Night Three. The night of the heart. According to the field wristbands.
And heart is exactly what Phish put into their final two sets to close out the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park run and the 2016 summer tour.
A slight and welcome chill accented the crisp Denver air as phans awaited the band to take the stage. Security seemed to have backed off a bit except for the grumpy old man who made me throw out my THC gummies. (Don’t worry, I always have a backup plan.) The collective mood was electric to say the least, with field crowds pressed more tightly in together an hour before the first set than they’d been at any point during the shows the first two nights. Many had come to catch what was sure to be the final jewel in Phish’s Dick’s trifecta, and they would not be disappointed.
Phish took a more traditional route to begin Sunday night, opening with a not-quite-together, “The Moma Dance,” which saw them bumbling parts and missing cues for the first notable time during the run. Worry brewed in the eyes of some fans, but the woes were soon alleviated by a solid run of “Chalkdust Torture” that reassured us the boys hadn’t fallen out of synch since our last meeting. Again, Paige drove the effort, pounding maddeningly on his various sets of keys while Trey accented the drive with sprawling, heavy guitar riffs, much the same back and forth dialogue they’d had the whole run. By the time the first set ended, people were asking if they boys remembered that they hadn’t yet played a second set.
Oh, they remembered.
*DISCLAIMER* The narrative honestly starts to get fuzzy here. I don’t have time to listen back to the shows and still post this today, so whatever my post-haze memory offers us, we shall have to humbly accept.
Phish ripped into the second set with Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless,” a massive 20-minute jam of lights and sounds designed to transport the audience to the open skies above, and just when we got there…
Not only did Phish swirl back to the song they’d started with, but they proceeded to infuse “Crosseyed and Painless” into every song they played that set, starting with “Steam,” and following with, “Piper,” “Light,” “The Lizards,” and even “First Tube.” That’s it. That was the set Jam heavy, Talking Heads focus, utterly transformative. They encored with “Walls of the Cave,” which offered both the certain bittersweet sense that another summer has come and gone as well as the vibrant, inspiring truth that there’s still plenty to dance about.
The last words Phish left us with this summer were, “Still waiting.” And we always will be for the next run.
Admit it, that was more coherent than you’d expected it to be.