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Published: 2013/07/21

Phish Close Chicago Run with Another Rain Delay, "Harpua" and Members of Second City

Phish’s official poster by Rich Kelly

Earlier this evening, Phish closed one of the most weather-plagued runs in their almost 30 year history with a colorful and exploratory performance at Chicago, IL’s FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. For the second time during their three-show run at the Windy City venue, the Vermont Quartet was forced to stop their show mid-song due to weather-related issues. However, unlike Friday’s show which was cancelled during Phish’s second set, the band returned for an instantly classic second set.

The evening felt special from the start. Phish opened their show with this year’s first take on “Dinner and a Movie,” which doubled as a nod to fans streaming the performance via The first set also included interesting segues from “AC/DC Bag” into “Maze” as well as “Funky Bitch” and “Bathtub Gin.” As the rain picked up during the set, the band responded with an appropriate “Water in the Sky.” They soldiered on with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” that slipped into “Run Like an Antelope,” but the group was forced to stop during “Antelope” as the storm picked up. Unlike Friday’s stunted performance, this time fans were allowed to stay inside the venue during the weather delay and many took shelter under the pavilion’s bleachers.

After a lengthy delay, Phish returned to the stage and kicked off their second set with a 15-plus minute cover of The Apples in Stereo’s “Energy” that led into a funky, nine-minute “Ghost” and a dense jam that descended into the Gamehendge gem “The Lizards” (another tour debut).

The show changed pace from there. Phish busted into their first version of the coveted story-song “Harpua” since June 19, 2011. After the song’s composed opening section, Trey Anastasio invited members of the Chicago improv comedy troupe Second City onstage to perform the “Harpua” story. (He also noted a sign in the audience asking the band to play the song correctly.) The trippy segment involved a rap about Al Gore, jokes about how Phish has been telling the “Harpua” story wrong for years and a rare narration by Mike Gordon (The Phish bassist also provided a memorable Chicago-area “Harpua” narration at Rosemont, IL’s Rosemont Horizon on October 31, 1995). During the bit, Anastasio took the opportunity to banter about how Page McConnell has served as the band’s primary MC this summer. After wrapping-up the 22-minute sketch, Phish restarted and performed “Run Like an Antelope” in its entirety. A lone “Character Zero” closed the night.

Gordon, Jon Fishman and Justin Bieber guitarist Dan Kanter also performed with the Second City cast during a late night, all improv show on Friday night. Phish will return to Toronto for the first time in 13 years tomorrow.

Here’s a look at tonight’s setlist via

Sunday, July 21, 2013, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL

Set I: Dinner and a Movie, AC/DC Bag > Maze, Mound, Funky Bitch > Bathtub Gin, Wilson, Water in the Sky, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Run Like an Antelope1

Set II: Energy > Ghost -> The Lizards, Harpua2, Run Like an Antelope

E: Character Zero,

[1] Aborted
[2] With the cast of Second City

Notes: Antelope was aborted and the band had to leave the stage due to a heavy rain storm. Harpua contained an appearance by the cast of Second City and a narration by Mike.


There are 17 comments associated with this post

Dave July 22, 2013, 09:40:49

They actually return to Toronto, not Chicago. Great writeup!

Strop Stabler July 22, 2013, 09:55:25

I play a drinking game on Every time a reviewer uses the phrase “a nod to…” I take a shot. I’m always hammered.

Eric July 22, 2013, 10:00:32

So the Harpua segment was staged?

Why.... July 22, 2013, 10:26:37

Why would they do a 22min harpua after a long rain delay…. What a waste

To July 22, 2013, 11:03:06

I was there and the Second City skit thing was indeed nothing more than a waste of time. The only thing funny about it was when the crowd booed the first time they said they were from Philadelphia. A few more songs could’ve been played, and given the rain (all weekend), lengthy delay between sets, and whatever else, that (more music) would’ve been exponentially better. It wasn’t fun or funny to be on the wrong end of what amounted to an Andy Kaufman-style punking.

Nutt July 22, 2013, 12:05:45

I can’t believe people are complaining about them playing Harpua, considering everyone was bitching and moaning about them not playing it night 2!

lk July 22, 2013, 15:22:51

The Harpua bit the big one. Total waste of time. Contrived, stupid AND boring. Bad idea. Reminded me of the solo Mike show in Chicago where he spent much of the show in a bed making phone calls. Also a train wreck.

wow what a fruity band July 22, 2013, 17:57:09

this band just seems to get fruiter every time they play …wow

TZ July 22, 2013, 18:45:21

The rap in the narrative was just garbage, what the hell was that? It was the worst Harpua of all time, still Harpua.

Perplexed July 22, 2013, 22:39:24

Yeah, not sure the 22 min sketch comedy after a rain delay was a good choice. More tunes > Less stand-up.

youdontgetit July 23, 2013, 02:12:35

The joke is on pretty much all of you.

Speedbump July 23, 2013, 05:31:47

Yea I was there as well and it was very stupid! At first I thought it might even be real…...for about three seconds! Great run great fun I hope to do it again next year! Oh and for the record trays story telling was way better than second cities!

MySoula July 23, 2013, 10:04:26

Harpua…a waste? Phish was trolling and it SLYGSAASISOI. What is the world coming to? Pull up those huggies and listen to that ‘pua again. Would gladly sit through another storm for that. Classic!

ohidefinitelygetit July 23, 2013, 23:15:13

It sucked. Given the circumstances, it sucked even more. There are plenty of us the joke’s not on, and for whom there was no SLYGSAASISOI to speak of; it just plain sucked. It wasn’t funny or good in any way. It was obvious that it was fake/Second City very early on, and it was just plain a waste of time. Those who are doing the “EVERY SINGLE THING PHISH DID AT THE SHOW I WAS AT WAS AWESOME” routine are making it painfully obvious that they either haven’t been to enough shows to tell good from bad yet and/or simply lack the chutzpah to criticize when appropriate. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just think using that much time for that when they could have blown the place away to finish the set/weekend after all the rain, etc. was simply a waste (Antelope was good though).

Kim July 24, 2013, 15:04:05

After getting drenched for an hour in the rain waiting for Phish to resume the show, I agree that the Harpua skit was a waste of time. I wanted to hear MUSIC, not an unfunny comedy sketch. Maybe it was a good idea when they first imagined it, but under the circumstances with the rain, the band should’ve just scrapped the skit and played music. I felt gypped by the whole thing.

asdfkk July 24, 2013, 23:16:37

Maybe you should all look a little closer…. the harpua skit is a straight slap in the face to all you people bitching on the internet. check out this article

E_Nice July 29, 2013, 13:03:16

“Maybe you should all look a little closer…. the harpua skit is a straight slap in the face to all you people bitching on the internet. check out this article” Not liking the skit is way different than not getting it. I hate when people explain the skit (that we all understood from the beginning) and ridicule people who did not like the rapping waste of time that Second City gave us. Also, anyone in attendance could see the impact that skit had on the crowd. Luckily that was not my first Harpua…. I can’t wait for Dick’s.

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