After bringing the house down on Friday, Phish emerged again on Saturday night to take the stage in Noblesville, IN at the Ruoff Music Center for night two of three. Before they got started, I wondered if there’d be any sort of lingering hangover after such a big first show.
The band got things started with three straight-ahead numbers, which stood in stark contrast to the jam-heavy start of the Friday show. Phish didn’t do anything out of the ordinary with a clean and rather slow version of the opener “Crowd Control” or the fun bluegrass tune “Poor Heart”, but “The Moma Dance” was solid and delivered on what’s generally expected from the steady slap of the first-set mainstay.
A standard and laid-back “Back On The Train” landed in the fourth spot and let guitarist Trey Anastasio show off some of the newer tones from his rig. Then, heard for the first time since 6/26/19, the Page McConnell-led “Army of One” from Phish’s Undermind album got the call.
“We are so happy to be back here, we love this place, thank you. Thank you for coming,” Page told the crowd before drummer Jon Fishman started the familiar drum beat of what turned out to be a lackluster “Bouncing Round The Room”. A clunky start to the tour’s first “Ya Mar” gave way to a relatively sleepy and dragging version of the tune.
Another tour debut landed in the eighth slot and treated us to the first inspired moments of the evening. Early on, bassist Mike Gordon really dug into this “Roggae”, allowing Trey to build to the song’s peak with his patented lengthy sustain. I’m always happy to hear “Roggae”, but the song placement felt a little odd. It’s usually a welcome cool down after some heat—of which the set had been devoid up to this point.
Phish – “Roggae” – 8/7/21
The multi-segmented “Stash” that followed tried its very best to develop into a Type II exploration, but the band had a difficult time hooking up and eventually had to bail and jump back into form to finish before closing the set with “Cavern”.
Phish – “Stash” [Pro-Shot] – 8/7/21
After the previous night’s monster second set and three-song encore, it’s not surprising the band took it easy for the first frame. This set felt pretty flat and didn’t have any notable highlights, but from what I can tell, both Mike and Trey have not repeated footwear at all on this tour. And tonight, Fishman’s dress had green donuts on it, not red. The garment is one of the three new Lisa Simpson-designed dresses he commissioned for this tour, the drummer recently told SiriusXM Phish Radio’s Ari Fink.
As the band dug into the jam of the second set opener, a friend texted me: “This ‘Everything’s Right’ is groovy.” And he was right. But that groove eventually dissolved as the band took the improv in a different direction. It was clear right away that the setbreak refreshed the band, and they were ready to dig in.
So far on this tour, Trey has been leaning hard on his delay, using it with a variety of other effects, and we heard a lot of that in the first half of the “Everything’s Right” jam. Such heavy use of that syncopated delay, combined with Page’s synths, take almost every jam into similar outer-space-funk territory, which is where this inevitably went. Trey’s new gooey, low-register guitar gurgle, along with Mike’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” envelope-filtered bass tone, played key roles in the bulk of this jam. Not long after a brief “Simple” tease from the guitarist—a call-back the night prior—the band stripped the jam down to its bare essentials and slid back into the refrain of the chorus.
After almost 23 minutes of the longest “Everything’s Right” to date, Phish delivered an elegant take on the subtle, dark beauty that is “What’s The Use?” But the best of the night was yet to come.
Much to the delight of the Indiana phaithful—who were still waiting for Phish to blast off—the band launched into the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless”. This one never lost its initial, frenzied energy and kept gathering steam until its climax. Early in the jam, Page moved from the song’s customary clavinet to the piano and stayed there until the end, which really gave this a more “traditional rock’n’roll” feel than the previous jams of the night.
Phish – Deer Creek – “Crosseyed and Painless” (Talking Heads) – 8/7/21
After it all devolved into a light flurry of echo, sustain, and drum notes, the band executed a perfectly measured segue back into “What’s The Use?” While the lights flickered and Trey’s guitar echoed, Mike started banging his fist on the bass for the start to “Down With Disease”. Maintaining a very similar energy and vibe from the “Crosseyed” jam, this unfinished “Disease” started out strong with Trey running out to the front of the stage, bouncing around and shredding on the guitar. After slipping in a “Crosseyed” tease, and searching for a few minutes, this thing finally went nuclear. Trey landed on a screaming guitar note that he sustained for about 80 seconds, allowing Fishman to build and shred underneath, bringing this one to a roaring conclusion.
After another segue into a welcome and polished “Wading In The Velvet Sea,” Phish closed the set with a massive and rollicking “Possum” that brought the energy to its highest point in the night. Trey looked ecstatic watching Page during this one, and did some slick comping under the keyboardist’s solo before taking the baton and getting this one over the finish line. Closing the second set is just where I like to find my “Possums”.
Phish – “Possum” (partial) – 8/7/21
A single-song encore, the Ghosts of the Forest tune “Drift While You’re Sleeping”, wrapped things up for this Saturday night of Phish at Deer Creek.
I guess I should stop being surprised, but we’re getting absolutely spoiled with these second sets. Tomorrow is a Sunday, and we all know what that means. I’m sure we’re in for something special… again.
Check out some photos from Saturday night below via photographer Keith Griner.
For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here.
Setlist: Phish | Ruoff Music Center (Deer Creek) | Noblesville, IN | 8/6/21
Set One: Crowd Control, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Back on the Train, Army of One, Bouncing Around the Room, Ya Mar, Roggae, A Wave of Hope, Stash, Cavern
Set Two: Everything’s Right, What’s the Use?, Crosseyed and Painless > What’s the Use? > Down with Disease > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Possum
Encore: Drift While You’re Sleeping
A Wave of Hope made its Phish debut. Trey teased Simple in Everything’s Right and Crosseyed and Painless in Down With Disease. Down With Disease was unfinished. Page teased Long Tall Glasses in Possum. This was the rescheduled date from the show that had been postponed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.