SSSSS. Fuck your face. Most shows spell something. Lushington. Tghuybwht4rwbgrfwwhbhl?!
If there’s one thing Phish is good at, it’s not following traditions. After four years of spelling-themed concerts on the first night of their three-night stand at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO, which has been held over Labor Day weekend since 2011, the group decided to shift the focus from spelling and on to the music instead. And we’re not complaining.
Opening the show with a funk-laced “Tube”, a surprising first-set-second-song “Ghost” kicked off this Dick’s party proper. The ten-minute version of an always-welcomed tune was dripping with Page McConnell’s work on the clavs, doing what he does best.
“Halley’s Comet > Undermind” followed, a back-to-back combination that kept the crowd in high spirits. Patient guitar-work from Trey Anastasio on “Undermind” brought the bluesy number to a head, but it was the Mike Gordon-penned “Yarmouth Road” that allowed for the first slight reprieve in set one. “Bathtub Gin”, however, brought that energy level right back to maximum capacity. Fans were immediately drawing comparisons between Dick’s “Gin” and the epic 20+ minute version from Magnaball, and while this one didn’t quite stretch out as far, it certainly riled up everyone in attendance.
“Waiting All Night” provided another mellow moment before the ripping rocker, “Horn”. Played for the third time this summer, the song was executed to perfection. A funky “The Wedge” followed, with an even-funkier “46 Days” after that. “Run Like An Antelope” closed out set one, and while this version felt a bit rushed, it set the pace nicely for a scorching set two.
“Wolfman’s Brother” opened up the second frame after a long set break, getting things started with a bang. Perhaps the opener, a song about drummer Jon Fishman, was meant to foreshadow his encore appearance… or perhaps they just wanted to open up the set with a fun and funky tune. Whatever the case, the next song was certainly emblematic of the location, as “Blaze On” was the perfect fit for the Colorado crowd. You got one life… blaze on!
Next up were a pair of wild covers, as TV On The Radio’s “Golden Age” jammed its way into Ween’s “Roses Are Free”. The “Golden Age” was a particularly noteworthy jam, as the band members fed off of each other perfectly to explore a number of interesting themes. After “Roses” was the title track from 2014’s Fuego, a lofty version of a song that always brings the intensity.
“Wading In The Velvet Sea” provided one more mellow moment in the second set, before an incredible “Walls of the Cave” closed out the set. The eloquent composition moved through its various sections with ease, culminating in a rowdy set finale.
The real highlight of the show was in its encore, as the group opened with their instrumental cover of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up”. The organ-heavy introduction could only mean one thing… Jon Fishman would be taking over the lead on vocals and vacuum. The song of choice? “Bike”, by Pink Floyd. The Syd Barrett-written tune from Floyd’s first album has been a consistent rarity in Phish’s catalog, and this was its first performance since 2012 (132 shows). Anastasio donned a “Let Fish Suck” shirt while Fishman got crazy, even jumping on the piano to sing at one point. This was certainly a wild moment in a fantastic show! “Loving Cup” closed out the performance in style.
Phish returns to Dick’s tonight for round two of the three-night run. If you’re heading to Dick’s this weekend, don’t miss the “You Enjoy My Dick’s” series of shows from funk out Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. More details available here.
This review was brought to you by 94.3 and the Brush.
Setlist: Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO – 9/4/15
Soundcheck: My Soul, Undermind, Hey Joe
Set 1: Tube > Ghost, Halley’s Comet > Undermind, Yarmouth Road > Bathtub Gin, Waiting All Night, Horn, The Wedge, 46 Days > Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: Wolfman’s Brother > Blaze On > Golden Age > Roses Are Free > Fuego, Wading in the Velvet Sea > Walls of the Cave
Encore: Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Loving Cup
Notes: This show will be webcast via LivePhish. The soundcheck’s Undermind contained a Streets of Cairo tease from Trey. Bike was last played June 28, 2012 (132 shows).
[Photo by Chad Smith, Setlist from Phish.net]