[We would like to thank user Brettsinthebathtub (Brett F.) for volunteering to recap and recapping last night's show. -Ed.]
Once again, we are at Phish. This time at the United Center; a building that proudly displays the achievements of some of the greatest athletes of all time in its rafters. But you can watch The Last Dance on your own time. Tonight, the focus is another GOAT.
If there’s any uncertainty about the tone of the night, it’s made clear up front: Shit is about to get real spooky in here. The theme from Friday the 13th” plays as the band takes the stage. I’m caught off guard, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything other than the crowd when the band is picking up their instruments.
Before there’s even time to process this, Trey bangs out the opening notes to “Carini.” The crowd erupts. Needless to say, the gauntlet has been thrown down. The spooky atmosphere slowly develops into a buoyant jam. What feels like a pleasantly-early Kuroda white light peak caps the song before it’s closed out with the main riff and we’re reminded that, like most nights that involve Phish, this is no ordinary night.
Perhaps as an ode to some of the great cuisine of Chicago, the band follows up with some meat-and-potatoes: “Rift” and “Halley’s Comet.” Pretty straightforward stuff here, but all part of a balanced setlist diet.
The band quickly slips into “Ghost.” After the verses conclude, a mellow jam drifts for a while, rising and falling until Fishman’s drums swing the band into the final buildup. First set paydirt. I’m misty-eyed from the emotional blastoff that was the peak of this song. My seat neighbor (ColorsInTheVoid), who I coincidentally recognize as having been on my flight in, correctly points out, “That was worth the 6 AM flight.”
The band gently presents “Albuquerque” – a major bustout, and the second Neil Young cover of the tour. Not everyone recognizes the tune immediately (or at all), but the smiles on the faces of those who do say it all.
My mind starts to wander during “Saw it Again.” Is that the sky up there? Is this roof retractable? Has it been open this whole time? We’ll never know. I take time to appreciate the commitment to continuing the eerie Friday the 13th theme and fondly think back to the 2021 Halloween run and the lengths this band continues to go to surprise us.
And then: “Foam.” The jazzy tension-building. The abrasive notes swirling around and around; forever tormenting me. All positive reflections have been shattered. “Falling into a deep well,” indeed. This is my nightmare – one that I have about 17% of the time.
“Blaze On” throws me a lifeline. At Trey’s request, Leo does it, and the band eventually offers a strong finish before dropping into “Meat.” More spookiness, but more subtle this time. Trey and Mike duel with multiple pedals engaged and Fishman toys with the tempo to the crowd’s delight.
Like every other time I’ve heard it, “Drift While You’re Sleeping” reminds me that I actually have no clue how many different sections this song has. A ballad-ish opening. Oh yeah Calypso time. Oh, right this note-bending bridge thing. Ah yes, how could I forget reggae second bridge. Of course, we sing along and sway at the end. Like it or not, the range demonstrated in this song is undeniable.
I use an empty water bottle to play the drum parts of the setbreak music on my thigh. It may seem like there’s less enthusiasm for my playing than the band’s, but I have the crowd right where I want them.
I don’t know how everyone feels about “Sand” as a second set opener, but THIS guy is a big fan. And this version was no exception. Spooky vibes are so last set – it’s outer space time.
“Waves” rolls along. I feel a cool breeze and the arena feels more open than before. Wait: Sand. Waves. What’s next? Is this some kind of ocean-themed set? Are we going back to the great fishbowl?
No. Even better – it’s “Tweezer.” And as usual, the people are very happy. The jam builds from cowfunk to a massive payoff in the form of one of the most notable feel-good peaks I’ve experienced in a while. This is a high-point of the night – "Tweezer" strikes again.
A hard launch into “Crosseyed and Painless” sets the crowd into a dance frenzy. Fishman’s tempo is relentless. Trey’s Languedoc is screaming. Everyone is firing on all cylinders. How can we ever possibly come down from this?
The band sustain the tempo during a seamless transition into “Light.” By the time things have slowed, I realize that I’m drenched from the “Crosseyed” party.
“Mountains in the Mist” marks a slower pace, to the dismay of some. A new neighbor shouts “God damn it. I’m gonna throw my shoe at somebody” before shuffling off into the dark; never to return. It begs the question: What would you say if my neighbor threw his shoe? Hopefully the idea never got out of the planning stages. Either way, “Golgi Apparatus” draws us closer to the end.
And finally: “Harry Hood.” There are few songs that capture the Phish experience better than a Hood closer. And as if that weren’t enough on its own, the band sandwiches “Talk,” another big bustout, into Hood before wrapping up the set. Even without jamming, Hood kid would be proud. I think we can all feel good about that.
And because we’ve gone 75 days without an “Izabella” encore (too long if you ask me), Trey rips into the Hendrix scorcher to send the people home. No “Tweeprise” tonight. But that’s ok, because tomorrow we’ll be at Phish.
If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Phish.net. Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.
This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $2 million to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.