On Saturday night, Phish returned to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for night two of the tour-opening run in Providence, Rhode Island. The highly anticipated start to the 2019 Fall Tour hasn’t shown the same island-hopping cow funk from their first Rhode Island > Long Island expedition in 1998, but this is a new era with a new set of rules.
November 30th, 2019 will be remembered by its genre-jumping first set, THX sound effects, chatty Trey song introductions, the return of Providence “Plasma”, a stand-out “Hood”, and a nightmarish, “furry creature”-heavy encore.
Dedicated Phish fans unite behind show themes and inside jokes. From the imaginative Gamehendge saga of the ‘80s and audience chess moves of the ‘90s, to the New Year’s Eve pranks and Halloween costumes of today, unpredictable and outlandish behavior is what keeps this 36-year-old foursome youthful, creative, and on top of the jam band world.
To kick off Saturday’s first set, one might guess the show’s theme was choreographed dancing as Phish launched into “Turtles in the Clouds” and “Punch You in the Eye”. New to the show-opener slot, the Kasvot Växt original set the stage for a bizarre setlist from top to bottom. “PYITE” has been no stranger to early-set slots over the past 30 years, and Saturday’s rendition contained an extra spacey-inspired introduction to the delight of the crowd.
Another set-opening classic, “Llama” was played in a slow, funk style for the fourth time in eight appearances, perhaps a nod to the funky-reinventive theme of the Island Tour over 20 years ago. In the fourth slot of the night, Trey Anastasio began introducing the songs in a sarcastic tone. “This next song is a little thing we like to call, ‘Meat.’ Hit it, Page,” followed by a Page McConnell-placed sound effect reminiscent of The Deep Note, THX’s audio trademark. The Deep Note was introduced to the world at the start of the 1983 premiere of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, the same year as Vermont’s most famous band, and was once described as “a spectrum of frequencies that grow from small to large.” While we may never know the origin of this Phishy inside joke, Page added the familiar effect song after song on Saturday, pushing Trey to hysterical laughter each time.
Phish – “Meat” – 11/30/2019
[Video: Matt Frazier]
The set moved from meaty funk to bluegrass to lounge to vacuum-infused barbershop with “The Old Home Place,” “Lawn Boy,” and “I Didn’t Know.” Phish continued doing what they do best, genre-jumping from era to era before finally landing on “Maze” from 1993’s Rift. The comical song introductions and giddy laughter came to a brief hiatus as Trey dug into set one’s tension-release heavy classic. “Horn”, another song from Rift cooled things down and was followed by the set highlight, “Gotta Jibboo,” for the first time in Phistory. “Jibboo” initially found Page filling the space with light Clavinet-infused sound around Trey’s breezy rifts. Fishman slowly built up the tempo bringing Set one’s longest tune to an intense climax. A well-played, Type I improvised “Stash” was accented by McConnell’s B3 organ and capped with a “Plasma” reprise for the fourth time in two shows. The set-ending “Golgi Apparatus” started and finished with the THX Deep Note that had surrounded the entire set.
Phish – “Gotta Jibboo” – 11/30/2019
[Video: Matt Frazier]
For only the second time in 3.0, “Bathtub Gin” started the second act of the night and slowly cruised into Type II terrain. Jon Fishman laid a nice foundation as the up-tempo, energetic rendition gave each band member time in the spotlight. Over the past five years, “Alaska” has become a rarity, especially in the second set. The smooth-rocker took a darker tone as pedal-happy Trey added his gritty effects before surprising the crowd with “What’s the Use?”, a tune that is now far more frequently performed than 2009’s “Alaska.” After the unusual trio of songs to start set two, Phish landed a short and special “Piper”, immediately changing the vibe of the set. The focused quartet reminded the crowd the “teamwork makes the dream work” as they steadily climbed into Type II territory during the first half of the 10-minute rendition. Fishman cooled things down for the second half, allowing Mike Gordon to initiate his Gremlin-like bass effects over Trey’s staccato notes. TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age” replaced the inventive “Piper”, but wasn’t able to lift the set to new heights. Instead, Providence was treated to more “Plasma” as Trey kicked off the reprise again for the second time on Saturday night.
“Harry Hood” highlighted the set with a ferocious build led by Trey. The heavy-hitting guitarist provided plenty of tension for Chris Kuroda to visually play with before releasing on the “you can feel good” segment, but the set wouldn’t be complete without one more Deep Note from Page. What is an unusual setlist without an unusual encore? Fishman attempted to calm everyone down during the nightmarish, “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars” with his “Lengthwise” interlude, but was forced back into a bad trip with “Kung”. The second half of the four-song encore was sponsored by marsupials as “Wombat” and “Possum” were played back-to-back. “Plasma” was brought back for the third time of the show during “Possum”, bringing the total Providence “Plasma” count to six. So much for no repeats.
Phish – “Wombat” – 11/30/2019
[Video: Matt Frazier]
Phish will weather Winter Storm Ezekiel on Sunday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island for the second island of the band’s eight-date fall tour. Be sure to visit the merch stand for winter gear — it’s gonna be cold, cold, cold…
Scroll down for a full gallery from Saturday’s show, courtesy of photographer Matthew Rea.
Setlist: Phish | Dunkin Donuts Center | Providence, RI | 11/30/2019
Set One: Turtle in the Clouds, Punch You in the Eye > Llama*, Meat, The Old Home Place, Lawn Boy, I Didn’t Know, Maze, Horn, Gotta Jibboo > Stash^ -> Plasma Reprise > Golgi Apparatus
Set Two: Bathtub Gin > Alaska^ > What’s the Use? > Piper > Golden Age (TV on the Radio cover) -> Plasma Reprise > Harry Hood
Encore: Big Black Furry Creature from Mars^ > Kung > Wombat, Possum > Plasma Reprise
* Slow version.
This show was webcast via Live Phish. Llama was played in the slow Llama arrangement. Meat through I Didn’t Know and Big Black Furry Creature from Mars were all introduced to the crowd by Trey and Meat through Stash and Golgi Apparatus began with Page playing the THX sound effect. Stash, Alaska, and Big Black Furry Creature from Mars were unfinished. Trey teased Quinn the Eskimo prior to Big Black Furry Creature from Mars (which subsequently contained a Lengthwise quote from Fish. Page teased Long Tall Glasses In Possum. After the soundcheck’s Jam, Heavy Things was briefly played for a few seconds, Fish teased Time Loves a Hero, and Chalk Dust Torture Reprise was played and sung for under a minute. Trey then introduced Tweezer, Lawn Boy, The Squirming Coil, and My Sweet One with Phish playing a few seconds of each song. [via phish.net]