Tonight is the sixteenth show of tour and the the last night at the Roxy. Enjoy the official recording if you can, for it will be the last for a while. This is the third show of tour to open with a “Suzy Greenberg > Buried Alive” pairing. They add an a capella intro to “Suzy” tonight that I haven’t heard before. “Punch You in the Eye” follows “Buried Alive,” and despite a few minor flubs from Trey I can hear the benefits of the song returning to regular rotation. While the first couple appearances after the song’s bust-out were shaky at times, it sounds like they have started to become comfortable with it. “Uncle Pen” and “Horn” are always welcome additions to a setlist in my eyes and bring us to “Chalk Dust Torture.” There’s a great solo from Trey here that builds to a nice peak, adding to what has all ready been a high-energy set.
“Esther” begins with a bunch of silly banter about Page’s minor changes to his stage arrangement and the “virtuosic” ability required to play the “Esther” intro. The song doesn’t really begin until about 2:10 on my recording. The song sounds decent and leads into the first “Dinner and a Movie” of tour. A quick “Bouncing” brings us to a set-closing “Run Like an Antelope.” Like “Chalk Dust Torture.” Trey sounds great during this “Antelope.” It’s probably one of the better performances of this song on this tour. After the jam’s initial peak there’s a solid minute of cool jamming before the vocals come in, something I haven’t really heard them do so far. This first set is short (just over an hour long) but is consistently high-energy throughout. It has has some fresh setlist choices and great playing from Trey.
Obviously Phish is no stranger to three, even four night runs at a venue in the current day. But in ’93 playing a three night run really forced the band to dig deep into their repertoire to fill out their setlists. This made for some interesting setlist choices the last couple nights, and we’ll see a few more in this final set. It also helps explain why this night’s show is the shortest of the tour so far, even when including the Knoxville show that ended early.”Axilla” starts off set 2 and is followed by the first “Curtain” in two weeks. No ‘With’ segment tonight, but it sounds good nonetheless. “Stash” is up next and despite showing up in the second set a couple times early in the tour it has only been appearing in the first since. Maybe they’ll take this opportunity to push the song a bit further than they have been?
Thankfully, this turns out to be the case. The jam starts at 5:35 and for the first four minutes sticks to the trajectory that it has been following every outing this tour. Trey has been having a good night though, and that holds true for his playing here. Then at 9:10, right when they would normally head into the closing of the song, Trey holds on to a note and you can just instantly tell they’re going to push the song a bit further tonight. There’s another minute of guitar heroics and at 9:55 they break the song down into a ‘plinko’ groove that segues into “Manteca,” the biggest bust-out of the night. After a refrain of the “crab in my shoemouth” lyrics they return to the ending of “Stash.” While it’s just a couple minutes of experimentation it’s nice to see the band do something a bit different with this song after a tour of largely interchangeable versions, and it’s easily a highlight of the night so far. The end of “Stash” segues into a well-played “Lizards.”
We’re not done with bust-outs quite yet; the first “Bathtub Gin” of tour comes after “Lizards.” The composed part of the song sounds fine despite the absence, and the jam isn’t too bad either. However, the jam only goes for a couple minutes before petering out into “Hold Your Head Up.” It’s nice to hear this song again and I hope it enters into a more regular rotation but I get the feeling they don’t quite know what to do with the end of the song yet. Tonight’s Henrietta segment has a lot of amusing banter, before and after “Cracklin’ Rosie.” Particularly amusing from today’s perspective is a bit from Fish where he tells the audience not to “eat at McDonalds” and then retracts that statement a moment later because he is “ashamed” to be making the band’s “first political statement.” Given his whole-hearted embrace of Bernie Sanders in 2015 his view on making political statements has apparently evolved somewhat.
“The Squirming Coil” follows the Henrietta segment and features an unusually subdued solo from Page tonight. It’s pleasant though and I dig it. They then turn the energy dial in the complete opposite direction for “Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars.” An a capella “Sweet Adeline” ends the set. We get treated to a triple encore tonight with Jeff Mosier on banjo. This starts with a “bluegrass” take on “Good Times Bad Times” that actually isn’t half-bad and has some fun soloing once they settle into a groove, and this transitions smoothly right into a good take on “Paul and Silas,” the only repeat of the three shows, and the debut of traditional song “Pig in a Pen.” It’s a fun sequence that feels more authentically bluegrass than most of the band’s takes on the genre.
I went back and forth between a 3 and 4 for this show, but ultimately decided on 4 for a few reasons. First, the setlist for both the first and second set felt fresh with an infusion of tour-debuts and songs not in heavy rotation. Despite this, everything felt mostly well-played with few moments of sloppy playing. There is also some great jamming; Trey’s solos in “Chalk Dust” and “Antelope” in the first set are ripping and the second set “Stash” and “Bathtub Gin” are great to hear as well. The show does feel like a comedown of some sorts from the insanity of the night before but it stands as a good listen by itself.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Run Like an Antelope,” “Stash -> Manteca -> Stash,” “Bathtub Gin -> Hold Your Head Up”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “Pig in a Pen” (Traditional)
- First set length: 62 mins.
- Second set length: 77 mins.
- This is the third and last time Phish performed at the Roxy Theatre. The Jazz Mandolin Project and Vida Blue and the Spam Allstars perform here on 1/5/04.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Manteca,” returning after a one hundred and seven show absence (4/18/92).
- The best represented studio album is Lawn Boy (4 songs).