encore with “Bug”, complete with Jovi’s trademarked fist pumps. At times he was playing directly to her, the kind of band interaction that any fan dreams of, and after the last song, Jovi handed a gift to Trey and he gave her his guitar pick in return. The Jovi saga has truly taken one of Tom Marshall‘s most deceptively heavy sets of lyrics and given it a whole new level of wholesome subtext.

Trey And Jovi Exchange Gifts – 8/3/22

[Video: mr. pineapple]

“Possum” would serve as the victory lap for an evening that will be remembered fondly by many but may end up getting lost in the mix once tour is said and done. Phish tour continues with three nights on the sand in Atlantic City, NJ this weekend. See you out there.

Phish – “Possum” – 8/3/22

[Video: Brian Kelly]

For a full list of upcoming Phish 2022 summer tour dates, head here. To order your LivePhish webcast for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here. To sign up for a free trial membership to LivePhish+ and listen to the whole summer 2022 tour and more, head here.

Following Phish’s Friday show at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on September 2nd, an all-star amalgamation of funk players will keep the party going at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom for Purple Party: A Tribute To Prince featuring members of The MotetTrey Anastasio BandThe Nth PowerJohn Mayer/D’Angelo‘s bands, former members of Turkuaz, and more, with rising jam band Dogs In A Pile playing on the Other Side [get tickets].

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Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Pine Knob Music Amphitheatre | Clarkston, MI | 8/3/22

SET 1: I Never Needed You Like This Before, Everything’s Right, Kill Devil Falls[1] > Camel Walk, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, My Friend, My Friend[2] > David Bowie, Carini > No Men In No Man’s Land -> Twist, Drift While You’re Sleeping

ENCORE: Bug > Possum

[1] Unfinished.
[2] No “Myfe” ending.

Kill Devil Falls was unfinished. My Friend’s ending did not contain the “Myfe” lyric. Trey teased Freeway Jam in Kill Devil Falls. Carini contained a full-band tease of Low Rider. Due to the combination of an extended delay to the start of the show from lightning and a curfew for the venue, setbreak was canceled. Trey dedicated Bug to Jovi who was in attendance and had previously joined him on stage to sing the song earlier in the year during his solo acoustic performance in Grand Rapids.

 

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