Last night was a great show. Will Phish be able to keep up the momentum tonight? Those who know anything about this run will know the answer to that question but I won’t spoil the answer for anyone else quite yet. Tonight’s show opens with “Golgi” and “Foam,” both of which sound good. Even the following “Sloth,” which I feel has a higher propensity to sound sloppy than most of the band’s other songs, sounds tight tonight. Clearly the band is warmed up and ready to go after last night. The next sequence of songs is “Possum > Weigh > All Things Reconsidered.” This “Possum” gets a nice, long work-out tonight with multiple Trey-led peaks. It sets the show’s excitement level high early on. “Divided Sky” provides a nice breath of fresh air after that ripping sequence of songs and is well-played.
“The Horse” and “Silent in the Morning” have not been seen in over a week, but make an appearance here. Fishman loses the beat during “Silent,” which is really the only noticeable moment of sloppiness in this set. These days I don’t like it when “Fluffhead” and “Divided Sky” show up in the same set but it works here. “Fluffhead” sounds very solid and better than it did at its last outing. “Cavern” closes out the set. There’s not really any standout moment in this set but the whole thing is rock solid (besides that one moment in “Silent”) and has a great flow that balances high-energy songs with deeper and more contemplative moments. “Possum,” “Divided Sky,” and “Fluffhead” are probably the highlights for me.
“Wilson” kicks off set 2 and has a very extended intro tonight; after some eerie sounding jams and “Wilson” chants the song starts proper around 2:45. The song sounds looser and more exciting than it has at most outings this tour. There’s some real crazy Van Halen “Eruption” style guitar heroics by Trey during the song’s breakdown at 6:10. “Wilson” moves right into “Reba.” The composition of this one is reasonably well played and Trey’s solo during the jam is good, but I don’t think I would single this one out as particularly notable compared to other “Rebas” this tour. The ending of the whistling segment is off tonight, but that is quickly forgiven for the band transitions right into “Tweezer!” Not wasting anytime tonight, for sure. “Tweezer” has some vocal mini-jams during the verses tonight, for only the second time this tour, keeping in line with the loose vibe of the set. The jam starts at 4:30 and immediately drops into a funky “Low Rider” jam. This transitions seamlessly into an up-tempo, high energy take on “Walk Away,” being played for the first time since ’91! The song sounds decent despite the long time on the shelf. This slides right back into “Tweezer” which jams for just about a minute before they start slowly breaking it down. Fishman starts up the beat to “Glide” and carries them into that song.
Between the “Reba” and the “Tweezer” bust-out sandwich there has all ready been a lot of excitement packed into the beginning of this set. But the band is just getting started and the true madness is still to come. “Mike’s Song” starts up out of the end of “Glide” and features a lot of vocal silliness during the verses as the rest of the band besides Mike repeatedly sing that “this is Mike’s song.” The jam starts at 2:30 and spends several minutes moving through a comical number of themes from other Phish songs. Melodies of “Reba,” “Tweezer,” “The Lizards,” and “Stash” all get lengthy treatments during this “Mike’s” jam. At 7:30 the anarchic feeling of the song starts to calm a little as they break down “Mike’s Song,” without ever having played the ending chords, and Mike starts singing “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own.” He sings one verse of the song, Page solos a bit, and Trey quickly moves the band into the closing chords of “Mike’s.” They barely get a few seconds into the following “I Am Hydrogen” before they start up the “Vibration of Life” banter. Fishman starts the “Kung” chant over the “Vibration” drone and Mike even makes a few mentions of the “NO2” lyrics. “Kung” is up there with “Icculus” in my book as the peak of Phish absurdity. After all this they slide back into “Hydrogen,” which provides a couple minutes of relative calm.
Page and Trey “trade fours” at the beginning of the “Weekapaug Groove” jam around 2:30, which is fun to hear. This quickly transitions into a huge bust-out of “Have Mercy,” last seen in 1986! They return to the “Weekapaug” groove but only for about a minute before breaking down into the chorus of the Kiss song “Rock and Roll All Nite,” during which a guest vocalist takes the stage and Fishman exclaims “MR. GENE SIMMONS!” (spoiler: it wasn’t actually Gene Simmons). A final transition back into “Weekapaug” and one more verse of that song brings an end to nearly forty-minutes of pure Phish insanity. While the sequence doesn’t exactly contain deep moments of musical improvisation, it exhibits a different kind of comic and manic creativity that is integral to Phish’s prankster spirit. As you can imagine, this stretch of music was by far the strangest part of the Roxy box set for me the first time I heard it. While I couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on, it made me curious to try and figure it out. Hearing this set was formative to my eventual Phish obsession. Beyond that though it’s a pure distillation of Phish silliness and should be of entertainment and interest to any fan of the band.
“Fast Enough” is a well-played and well-deserved breather for the band and audience alike. “Big Ball Jam” leads us into the night’s Henrietta segment, which proceeds at a leisurely pace. Fishman takes the opportunity to reference “Gene Simmons” joining the stage earlier and introduces not just the band but virtually the entire road crew (including Paul Languedoc, Chris Kuroda, and Brad Sands) before starting “Terrapin.” The band caps off the set in the best possible way: a great take on “Harry Hood,” making only its third appearance of the tour. The jam starts at 5:30 and takes its time to develop. There’s a nice initial peak of bliss at 8:45 but the song then breaks down for a final build to a truly glorious finish starting around 12:00. “Tweezer Reprise” ends the set with a final burst of energy and “Sleeping Monkey” makes its first appearance of tour to close out the night with the band’s tongue firmly in cheek.
The first set of this show is a quality first set in the context of the tour. Hearing good performances of both “Divided Sky” and “Fluffhead” is a treat and there’s a good flow to the set as well. This show will always be remembered for the second half, however, and the lengthy sequence of the unique brand of musical insanity that Phish manages to pull off with their segue-fests. The good “Reba” and even better “Harry Hood” are just the icing on top. Easily the most entertaining and unpredictable night of the tour so far, and a classic Phish show.
- Show rating: 5/5
- Highlights: “Tweezer > Walk Away > Tweezer,” “Mike’s Song > My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > The Vibration of Life > Kung > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Have Mercy > Weekapaug Groove > Rock and Roll All Nite > Weekapaug Groove,” “Harry Hood”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debut(s): “Rock and Roll All Nite” (Kiss)
- First set length: 75 mins.
- Second set length: 105 mins.
- This is the second time Phish performed at the Roxy Theatre. They will return tomorrow night.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Have Mercy,” returning after a six hundred and seventy show absence (10/31/86).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (5 songs).