Tonight’s show is our first visit to the state of Texas as we continue our long trek west. Over 500 miles separate tonight’s show from the last in New Orleans. The band could reasonably predict that few, if any, attendees of their shows at Tipitina’s would make that sort of journey in the days before they had a legion of traveling fans. It’s therefore understandable that there’s over a half-dozen songs from their last show making repeat appearances tonight; it would have been a fresh setlist for the folks at the Dallas show regardless of that fact. Nevertheless, for us time-traveling listeners, it means that tonight’s show features a very familiar setlist. This is still Phish though, and even this show that is filled with tour standards will have a fresh bust-out for us to enjoy.
The night begins with two songs that have frequently filled the opening slots: a “Buried Alive > Poor Heart” pairing. The band sounds decent from the beginning of the show. This is followed immediately by “Cavern,” which makes a rare appearance early in the show. The placement works though and the song rounds out a fun opening sequence. As the band has sounded decently tight so far tonight it’s no surprise that the next sequence of “Foam,” “The Sloth,” and “Rift” sounds good too. “The Sloth” hasn’t been played since Atlanta, so while it’s far from my favorite Phish song it’s still fun to hear tonight and injects some freshness into the setlist. “Stash” is song number 7 of the night and opens things up musically with the first real injection of improvisation. Trey is sounding impressive by 6:30 as he unleashes with trilling and shredding. His playing is jazzy and simply spot-on for the rest of the jam. He locks into a rocking riff shortly after 7:15 that is repetitive and rhythmic before exploding back into more great soloing. There’s nothing out-of-the-box about this “Stash” but Trey simply owns the song’s jazz inspiration throughout and delivers a thrilling performance that makes this one of the best ‘standard’ performances of “Stash” on this tour so far and a real highlight of this set.
“Sparkle > It’s Ice” follows this excellent “Stash,” and in continuing with the theme of the set, both sound well-played. “I Didn’t Know” gives Fishman a chance to shine on the trombone, and the set closes with “Possum.” As in “Stash,” Trey uses “Possum” to deliver some great fireworks during his solo. I feel like I have been saying this frequently lately, but this is a good first set with a nice flow from beginning to end, some very well-played compositions, and some great solos/jamming in “Possum” and particularly “Stash.” Altogether it makes for a great first half.
Set 2 begins with “The Landlady,” still making appearances outside of “Punch You in the Eye,” and “Chalk Dust Torture.” “Chalk Dust” didn’t stand out to me compared to recent performances, but both set openers sound good. The same can’t necessarily be said of the following “Uncle Pen” which gets a bit sloppy by the end, but is fun nonetheless. “Mike’s Groove” makes a somewhat unexpected appearance again tonight; it seems like we’re due for a “Tweezer” or “YEM” instead. “Mike’s Song” follows more or less the same predictable progression it has been following lately; a F-key segment begins about a minute and a half into the jam and is only briefly played with before a return to the end chords. The jam sounds better tonight than at the last show, mostly because Trey is having a good night, but it’s still not doing much for me at this point. “Weekapaug,” however, continues its hot streak. The first verse ends at 1:30 and the band quickly works into a subdued section by 3:00 that is somewhat reminiscent of a segment during the previous “Weekapaug” in New Orleans; Trey and Page are playing off of each other rhythmically. Fishman strips away the beat slowly and Trey adds dissonance at 4:30 which quickly whips the jam into chaos. Out of this emerges a groove centered around a quick Trey riff. This builds into a peak over several minutes before they return to the composed second verse of the song at 8:45. This is another excellent “Weekapaug” with multiple segments of great jamming; the song is probably tied with “Tweezer” at this point for providing the most open-ended improvisation during shows.
The excitement continues with a bust-out of “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” last played over a year and a half ago. This is a great Phish performance of the song; slow, dirty, and spotlighting fun solos from both Page and Trey. The song also does a great job of carrying the momentum from the “Weekapaug,” completing an excellent middle of the set. A usually frantic “My Sweet One” and “Big Ball Jam” takes us to the Henrietta segment. Fishman asks the audience how many people had never seen the band before tonight and introduces himself as Henreitta before “Love You”. Trey also introduces him by a variety of nicknames. The set ends with a good sounding “Squirming Coil” and “Amazing Grace.” “Good Times Bad Times” provides a shot of arena-rock as the encore to close the night. This is a great show top to bottom. The first set has an excellent flow and some good improvisation, and the second set starts a little slowly but builds to a terrific peak with the “Weekapaug” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” segment. Trey also has a particularly good night, delivering precise and thrilling solos when expected of him. Worth a listen!
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Weekapaug Groove,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 65 mins.
- Second set length: 82 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at Deep Ellum Live.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” returning after a one hundred and fifty-three show absence (11/23/91).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (6 songs).