Phish Open Dick’s Run with Setlist Wordplay, Bust Outs and a New Little Feat Cover
Phish started off their now-annual run at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO with yet another setlist wordplay show. As has been the case with similar performances in the past— like 2011’s “S” show and 2012’s memorable “Fuck Your Face” gig—the band used the occasion to bust out some rarities, and they even debuted a Little Feat cover. This time around Phish both embraced and mocked the tradition, with the first letter of each song played creating the phrase “Most Shows Spell Something” when viewed backwards.
The evening kicked off with the first “Ghost” opener since 1998, which filled the crowd with excitement before the band went into “NICU.” Phish then treated everyone to the night’s first bust-out, “Icculus,” which hadn’t been played in 82 shows. The song included words of advice from Trey Anastasio, who urged those in the audience to read the Helping Friendly Book before noting that the next song, “Heavy Things,” used the same chords as “Icculus” despite having totally different lyrics. That “Heavy Things” was followed by a “Theme From the Bottom” that segued into the night’s second rarity, “Esther,” which hadn’t come out in 81 shows.
“Moma Dance” then turned up the energy levels before “Ocelot” built up to a rocking jam. “Stash” came next with its jazzy jams and calypso beat sending the crowd into a frenzy. It was also at around this time that many in the audience began to catch on to the night’s wordplay, as it became clear that the setlist now spelled out “Something” when viewed in reverse. The song was followed by “Lawn Boy,” which, as usual, saw keyboardist Page McConnell pull off his best Frank Sinatra impression while serenading the crowd from the front of the stage. Next came “Limb by Limb” before the set wrapped up with the night’s biggest surprise, a debut of Little Feat’s classic Sailin’ Shoes number “Easy to Slip.” (Mike Gordon has played the tune with his solo band.)
The second set blasted off with a heavy “Punch You In the Eye” that played right into an exploratory “Sand” that, while fantastic, did not quite reach the levels of last year’s Dick’s rendition The song was followed by the band’s second ever performance of “Say Something,” a tune that Gordon wrote with Max Creek’s Scott Murawski. The tune melted into “Walls of the Cave,” which built up to an electrifying arena rock jam before giving way to “The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony.” That tune then transitioned “Harry Hood” for the first time ever. Glowsticks went flying as the band went into a beautiful take on the song’s signature jam, but the “Hood” was left unfinished when Anastaso pulled the rest of the group into “Silent in the Morning.” (Phish have yet to play “Silent in the Morning”‘s longtime companion “The Horse” in 2013.) By this point it was clear that the setlist had already spelled out, “Shows Spell Something,” and many in the audience shared theories as to what the full message would be by show’s end.
Those fans got another clue as the band went into the next song, “Twist,” before “Slave to the Traffic Light” wrapped up the second set with its soaring closing jam. After a very short break, Phish returned to the stage for the encore, which got going with their first cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” in 120 shows. The rarity, which has only been performed six times since its debut in 1998, was led by McConnell. Finally, the show came to a close with a take on the always-fun “Meatstick.” Anastasio and Mike Gordon put down their instruments to lead the crowd through the signature Meatstick Dance as they sang the tune’s lyrics in Japanese. The crowd-pleasing, if rather short, rendition of the song brought things full circle to last year’s “Fuck Your Face” show, which also ended with a “Meatstick.” It was also the last piece in the night’s setlist puzzle, which now clearly revealed the message “Most Shows Spell Something.”
Here’s a look at last night’s setlist via our Box Scores page
Friday, August 20, 2013, Phish, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
Set I: Ghost, NICU, Icculus, Heavy Things, Theme From the Bottom > Esther, The Moma Dance > Ocelot, Stash, Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb, Easy To Slip*
Set II: Punch You In the Eye > Sand, Say Something > Walls of the Cave > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Harry Hood^ > Silent in the Morning > Twist > Slave to the Traffic Light
Enc: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, Meatstick^^
(*) Phish debut. (^) Unfinished. (^^) Japanese lyrics.