Another night in the midwest, another nice soundboard recording to go along with it. This is the tour’s only stop in Iowa; we’ll move along to Kansas for the next show. The show starts with “Golgi Apparatus,” always a fun song to open with though the band does flub the transition back into the final chorus of the song at 3:50. We then get treated to the first of three (!) big bust-outs tonight: “Tube.” Who doesn’t love “Tube?” 50 shows into the tour without hearing the song had mistakenly led me to believe it hadn’t been written yet, but it actually debuted years prior. The song’s short jam is led by Page, who spends about a minute belting out a great solo on his baby grand. Hopefully “Tube” will return to a more regular rotation!
Average performances of “Bouncing Around the Room” and “Poor Heart” are next, before the band opens up the show a bit more with “Stash.” The band seems to be keeping this song a little tighter to the vest here in the midwest compared to the exploratory northwest performances. That being said, this “Stash” has a very satisfying, tension-filled jam. Trey leads the band into a intense, driving passage at about 8:30 before beginning to bring the jam to a peak at 9:15. There’s some awesome bass slides from Mike before the jam’s final burst of energy at 9:50, after which the song transitions there into the composed ending. A pairing of “The Horse” and “Silent in the Morning” allows the band to catch their breath after “Stash.”
A great “Reba” follows “Silent in the Morning.” The jam in “Reba” isn’t particularly long but it doesn’t feel rushed either. Like the band’s playing in “Stash,” they sound tight here and the song moves to a satisfying peak. There’s some excellent soloing from Trey here, making “Reba” the highlight of the set for me. A blistering “Llama” is next and is followed by some fun banter from Trey. He tells the audience that his great-grandfather graduated from University of Iowa, which is the location of tonight’s venue, in 1908. Trey’s great-grandfather was apparently “the first dentist in the state to use nitrous oxide,” which the crowd very much approves of. Trey continues with his story, telling us that his grandmother met his grandfather in this very room at a school dance, and if that event hadn’t happened “none of us would be here today.” While Trey is telling this story the rest of the band starts up “Satin Doll” per Trey’s request to play some “old-time music.” After Trey finishes the story he joins the rest of the band to perform the rest of the song. This sequence combines a genuine moment from Trey with another big bust-out.
The set closes with “Run Like an Antelope.” I didn’t find anything particularly notable about this performance but it is well-played and builds to a big peak like the other jams in this set. This is a very entertaining first set as a whole, with satisfying jams in both “Stash” and “Reba,” fun bust-outs, and interesting banter from Trey. Combined with the clean soundboard recording this is a great set to download if you’re just cherry picking a few sets to listen to from this tour.
The rarely seen “Dinner and a Movie” opens set 2, further adding to the novelty value of this show. “Dinner” sets the stage for “Tweezer.” The “Tweezer” jam starts at 4:20 and is rather standard tonight. There is some good riffing from Trey before the transition to the composed ending shortly after 9:00. “Fee” follows “Tweezer” before a competently played “It’s Ice > Big Ball Jam” sequence. The ‘underwater’ segment of “Ice” is not very long tonight but it does contain some loud, eerie effects from I’m guessing either Mike or Trey.
“You Enjoy Myself” is definitely the centerpiece of the set. There’s a good length to the mellow ‘bliss’ segment at the beginning of the song that’s not fully over until 4:00. Page’s solo begins at 9:05 and is decent; Trey takes over at 11:20 and immediately takes the jam into…a full-on “Gumbo” verse with lyrics. Okay, sure, why not? This ends quickly and he returns to soloing at 12:10. The jam gets very quiet and subdued by 13:30. Trey slowly builds this back up but I wouldn’t say his solo peaks particularly hard before the bass and drums segment begins at 16:20. Unfortunately, the recording cuts at right about that transition and it sounds like there’s a different source briefly patched in. Trey comes back in at 17:15 for some more shenanigans: a “Honky Tonk Women” jam with lyrics. Like the “Gumbo” teases this is over quickly and the vocal jam starts at 18:25. There’s a mellow end to this vocal jam, which I always prefer over screaming and yelling. I wouldn’t say this “YEM” is essential listening; none of the jamming is very deep. The teases of “Gumbo” and “Honky Tonk” are weaved into the jam well, however, so it’s a fun listen.
After “YEM” comes the nightly Henrietta sequence. Before singing “Terrapin” Fish notes that the song is “one of the five I know.” He also promises that he will “soon learn a 6th.” Fishman’s vacuum solo during “Terrapin” is so long that the rest of the band adds some more teases (“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and “Mississippi Queen”) to keep the crowd awake. A quick “Tweezer Reprise” closes the set. “Amazing Grace,” the first encore song, is unfortunately absent from the recording. We are fortunate, however, to hear the third and last big bust-out of the night “Highway to Hell.” I think this is only my first or second time hearing Phish cover this one. “Rocky Top” ends the show as the only song of a rare second encore.
I definitely debated between a 3 or 4 for the this show, because I think it’s a tale of two sets. The first half is strong with a good flow, some great jams, quirky fun (“Satin Doll”), and a welcome bust-out (“Tube”). The second set, however, is a lot more pedestrian to my ears. The “YEM” is some good, irreverent fun, no doubt, but nothing in the set goes very deep. I would also rate this as one of the least memorable “Tweezers” of tour. The first set is easy to recommend though!
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Reba,” “Satin Doll,” “You Enjoy Myself”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 65 mins.
- Second set length: 79 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the IMU Ballroom.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Satin Doll,” returning after a four hundred and eighteen show absence (2/25/90).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (5 songs).