Phish Brave the Elements at SPAC
As thousands descended on the small town of Saratoga Springs, NY for the start of Phish’s three-night run at SPAC, they were greeted by nasty weather that threatened to interrupt the show.
While there would be a slight weather delay, Phish would hit the stage around 8:30 PM to an opening “Farmhouse” that gave way to a “Wolfman’s Brother,” which featured some loose, funk-oriented improv early on. “Maze” quickly turned the energy up several notches as Page McConnell and Trey Anastasio both dug into impressive solos, leading to a frantic crescendo many have come to expect with the Rift track.
The middle of the first set would see the pace slow considerably, as “Yarmouth Road” was followed by the more delicate “Strange Design” and the newer “Devotion to a Dream” as well as a groovy “Ocelot.” The band would close the first frame in a flurry, however, leaning on high energy takes of “Chalk Dust Torture” as well as the engaging “Mound” and set-closer, “Possum.”
While only “Wolfman’s” extended past the 10-minute mark, Phish would dig into some deep improv to start the second set with two songs that haven’t anchored second sets that often in the 3.0 era—“Bathtub Gin” and “Limb By Limb.” The “Gin” opener saw the group dabble in their “plinko” style of jamming following a Trey Anastasio-led section before opting for a more ambient tone, ultimately leading into “Limb By Limb.”
The Story of the Ghost track harkened back to a lengthy version they played in St. Louis in 2012, with the group turning the song completely wide open for true full-band improv. Last night’s “Limb By Limb” would once again feature an expert class in musical communication as all four members moved through the tune together before dissolving it into “Winterqueen.”
The second of four Fuego tracks on the night would provide a lighter counterpart to the opening two songs, stretching out to around nine minutes before Phish delivered another new track—“The Line.” The improv would kick back into gear following the tale about Darius Washington Jr. with “Tweezer,” which ignited the crowd for the charge to the finish of the set. This particular “Tweezer” was heavy on Page McConnell as he contributed a brief solo and led the group through the improv section.
As “Tweezer” gave way to two more singalong tunes—“Prince Caspian” and “Sparkle”—Phish closed the set with the exciting “Run Like an Antelope” before encoring with “Sing Monica” (it’s debut with that title) and “Tweezer Reprise.”
Additional notes from the show include that, once again, no covers were played. While the odds of the band making it through the weekend with this streak intact seem small, there certainly seems to be a concerted effort to focus on original material.
Phish will return to the stage tonight at SPAC to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. The show will be webcast via LivePhish.com.
Here’s a look at the setlist as it appears in our Box Scores section:
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Set I: Farmhouse, Wolfman’s Brother, Maze, Yarmouth Road, Strange Design, Devotion to a Dream, Ocelot, Chalk Dust Torture, Roggae, Possum
Set II: Bathtub Gin > Limb By Limb > Winterqueen, The Line, Tweezer > Prince Caspian > Sparkle > Run Like An Antelope
Enc: Sing Monica > Tweezer Reprise