On Wednesday, Phish closed out a two-night campus visit to Wright State University, taking full advantage of the facilities at the Ervin J. Nutter Center. Phish rounded out the trip to Dayton, OH, which served as the midpoint of the band’s fall tour, by dishing out the yolks with some well-placed “egg” references and delivering a mammoth 30-minute “Ruby Waves”.

Continuing an ongoing trend of coming out of the gate swinging with lengthy opening jams, Wednesday’s show kicked off with a 16-minute “Set Your Soul Free”. The conspiracy-minded fan could chalk this continuing fad up to several possibilities. Perhaps Phish is trying to make the first-song LivePhish video preview as impactful as possible for those tuning in for free—or perhaps they’re trying to lure in more livestream customers with an epic and enthralling opening salvo. Or perhaps they want to jam just as badly as we want them to jam.

Whatever the reasons, Phish began the show with a blissful bit of improvisation that found Page McConnell laying the foundation on grand piano as Trey Anastasio skipped across the surface with dashes of light notes. Page ultimately found his way to his mass of synthesizers, opening up the jam like the night sky with Jon Fishman‘s cymbal taps twinkling above. After enjoying a bit of the ambiance, the groove took a hard turn and built to a climactic finish after nearly a quarter of an hour.

Following that bit of exploration, Mike Gordon served up the bouncy breather “Funky Bitch”, with “Roggae” up next to serve as a reminder of what set it still was. What was presumed to be a quick trip to “Kill Devil Falls” ultimately opened up into a respectable vamp, with the band shooting past the typical stop-point in what has become a dark horse jam vehicle following a string of big-time showings throughout the 2020s.

A physical manifestation of the band’s hot performance followed with “Steam”. From there, the band offered up a clever thematic pairing of the knife-wielding (though not “myfe”-weilding) “My Friend, My Friend” and Gordon’s first “Crazy Sometimes” since December 8th, 2019, a gap of 132 shows. Finally, the opulent instrumentation of “Walls of the Cave” closed in on a fierce climax to seal the set with its third song of more than 10 minutes in length.

Phish – “Crazy Sometimes” – 10/11/23

[Video: Curty kobashiy]

Phish clearly stayed in the zone throughout setbreak, coming back for the second set ready to wallop with a 17-minute “Down with Disease”. A tension-and-release jam acted as an energetic slingshot, ultimately hurling the band into a disjointed segment with Trey fully submerged in his low-end effect pedal and Page searching for him in the murky depths, his synths guiding the way. Rising up out of the aphotic zone, Trey’s soaring leads propelled the jam toward the surface, eventually cresting atop the “Ruby Waves”.

The clear star of the show was the 30-minute “Ruby Waves”, a song whose status as a major springboard for improvisation has been virtually unquestioned since its introduction to the Phish repertoire. The band knew exactly how to pace itself on this slow-burn jam, starting low and light and not combusting out too quickly. An exercise in endurance—for band and listener alike—the jam waded through familiar aquatic habitats but stayed consistently fresh thanks to the Fishman’s ever-changing rhythmic tides. Natural selection in action, the jam continued to evolve from a blissful, bouncy, single-celled organism into a complex creature that eventually crawled out of the water and became “Lifeboy”.

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While the Hoist sleeper may not be particularly exciting, Phish could do no wrong at this point. Trey even went so far as to test this theory by ripcording the “Piper” that followed into “Backwards Down The Number Line” after only eight minutes. With nothing to lose, Page fired up the iconic opening Hohner introduction to The Beatles‘ “I Am The Walrus”. Wednesday marked the Magical Mystery Tour classic’s second appearance of 2023, following a performance at Madison Square Garden back in August. After getting delightfully trippy with a mounting avalanche of instrumentation, “I Am The Walrus” closed the second set while also setting up a thematic preview of encore antics to come to come.

When Phish returned to the Nutter Center stage for the final time, there was only one logical way to follow up John Lennon‘s tale of the “Eggman”: with Sci-Fi Soldier‘s droning “Egg in a Hole”. In addition to tying back to the “egg” theme, the song also predicted Phish’s next move—a three night run at the Windy City’s United Center this weekend—as Trey belted out “I’ve got to get back to Chicago!” Finally, “Possum” closed out the show, but not before Trey introduced Mike Gordon as the “Eggman” ahead of the third bassist-led song of the evening.

Phish gets back to Chicago this weekend for a three-night run at the United Center. For tickets and a complete list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here.

Fans at home can follow along with live video webcasts and audio replays of the 2023 Phish fall tour via the band’s streaming service LivePhish. Audio will be added to the LivePhish app promptly after each show, with audio available to stream exclusively using LivePhish+. LivePhish+ subscribers can save on the tour webcast pass, or any single night show. For information on how to order your Phish 2023 fall tour webcasts, head here.

Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Ervin J. Nutter Center | Wright State University | Dayton, OH | 10/11/23

Set One: Set Your Soul Free, Funky Bitch (Son Seals), Roggae, Kill Devil Falls, Steam > My Friend, My Friend > Crazy Sometimes, Walls of the Cave

Set Two: Down with Disease > Ruby Waves, Lifeboy > Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, I Am the Walrus (The Beatles)

Encore: Egg in a Hole > Possum

My Friend My Friend did not contain the “Myfe” ending. Crazy Sometimes was performed for the first time since December 8. 2019 (132 shows). Trey referred to Mike as ‘the Eggman” in the Possum intro.