Phish returned to Commerce City, CO on Thursday night to kick off a four-show, summer-closing run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a venue with which the band has built a long, storied history.

Coming off an emotional week of highs (last weekend’s Vermont flood recovery benefit shows at SPAC, which raised $3.5 million and featured a surprise appearance by Derek Trucks) and lows (the passing of Trey Anastasio Band saxophonist James Casey after a two-year cancer battle), the band trained its focus on local mythology as Thursday’s performance began.

After Trey AnastasioJon FishmanPage McConnell, and Mike Gordon got situated onstage, Trey stepped to the microphone to address the crowd before the music got started. “Welcome, welcome. This one’s for Frenchie,” he said before laying into 20 minutes’ worth of “Carini”.

Frenchie, the fan who passed away earlier this year after a cancer struggle of his own, became a viral sensation within the Phish community last summer when he remained on the Dick’s field sans clothing long after the area was temporarily evacuated due to inclement weather. Frenchie kept the mood light despite the rain, frolicking around the empty field in nothing but his boots while thousands of fans cheered him on from the stands. When that night’s show eventually began, the band opened with the “naked dude”-referencing “Carini” and ad-libbed lyrics referencing the incident (“at least he had some boots”).

A few months later, Frenchie figured prominently into the 2022 Phish New Years Eve gag at Madison Square Garden, where a gaggle of “naked dudes” stormed the stage by way of a Trojan Horse birthday cake for an after-midnight “Carini”. After the show, Phish publicly thanked Frenchie for serving as the inspiration for the spectacle: “Lastly, we want to thank the star of the show Frenchie (aka The Naked Guy) from Steamboat Springs, Colorado” Anastasio wrote in a social media post. “Frenchie, we heard that you are going through a serious health journey, and we want to send our love and best wishes to you.”

One year after his naked star turn, and months after his passing, Frenchie has earned his place in Phish lore—and he surely would have loved this dynamic, weekend-opening “Carini” back where it all began.

The string of feel-good sing-alongs continued with a buoyant “Prince Caspian” and the revival of the once-common “We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains” for the first time in 108 shows (always a pleasure to hear Phish cover Kasvot Växt). “Mercury” featured a dark, murky jam that seemed to surface a little too quickly into “Ruby Waves”, but the band maintained its momentum and guided this probing rendition through more than 15 minutes of intense improvisation. A “Character Zero” set-closer kept the energy high as many a jaded vet high-fived their neighbor in celebration of the perennial encore being off the Dick’s table early this year.

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Phish returned for set two with a quick and easy “Set Your Soul Free” before igniting an explosion of cheers with the opening notes of “Tweezer”, which toiled and tiptoed through fields of effects, notes of “What’s The Use”, shades of the Allman Brothers Band, and layers of melodic motifs over the course of its 22-minute runtime. Sonically abstract Ghosts of the Forest number “Beneath a Sea of Stars Pt. 1” provided a lush landing pad and a moment for fans to pause, sit, and ponder before summer 2023 noob “Oblivion” added some brooding ambiance its fifth—and perhaps strongest—appearance of the tour.

“Light” has made several exceptional showings at Dick’s in the past, and the 2023 Dick’s “Light” was definitely thornier than most thanks to Fishman’s polyrhythms and Gordo’s chunking bassline. Continuing down the path to illumination, Phish finally moved from “Light” into a glowing “Slave to the Traffic Light” to wrap set two.


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Possessed by the swirl of emotions surrounding Thursday’s performance and the comforting nostalgia of returning to one of the band’s adopted “home fields,” Phish equipped its first of four Colorado encores with a sentimental “Show of Life” and a cathartic blast of “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”

It’s always comforting to be “back at Dick’s” to close the summer, even when you’re tuning in from afar. The show of life keeps moving and changing, but as the history of Phish on Labor Day Weekend grows longer and more nuanced by the year, each return feels more and more meaningful. You will always remember where you were. Welcome back.

Phish continues its 2023 Dick’s run tonight, Friday, September 1st. Following Friday’s show, join us at Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom for a late-night performance by Magic Beans & Friends [grab your tickets here]. For a full list of Live For Live Music‘s 2023 Dick’s late-night events, head here.

Related: Phish Dick’s 2023 Late-Night Guide: The Phunk Sessions, Steely Dead, Magic Beans, More

Below, check out the full setlist and a selection of photos from Thursday night’s Phish show at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. Subscribe to LivePhish+ to listen to every show on the tour and browse an archive of live Phish recordings. To order your LivePhish webcasts for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here.

Phish – “Carini” (For Frenchie) [Pro-Shot] – 8/31/23

Phish – “Ruby Waves” – 8/31/23

[Video: cdViking]

Phish – “Light” – 8/31/23

[Video: cdViking]

Setlist [via]: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 8/31/23

SET 1: Carini > Halley’s Comet > Blaze On[1], Prince Caspian, We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains, Mercury > Ruby Waves > Character Zero

SET 2: Set Your Soul Free, Tweezer > Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 1, Oblivion > Light > Slave to the Traffic Light

ENCORE: Show of Life, Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.

[1] Lyrics changed to “we’ll be dancing here at Dick’s.”

Trey dedicated Carini to Frenchie (Tim Gazaille), a fan who had passed away earlier in the year and was the “naked guy” during the rain delay at Dick’s the previous summer. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in Halley’s Comet. Blaze On’s lyrics were changed to “we’ll be dancing here at Dick’s.” We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains was performed for the first time since August 6, 2021 (109 shows).


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