The second night of Summer ’93 brings us to the first venue hosting a show I’m listening to for this project that Phish still plays to this day (most recently on 6/29/16). This is also the first time Phish headlined the Mann Center, reflecting the fact that this tour shows the band transitioning into larger venues. After debuting at the end of last night’s show, “Daniel Saw the Stone” opens up the show tonight (meaning the gap between performances is only 2 songs, for you fellow stat-nerds out there). While I think this fun song can slot in anywhere in a setlist and sound well-placed, opening a show might be my favorite spot for it. Trey shouts “Welcome everybody!” before the final refrain of the song. “Golgi Apparatus” follows and keeps the energy level of the set high, before a very solid reading of “My Friend, My Friend” rounds out the opening trio of songs. While performances of this song on the Winter/Spring tour often featured an extended outro, tonight’s ending is relatively standard.
“Ya Mar” is next, and as with everything played so far tonight, feels perfectly placed after the up-tempo run of opening songs (though “Ya Mar” itself is played at a brisk pace). This song often felt very condensed to me when played during the spring, but tonight both Page and Trey take decent solos. Page’s organ playing is pleasant, but Trey’s solo is a bit more interesting to me; it starts very quiet and builds up in volume with some very tight fretwork. So far Trey sounds very good tonight. Keeping in line with the blistering pace of this set, “Buried Alive” makes a rare mid-set appearance. This “Buried Alive” actually deviates from its normal course from about 1:40 through 2:30 as Trey improvises with the song’s melody; unusual for a through-composed song like this. “Fast Enough for You” follows “Buried Alive,” and provides a welcome mid-set breather. Like “Lifeboy,” this song has been played infrequently so far this year, but its absence in setlists only makes it more appreciated (and effective) when it does appear. Trey flubs very slightly as he begins his solo, but this is otherwise an exquisite reading of one of Phish’s more beautiful songs.
“All Things Reconsidered” is next after “Fast Enough for You,” which combined with “Buried Alive,” makes for an interesting bookend of that song. To continue with the insanely quick speed of this set (even for the time), “Nellie Kane” makes its first appearance since February after being sound-checked yesterday. A perfectly played rendition of “Horn” is the penultimate song of the set, bringing the count of songs in this set that are less than 4 minutes to 4. “Run Like an Antelope” closes this very short first set, and is the only song in the set to exceed 7 minutes in length.
Trey teases a whole refrain of “Nellie Kane” over the intro of “Antelope,” which meshes surprisingly well with the rhythm of the song. The “Antelope” jam starts at 2:50, and wastes no time kicking into “high gear.” The jam is high-energy from the get-go. Trey locks into a dissonant riff at 5:00, and the rest of the band uses this as an opportunity to play with the song’s structure. This is an interesting (though brief) excursion, as they blast back into the progression of the song at about 5:40. After another quick tension/release segment, Trey launches into an explosion of trilling at 6:10, in what sounds like the peak of the song. The band just keeps pushing further, however, driving this “Antelope” into absolutely absurd levels of intensity (even by “Antelope” standards). After blowing more than a few minds, I’m sure, the song breaks down into the reggae ending at 7:30. The band isn’t quite done having fun with this song though, for they extend the reggae part a bit with a Simpsons signal before the verse. I have heard a lot of “Antelopes” working on this project, but this one might be my favorite so far. “Absurd” is really the only word I can use to describe the last minute or so of the jam. Highly recommended.
This first-set is very up-tempo and features a very tightly-written, flowing setlist. Between the bust-out of “Nellie Kane,” the appearance of the lightly-played “Fast Enough for You” and “Ya Mar,” overall excellent playing, and the mind-melting “Antelope,” I literally have zero complaints about this show so far. The only question in my mind is whether the band will be able to keep up this intensity throughout the second set.
