Tonight is the last day of our week-long Florida mini-tour and also the last show of the month. After this we’ll get our first multi-day break of the tour. All of February has been more-or-less a slow shot down the east coast, and we’ll soon start our journey west. First though: a show in Gainesville and the only Phish show ever at the Florida Theatre. The night starts with a quick but sharp “Golgi Apparatus” that gives away to an equally quick and sharp “Rift.” These two have been in heavy rotation and sound well-practiced. “Guelah Papyrus” is a nice breather after the two scorching openers, but they turn the heat right back up with “Maze.” Page’s solo is good, but I particularly liked Trey’s tonight and would give him the edge in the solo duel. I’ve been saying this a lot lately about “Maze,” but this is a good “Maze” and the best part of the night so far.
A quick “Bouncing” leads into a well-played “It’s Ice,” which is returning to the first set after several second set appearances. “Sparkle” is “Sparkle” and is followed by “Punch You in the Eye,” which seems to have returned to a somewhat regular rotation after its big bust-out this tour. It certainly sounds tighter than it did when it was first brought back and is particularly crisp tonight. Before “Lawn Boy” Trey remarks that this is the band’s first ever run of shows in the state, and thanks the audience for a gracious welcome. “Antelope” closes out the set in a great fashion. Fitting for the quick and uptempo set, this “Antelope” is blazing the whole way through and Trey, like he did in “Maze,” sounds particularly on and delivers a great solo from ~5:30 through to the peak of the song. It’s one of my favorite “Antelopes” of the tour so far, I think.
Set 2 opens with “The Curtain,” making only its third appearance of tour so far. Like those previous performances it is played without the “With” segment. Instead, the band drops right into another second-set “Stash” at the end of “Curtain.”. The “Stash” jam is going by 5:00 and follows a fairly standard build-up progression until 8:20 where a more dissonant segment begins. There’s good comping from Page as he takes a prominent space in the spotlight, and some great riffing from Trey leads the band through a final build-up and peak at 10:20. This “Stash” isn’t quite as experimental as some of the other recent performances but it’s nevertheless another solid and enjoyable outing for this song. “Poor Heart” makes its nightly appearance before the return of “Sample in a Jar!” This song was debuted early on this tour but was shelved after some rocky performances. We have heard the band working on this song during soundchecks, so it’s interesting to hear that they still don’t quite have the song down. Once again the band flubs the timing of the drop into the chorus at 2:20. It’s interesting that this song is considered “simple” by fans of the band but is giving the band quite a bit of trouble. Regardless, hearing this song again injects some freshness into the setlist.
“Big Ball Jam” is absent on my recording, which cuts straight from the the end of “Sample” to the beginning of “Ya Mar.” The performance of “Ya Mar” is standard but like “The Curtain” it hasn’t been heard often this tour so it’s nice to hear again. “Mike’s Song” is started after “Ya Mar” and has a typically-anarchic solo section. They band flirts with switching into the ‘F-key jam’ around 5:40 but it never fully develops. Instead, the jam comes close to falling apart entirely at 6:20, at which point Trey quickly steers the band into the ending chords. It’s an interesting but messy “Mike’s Song.” “Weekapaug,” on the other hand, sounds tight and provides several minutes of great improv. There’s a really great first peak at 3:30 and a cool breakdown at 5:00. “Weekapaug” is definitely the strongest part of tonight’s ‘Mike’s Groove.’ There’s not much notable banter during tonight’s Henrietta segment though Fishman does explain that he has a cold tonight (that might explain the relatively short sets). The set closes with the now-familiar pairing of “Fee > Llama.” I still like the yin-yang aspect of the pairing of these songs so it’s a fun end to the set. There’s a triple-encore tonight but unfortunately my tape only includes the first song, a typically-cheeky rendition of “Sleeping Monkey.”
This show has a lot of similarities to the past few nights in that the playing is exceptionally tight, for the most part, but the improv is mostly concise and contained. I bumped up tonight’s show to a 4 though for a few reasons. The first is that the setlist feels a bit fresher tonight, “The Curtain” and “Ya Mar” have been played infrequently this tour so they were nice treats to hear. “Sample in a Jar,” a brand-new song at this point, also returns after a long break. Also, while the improv is still relatively contained compared to the wildness of the Roxy shows the weekend prior, there are still a number of highlights. Tonight has one of the better “Antelopes” of tour, a strong jam in “Stash,” and an unusually strong “Maze.” This combined with a good flow and a frantic pace to the setlist makes for a strong show overall.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Maze,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “Stash”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 62 mins.
- Second set length: ~77 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Florida Theatre.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Sample in a Jar,” returning after a fifteen show absence (2/9/93).
- The best represented studio albums are Rift and A Picture of Nectar (4 songs).