Last night, Phish wrapped up a two-night stand at the Chase Center in San Francisco, CA. This weekend further proved how much the band enjoys performing in northern California. Add a couple under-attended shows to the mix and you have a recipe for a fantastic little run.
Saturday night’s show was about the “inverted setlist,” with second set regulars like “Slave” and “Simple” appearing in set one, first set staple “The Moma Dance” holding set-closing space in the second, and the show’s biggest jam—a diabolical “Carini”—taking place not at the top of set two but during the show’s encore.
Seemingly still interested in that trend, last night’s show started with “Bug”, a song often found in encores and late in sets. Until Sunday night, the Farmhouse tune had never opened a set.
The blues-rocker “My Soul” followed and showcased some fantastic soloing by keyboardist Page McConnell and guitarist Trey Anastasio. Continuing with the bluesy vibe, the band went into the bouncy funk of “Back On The Train”. Here, for the first time on the night, the band opened up a bit. Drummer Jon Fishman never strayed from the groove, allowing the band to experiment with a range of effects over the song’s traditional feel before effortlessly falling back into the closing refrain.
Phish – “Back On The Train” [Partial] – 10/17/21
[Video: Ryan Vandenbroeck]
Maze or Bowie? This time, it was “Maze”. Trey, Fishman, and bassist Mike Gordon delivered some incredible comping under a blazing solo by Page before he handed the baton to the guitarist for his turn. The tension for which “Maze” is known was hectic in this version—and it made the patented release from the chaos that much sweeter.
Phish – “Maze” – 10/17/21
The slow, drippy groove of “Steam” heralded the fifth song of the night. This version was a little disconnected to start but quickly found its footing. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this past summer’s tour was the band’s reclaimed proclivity for diving headfirst into the psychedelic murk, and those “Evil Phish” reverberations were once again prevalent here. After a few minutes of dark, submerged exploration, the band noticed the light and swam to the surface.
A solid pass through “Destiny Unbound”, the former prom queen of bust-outs, landed in the sixth slot. The Page McConnell-penned “Beauty of a Broken Heart” followed, marking its first appearance in 2021. Before the final notes could ring out, Trey signaled for “Reba”.
“Reba” was executed near-flawlessly, and the jam that followed was sublime in a way only “Reba” jams are. The communication between the band members was on full display as they built the crescendo to its inevitable peak. Then, Phish whistled themselves into the set closer, “I Never Needed You Like This Before”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this song has found its home at the end of sets and in encores. The “Moonage Daydream”-like, epic guitar-hero rock is perfect set-ending material.
Soundcheck night two in San Francisco 📸 @rene_huemer pic.twitter.com/Yo4kqnh83q
— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) October 17, 2021
“You guys want to do “Evolve”?” Trey could be heard asking the band before they opened the set with the Lonely Trip song. This was only the second performance of the quarantine tune that came out of Trey’s 2020 writing sessions. Short, sweet, and to the point.
An exploratory, multi-sectioned “Set Your Soul Free” followed. The jam in this 26-minute version started minor and stayed there for a bit as Trey and Page lightly danced over the rhythm section. Trey took wheel after some more searching led to a major-key shift, his energy encouraging Page to switch from the Wurlitzer to the piano to give the jam a little juice.
That energy didn’t sustain, however, and the band floated back into effects-laden, synth-y, psychedelic ambience. After all, it was Sunday night: time to explore. Trey eventually wove an exciting, dark, low-octave pattern that the band rallied around, and Page auditioned some new interesting atmospheric synth sounds, but it never grew into anything particularly remarkable.
“Wingsuit” then made its 2021 debut. The quiet contemplation of the first half of the song nicely set up its ballooning jam—part “Reba”, part “Prince Caspian”. Out of Mike Gordon’s ethereal bass drilling, the song’s customary landing pad, came the familiar riff of “Chalk Dust Torture”.
This 24-minute monster modulated major early and contained some “Wingsuit” teases from Trey, but despite the energy it injected into the set, the band couldn’t help but float their way back into “searching mode.” However, that search paid dividends when Trey and Mike locked into a darker, fast-paced groove with Page jumping to the piano and Fish falling in line behind them. Trey used that cohesion to modulate major once again, finally leading the tune to its ripping back half to put a bow on the 4-song set.
The lounge act jazz of “Lawn Boy” cleansed palates to begin the encore before the Chairman of Boards queued up the opening chords of “Wolfman’s Brother”. Before Sunday night, the Hoist tune had appeared in an encore only once in the band’s history (4/17/04). Though this one didn’t reach its typical heights, it was a fun way to close a great weekend in the Bay Area.
With Halloween looming at the end of the tour, the setlist curveballs from the first three nights will surely prompt speculation about whether they tie into the planned “costume” antics. Probably not, but it made me wonder…
We would also be remiss if we did not mention the multiple reported incidents of fans falling from the balcony during the show, one of which resulted in the conspicuous clearing and closure of a section of seats during setbreak. Our thoughts are with anyone and everyone affected. Please be careful out there and keep an eye on your people. We want to see you all again next time, happy and healthy.
Phish fall tour 2021 continues on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10/19 and 10/20, in Eugene, OR. For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here.
Click below to revisit Live For Live Music‘s full coverage of Phish fall tour 2021 including photos, videos, and concert recaps:
Phish Fall Tour 2021 Recaps
10/15/21 Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA – Recap
10/16/21 Chase Center, San Francisco, CA – Recap
10/17/21 Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
10/19/21 Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR – Recap
10/20/21 Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR – Recap
10/22/21 Ak-Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ – Recap
10/23/21 NICU Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA – Recap
10/24/21 The Forum, Inglewood, CA – Recap
10/26/21 Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, CA – Recap
10/28 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Recap
10/29 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
10/30 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
10/31 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV – Upcoming
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Chase Center | San Francisco, CA | 10/17/21
Set One: Bug, My Soul > Back on the Train, Maze, Steam, Destiny Unbound, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Reba, I Never Needed You Like This Before
Set Two: Evolve, Set Your Soul Free, Wingsuit > Chalk Dust Torture
Encore: Lawn Boy, Wolfman’s Brother,
Steam had a Dave’s Energy Guide tease. Chalk Dust Torture had a Wingsuit tease.