On Wednesday night, Phish put on a display of variety worthy of a closing night at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Night 2 at SPAC was witness to a “Fluffhead” opener, “Sleep” for the first time in 289 shows, as well as a “Plasma” sandwich closed out by an additional “Tweezer Reprise”. As the band heads into a holiday weekend stint at Boston’s Fenway Park, Phish proved again on Wednesday that they’re firing on all cylinders heading into the latter part of summer tour.
A “Fluffhead” opener started the show for the first time since 2010 at Jones Beach. An extended grand piano infused introduction from Page McConnell incited roars as he and Trey laid in the foreground throughout the song. “Fluff came to New York” in phrasing throughout the main composition as fans continued to barrage the band with cheers. Halfway through, Page switched to his Hammond B3 for more interplay with Trey before ending where he began on the grand. With an 18-minute warm up in their back pocket, the band gently moved to “Guyute”. The nimble configuration was built on the signature country rift before turning demonic. Led by Page on clavinet, the keys master turned left and showered notes from his Hammond throughout the crowd. The back-end was highlighted with Trey’s evil inflections on lyrics before heading to a “Martian Monster” dance party.
“Martian Monster” invaded SPAC with an organ-heavy top end, ahead of Trey leading the group to a quick-paced “Llama”. The double timed “Llama” was led by organ textures before heading into a sustain-heavy “Steam”. Page and Trey’s interplay climbed the tower with well-balanced organ licks. As per the trend of this summer tour, “Poor Heart” worked in the bluegrass number for the middle of first set leading into the Mike Gordon Band’s, “Crazy Sometimes”. Following the Gordo sequence was “The Horse” and “Silent in the Morning”.
A welcomed “Sleep” came out for the first time in 289 shows integrated with charming vocals from Anastasio and incredible runs from McConnell. Instead of painting the picture of lucid dreaming prior to waking up, the Farmhouse bust out helped close out the set teamed with “Drift While Your Sleeping”. The reggae-themed second stanza came at a quicker step, with synth interplay from Page to carry the second set through to the end.
Set two opened with the summer favorite, “No Man in No Man’s Land”, complete with a filthy, yet bouncing clavinet-led jam before Trey went to work with an onslaught of notes from his own instrument. Page quickly moved to electric keys before it fizzled into a nearly two-minute tease toward “Dirt”. With an airy melodic solo, Trey rolled through crisp licks before making his way back to the canorous main theme of another Farmhouse classic.
“Plasma” built the foundation for the lone sandwich fans were hungry for. While it didn’t jam as it did in Bangor, ME a few shows prior, it did grind out the Kasvot Växt tune, “We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains”. Brief riffs of “Plasma” completed the sandwich before the quartet thought it necessary to further satisfy the need of Camden’s loss, with another “Tweezer Reprise” to the SPAC run. The most ruthless anthem in rock ‘n’ roll was paired seamlessly with “The Wedge” prior to heading into an always clav-heavy “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley”.
The final three songs of the night could have all been in the closing slot. The trifecta commenced with “Run Like an Antelope” that was brought through the ringer. “Antelope” led the herd with leads from Page on the grand piano before Trey employed plenty of sustain and gently moved into some frantic yet controlled work on the Languedoc. Within the web of Fishman’s pocket, the band moved to the final segment laced with thick B3 work from Page. The usual set-closing “More” was up to bat full of watery effects from Trey, met by Page on his Hohner. The five-minute run-through saw interplay from an energetic Trey teamed with runs from Page on piano. The uplifting Big Boat track spilled into “Slave to the Traffic Light”. “Slave” started with its light-hearted arrangement before swiftly ducking to the foundation with Gordon and Fishman creating a cavity for the impending segment. The final portion was that of complete bliss as Anastasio created a mural hovering over SPAC painted in colors of pleasure and tranquility.
The Velvet Underground cover “Rock and Roll” came as the lone encore. Without flub, McConnell ran through the Lou Reed-penned lyrics while Trey brought on a battery of licks. The entire band became unified as their leader brought them to their final peak of the night assuring SPAC attendees “it was alright!”
Phish has the night off on Thursday before their two-night stint in Boston for their Independence Day Weekend performances. For a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates and ticketing information, head to Phish’s website.
Each show on Phish’s 2019 summer tour will be rebroadcast on SiriusXM Phish Radio (Ch. 29) at 12:00 ET the following day. Subscribe here.
Scroll down to see photos from Wednesday night’s show, courtesy of Andrew Blackstein.
Setlist: Phish | Saratoga Performing Arts Center | Saratoga Springs, NY | 7/3/2019
Set One: Fluffhead, Guyute, Martian Monster, Llama, Steam > Poor Heart, Crazy Sometimes > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sleep*, Drift While You’re Sleeping
Set Two: No Men In No Man’s Land > Dirt > Plasma -> We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains -> Plasma -> Tweezer Reprise > The Wedge > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> Run Like an Antelope, More > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Rock and Roll (The Velvet Underground cover)
*First time played since August 17th, 2011 (289 shows)