We’re back in the States tonight, and heading into the homestretch of Phish’s longest-ever tour. Like the Dead before them, Phish usually brings their A game to Hartford (at least in the modern era), so my expectations are high. I grew up in Connecticut and saw my first Phish show in Hartford, so I might be a little biased. While “Lengthwise -> Maze” opened a few second sets earlier on tour, I think this is the first time it has opened a show. Trey takes a slightly more exciting solo in “Maze” than Page, but both solos are solid and let the two warm up early in the set. “Bouncing Around the Room” is an early cooldown before a quick “Poor Heart” brings us to “Stash.”
The “Stash” jam begins at 4:55. After some initial riffing from Trey, the band quiets down and the jam enters sparse territory around 6:10. The song slowly builds up over the next couple minutes, sounding more melodic and less dissonant than usual (but still dark). They build back to full volume at 8:00, and head into the end of the song after some concluding soloing from Trey. This is a good “Stash” that is interesting due to the added dynamism, but it isn’t quite as mind-bending as some of the amazing “Stash” jams we heard earlier this month.
“The Horse > Silent in the Morning” follows “Stash,” and I won’t lie, I feel the pairing killed some of the set’s momentum. Usually the placement of these songs doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t click tonight. Perhaps it’s because “Bouncing” was just a couple songs ago and I’m used to the band sounding crazy high-energy the whole show during this period. Either way, the set picks back up with a good “Divided Sky.” The crowd audibly cheers loudly during the quiet segment of the song, and the band almost completely drops out, so it sounds like the extended “Divided Sky”pause is very slowly coalescing. Trey takes a particularly hot solo at the end of “Sky,” making for one of the more exciting moments of the set so far.
“Cavern” is next but does not close the set, as you might expect. Instead we get another cooldown song, “Lawn Boy,” and an “All Things Reconsidered”/”Possum” pairing to close the set. The band is keeping “Possum” on a longer rotation than the most frequently played songs this tour, but they take full advantage of it when they do play it. Tonight is no exception. Trey’s solo is nice and long, and is really cooking by 5:45. The song builds to a frenzied peak to end the set on a high note. As a whole though, I can’t say this set rates higher than average for the tour. “Stash” is the one big jam of the set, and while it’s interesting it also didn’t impress me as much as most of the recent performances of the song. The set also didn’t flow as well as most recent sets. There’s nothing bad about this set, but I wouldn’t give it a hearty recommendation either.
Set 2 again opens with “Wilson,” a song that’s becoming very familiar with the opening slot. The song ends without any sort of end solo, which continues to feel somewhat anti-climatic given how the song is played throughout the modern era. An average “Sparkle” brings us to “Tweezer,” which injects a shot of creativity into the set. The jam begins at 4:18 with some growling riffs from Trey that drive the jam for the first couple of minutes. The song starts to open up shortly after 6:00 as the band begins to flirt with breaking the song’s structure, though they never fully break free. Trey begins a flurry of quick runs that are slightly dissonant, before falling back into chunky riffing shortly after 7:00. This rocking section segues smoothly into “Walk Away,” a transition I always love to hear and immediately gets me head-banging. The high-energy romp of “Walk Away” is a great cap to the dissonant jamming of “Tweezer,” and the pairing is my favorite moment of the show so far. “Mound” and “Big Ball Jam” follow “Walk Away” (the “Tweezer -> Walk Away > Mound ” sequence is audible in the video below).
“Harry Hood” then makes a somewhat unusual mid-set appearance. The “Hood” jam begins at 5:40. Page performs some great comping at the beginning of this jam to complement Trey’s delicate playing. Trey starts to drive the jam forward more firmly at around 7:30, and the song begins to peak shortly after 9:00. The jam ends in blissful fashion with a great run of trilling at 11:25. This is an average “Hood” for the tour, but even an average “Hood” at this time is beautiful and strong enough to be considered a high point of the show.
The Henrietta segment follows “Hood” and features “If I Only Had a Brain” tonight. “You Enjoy Myself” is next, unusually appearing after the Henrietta segment and not before. Like “Hood” earlier in the set, this is an average-good “YEM” that is a high point of this show but not particularly notable for the tour. Page’s solo begins at 8:30 and is ripping by 9:45. I’d say his segment is more exciting than usual tonight. Trey takes over 10:30, and his segment has a funky feel at first. The band quiets down at 11:20, as is done often at the beginning of Trey’s solo, and Trey’s playing takes a more jazzy feel. The whole band is almost completely silent at 11:50. The slow build-up from 12:20-13:00 might be the most interesting part of the jam, with some great runs and chording from Trey. We’re back at full volume at 13:30, and Trey’s segment ends with rocking riffs instead of a traditional solo. The bass and drums segment starts at 15:25 and is nice and funky tonight. A concise “Golgi Apparatus”ends the set after the “YEM” vocal jam.
“Whatever Is Wrong with My Baby” is the first song of the triple encore, and say good-bye, for we’ll never hear from this song again. I actually think it’s kind of a shame; like the last appearance of this song, I dig the arrangement the band has settled on and I think it works well as an encore. “Amazing Grace” is amplified tonight before “Tweezer Reprise” sends the crowd home.
There are good moments tonight; the dynamic “Stash” in the first set, the “Harry Hood” and “YEM” in the second, and particularly the “Tweezer -> Walk Away” transition. That being said, the “Stash” was less interesting to me than most recent performances and the “Hood,” “YEM,” and “Tweezer” jams are not particularly notable compared to other versions this tour. As a result, the setlist makes this show seem more exciting than it actually is. This is an average show overall, though I will say the standards for an ‘average’ show have risen slowly but steadily over the course of this tour.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Tweezer -> Walk Away,” “Harry Hood,” “You Enjoy Myself”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 70 mins.
- Second set length: 93 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Sports Center.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “If I Only Had a Brain,” returning after a thirteen show absence (4/13/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (8 songs).