Phish | 06.16 | The Fox, St. Louis

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann

Phish :: 06.16.09 :: Fabulous Fox Theatre :: St. Louis, MO

Phish :: 06.16.09 :: Fabulous Fox Theatre
The Fabulous Fox Theatre, as it is affectionately known, is truly a sight to behold. The architecture and motifs of Egyptian meets The Far East, mixed with simply sheer class and exquisite craftsmanship is rarely seen nowadays in middle-sized venues. Set in the heart of the Midwest, where the Budweiser is freshest and Albert Pujols is king, expectations for Tuesday night's Phish show were through the roof, with ticket prices soaring well into the hundred of dollars outside the venue. Unfortunately, the show lacked an overall cohesiveness that others this tour have possessed and fell a bit flat.

Opening with the two, new favorites - the upbeat rocker "Kill Devil Falls" and the very catchy "Ocelot," - the band is showing they are enjoying plying these two as much as most fans like hearing them this summer. "Rift" was a great treat, although a tad sloppy, and saw the band just miss this potentially razor sharp number. Still, enjoyable, along with the bubbly "Ya Mar" that showcased McConnell's chops on the keys mere feet from my second row, pit seat. "Reba" saw me facing away from the stage to take in the wonder of the venue, while the group powered its way through the tune's delicate thunder.

The highlights of the set in my eyes were "Possum" and the "Slave to the Traffic Light" closer. The former featured Gordon's bass and Trey's bluesy guitar that whipped the crowd into a hopping frenzy, while the latter served as a giant blanket tossed over the lucky 4,000-plus patrons that managed to make it inside on this night.

The second set featured Chris Kuroda's lights on the opening "Halley's Comet," before "Runaway Jim" saw Trey jumping up and down during the chill bass portion of this song, as animated as I've seen him all tour. The first "Frankie Says" since Miami in '03 was a welcome choice and a song I had honestly forgotten about. Unfortunately, the energy the band built during the opening tunes of set two seemed to vanish with this number as it slowed things down. "Time Turns Elastic" is a song that is beginning to grow on me, and saw Trey switch guitars pre-song. It is easy to tell he feels proud of his latest composition. This was a great version and I was glad to see it played tonight, since the venue itself is a composition in its own right.

The new Foxtrot…
A standard, but roaring "Mike's Groove" really helped turn the corner, but seemed a little rushed before one of the other highlights of the evening, "Boogie On Reggae Woman." Gordon simply owned this tune (as usual) with his bouncy, funky bass lines and broke things down for the booty-shaking patrons. Again, a smoking, yet standard "Character Zero" found everyone's fist pumping with the juice of Phish running through our collective veins.

The encore was what I had been waiting for all night: something unique for this small venue. An a cappella "Star Spangled Banner" with the band at the front of the stage, followed by the Gamehendge related tune "McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters," the first since the infamous 2003 Star Lake show was a real, real special treat as it bobbed along to Gordon's bass, while Page's ivory sparkled. Cutting it a bit short, the band closed things out with a nicely selected but butchered "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

While the show was not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, I'd still rank it at the bottom of the tour thus far. Some sloppy playing at times and sky-high expectations made this night tough to live up to the hype. However, some bust outs and a MAJESTIC theatre made this an unforgettable Phish experience nonetheless for the lucky few inside. And that's worth the ticket price alone.

Phish :: 06.16.09 :: Fox Theatre :: St. Louis, MO
Set I: Kill Devil Falls, Ocelot, Brian & Robert, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ya Mar, Reba, Train Song, Horn, Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light
Set II: Halley's Comet, Runaway Jim, Frankie Says(1), Time Turns Elastic, Sleep(2), Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Character Zero
Encore: Star Spangled Banner, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters(3), While My Guitar Gently Weeps
1 = Last played 12/28/03
2 = Last played 02/28/03
3 = Last played 07/29/03

For more of Dave Vann's photos from this night pop over here.

Phish perform again tomorrow night (6/18) at the Post Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA. Check back for setlists, pics and full reviews. Complete Phish tour dates available here.

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[Published on: 6/17/09]

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