Phish played 10 shows in California during their winter/spring tour earlier this year, but will only play one show in the Golden State over the summer – tonight’s tour finale in Berkeley. A fiery “Llama” opens the show, a position this song is always welcome in, before an early “Bouncing Around the Room” settles the crowd down. Another dynamic “Foam” takes the three slot. The song gets very quiet during the transition between the Page and Trey solos, with a full, minute-long silent jam beginning at 5:20. As has been the case virtually all month (and largely all tour), the band sounds locked in from the beginning of the show and the compositions so far have been played with finesse. Trey mentions to the audience after “Foam” that the band will “be taking a long time off after this,” and thanks the audience for joining them this evening.
The now-standard acoustic arrangement of “Ginseng Sullivan” follows “Foam.” “Ginseng” has been in heavy rotation for over a week now, and the practice has paid off; this arrangement sounds very well rehearsed at this point. A typically-great “Maze” is next after “Ginseng,” featuring decent length solos from both Page and Trey, before the band starts up a mid-set “Fluffhead.” Like “Maze,” I wouldn’t say this is a particularly notable performance of “Fluff,” but the band continues to sound rock solid. Trey’s solo in “Fluff” is relatively short tonight, lasting less than two minutes before the song’s acoustic outro. The band lands in “Stash” following “Fluff,” providing them with the evening’s first opportunity for open-ended improvisation.
The band adds some extra dynamism to the “Stash” composition tonight, quieting the song to a whisper in certain parts. Audible on the generally excellent-sounding soundboard recording of tonight’s show that circulates are audience hand-claps during Fishman’s woodblock lines. The song’s jam begins at 5:15, and Mike and Trey begin to modulate away from the “Stash” tonal center almost immediately. Trey begins repeating a quick, shredding riff that dissipates into some cool sliding work at 6:45. Mike and Trey lock into an intense build shortly after that airs out into a dissonant, free-jazz-esque space by 9:00. The band begins to re-enter the “Stash” progression by 10:00, and Trey leads the group to a satisfying peak at 11:15. It sounds like the song is headed toward the composed ending at this point, but the band breaks the jam back down at 11:45 for another decent-length build that brings the song to another peak at 12:50. The band takes this “Stash” home quickly after that final peak. As a whole, I would say this “Stash” follows a fairly typical path and is less memorable than some of the stand-out “Stash” jams of tour. I would still rank it as better than average, however, due to the overall high-quality of playing and excellent interplay between Mike and Trey.
A relaxing “Squirming Coil” is next, and the song works well as a breather after the substantive, almost half-hour pairing of “Fluffhead” and “Stash.” The Dude of Life takes the stage after “Coil” to sing his original song, “Crimes of the Mind,” which makes its second appearance of tour to close the set. I found this closing song to be quite a treat, for I really like this simple, straightforward, and rocking tune, and wish Phish would perform it more often. The energetic song ends the set on a high note.
This first set is obviously not as stunning as last night’s incredible first set and its MVP-stacked setlist. However, this set is still a perfectly enjoyable listen. “Llama” starts the night off the on right foot, “Foam” and “Fluffhead” are both played very well, and “Stash” gets the improvisational juices flowing. Hopefully the band will leave it all on the field for the final set of tour, and dig even deeper in the second set.
How else to start the final second set of summer ’93 than with the 18th second-set opening “2001” of tour? That’s exactly what Phish decides to do tonight, as the tour-ubiquitous song makes yet another appearance. The standard arrangement of “2001” slides right into just about the only other song to be played as frequently this summer, “Rift.” While “2001” and “Rift” might be among the most played songs of the summer, there’s no song I’ve come to associate more this tour than “Run Like an Antelope,” which has left my jaw-dropping just about every time it has been played. It’s therefore fitting that Phish drops one of the most adventurous and exciting “Antelopes” as song three during the tour’s final set.
The “Antelope” jam begins at 2:50, and quickly begins to break down as Trey repeats a descending, chordal riff. The band uses this riff to begin to move away from the “Antelope” song structure. Trey leads the band briefly through a brighter, uplifting segment at 4:30 before the jam turns in a very noisy and dissonant direction at 6:45. The jam basically just sounds like a giant ball of energy at this point as the band lets the nearly structure-less, anarchic segment develop. After a wild build the band lands back into the “Antelope” progression by 8:00, but the jam quickly airs back out and becomes very sparse. The band explores this space for a while, drops a Secret Language signal, and then begins to build around a tense but melodic groove, still remaining outside the traditional “Antelope” structure. This build drops back into the “Antelope” progression at 12:00. A final, exciting tension/release segment brings an end to the jam as the reggae segment begins at 14:00. This is a long and exploratory “Antelope” that fluidly moves through several distinct improvisational segments, and builds through several exciting peaks that are as intense as the the peaks from some of the finest summer ’93 vintage “Antelopes.” A must-listen “Antelope,” and easily the biggest highlight of the evening so far.
