Phish, Klipsch Music Center, Noblesville, IN – 6/28-29
Photo by John Patrick Gatta
Maybe it was the record-breaking 110 degree heat. Maybe it was the legend of the venue formally known as Deer Creek for putting on memorable shows (good and bad). Maybe it was the fact that the security for the venue wore the same color shirts of those that said “Mikessong,” doubling the already intense sea of yellow-orange. Whatever the case, the set was unpredictable from “The Birdwatcher” as an a cappella opener. A rare “Curtain With” opened the night, and after working through “FYF,” popped out an even rarer “The Old Home Place.” By “Pebbles and Marbles” opening line, the theme of heat was exposed. During a jam in “Chalkdust Torture” Trey stared out at the crowd, taunting them to pick up the energy level proving the show was not all novelty. “Wolfman’s Brother” led the final pack of the first set that had “Tweezer” telling everyone to step into the freezer which stepped in to the obvious VU cover, “Cool It Down.” “Tela” precluded the set closer “Stealing time from the Faulty plan” which spun the set out on a high note.
The second set pounded open with “Mike’s Song” answering the shirt request, but quickly slipped back into the atypical show. After “McGrupp” and “Get Back on the Train” the show took on another twist as Fishman stepped from behind the drums to the theme of “Hold Your Head Up” with vacuum cleaner in tow. After a denied request from the band to sing “Sexual Healing,” he instead went into “Bike” and interrupted it with a crowd-lifting cleaner solo. The end of the song did not switch the band line-up and Trey stayed on the drums during the opening of “Weekapaug Groove” and a confused Fishman picked up Trey’s guitar, plunked out a simple successful solo and made the comment “I think we’re a better band this way!” A drumming segment from Trey and Fish segued the switch back to ‘normalcy’ and the band wrapped it up with an unfinished “Prince Caspian” naturally preceding an unfinished “Waves” into “Bug” into a “David Bowie” that teased back into “Bug.” The encore “Show of Life/Tweezer Reprise” slipped the night out smoothly.
The record heat created storms the next afternoon that sent tents flying 30 feet into the air but the crowd was not daunted and by the show’s delayed start, had swelled and intensified from the previous night. The rain had cooled things off, but the band was fired up and the new owner of the show turned out to be the audience that was handed the offer of “Crowd Control’s” plea to take the reins that was graciously accepted. “Dinner and a Movie” had everyone vamped and ready for the billowed out treat of another VU rarity, “Sweet Jane,” which saw first light since ‘98.
The crowd became the center of attention again as the band commented on the request signs stating, “Once you hold them up…you can put them down.” After taking a suggestion of “Chinese Warhol,” Trey opened “Limb by Limb” before the crowd or Page could object. A long wind-up on “Possum” trampled into an amped-up “Mound.” A well-deserved breather was taken before playing Bowie’s “Life on Mars” that left “Mango Song” sandwiched between two Bowie songs with “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars.” “Strange Design” led into the meet and greet “Birds of Feather” and then into “Hailey’s Comet.” The set closed with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” indicating the night was only getting started.
A blasted out and unfinished “Down with Disease” jammed itself out popped into “Sand.” Another jam led into Twist and perhaps the lowlight of the show. Spinning out on the lyrics and lead, Page jumped into save the adrenaline-driven momentum by flying into “Rift” which was a nice complement to the previous night’s “CW.” “Bathtub Gin” kept the audience in high gear as it trickled into “Fluffhead.” Page kept the reins into “Ride Captain Ride” which sped back up into “Antelope.” A twisted jam resurfaced some “Twist” lyrics and a Marco Polo call and response from Trey to end the night.
A triple-decker encore of “Cavern,” “Sanity,” and “First Tube” sent the hot, rained-on, blown-around audience to the lot with energetic smiles all around.