Phish debuted two songs yesterday during the tour opener, but treats us to three more debuts during this second set. This is all the more impressive considering Rift, the album, is still only a few months old at this point. One of these debuts opens the set…the fan-favorite “2001.” The song sounds good at its first outing, and while nowhere near as extended as one would expect a “2001” to be these days (clocking in at less than four minutes), it’s still very fun to hear this song make its first appearance. Without missing a beat, the band slides right from the end of “2001” into “Split Open and Melt.” The “Melt” jam begins at 4:05 and starts with riffing from Trey. The jam starts to build steam at 5:20, and slightly breaks from the “Split” structure at 6:35 as Mike departs from the typical bass line and Trey begins to really solo. Fish alters his drumming with a cool, but brief, half-time section at 7:20. The jam builds from there into the song’s peak. As in “Antelope,” excellent drumming from Fishman helps contribute to a very intense feeling during this peak. There’s nothing particularly unusual about this “Melt,” but it’s a very solid outing of the song. Together with “2001,” this “Melt” makes for a great opening to the set.
“Glide” follows “Melt” and works well in this slot, letting the crowd cool off a bit before things heat up again in the subsequent “Maze.” “Maze” itself is very good; great solos from both Page and Trey make this “Maze” duel a toss-up. “Bouncing Around the Room” serves as a mid-set bridge between “Maze” and the first “You Enjoy Myself” of tour. The debut of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” begins about a minute into the ‘bliss’ segment of this “YEM.” The song is performed a cappella and is a pleasant spiritual interlude before the band smoothly slides back into the ‘bliss’ section of “YEM,” which ends at about 6:50 (from the beginning of “YEM”). Page’s solo starts at 12:35 and is fun, but fairly short. Trey takes over just a couple minutes later and starts building to a peak by 16:15 after some riffing. The peak itself is solid, with the band charging full-steam ahead at 17:10. The jam cuts pretty quickly after that, however, and an almost non-existent bass and drums segment leads to the beginning of a relatively short vocal jam at 18:10. This is a fine “YEM,” but each of the jam segments are very condensed, meaning there’s not much improvisational meat on the bones of this performance.
A blistering “Poor Heart” follows “YEM,” after which Trey introduces Henrietta. This leads to the Henrietta segment of the evening and the third and final debut: “Purple Rain.” This is a fun cover, and a surprisingly musical Fishman number. The night’s vacuum solo leads into a very brief refrain of the “Hold Your Head Up” theme, concluding the Henrietta segment. Trey refers to Fish as “the purple one” before starting up “Harry Hood.” The “Hood” jam begins at 5:20 and quickly builds in energy, with the song’s peak beginning by 8:30. The rest of the song is typically-glorious with beautiful, tight playing. Fishman once again kills it near the end of this song; he might be my MVP of the night, which is saying something, because everyone has sounded good tonight. “Cavern” wraps up the set. A “Llama” that is positively bursting at the seams with energy is the first encore of the night, before the a cappella “Free Bird” makes a reprise appearance to send the crowd home.
Once again, I think I might have to give a nod to the first set tonight. The pace is simply relentless, and the set-closing “Antelope” is easily the most exciting moment of the tour so far. The second set is good too, but its highlights (“Melt,” “Hood”) don’t stand out quite as much as the “Antelope” when compared to other ’93 performances. “YEM” also feels like it’s kept on a very short leash tonight, which is always a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, the three debuts add novelty value to the second set, and the pacing of both sets is impeccable. My slight criticisms of the second set aside, I found this show to be a great listen top-to-bottom and an improvement over the first night of tour. The band has sounded well-practiced and performed their songs with clarity all year, with very few exceptions, but somehow it seems like the band tightened the screws of their music even further since Winter/Spring, which leaves me very excited about what’s to come in the month ahead.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Run Like an Antelope,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Harry Hood”
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “2001” (Deodato/Strauss), “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (Shemer), “Purple Rain” (Prince)
- First set length: 52 mins.
- Second set length: 89 mins.
- This is the second time Phish performed at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. They will return on 7/1/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Nellie Kane,” returning after a fifty-seven show absence (2/23/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (5 songs).