If ever the first show of a three-day Phish run seems like it can’t be topped, stick around for the second at least.
The air blew just a little colder, a little earlier on the second night, with threats of minor rain alive over the mountains. Prompts for police to dispatch tasers returned to a comfortable zero preferred by phans, most of whom would rather see a show cancelled than someone get hurt. Tortillas still flew as high as the revelers in the two-hours before Phish took the stage. In short, another classic night at Dick’s for Phish.
Except Phish wasn’t so classic. Picking up with the head-spins they started the night before, they opened the first set with “Slave to the Traffic Light,” a favorite closer that I’m not sure has ever opened a Phish show before. For the second day in a row, the band had experts and amateurs alike on their toes.
The first set had many highlights, including “Down With Disease” where we first got a taste of Gordo’s sonic base note that would reappear throughout the show, as well as “555” and a stellar “The Divided Sky.” But no song deserves more mention from the first set (and maybe from the entire show) than “Maze,” which may have been the best version I’ve ever seen. What did they do differently? Ask Paige, who was on his second day of a keyboard bender that remained just as fun to watch and inspiring to hear.
Second set highlights included the “Fuego” opener, the long jam on “Blaze On,” the long jam on “Simple,” the long jam on…you get the idea. Just as they’d done on Night 1, Phish saturated their sets in long, low-key jams that stretched out each song by two and even three times their studio lengths. In fact, there were so many long jams that Phish still used to complete songs that there may not have been any lead-ins on this set whatsoever. A “The Squirming Coil” encore brought the show to a slow but firm mic drop that leaves phans clamoring for what tomorrow (or today) will bring.
The single not-to-be-missed set piece here, though, was “Harry Hood.” Hood is one of my favorite songs and I’m always on the lookout for the best renditions. The swells in the end built-up blew me away, and there were so many! If all I got to do was to hear that Hood, I probably could have lived contently missing the rest of the sets altogether.