Tonight is the second half of Phish’s second multi-night run in California on this tour. While last night’s show left me feeling a bit ambivalent, tonight’s first set left me feeling sublime. The show starts off with a fairly standard opening run of songs: “Llama” and “Guelah Papyrus.” Both songs sound good but are not anything special (backing up the “nothing too special” comment is the fact that this is the fourth consecutive “Guelah Papyrus” to be played as the second song of the night). The set picks up starting with “Rift,” which sounds very good tonight, and really gets cooking with “Stash.” The “Stash” jam starts at 4:55 and after a minute of straightforward “Stash” interplay Trey and Mike lock into an intense, driving riff. It seems like the band is breaking the song’s structure, but they return to the “Stash” theme. This respite is brief, however, for the band locks right back into the feeling of this intense passage at 6:45 as the jam gets increasingly dark and weird. The whole band sounds incredibly locked-in here. They return to the “Stash” progression for good at 7:30 and after some cool sliding riffs from Trey the band peaks the jam and transitions to the song’s composed ending at 9:00. This isn’t one of the longest “Stash” jams of tour but not a second is wasted during the jam, making for a roller-coaster of a listen. Highly recommended!
The band just keeps the momentum going from there and drops right from this great “Stash” into an also-excellent “Reba.” There are no issues with the performance of the composition, and the jam starts at about 6:15. The beginning of the jam is very subdued with Trey not entering until 6:50. There’s more great interplay here as the whole band joins Trey for a couple passages of soothing, chordal vamps before Trey really starts soloing proper at 8:00. The solo quickly builds into an impressive minute of sixteenth-note runs from Trey before a satisfying peak from 10:45-11:40. This “Reba” is certainly in the upper tier of “Rebas” played on the tour. Like “Stash,” this song succeeds both because Trey is locked-in (patient when needed, thrilling on command) and because the whole band sounds like they’re on the same wavelength. Hopefully they can keep this up throughout the night.
“My Friend, My Friend” sounds solid and, what has become the new norm, the outro is slightly extended. “Uncle Pen” and “Sample in a Jar” are well-played (the band can’t seem to play a wrong note this set) and let the band take a break from intense improvisation. “I Didn’t Know” fills its usual second-to-last song of set position and features a shoutout from Trey to Nancy Wright, “on the other side of the continent,” for writing the song. “David Bowie” closes the set. The “Bowie” intro is elongated tonight with the song starting at 2:50 on my recording. The jam begins at 6:00 and finds its groove at ~8:40 as Trey latches onto a driving passage. This is followed by some good segments of shredding and dissonance, including a short but awesome dissonant-funk breakdown at 12:45 right before the closing trills. I didn’t find the “Bowie” to be quite as memorable or sublime as the “Stash” or “Reba” but the band is definitely poking around during the jam and being patient enough to try out some ideas. The song serves as an energetic cap to a truly great first set that has memorable, improvisational highlights.
Set 2 opens with a number of shorter tunes, starting with a fun “Buried Alive > Halley’s Comet” pairing. This may be the first second set of tour to open with “Buried Alive” and only the second performance of “Halley’s” in ’93. As the song’s last performance in Coloardo was a huge bust-out it is no surprise to hear the song sounding much tighter tonight. “It’s Ice” returns to the second set and has a slightly extended underwater segment filled with cool ambience. “Bouncing” serves as an early-set breather, while “Chalk Dust Torture” kicks the energy level back up. Trey’s solo in “Chalk Dust” is strong and echoes the excellent playing of the first set.
The set gets more interesting from there with the first “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY” in thirty-eight shows (last played on the second night of tour in Providence). This sequence is well-placed after the hyperkinetic energy of “Chalk Dust,” making for a contemplative middle of the set. Mike’s Groove is up next. The “Mike’s Song” jam starts at 2:35, with Trey entering at 3:15 for a short but sweet solo. The end chords hit at 4:45, quickly giving way to the F-key transition at 5:05. This ‘second jam’ begins with very “Simple”-esque riffing from Trey and gets increasingly chaotic from there. The jam quiets down to almost nothing at 6:45, leading into a very weird Mike-solo/funk breakdown. Another very brief Trey solo over the standard “Mike’s” progression leads back into the end chords at 8:15. This is a messy but interesting jam that’s a little more adventurous than the typical “Mike’s” from this tour.
After the “Hydrogen” interlude comes the clear highlight of the set, “Weekapaug Groove.” The patient, locked-in playing from the first set reappears here for another taste of excellent improvisation. The jam starts at 1:45 and gets nice and funky around 3:30. Trey takes a melodic solo over this that includes well-placed “On Broadway” quotes before Page takes over at 5:00. The following couple minutes features good dynamism and excellent soloing from Page. Trey stops his chordal comping to join Page with fast riffing at 8:30 for an intense but patient build. This leads into a strong peak and a transition back into the composed ending at 11:25. This tour has been full of great “Weekapaugs,” but this performance nevertheless rises towards the top of that list. The improvisation in this jam is constantly shifting but never feels rushed.
Tonight’s Henrietta sequence is kept relatively brief, clocking in at just over 6:00. Fishman croons setlist regular “Cracklin’ Rosie.” A quick “Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus” pairing wraps up the set. “Golgi” features some fun dynamism tonight, becoming almost completely silent at 2:30 before exploding in volume. “Squirming Coil” and an a capella “Carolina” comprise the encore.
Tonight’s first set is a must hear, featuring back-to-back excellent performances of “Stash” and “Reba” that feature tight, creative playing. These songs are surrounded by overall good playing and an exciting set-closing “David Bowie.” The second set is slightly less memorable, but a tight “Halley’s Comet,” the return of “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” and another superb “Weekapaug Groove” make for a good listen nonetheless. This California run has had a couple of off-nights, but with this great show the band is poised for a strong end to the run tomorrow night.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Reba,” “Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 74 mins.
- Second set length: 89 mins.
- This is the third time Phish performed at the Warfield Theatre. They will return on 5/25/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday” and “Avenu Malkenu,” both returning after a thirty-eight show absence (2/4/93).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (5 songs).