Another New York show, another college campus. The circulating recording for tonight’s show (downloadable on the Spreadsheet) is a soundboard recording, but unfortunately it sounds several generations removed from the source and has a thin quality to it. The show opens with the third “Chalk Dust Torture” in as many nights. The band is clearly hot on “Chalk Dust” at the moment. It fulfills its role in the setlist by serving as a high-energy opener. “Guelah Papyrus” also makes a consecutive appearance, returning to its normal setlist position. A quick “Poor Heart” brings us to the first real opportunity for full-band improvisation: “Stash.”
The “Stash” jam begins at 4:50 and quickly locks into a Trey-led passage of dissonant riffing at 6:00. The band sticks with and builds this passage for a couple minutes before Trey brings the jam to a peak at 8:00. After a minute or so of great soloing the band works back into the Stash theme around 9:30 to end the song. This is a good “Stash” that contains some fun tension/release jamming, but it’s only average when considered in light of the excellent month this song has had since the end of March. Trey picks up his acoustic for a “Horse > Silent in the Morning” breather following “Stash.”
“Rift” is next and sounds good tonight. It pairs well with “Caravan,” a song that I continue to enjoy. “Caravan” has a brief “Manteca” jam from 3:45-4:00, between the Page and Trey solos. The second debut of the month is next with a cover of “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby.” It’s a pleasant, Page-sung interlude, but not much more. We’ll hear it a couple more times over the next week before the song drops out of rotation forever. A quick “Sparkle” brings us to the set closing “Run Like an Antelope.” There’s great riffing from Trey at 3:30 that leads him into a segment of very fast picking. He plays with that intensity throughout the build, which leads to a very satisfying peak. It makes for a fun and exciting “Antelope,” and my favorite moment of the set.
The “Stash” in this set feels more pedestrian than some of the thrilling and experimental performances of late (though it’s still very entertaining), and the rest of this first set is fairly unremarkable. I did quite enjoy the “Rift > Caravan” sequence though, as well as the set-closing “Antelope.” Like many Phish shows, it looks like my opinion of this show is going to depend greatly on what transpires in the second half.
Set 2 opens with a fast, typically-ripping “Llama.” This is followed by a rare second-set “Foam.” The “Foam” is nice and dynamic; the transition between Page and Trey’s solo is very quiet. The ever elusive “Bathtub Gin” makes its first appearance of April next. Trey takes the song in an evil-sounding direction at the beginning of the jam, at 4:40. They start to break down the song’s rhythm at around 6:00, and the jam becomes increasingly anarchic. It feels a little like a second jam in “Mike’s Song.” “Gin” doesn’t go in the direction I would expect it to go, but I think it’s the most fleshed out “Gin” jam of tour. The jam is only a couple minutes long, but it doesn’t disintegrate immediately like some other “Gins” have this tour. An exciting development for the song, albeit a small one.
The third “Dinner of Movie” of tour keeps this set feeling fresh, and segues into a good “Mound.” “Big Ball Jam” brings us to a huge, mid-set “You Enjoy Myself” (second longest “YEM” of tour to this point). Page’s solo starts at 9:15 and is solid, though nothing too unusual. Trey doesn’t come in until 10:30. Page’s solo ends at 11:15, and Trey begins his segment by establishing a funky groove through chords. He starts soloing at 12:15 over this funk groove. He’s ripping by 13:45 and brings his solo to a good peak, before breaking back down into the funk groove at 15:45. The jam decreases in volume from there, and Fishman drops out entirely. This builds back up by 16:30, with Page taking a good solo alongside Trey. Everyone drops out for a ‘silent jam’ at 17:20, and they don’t come back in until 17:40. The bass and drums segment starts shortly after at 18:00 and is solid tonight before the vocal jam at 20:00. This is an awesome “YEM,” and it is so without any gimmicks. It’s just a long, fun, and funky jam with a good peak and great musicianship from everyone involved. I can’t ask more from a “YEM.” Highlight of the night so far, for sure.
The Henrietta segment follows “YEM,” and has zero banter tonight. “Harry Hood” graces us tonight and is the penultimate song of the night. The jam starts at 5:30 and is very quiet and subdued until 8:30, where it starts to build. The song erupts into a glorious peak from 9:25 all the way through the end chords at 12:35. This is several minutes of euphoric playing from Trey, capped off with a flurry of trills at 12:15. A wonderful end to the show. A quick “Cavern” closes the set, while “Amazing Grace” and “Good Times Bad Times” fill out the encore. Before “Good Times” Trey notes that this is the “closest to home we’ve been in 3 months,” and asks anyone from Burlington to “say hi to Nectar for us…we’ll be there in two weeks.”
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is another great show with a much more exciting second half. The first set is fine, with the band testing the waters in “Stash” before a ripping “Antelope” closer. The real excitement, however, is in the second set with a superb, funky “You Enjoy Myself” filling the middle of the set and a glorious “Harry Hood” capping off the night. The debut of the short-lived “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” adds some novelty value to this show as well. I’d really like to hear a better sounding recording of this show!
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Run Like an Antelope,” “Bathtub Gin,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Harry Hood”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” (Hayes/Porter)
- First set length: 64 mins.
- Second set length: 93 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Cheel Arena.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Bathtub Gin,” returning after a nineteen show absence (3/28/93).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (6 songs).