On Tuesday night, Phish offered up their first of two performances at Saratoga Springs, NY’s Saratoga Performing Arts Center, affectionately referred to as SPAC. After blowing the roof off of Camden’s BB&T Pavilion on Sunday night, fans had no idea what to expect rolling into the fourth week of tour.
Deciding to throw another curveball in the great State of New York, Phish opened up their first set with a debut cover of The Everly Brothers‘ classic “Cathy’s Clown”, with Mike Gordon handling lead vocals, assisted by some harmonies from Trey Anastasio. Leading out of the debut, Trey exclaimed, “We’re not gonna say if that has anything to do with the pants, but, it might,” clearly a playful joke with Mike Gordon and his eclectic selection of pants. After leaving “Tweezer Reprise” in the cards at the end of Sunday’s show, many fans in attendance and online predicted the band would open up the SPAC run with the high-octane rocker, albeit its placement in the number two slot. The band got the crowd moving with “Tweeprise” before coasting into the familiar dark opening riff for “Carini”.
“Carini” had some legs as Trey and Page McConnell found each other in between some intricate interplay, backed by Gordon and Jon Fishman’s infectious rhythm section. Although “Carini” only took an 11-minute ride, last night’s jam showcased some sweet melodic improvisation out of the gates, highlighted by a firey-hot, peaking Trey solo. “Carini” smoothly segued into “AC/DC Bag”, marking only the second time the band has played the tune this summer. Keeping the dance party rolling, Phish dove head-first into “The Moma Dance”, with Trey jokingly explaining, “Ok, we’ve established what song we’re playing now. All four band members are aware of what song it is. I hope you know what song this is” following Fishman’s humorous early-song vocal flub. With Gordon setting the pace with a rumbling bass line, Trey took matters into his own hands and showered the crowd with an explosive solo.
“Moma Dance” made way for “Theme From The Bottom”, allowing the band to flex their chops and take the Billy Breathes cut out for a glorious journey at a venue that means so much to the band and their fans. After reminding attendees to “keep what’s important and know who’s your friend,” Gordon led the charge into “Meat”. Trey was having fun utilizing a washy pedal effect, backed back some comical donkey-like banter from Fishman. Following a brief pause, Page stepped up to take the lead on “Home”, played for the first time this year and only the seventh time ever. The Big Boat cut got some improvisational treatment, backed by a fast-paced rhythmic groove set by Fishman and Gordon. Following some dazzling grand piano work out of Page’s corner, “Home” segued into a sweet and spot-on “Bathtub Gin”. With the SPAC crowd boogying away, Trey showered the venue with yet another scorching hot series of peaking solos. Phish brought their first set to a close with “Walls Of The Cave”, as the band put an exclamation mark on a stellar first set.
Following setbreak, Phish returned to open up their second set with Kasvot Växt‘s “Cool Amber and Mercury”, marking the second time the song has opened a second set since it’s debut on Halloween 2018. The band used the newer tune as an outlet to slowly fire up the engine, as they quickly jumped out of “Cool Amber” into a monstrous 21-minute “Down With Disease”. Moving out of “Disease’s” main theme, the quartet moved through several different segments, taking this way out into Type II territory early and often. Trey utilized his pedal board with precision and tenacity, dropping jaws left and right in the beloved Saratoga Springs park. “Disease” was left unfinished, as the band launched into “Scents and Subtle Sounds”. Fishman set the pace with his Octopus-like drum fills, allowing Page and Trey to soar into a silky-smooth sonic landscape.
Taking no time to catch their breaths, the band worked their way into “Twist”, which was followed up by a raucous “Wilson”. With a sizable chunk of the set remaining, Phish unveiled the first “Scent of a Mule” of the summer, which featured lyrics changed to reference “Cathy’s Clown”. Taking a slight pause, Trey let out the opening distorted riff for “Fuck Your Face” before Mike stepped up front and center to lead his bandmates through the fan-favorite rocker. “Fuck Your Face” segued into a sweet and short “Halley’s Comet” before the band launched into a set-closing version of the beloved jam-vehicle “Harry Hood”.
As we’ve seen throughout many shows this summer, Phish decided to utilize their encore slot to its fullest potential on Tuesday night, offering up a three-song finale. As the band walked back onstage, Trey grabbed his megaphone and everyone in attendance hooted and hollered knowing that “Fee” was finally here. The first “Fee” since last summer was the perfect call for a barn burner night at SPAC, even if Anastasio did forget almost entire verse–which he instead replaced with an emphatic “Fuck!”, that he, of course, delivered through his trusty megaphone. Following “Fee”, Phish worked through Trey’s Ghosts of the Forest tune “A Life Beyond A Dream”, played for the second time this summer. An explosive night deserves an explosive exclamatory statement, and Phish did just that as they brought the night to a close with “First Tube”.
Tonight, Wednesday, July 3rd, Phish returns to Saratoga Springs, NY’s Saratoga Performing Arts Center for the second show of their two-night run before heading to Boston’s Fenway Park this weekend. For a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates and ticketing information, head to Phish’s website.
Each show on Phish’s 2019 summer tour will be rebroadcast on SiriusXM Phish Radio (Ch. 29) at 12:00 ET the following day. Subscribe here.
Setlist: Phish | Saratoga Performing Arts Center | Saratoga Springs, NY | 7/2/2019
Set One: Cathy’s Clown, Tweezer Reprise > Carini > AC/DC Bag > The Moma Dance > Theme From the Bottom, Meat, Home > Bathtub Gin > Walls of the Cave
Set Two: Cool Amber and Mercury > Down with Disease > Scents and Subtle Sounds > Twist > Wilson > Scent of a Mule, Fuck Your Face > Halley’s Comet > Harry Hood
Encore: Fee, A Life Beyond The Dream, First Tube
 Phish debut.
 Lyrics changed to reference Cathy’s Clown.