Phish kicks off three-day run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in style (photos, review)

For the encore of Friday’s Phish show No. 13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, band boss Trey Anastasio made a plea, via his encore T-shirt: “Let Fish Suck.”

Sorry Trey. Not gonna happen.


The Vermont quartet flexed its might Friday, at Phish’s first of three annual Labor Day Weekend nights. This is the band’s fifth Labor Day run at Dick’s, which is creeping close to the top of the list of Phish’s most-played venues.

The band didn’t wait long to deliver. In a fun twist, the first set eclipsed the second. But bursting out with an opener “Tube” into a rare-second-slot “Ghost,” the band seemed intent to bury the previous four-year tradition of featuring a theme on their opening night at Dick’s.

In the last four years the band had orchestrated some sort of Friday-night gimmick, like using the first letter of the setlist’s songs to send a message.

This year, no. Or maybe there’s something you see?


Fresh off his mirror-the-master tour with picky jam-band veterans Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Anastasio exploded on his own band’s summer tour. Phish’s densely packed summer romp across the country has amplified its mission to make people move.

It’s been 12 days since Phish shut down its sold-out festival in upstate New York, a racetracked bacchanal of groove. The time off served well for the ever-touring foursome of longtime pals.

Playing with the notion of ritardondo -– a slow braking on the beat — Anastastio led his team to dramatically sloping finishes in the first-set Friday. It made for splendid, syrupy finales in “Ghost, “Halley’s Comet” and an “Undermind” that saw keyman Page McConnell spark raging rhythms from drummer Jon Fishman. Fishman’s hard-to-grasp rhythmic fury erupted in “Bathtub Gin,” fueled largely by his cohort Anastasio’s passionate play.

Anastasio delved in his second-set opener “Wolfman’s Brother.” But the new tune “Blaze On” that followed stole the show.

OK. Let’s think about this. Name the bands that are still playing at 30 years. The Grateful Dead’s Jerry was dead. Pink Floyd wasn’t talking. The Rollings Stones already were nosing into nostalgia. U2 was forging it identity as a stadium techno act. Phish, at 30, is peaking. The band’s latest is its best.

To wit: “Blaze On.” Bassist Mike Gordon ignited the band’s newest tune, dropping relentless bombs on the cowbell-lit path. Anastasio prowled that Gordon/Fishman-paved route with loping exploration that became the night’s biggest launching pad.

Thirty years and these guys are melting the flock. Not because they are old. Because they are masters at their craft. Which is — let’s never forget this — to make people dance.

A few were scrounging for discarded glow sticks, gathering a peak-ready fling of air art. Phish’s take on TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age” had us breathing heavy. The cover of Ween’s “Roses Are Free” wafts more steam from the swarming mass on the Dick’s pitch-protecting floor. Anastasio grabs a swig of water. McConnell drives into a “Walls of the Cave.” A waning moon peaked through the clouds.

And one message is clear: Phish loves Dick’s.

Halley’s Comet
Yarmouth Road
Bathtub Gin
Waiting All Night
The Wedge
46 Days
Run Like An Antelope

Set 2:
Wolfman’s Brother>
Blaze One>
Golden Age>
Roses Are Fee>
Wading in the Velvet Sea>
Walls of the Cave

Hold Your Head Up>
Hold your Head Up
Loving Cup