Phish Opens With Slave & Delivers Type II’ “Crosseyed” at Dicks Saturday & Sunday (SHOW RECAPS)

Phish wrapped up their annual three show Labor Day run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last evening. The Commerce City  venue has been host to some of the most memorable music in the modern era of the band. As the dust settles from this years run 2016 is no exception with highlights found in every show.

Saturday Highlights

 1.     “Slave” Opener. Not just because it was the first time in 28 years, but because it was such a solid song choice to open the show. Predictability could be argued for song selection in second sets of this run, but in the first frame? No way, and this one caught everyone by surprise.

2. “Disease.” Building from the first night’s one-two punch, “Disease” was a welcome choice to follow “Slave”. As compact as this 13 minute take was, the quick hit of psychedelia offered by the band brought more of a set two type energy to the venue and was more than well received by the crowd.

3.     Set One. Another lengthy set one by Phish on Saturday with an 83+ minute offering that showcased a transcendent “What’s the Use”, a fire “Maze” that had the whole venue throwing down, and even a little something extra on a funky “Wolfman’s Brother”. The effort to lay it down in the first frame was noticeable on night two.

4. “Simple.” I won’t go so far as to say this is the first time Trey on the Marimba Lumina really worked, but I want too.  In past instances I’ve found this move to largely take away from the music being played on stage, but with “Simple” it allowed Fish to sit back and drive, while Mike and Page found a deep groove. Trey didn’t play guitar for most of this jam, but it was ok, it worked, and the move actually helped foster an interesting slice of improvisational music.

5.     “Hood.” This “Hood” got there. It didn’t breach far away from structure, but the peaks and climax were noteworthy, and it was a perfect way to cap off the set.

Trey’s Type I playing on Saturday was almost as fire as the bombs Mike Gordon was dropping. The band moved together in a high-energy fashion with no filler, barely a breath, and excellent song selection. The dance party worked, and while deep exploration was noticeably absent, the show was played super well and you just can’t mess with Phish when there’s flow.  It’s in that state where it does not matter what this band plays. It was also a treat to have Mike send us off where Page normally takes the spotlight in “Squirming Coil”. Both played so well all night, but that was yet another nod to staying unpredictable and getting us all primed for the Sunday’s finale.

Sunday Highlights

 1. “Bathtub Gin.” The Mike’s Groove was fun and helped Trey show off a few chops in “Wingsuit” and Weekapaug”, and “Melt” had a few moments, but this “Gin” was easily the high mark for the set.

2. “Tube.” Is it wrong to highlight an 8 minute “Tube”? I don’t think so. Although it didn’t break form, you can tell there are many in the crowd that noticed the extra breaths last night. After the dark, edgy “Melt” and “Bathtub” before it this capped the highest quality music of the set.

3. “Crosseyed and Painless. If there was anything lacking this weekend it had been Type II music until “Crosseyed”. The interplay between all four band members, the fire with which the song’s structure was laid down, and the adventure brought through exploring new musical space was in my opinion the clear highlight of the run. Even if you took the song out in isolation of the set it would be noteworthy, but the way “Crosseyed” anchored the night and found its way into accentuating the whole second set was beautiful. Reminiscent of the Gorge earlier this summer? Yes. But still unique to the night and set at Dick’s? 100%.

4. “Piper”. I’ll be honest. In the modern era of Phish this is an old favorite that has left me hanging more than once. But not last night in Commerce City. After a smooth segue from “Steam”,  Trey started to light it up as he had been doing in Type I style all weekend. When he moved to the Marimba Lumina again I wondered if the same energy from the night before in “Simple” would surface. Thankfully it did, and in classic Phish fashion it rose above and beyond. Mike and Page again  fired away while Fish drove the train. The difference here came in a full “Drums” segment that thankfully did not go gimmicky, but instead built to a tribal beat before a completely other worldly jam that was again short, but the peak and musical space explored was divine.

5.    Set Two.  Last night Phish got there. They played well all weekend, with clear highlights in each set. But last night’s final frame was different. “Crosseyed” was as good of a jam as we’ve heard all summer. The move into “Steam” was fluid resulting in almost 28 minutes of bliss before the exquisite, unique “Piper”. The call to move into “Light” was fantastic as it also covered new ground. Right there was about an hour of incredible Type II improvisational music. Follow that with an all time Phish classic in “Lizards” and a massive send off in “First Tube”, and there my friends we have the most enjoyable, complete set of Phish in recent memory.

As good as any run of Dick’s shows, 2016 will be remembered for three high quality shows showcasing everything that makes Phish so unique. Intense scripted playing, unpredictable twists and turns, and compelling exploratory music. This run might also be remembered for the first no gag show at Dick’s, but I don’t think any showgoer cares. Firing on all cylinders at present, this run was as strong as the band played all summer. All is well and good in the present world of Phish, and there’s a Fall tour right around the corner. Stay fired up everyone, I’ll see you in Vegas!

Phish Setlist Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO, USA, Summer Tour 2016

Phish Setlist Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO, USA, Summer Tour 2016

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