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Published: 2011/07/04

Phish Shares "Big Balls" as Festival Concludes

Photo by Melissa Steinberg

Phish closed out their multi-day Super Ball IX festival with an extended two-set performance last night. One set appealed to fans of the geek-rock tendencies of group’s early years while the other revisited the deep jams of the previous night’s late night surprise set.

The group’s first set kicked off with their second cover of Bob Marley’s “Soul Shakedown Party” since reuniting in 2009 and included the band’s first version of “The Curtain” without its “With” section since September 9, 2000 (Phish turned the end section of “The Curtain” into “Rift” in the late ‘80s but re-attached the songs in 2000). “The Curtain” bled into extended versions of the Gamehendge classics “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” and “Fly Famous Mockingbird and—for the first time since the group’s 2000 performances in Las Vegas—the songs featured an extended narration by Trey Anastasio.

The playful and trippy tale recalled an “absolutely true” story where the band’s van broke down on the way to Colorado in 1988. As they waited for their van to be repaired, the members of the group were accidently locked in a facility much like the USA storage set from the previous night’s fourth set. Anastasio explained that the group started to jam and envision the world around them—and that Super Ball was actually a mental projection created by the band. He also ranked his bandmates’ driving skills: Page McConnell is the band’s best driver, Jon Fishman has the most endurance for long drives and Mike Gordon is the band’s worst driver because he’s always distracted by his journals.

The set came to a strong close with an extended version of “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” that recalled the previous night’s surprise set, a cover of Little Feat’s “Time Loves a Hero,” a strong “Reba” and a high-energy “David Bowie.” For only the second time since their IT festival in 2003, Phish performed the final, whistling section of “Reba.”

Phish’s second set started with bang: the group busted into their debut cover of AC/DC’s “Big Balls” as a series of large balloon balls were released into the crowd. The song segued into an extended improvisational segment that included “Down with Disease,” Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” “Party Time,” “Ghost,” “Gotta Jibboo” and “Light.” Later in the set, Phish revisited the previous night’s ambient jam since during the Siket Disc track “What’s the Use?” As the set rolled past midnight and into July 4th, Phish closed its set with a barbershop quartet version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Much
like last year’s July 4th song, Phish closed its set with “First Tube” as fireworks filled the sky.

The next leg of Phish’s summer tour will kick off at George, WA”s The Gorge on August 5.

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