On the first Sunday night of the Summer 2018 tour, Phish packed The Gorge to cap off their first 3-night stand at the world-renowned outdoor venue. The foursome greeted the eager audience to “The Curtain With”, which marked the rare tune’s second appearance in this serene setting. The added “With” section holds a sacred place in the hearts of the Phish community, and this lead-off position in the first set marked the third time in a row that the band has used it to open a show.
“The Birds” flew into the second spot as Page McConnell tinkered around with the spoken-word sample, speeding it up, slowing it down and inverting it at times. The playfully eerie tune set up a bird-theme as “Birds of a Father” kept the set in-flight. Complete with more well-placed “they attack!” sampling from “BOAF”‘s Chilling, Thrilling cousin, Trey Anastasio got some extra air under his wings and soared above The Gorge during his first of many towering solos of the evening.
“Waiting All Night” took the standard spot in the lineup, allowing the audience to catch their breath while the guys on stage worked through their original tune that has the best chance of making it into a Cialis commercial. “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” served as the second song in a row that hadn’t been seen since the Baker’s Dozen run, and Trey Anastasio’s authentic tone shined as he filled in some of the “blank spaces” with patience and power.
“Reba” once again saw Trey in the driver’s seat as the segue into the whistling portion of the whacky composition was approached with more ambition than usual. Birds and cheetahs has already graced the animal-filled first half of the set, but it was “Wombat” that became the king of the Phish jungle during this widely appreciated first frame. Abe Vigoda would have danced his ass off during this cuddly and muscular jam that crawled in between Type 1 and Type 2 territory. Once Jon Fishman was finished providing comic relief via his nonsensical lyrics, it was time to get serious. Page settled into a funky groove, followed by Trey slathering a thick, goopy effect that stuck around for the better half of the jam.
The jewel of Wilson’s foul domain, a delicately placed “Tela”, gave an extra nod to the gorgeous location in its lyrics, from kneeling by the river to the “burning” sunset sky that stretched out behind the stage as far as the eye could see. An extra rocking “Walls of the Cave” completed what some consider to be among the best sets of 2018 Phish thus far.
[Video: Gregory Marcus]
The Talking Head’s “Crosseyed and Painless” ignited the second set in a hurry, and although the lyrics were slightly flubbed, the sonic dissection was not. Trey, the first set MVP, hit the ground running with a fuzzy effect that vibrated up and down the body of his koa wood guitar eventually melting into an interstellar voyage set forth by Page. The ambient, 2.0-style jam saw Mike Gordon and Page team up to seemingly transmit signals to aliens while Trey floated back and forth between the two, holding each extended note with purpose and strength.
Just when it seemed like they had made long-term contact, “Twist” abruptly brought the mission back to base. Page took to the organ to add a jazzy 70’s funk element as Trey stirred a frothy foam-covered tone to the steaming hot mixture before quoting both Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” and the set-opening “Crosseyed” for added flavor. The band once again showed patience throughout the slow-building “Twist”, which finally transformed into a short and sweet “Waves”.
The low-tide “Waves” quickly washed up into a “Miss You”, which begged the question, “Would this be another soft and fluffy ballad-filled second set, as we saw on Saturday night?” That question was quickly quashed as Trey slid into the opening arpeggios of “Fluffhead”. The always-welcome Junta masterpiece was enjoyed responsibly and led to a “Split Open and Melt” that saw each member leave something on the table. Dark and haunting notes echoed off the Gorge’s ancient rock, allowing space for some more “still waiting” quotes from Trey. Fishman drove the spaceship back to the Talking Heads tune that had been peppered throughout before landing back in the “SOAM” theme to cap the 18-minute rendition, as well as the second set.
Finally, the band returned to Gamehendge with a “Wilson” encore, complete with the responsive crowd laying their hate on the evil King of Prussia. After 19 shows at The Gorge, Sunday night’s solid performance is proof that Phish can still have fun…and in 2018, they are just getting started.
Phish’s summer tour continues with a pair of mid-week performances at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, July 24th and Wednesday, July 25th. For a full list of Phish’s upcoming dates, head here.
Check out a gorgeous gallery of photos from Phish’s third and final night at The Gorge below courtesy of photographer Dave Vann.
Setlist: Phish | The Gorge | George, WA | 7/22/2018
Set 1: The Curtain With, The Birds, Birds of a Feather, Waiting All Night, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan > Reba, Wombat, Tela > Walls of the Cave
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Twist > Waves > Miss You, Fluffhead > Split Open and Melt
A full soundboard recording of the show is available to download/stream via LivePhish.