After days of circling around the city of San Francisco, Phish finally drops into town to play the city proper. The Warfield Theatre is no stranger to jams, being a favored haunt of Jerry Garcia’s solo projects and the Grateful Dead itself. The show begins with an announcement from Fishman that his friend is biking across the country to raise awareness for AIDS-related issues and tells the audience how they can get involved. Go Fishman and his friend! “Maze” begins the night’s musical adventure, returning to the opening slot it first claimed a few nights ago in Ventura. Page’s solo here feels a bit tame tonight. Trey’s solo is largely standard but has more energy than Page’s, so Trey wins the “Maze” duel tonight. A second Rift tune,”Sparkle,” brings us to another very dynamic “Foam.” Once again the band quiets way down at the end of Page’s solo and the beginning of Trey’s. Trey’s solo includes a very cool staccato/’plinko’ section around 6:00 before the band begins to build back up the volume at 7:00. This is a very good “Foam!”
“Punch You in the Eye” sounds very good tonight and is followed by a standard “Fee.” A snappy “All Things Reconsidered” brings us to “Split Open and Melt.” After taking this song for some exciting and slightly extended excursions earlier in the California mini-tour the band has returned to playing this song close to the vest, delivering another sub-9 minute performance. I like my “Splits” deep and dark, so this is a disappointing turn, but the song nevertheless sounds tight and Trey delivers some thrilling guitar heroics. “Split” is followed by a pairing of the band’s biggest compositional heavyweights: “Fluffhead” and “Divided Sky.” Both of these songs are delivered with precision; I only noticed one brief spotty passage from Trey during “Divided.” The solo at the end of “Fluffhead” is brief, but the solo at the end of “Divided Sky,” while on the short side as well, features Trey delivering some thrilling runs to close this near half-hour segment. Of particular note during this sequence is the first appearance on this tour of the now-ubiquitous pause during “Divided Sky.” Normally the two sections in question have been performed on this tour with only the briefest pause (if there is a pause at all), but tonight Trey lets the crowd cheer the band for a good solid 15-20 seconds before he plays the note to signal the start of the next section. I’ll be interested if this becomes the norm for “Sky” or if this is a one-off occasion. If the band decides to perform “Fluff” and “Sky” back to back the songs have to be performed with care and energy to make the marathon pairing worth it for the audience, thankfully the band accomplishes this tonight. A quick “Cavern” closes out the set.
This is an average first set for this tour. The song selection is standard and outside of regular soloing the jamming is minimal. However, there are a couple bright spots of note: the dynamic “Foam” with an interesting Trey solo and a well-executed pairing of “Fluffhead” and “Divided Sky” that ends up being quiet a treat.
“Wilson” opens up the second in the same quirky way it has been played all tour. This tune doesn’t quite explode with energy at the end like it does these days and instead has a real stop/start quality to it and a more abrupt ending. “Runaway Jim” is a good call for the second slot and has a decent solo from Trey that helps kick up the set’s energy level a notch or two. “Jim” is followed immediately by a standard “Mound” to round out the opening sequence of the set. “Tweezer” is up next and the jam starts at 4:30 with funky riffing from Trey. It initially sounds like he could be trying to lead the band towards a blissful, major-key transition at 6:00 but dissonance quickly creeps in at 6:30 and stays in the jam until the end. There’s a good peak in Trey’s solo before the composed ending begins at 10:25. This ending is extended a bit with Page twinkling the keys and Fishman playing drum rolls; this extension may have been to give Trey more time to switch to his acoustic for the following “Horse > Silent in the Morning.” This “Tweezer” is entertaining while it lasts but feels fairly standard for the tour.
“Big Ball Jam” picks up the tempo after “Silent” and leads into “You Enjoy Myself.” It sounds like Page plays a jarring wrong note during his transition out of the ‘bliss’ segment but otherwise the composition sounds good. Page’s solo morphs into a fun Mission: Impossible jam for a good minute or so before Trey’s solo begins. Trey’s solo starts very subdued tonight at 12:15 and the volume doesn’t pick back up until 14:15. The peak of Trey’s solo isn’t very raucous but his solo nevertheless feels longer and more interesting than it has in recent “YEMs” due to the dynamism of the quiet first couple minutes. The bass and drums segment is short and only about a minute long. Like “Tweezer” this “You Enjoy Myself” is fun while it lasts but also doesn’t do much to distingiush itself from other “YEMs” played this tour (except perhaps for the brief Mission: Impossible jam). “YEM” is followed by “Oh Kee Pa > Suzy.” I always find “Oh Kee Pa” to be a nice treat while listening to a show though it sounds like Trey flubs a bit about halfway through this rendition. “Suzy” sounds good.
“Great Gig in the Sky”comprises the Henrietta segment of the show and this song continues to be the most aurally pleasing Henrietta song the band performs. I also really like Fishman’s matter-of-fact delivery of the “I’m not afraid of dying” line. After a brisk “Hold Your Head Up” refrain the band closes out the set with “Tweezer Reprise.” Two equally snappy tunes form the show’s encore: “Amazing Grace” and “Rocky Top.” The playing during this show is decent for the most part but it also offers little in the way of memorable improvisation (“Tweezer” is about as good as it gets in that regard and even then it is fairly typical for the tour) and the setlist has few surprises. After listening to the second set the well-executed pairing of “Fluffhead” and “Divided Sky” is still probably my highlight of the night. This show is pleasant enough to listen to but you’re not missing out on much if you give it a pass.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Fluffhead > Divided Sky”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 80 mins.
- Second set length: 89 mins.
- This is the second time Phish performed at the Warfield Theatre. They will return on the next night.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony,” “The Great Gig in the Sky,” and “Rocky Top,” all returning after a seven show absence (3/17/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (6 songs).