Review and Photos: Phish @ SPAC

A colorful Ya Mar followed, then a solid Sample In A Jar. A scorching Axilla brought the already elevated energy through the roof, priming the crowd for the trifecta: Fluffhead, Bathtub Gin, Suzy Greenberg. The highlight of the night, it was hard not to get wrapped up in the pure joy coming from the stage. Every transition was fluid, Trey stepped out of his wah-wah/volume swell comfort zone to push the boundaries, Mike’s bass lines were inventive and thundering, and Page and Fish were at the helm, steering the energy and anchoring the rhythm. It was a wonderfully planned and executed set. No paint by numbers playing here.

Set II

After set one played out like a greatest hits list, set two, with highs and lows, required a little more leeway on the part of the listener.

But there are plenty of nuggets to find for those willing to mine the recordings.

The Rock and Roll (Velvet Underground) and subsequent jam that kicked off set two was nothing short of spectacular. Midway through the jam, Trey served up a tight yet simple lick and let Mike take it home. Definitely an MP3 worthy of purchasing.

Rock and Roll was followed by a soaring Free and a nostalgic Backwards Down The Number line, a song off 2009’s Joy that has been a fixture in the rotation; and no one’s complaining as the song seems to be growing on fans. Then came the Halfway to the Moon debut, a song that so elegantly featured Page on ivories. It will be interesting to see where it will be played it in sets to come.

Prince Caspian and Joy took some of the wind out of the sails, but Story of Life stoked the flame. However, it wasn’t until a locked-in Bowie when the energy reached its previous height.


Page solidified his bid for MVP with a brilliant solo in Squirming Coil; all other members subsiding, the spotlight fixed on Page — an intimate Page/crowd moment. Character Zero was a nice fan favorite to throw in, and then, just for good measure, a face-melting Tweezer Reprise, ending with Trey at the edge of the stage, thrusting his guitar toward the crowd as if to ask, “OK, can we put this to bed now?”

An aside:

Speaking from my experience, the lot scene wasn’t anything out of the norm. I don’t know if all the “crackdown” hype was a scare tactic, but entering the Spa State Park lots (which are separate from the SPAC “main” lots), there was no searching of vehicles, no alcohol detecting lasers that I saw. I arrived at around 6 p.m. and traffic was moving well and once parked, you weren’t bothered. The Times Union reported there were 18 alcohol arrests as of 9 p.m., and I’m sure that number rose. But, after attending a few dozen shows at SPAC, that seems to be the norm.

At about 7 p.m., a newlywed couple in full regalia was having pictures taken in the Hall of Springs. I’d say a good 500 phans passing by roared in applause. It must have been a nice moment for the two. Inside was a bit of a different story. Added security lined the ramps leading into the pavilion balcony, giving the heat a bird’s eye view of the action below.

In the lots after the show, nitrous tanks sounded like vuvuzelas and it was a complete free- for-all. It seemed like just another day in the park …

06/19/2010 Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Set 1: Tweezer Reprise[1], Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, Axilla > Fluffhead, Bathtub Gin, Suzy Greenberg

Set 2: Rock and Roll -> Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Halfway to the Moon[2] > Prince Caspian > Joy, David Bowie, Show of Life

Encore: The Squirming Coil, Character Zero > Tweezer Reprise

[1] First Tweezer Reprise opener since 11/9/95 (482 shows).
[2] Debut.

This gig featured the first Tweezer Reprise opener since 11/9/95 (482 shows) and the debut of Halfway to the Moon.


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5 Responses

  1. I think I was in the same neighborhood as you guys for both nights and didn’t have a single issue. At one point, a couple mountees rode by, but that’s about it. Seemed pretty laid back all weekend.

  2. Good review and I think you were spot on. However, a correction regarding security. I spoke with the head of security (I know him) and they had the same amount if a little less than at the Dave Mattews concert a few weeks prior. Maybe the perception was that there were more since the ramps leading to the balcony are the best way to monitor the lawn crowd down below when its still light out. Something must be said about the crazy bouncing balcony!! I’ve been to shows where the floors are springloaded, but a concrete balcony built in the 60’s? It is a trip to bounce several inches when the crowd is in full dance mode. And it happened alot these 3 shows. Phish is in high gear people—- look out for phun stuff summer 2010! Listen to the Fluffhead again everyone — its really that good!!!!!

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