Phish Start Merriweather Run With Electric Second Set
When the dust from Phish’s summer tour settles, the first night of the band’s Merriweather Post Pavilion run may rank as one of the best of the bunch. As the band took the stage at the intimate Columbia, MD shed, they launched into a comfortable rocker in “Sample in a Jar” before warming up to “The Moma Dance” and a funky “Wombat.”
The real playing began with the “Backwards Down the Number Line,” which featured some patient playing from Trey Anastasio. Fittingly enough, “Roggae” followed and kept that theme going with more gorgeous riffs from the guitarist. While sloppy in parts, “The Wedge” didn’t rival the epic version played recently in Chicago but was salvaged nicely in the end before Page McConnell came in with the opening lick to “Wolfman’s Brother.”
The end of the first set would ebb and flow through a variety of Phish’s musical attributes including the bluegrass number “Nellie Kane,” the entertaining “Lawn Boy” led as always by Page McConnell, “The Line,” a lengthy and dark “Stash” and the set closing “Suzy Greenberg.” The longer set, topping out at over 80 minutes, would set the tone for what was to follow in the final frame.
While no song in the second set eclipsed the fifteen minute mark, all were expertly strung together with the precision we have come to expect from Phish on this tour. There were no “ripcords” or awkward transitions but rather all four members moving as a unit through the entire set.
Kicking it off with “Carini,” the song wasted no time going full-Type II before the band took it into “Ghost.” While relatively brief, “Ghost” touched on some funk-style jamming that Phish would carry over into the next tune—“Steam.” The band would throw the “Steam” jam back to their days of “plinko” funk in the early 3.0 era before an excellent transition into “The Mango Song.”
The final four songs of the set would feature old and new as “Sing Monica,” placed perfectly, provided a nice moment of rock as the band leaned into it with a particular ferocity. “Light” segued perfectly into “2001” which brought us to the finale in “Harry Hood.” While most every version of “Hood” on this tour has been noteworthy, this one is right up there among the best this year as Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell locked in to lead the song to its anthemic peak. A one-song “Julius” closed the show.
Phish returns to the stage in Columbia, MD tonight.
Here’s a look at the setlist as it appears in our Box Scores section:
Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
Set I: Sample in a Jar, Moma Dance, Wombat, Backwards Down the Number Line, Roggae, The Wedge, Wolfman’s Brother, Nellie Kane, Lawn Boy, The Line, Stash, Suzy Greenberg
Set II: Carini->Ghost > Steam->The Mango Song > Sing Monica > Light->2001 > Harry Hood