“The Horse > Silent in the Morning” cools everyone off after the fiery, 16+ minute “Antelope.” “Sparkle” gets everyone back to their feet, and drops into a mid-set “It’s Ice.” “It’s Ice” sounds great tonight, and features another extended ‘underwater’ segment, which focuses this time on a number of Secret Language signals instead of being entirely Page-dominated. The first “Big Ball Jam” in almost two weeks appears after “Ice,” and leads into the night’s Henrietta segment. Just as it was fitting for “2001 > Rift” to open the set, it seems fitting that tonight’s Henrietta segment feature “Purple Rain,” which is making its 14th appearance tonight after debuting earlier this tour.
Usually on this tour the Henrietta segment is followed by one or two relatively concise songs, and as we’re nearly an hour into this set, it would be reasonable to assume the same would occur tonight. Instead, the band takes rare move of performing “You Enjoy Myself” after the Henrietta segment, not before. This late placement seemingly does not constrain the band, for the song reaches 23 minutes – a healthy length for “YEM” at this time. Page’s solo begins at about 9:00 and gets nice and funky before Trey starts to take over at 10:45. Following the typical path of the jam, Trey’s solo begins quiet and jazzy with a clean tone. He builds the jam up so that it has a nice head of steam by 12:45, and drives towards a straightforward but blistering peak from there. The band really rides this peak out and milks it for all its worth, with 14:00 through 15:00 being particularly intense. The bass and drums segment begins shortly after that, and is fun tonight but not particularly standout or noteworthy. Overall, I would say this is a typical-great “YEM”: the set and show are better for it being here, and it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, but it doesn’t really go anywhere particularly unusual or special either.
The band improvises a neat vocal segue from the “YEM” vocal jam into “Contact,” which makes only its second appearance of the month. “Chalk Dust Torture” closes the second set for the second consecutive show. Trey stretches out a bit during his solo and takes the song through a couple knotty passages before bringing the song, and the set, to a thrilling end. Tonight’s second set is as much a marathon as Portland’s first set, reaching a beastly 94 minutes in length.
“See you guys next spring, or New Year’s Eve, or something…”
“Daniel Saw the Stone” is the first encore, and features a lengthy section of banter as Trey lists and thanks all of the crew and production staff members. Road manager Brad Sands is introduced as the man that “sets up those basketball hoops and brings the trampolines on stage.” Trey thanks Paul Languedoc for the soundboard work, moves on, and then returns to Paul to point out that he built a bunch of the band’s equipment and saying “Paul, you’re a hell of a guy.” He saves Chris for last, and allows Kuroda to take a ‘light solo’ before finishing “Daniel.” “Amazing Grace” is the final song of tour, and Trey claims before they perform it unamplified that this is the largest venue they have attempted to perform a song in without microphones.
This is a high-energy, highly-entertaining tour closer that showcases a band firing on all cylinders. The pinnacle of the evening is an “Antelope” that ranks among the best “Antelopes” of the tour (no small praise, considering “Antelope” has been a defining song of tour), but lots of great moments abound in both sets.
And with that said, that’s a wrap on tour! I had my doubts as to whether I would even be able to get through the winter/spring tour, but here we are. I’m 100+ shows into this blog and still enjoying it and in for more. I’ll be taking a (very) brief hiatus from listening to Phish to regain some distance and collect my thoughts. After that break I’ll post a debrief on September 5th in which I’ll share my feelings on this tour in its entirety (spoiler: July picked up where winter/spring left off, August was some real good shit). With that post I’ll also set a schedule for posts in which I’ll analyze certain aspects of the tour, like I did with my “Songs of Tour,” stats, and “That One Time…” winter/spring posts. Of course, you can also expect me to review and dissect Phish’s next run of shows, which will be the New Year’s Eve ’93-’94 run which starts on December 28th.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “You Enjoy Myself”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 77 mins.
- Second set length: 94 mins.
- Encore length: 11 mins.
- This is the first time Phish performed at the Greek Theatre. They will return on 8/5/10.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Crimes of the Mind” and “Contact,” both returning after a thirteen show absence (8/9/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (6 songs).