Welcome to the eighth show of tour and the first played in the state of Pennsylvania! A feeling of déjà vu would be understandable as this show begins, for the first three songs of the night are the first three songs that opened the Washington DC show a few nights ago (and played in the same order): “Suzy > Buried Alive > Poor Heart.” There isn’t anything remarkable about this opening trio other than the band sounding decently tight and Mike sounding normal, which is already a step up over last night’s show. “Stash” follows and the band doesn’t sound quite as together during the composed beginning as they did earlier on tour, but it’s not bad enough to detract in a major way from the listening. The crowd is certainly clapping in the sections that fans clap at today, but Fishman is still playing fills as well. I don’t remember hearing the clapping as audibly on previous recordings this tour. The jam follows the contour it has followed all tour: a 3-4 minute Trey solo that runs through a a couple of quick tension/release passages before the final verse. It’s fun and well-played but I’m excited to see the band start to experiment a little more and dig a little deeper with this song; it’s an average performance within the context of the tour so far.
“Fee” serves as a breather after the tense jamming of “Stash,” a slot I like for this song. “Fee” segues into a fine performance of “Rift,” before the first “Fluffhead” of the tour. Despite being the first “Fluffhead” performed onstage in months it sounds solid. “Llama” emerges out of “Fluffhead” and does what “Llama” does; the end of the song sounds perhaps a little more wild than it normally does. “Lawn Boy” serves as another quick breather before segueing into the set-closing “David Bowie.” The intro tonight is filled with Secret Language signals, and they’re layered over a pleasant sounding vamp. This vamp eventually works itself into a full on “Lawn Boy” reprise complete with vocals. The intro finally ends around 3:30. The jam starts around 7:00 and is very subdued at first. Trey latches onto a cool riff at 8:20 that the rest of the band builds a jam around for several minutes. This feels like one of the more patient builds of the tour so far, as they don’t even start to transition into the final peaks of the song until 11:30. Overall this is a very well-played “Bowie” that is one of my favorite performances of the song on this tour to date, and easily the biggest highlight of the relatively short first set.
Despite “Punch You in the Eye” being worked back into the rotation after a huge bust-out at the Roseland “The Landlady” section makes an appearance by itself as the opener of set 2. “Wilson” into “Uncle Pen” follows, both of which are well played. It sounds to me like the band has mostly shook off the rust of last night’s show and Mike is back to his normal ass-kicking self. Mike’s Groove takes its usual every-other-night place in the middle of the set. The first couple minutes of the jam are a little less experimental than some of the other “Mike’s” from this tour have been; it’s just a solid couple minutes of Trey wailing away. At 5:20 they transition into the “Simple” F key which leads to an evil “Under Pressure”-esque riff from Trey. They bring it back to the “Mike’s Song” ending at ~7:20. “Hydrogen” serves as the bridge to “Weekapaug,” which is a quick one tonight; the jam starts little over a minute in. In modern fan parlance, Trey utilizes his “whale call” technique starting around 2:20 where he holds and bends (or whammys, not sure which) a note repeatedly. I know fan reaction to this technique is mixed, at least today, but I’m usually a fan when it is done well, as it is here. This leads into a section of great Page/Trey interplay and a blissful peak beginning at 4:45. Overall this is a great “Weekapaug,” even when compared with the other great “Weekapaugs” from this tour.
“Mound” leads into the night’s “Big Ball Jam,” and a quick “Bouncing” brings us to the Henrietta segment. Fishman takes the opportunity to introduce the band and take an extended vacuum solo during “Love You.” A well played “Lizards” and “Cavern” closes this short second set. Tonight’s encore is “Bold as Love” and an unamplified “Amazing Grace” (decent recording tonight). Overall, most of the show is well played and is a definite step up over last night. However, the only songs that really stood out to me are the “David Bowie” from the first set and the excellent “Weekapaug” in the second. Otherwise most of the songs are kept fairly tight to their compositions. This show seems middle of the road compared to the the rest of the tour so far.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “David Bowie,” “Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 70 mins.
- Second set length: 77 mins.
- This was the first and last time Phish performed at the Haas Center for the Arts.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Bold as Love,” returning after a fifteen show absence (12/10/92).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (5 songs).