Phish has finally arrived in Oregon for the northwest portion the tour, before the band embarks on a slow journey back east to complete their grand circuit of the continental U.S. Tonight’s show opens with two Trey fugues: “Buried Alive” and “All Things Reconsidered,” with “Poor Heart” sandwiched in between. This is a fun and snappy beginning to the show, though “ATR,” while still decent, sounds a little sloppier than usual. A solid “Golgi Apparatus” keeps the energy level high and is followed by a good “My Friend, My Friend.” “My Friend” has an extended outro tonight with a demented “Sesame Street” theme tease. “Llama” rounds out the opening sequence of short songs in a well-played and blistering fashion.
“Esther” and “Stash” anchor the middle of the set and appropriately slow down the pace of the show a few notches. “Esther” features a brief “Hold Your Head Up” tease from Page during the organ intro. The song is otherwise performed with a confidence and execution that recent performances lacked. Trey loses himself for a moment in ‘Stash” at 2:30 but recovers quickly. The “Stash” jam starts at 4:55 with vocal wailing from someone (Fishman perhaps?) that immediately establishes an eerie tone. Trey latches onto this with a dissonant riff that builds for the next several minutes. The band rides out this dissonant groove for quite a while before transitioning to a traditional “Stash” solo at 9:40. The jam gets very quiet a minute later at 10:40 and Page begins teasing “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” This develops into another type-II-ish jam that ends with an almost-blissful peak of a wall of noise from 12:30-14:00, where the jam finally transitions to the end of the song. This is a very interesting “Stash” that caps an excellent end of the month for the song. While this probably isn’t my favorite “Stash” of the tour (the middle dissonant portion of the jam is a little murky sounding), it is certainly the most adventurous and elongated performance of the song on this tour so far and it ends in a thrilling fashion. Definitely worth checking out for fans of the song.
“Glide” cools things off after the “Stash” excursion and lands in “Divided Sky.” This is a standard but well-performed “Divided Sky.” “Cavern” ends the set and the song kind of collapses at 1:30; not sure whose fault that is. It’s sloppy, but Trey takes the opportunity to make some weird noises with his guitar as the band crashes back into the song. He’ll reprise these noises throughout the rest of the song, to entertaining effect.
I really like the setlist flow so far tonight of opening with a number of quick songs, slowing things down with some mid-set heavyweights (“Esther” and “Stash”), and ending the set with “Sky” and “Cavern.” The band is definitely playing sloppier than they have been during most recent shows (most noticeable during “ATR,” “Stash,” and “Cavern”) but for the most part everything is performed well. The most adventurous “Stash” of tour is the clear highlight, but all said this is a good opening half.
Set 2 opens with good renditions of “Loving Cup” and “Rift.” A nice, patient “Tweezer” opens things up after that. Trey latches onto a good, catchy riff at the beginning of the “Tweezer” jam at about 5:15 that drives the jam for the next several minutes. This evolves into a fun, funky groove by 7:00. Page steps up at 8:30 for an organ solo as Trey drops out entirely. This turns out to be a thrilling Page solo; better than most of the solos he has been delivering in “Maze” lately. Trey then joins back in at the end to drive the jam to a nice peak and put a bow on the whole affair. The band enters the composed ending at 13:00. Overall not the most exciting “Tweezer” ever, but it develops at a nice pace and is quite good. “Tweezer” lands in “Lifeboy,” which despite being deputed on this tour has not been played with great frequency. As such it is nice to hear and is a perfect cooldown after the decently long (for the time) “Tweezer.”
“Big Ball Jam” and “Weigh” come next. Trey mistakenly states that “Big Ball Jam” debuted “on this day,” on “Earth Day,” exactly one year go. This is wrong on multiple levels; while “Big Ball Jam” did indeed debut at this venue, it was not on this day and neither date was on Earth Day, which is at the end of April. An ‘A’ for effort though, I guess? “Mike’s Song” is an interesting one tonight. The song starts with Mike saying “I would like to dedicate this song to myself” over the intro. The jam starts at 2:45, and for one of the only times this tour to date the band forgoes a second jam entirely. This actually works to the song’s favor this time out, I think, for recently it sometimes feels like the band has rushed through the first jam to get to the transition to the second. As the second jam has often been very messy sounding, this often makes for a disjointed listen. Tonight, however, the band lets the first jam develop and it rocks quite a bit. There’s a lot of dissonant playing from Trey and good organ runs from Page. They transition to the end chords is at 8:00.
The “Weekapaug” jam is great from its onset at 1:35. Trey quickly latches onto a driving riff that launches him to some blissful ‘hose’ soloing. The jam settles down at 4:35 into a more subdued groove with some added lyrics from Trey (a “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” quote, according to Phish.net). Page takes the lead at 6:35 as Trey recedes into the background. The jam breaks down entirely at 8:35 for the debut of a personal favorite of mine, “Psycho Killer!” In addition to being a fan of the Talking Heads, I was lucky enough to catch one of the only 4 performances of this song at my first Phish show, so it holds a special place in my heart. The performance here is pretty rocky; Trey’s “whoa-oh-oh-ohhhhh” is dreadful. Nevertheless it’s the thought that counts, and this song always injects a ton of energy into the crowd and a set, regardless of the strength of the performance. After a couple of verses the song segues unfinished back into the “Weekapaug” jam. The rest of the jam consists of a lot of trilling and blissful soloing from Trey; a perfect cap to an excellent Mike’s Groove.
“The Horse > Silent in the Morning” provides a breather after this exciting sequence. “Silent” sounds unusually sloppy tonight; the issues from the first set briefly reappear here. The Henrietta segment tonight is short, with a quick rendition of “If I Only Had a Brain” and no real banter to speak of. A snappy “Tweeprise” wraps up this set, while an equally snappy “My Sweet One” and “Amazing Grace” comprise the encore. “Amazing Grace” was appearing in almost every show at the beginning of this tour but its frequency has begun to taper a bit the last couple weeks.
The first set of this show had some issues with sloppiness but had a good setlist and some sharp playing during some of the songs. The “Stash,” while not the best rendition of this tour, was unusually long and adventurous. Had the second set continued along the same lines this show would probably have received a 3, but the band really stepped up and delivered a really entertaining second half. The opening songs are sharp, the “Tweezer” is good, and the appearance of “Lifeboy” is appreciated. This Mike’s Groove is fire from beginning to end, with an unusual “Mike’s Song” that eschews the second jam in favor of fully exploring the first and the debut of “Psycho Killer” in the middle an otherwise strong “Weekapaug Groove.” You can pass on most of the first set, but the second set is a solid slice of Winter/Spring ’93.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Tweezer > Lifeboy,” “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Psycho Killer > Weekapaug Groove”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “Psycho Killer” (Byrne/Frantz/Weymouth)
- First set length: 70 mins.
- Second set length: 90 mins.
- This is the second and last time Phish performed at the Hilton Ballroom.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Lifeboy,” returning after a twelve show absence (3/14/93).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (7 songs).