Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 9/1/12 (photos and review)By Jason Blevins | September 2nd, 2012 | 1 Comment »
On the heels of Friday’s blue-ribbon show that saw Phish spin an entire concert out of a mere 15 tunes, the four-top rallied for its second-of-three shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Saturday with a relentlessly creative session that belongs in the band’s most hallowed trophy case.
With an 11-song first set engorged with jam and a second set pinnacle of Phish’s most cohesive, expressive work raging within a 48-minute “Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light,” Saturday night was as memorable as it gets for Phish fans.
Photos, below, from Friday’s performance.
The syrupy first set stomped through a dense display, with red-trousered bassist Mike Gordon reining most every tune to a just-shy-of-normal tempo. The first set “Tweezer” – while falling way short of last year’s infamous rendition – bubbled with a simmering clarity. Gordon popped through a rowdy “Fluffhead” and “Roses Are Free” into a buoyant, bubbling “Funky Bitch” that stirred the nearly sold-out soccer stadium.
As the blue moon waned over Commerce City, Phish unleashed the four-headed monster for the second set. While Friday’s memorable and applauded show – an acronym-themed burner that saw every tune, from the formulaic “Alaska” to the free-form “You Enjoy Myself” elongated into treasure-hunting missions – saw Phish sculpt huge, stand-alone jams, Saturday’s display was more fluid.
The second-set opener “Golden Age” was the shot across the bow, warning everyone in Dick’s grassy fiefdom that it was time to go deep. Captain Trey Anastasio worked slowly into his fiery rendition of the TV on the Radio tune, building calculated yet inspired riffs. The 24-minute “Light” that emerged from “Prince Caspian” was one of the most thorough, intricate excursions ever for the expressive Vermont quartet. Starting with Anastasio’s Plinko picking, “Light” morphed into an ethereal, flowing masterpiece anchored with the band’s cohesive concoctions. The vibrant riffing deep inside “Light” revealed Phish at its best, giddily elevating random musical delicacies unearthed in a four-way excavation.
The oft-heard complaints that Phish returned from its sabbatical in 2009 listing toward brevity have been dashed this summer as the band now regularly roots through 25-minute jams. Friday night’s show saw all kinds of drawn-out jamming, just on tunes that Phish rarely jams. Saturday’s show marked a return to form, with Anastasio and drummer Jon Fishman exploding inside especially rambunctious tunes like “Moma Dance” and Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” The moaning “No Quarter” sandwiched between Gordon’s tangy “Mike’s Song” and “Weekapaug Groove” saw Anastasio’s echoing blasts painting a funky, psychedelic spin on the haunting Led Zeppelin tune.
Upon returning for a “Sleeping Monkey” encore, Anastasio told the crowd that Fishman nearly fainted after his relentless bombing in the second set. Not even the snoozy second-set “Horse > Silent In The Morning” provided enough time for Fishman to rest.
Back-to-back blasters at Dick’s has cemented the venue as one of Phish’s most welcomed halls. Both Friday and Saturday night are shows that will resonate for years among the band’s eager flock, with both heralding the silly, sporadic intensity that keeps us showing up every night.
Set 1: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer > Fluffhead > Roses Are Free > Funky Bitch > The Moma Dance > When the Circus Comes, Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
Set 2: Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light, Boogie On Reggae Woman > The Wedge, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Mike’s Song > No Quarter > Weekapaug Groove
E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise,
Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a new contributor to Reverb.