Old Material Highlights Final Night of Phish at SPAC
While the first two nights of Phish’s SPAC run were centered around newer material from Fuego, the finale last night featured some of their best older material and compositions.
Starting with “Crowd Control,” a popular third night opener in the 3.0 era, Phish would cover all aspects of their 30-year career in the first set with cuts like “My Friend, My Friend,” “Scent of a Mule,” “Undermind” and more. “Mule” featured Fishman turning to his Marimba Lumina for a solo as well. After a second Undermind track, “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” Phish played just their second cover of the year in “I Didn’t Know.” This particular version of the tune was complete with Fishman busting out his vacuum, as Trey Anastasio jumped on the drum kit to lead a longer than normal jam.
The complex “Foam” followed before the first of two Fuego tracks was played in “Wombat.” Trey Anastasio struggled through the composed sections of the following “Divided Sky,” leading to a more delicate selection in “Wading in the Velvet Sea” after that before a much cleaner “David Bowie” provided a chance for redemption to close the set. All in all, the 11-song first set would be light on improv and heavy on tour debuts, as ten of the eleven saw their first action this summer.
The final frame of the SPAC weekend included some of the best Phish has to offer. As they opened with a “Carini,” the crowd roared with excitement as the tune has flourished as of late. While this version didn’t quite get there, it gave way to a “Waves” that continued the melodic theme set during the “Carini” improv. “Wingsuit” came in the third slot, providing a nice breather after 20-minutes of jamming and, as they’ve done the previous two nights, the energy was cranked up yet again with a “Piper” that featured the best improv of the evening.
Much like “Divided Sky,” “Fluffhead” proved troublesome for Trey Anastasio on this night, leading to a more standard “Heavy Things” that followed. Anastasio would give it one more try, however, with a sublime “Slave to the Traffic Light” that saw a focused, determined guitarist. It seemed as if “Slave” was a breakthrough for Anastasio as the “You Enjoy Myself” that followed ranks as one of the best since 2009. Complete with a full Trey/Mike duel in the jam section, the 23-minute performance closed the set with all four band members performing at their very best. “Suzy Greenberg” would provide a fun cap to the weekend.
Next up for Phish is a two night run at The Mann Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Here’s a look at the setlist as it appears in our Box Scores section:
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Set I: Crowd Control > My Friend, My Friend, Scent of a Mule, Undermind, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, I Didn’t Know, Foam, Wombat, Divided Sky, Wading in the Velvet Sea, David Bowie
Set II: Carini > Waves, Wingsuit > Piper > Fluffhead, Heavy Things > Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself
Enc: Suzy Greenberg