With one show left before their upcoming 13-night Baker’s Dozen run, the boys showed up in Pittsburgh for their second and final one-off show in full force. After a generally well-received Tuesday night show at the infamous Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio, the bar was set high and the band arrived for their Petersen Event Center debut with tenacity and infectious energy that will indefinitely grow as Summer Tour 2017 keeps rolling down the line.
The first set started off with a rippin’ “My Soul” to get the crowd moving, as Trey Anastasio blazed through the Clifton Chenier single in grand fashion. Trey and Mike Gordon’s synchronicity has been shining brighter than a disco ball over the past 5 shows, and with nothing more than a quick chance to catch their breath, the band flawlessly flowed into a breezy “NICU.” There’s no better way to captivate a sold-out crowd’s attention than with a sing-along chorus, keeping things funky and fresh as always, with the reggae groove highlighted by Page McConnell’s spinning touches on the organ.
Next up was another well-played fan-favorite “Halley’s Comet,” full of Cadillac rainbows and lots of spaghetti. From there, the band jumped right into “Undermind,” reminiscing on its glorious Phish debut during the Hampton “reunion weekend” in ’09, which helped get everything back on track in the world of the Phish from Vermont.
“Divided Sky,” one of Phish’s most beloved compositional masterpieces followed, setting the mood for what was arguably the best first set Phish has played since kicking off this circus of light last Friday night at Chicago’s Northerly Island. As Trey’s scorching solo peaked and the wind blew high, the guitarist looked over at Page and was left with nothing to say but “WOW.” The quartet continued their 2017 trend of incorporating Trey Anastasio Band and Mike Gordon originals, jumping into the Phish debut of Gordon’s “Marissa,” played only once before by Mike Gordon’s side project (over the Fourth of July weekend at High Sierra Festival). Rocking some swanky fleur de lis-patterned pants accompanied with bright blue lipstick, Gordon got a chance to show off his mind-blowing skills on bass, taking “Marissa” out for her first beautiful voyage.
After a solid and ever-improving take on Big Boat’s “Home,” the band whipped out a “Prince Caspian” for the ages. When all was said and done, this “Caspian” had edged its way up there with the magnificent rendition at Phish’s Magnaball Festival in 2015. Instead of keeping the song more contained and short and sweet as we’ve seen in the past, the band took Caspian out for the ride of it’s life before bringing the flaming first set to a close.
With the biggest run of their 34 year career on the horizon, Phish began the second set with “Punch You in the Eye,” setting the tone for yet another larger-than-life Summer ’17 second set. Anastasio delicately floated through the old-school classic before heading into the band’s fourth consecutive 20+ minute jam of the summer on the back of Trey Anastasio Band favorite “Mr. Completely.” Played for the first time since Phish’s return in 2009, and appearing in just its second Phish performance ever, the jam lived up to its only predecessor, which bookended of a wild second set segue-fest on 7/15/03. The improvisation also featured heavy teases of Queen/David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” reminiscing back on the epic 20+ minute “Twist” jam from Phish’s 2013 Atlantic City Halloween run.
“Mercury” followed, with the band finding their sweet spot as Jon Fishman stepped up from behind the drum kit and rocked the marimba lumina, showcasing his immense versatility. Fish joined McConnell and Anastasio in a plinko-esque rendition of the song, which has developed an immense amount of love since its debut in Bend, Oregon during the Summer 2015 tour-opening run. The energy kept flowing as the beautiful Trey Anastasio Band original “Rise Up/Come Together” made its Phish debut, marking the second TAB song of Pittsburgh’s red-hot second set. The theme of incorporating both TAB and Mike Gordon songs into the Phish catalogue is a hopeful sign that Phish will blaze through their 13-night Bakers Dozen run without a single repeat.
Despite Anastasio flubbing the lyrics in “Contact,” the band extended the humorous Phish favorite deep into the darkness, before rocking people’s worlds with an aggressive “Axilla,” creating a raucous atmosphere that had the college basketball arena bouncing up and down. The band harnessed that over-the-top energy and delivered a “Steam,” before gracefully gliding down into a “Backwards Down the Number Line,” with exploratory guitar work and a brief extended segment of Type II improvisation that left everyone with one last thought: “you decide what it contains, how long it goes but this remains.” Set two came to a close with smiles abundant and a hooting and howling crowd in the Steel City.
For the encore, the band threw a curveball, taking their time to get set before McConnell’s western-swinging “Things People Do” made its sixth appearance ever and first ever in the encore slot. “Bug” popped out of nowhere, with Anastasio unable to remember a single line of the chorus, repeating, “it doesn’t matter” over and over, before swiftly coming to a halt with a perfectly selected “Rocky Top.” If Anastasio’s flubbing of the “Bug” is any indicator, clearly donuts are on his mind and it’s time to get this show on the road to the Big Apple.
Check out the video highlights, courtesy of The Kamherst:
Setlist: Phish | Petersen Event Center | Pittsburgh | 7/19/17
I: My Soul, NICU, Halley’s Comet > Undermind, Divided Sky, Marissa, Home > Prince Caspian
II: Punch You In the Eye > Mr. Completely > Mercury -> Come Together, Contact, Axilla > Steam > Backwards Down the Number Line
E: Things People Do, Bug, Rocky Top
 Phish debut.
This show featured the Phish debuts of Marissa and Come Together. Mr. Completely was played for the first time since July 15, 2003 (380 shows).
[Photo: Phierce Photo]
If you’re heading to New York for Phish’s 13-night Baker’s Dozen run at Madison Square Garden, don’t miss all the incredible late night shows going on in the City during the run! Check out Our Official Guide To Baker’s Dozen Late-Nights for all the info.
Live For Live Music Phish Baker’s Dozen Run Late-Night Shows
July 21 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)
July 21 – The Motet @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
July 20, 21, & 22 – Twiddle @ Irving Plaza (tix) *
July 22 – The Werks @ American Beauty (tix)
July 22 – Circles Around The Sun @ Gramercy Theatre (SOLD OUT)
July 23 – Circles Around The Sun (early brunch show) @ Brooklyn Bowl (tix) #
July 25 – Turkuaz at Irving Plaza (tix) *
July 28 – Dopapod @ Gramercy Theater (tix) *
July 28 – James Brown Dance Party – 2 Shows @ Highline Ballroom (early tix/late tix) *
July 29 – Dopapod @ Gramercy (tix) *
July 29 – Perpetual Groove @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
Aug 2 – Matisyahu @ The Cutting Room (tix) *
Aug 3 – Greensky Bluegrass w/ Marco Benevento @ Ford Amphitheatre At Coney Island Boardwalk (tix) **
Aug 4 – “Kraz & Taz” – Eric Krasno Band w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer Band @ The Cutting Room (tix)
Aug 5 – Spafford @ BB King Blues Club (tix)
* (L4LM & CEG Presents)
**(L4LM & Live Nation Presents)
# (L4LM & Brooklyn Bowl Presents)