And the collective Phish fan base let out a sigh of relief. After five long months, summer tour is finally upon us.
Phish played their opening night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN, for what can really only be described as a “bust out show.” In all, the band played six songs that hadn’t been seen in over 100 shows, including a pair of covers that had been only played once, during 90’s Halloween shows. While Phish did not perform any songs from the new album, there’s still quite a long summer ahead.
The show started with a Trey Anastasio original, “Pigtail,” a song generally reserved for Anastasio’s solo band. The song was played by Phish once before, in 2010 (195 shows), but its second-ever version was a bouncy and fun way to kick off the performance. It’s unclear whether the tune will make it onto the new Phish album, though it seems unlikely as the song was recorded on Anastasio’s 2012 album, Traveler. From there, the band kicked into a “Wolfman’s Brother” that got the whole building rocking.
The bust outs were far from over, as the band broke out into their first “Daniel Saw The Stone” in 140 shows. The traditional bluegrass number was a staple of sets in 1993, and has been busted out intermittently ever since. Next up was the instrumental “The Dogs,” bringing some dark firepower to the Minnesota venue.
The band kept things grooving with “Undermind,” as Page McConnell rocked the clavs like nobody’s business. From there, the band played their biggest bust out of the set, a version of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” The song had not been performed since Halloween of 1994, a full 796 show gap. McConnell took lead vocals, as the song was played faithfully to the original. What a moment!
From there, Phish dove into a spaced out “Stash,” getting weird before the set’s next bust out, “Round Room.” The 2003 album’s title track provided a nice upbeat and lighthearted moment despite being played for the first time in 192 shows. The band them jammed their way into the rocker “Horn.” The high energy song brought the house down, before the band dove into “Uncle Pen.” Mike Gordon got his first shot at lead vocals on the Bill Monroe classic, keeping fans grooving with the upbeat number. Fuego song “Halfway to the Moon” kept things rolling, while “Walls Of The Cave” closed out the set in style.
After a quick break, Phish returned and wasted no time getting the crowd riled up, opening with a raging “Mike’s Song.” They followed “Mike’s” with the classic suite, segueing into the beautiful “I Am Hydrogen” before dropping some funk into “Weekapaug Groove.” Gordon’s bass slapping was at the forefront of the jam as they shared in the Weekapaug. From there, the band broke out into a beautiful “Bouncing Around The Room” before funking out into “Ghost.” The “Ghost” stayed mellow throughout, culminating in a funk finale before grooving into “The Line.”
After “The Line,” Phish got down to business with a jammed out version of “Simple.” The soaring improvisational section opened up, and led the band into another bust-out from an old Halloween performance; Velvet Underground’s “I Found A Reason.” The song had only been played once before, on Halloween of 1998, for a total of 493 shows. Welcome back.
The set raged on with a great “No Men In No Man’s Land,” with the band catching fire for this late set jam session. The song had been given the proper jam treatment on New Year’s Eve, and Phish mapped the rocking song with a passion. With “Billy Breathes” coming next, the set had an emotional cool down moment before “Bathtub Gin” brought things back up again! The band took “Gin” into high gear, rocking hard to close out a great set of music.
Before finishing the final song, Anastasio took a moment to note his instrument of choice, saying that this was the same Languedoc guitar that he’d used the last time Phish was in Minnesota. From there, the band encored with the slow version of “Water In The Sky,” grooving out before tightening up for a rock and roll finale, “Character Zero.” “Zero” put a cap on a great night of Phish!
Setlist: Phish at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – 6/22/16
Set 1: Pigtail, Wolfman’s Brother, Daniel Saw the Stone, The Dogs, Undermind, Dear Prudence, Stash, Round Room, Horn, Uncle Pen, Halfway To The Moon, Walls Of The Cave
Set 2: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around The Room, Ghost > The Line, Simple > I Found A Reason, No Men In No Man’s Land, Billy Breathes, Bathtub Gin
Encore: Water In The Sky, Character Zero
Notes: This show featured multiple bustouts: Pigtail (last played December 28, 2010, or 195 shows), Daniel Saw the Stone (last played June 30, 2012, or 140 shows), Dear Prudence (last played October 31, 1994, or 796 shows), Round Room (last played January 1, 2011, or 192 shows), Uncle Pen (last played August 31, 2012, or 123 shows), and I Found A Reason (last played October 31, 1998, or 493 shows). Trey teased The Little Drummer Boy in Ghost. Page teased Magilla in Simple.
Setlist via Phish.net, Images via Ojeda Photography. Check out a full gallery below.