Phish | 06.18.09 | Burgettstown, PA

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann

Phish :: 06.18.09 :: Post-Gazette Pavilion :: Burgettstown, PA

Trey & Mike :: 06.18.09 :: Burgettstown, PA
On any given night, there's at least ten factors that contribute to any given Phish experience being what it is. After a slew of shows at Star Lake, nowadays known as the Post Gazette Pavilion, since my first trip here in '98, I can safely say I enjoy this venue more than most. Besides my worst of four tour pretzels this run (a tad frozen, even), the night was promising and saw the band deliver an extremely solid show overall, chock full of oldies, goodies, complete "trainwrecks" and a super-goofy encore. In a nutshell, everything that is good about this band we love.

Opening with the most ironic opener in some time, "Golgi Apparatus," being that hundreds, if, I-shit-you-not, thousands of free tickets could not be GIVEN away (I gave mine to a limo driver) outside from very early on. I was in stitches when this number hit. A lively "Chalkdust Torture" saw Trey rip-roar through one of his favorite tunes, while an early "Wolfman's Brother" solidified that this song is one of the most solid, funky tunes in the bands repertoire, pre- and post-hiatus, and now for version 3.0.

"Divided Sky" was a perfect selection come dusk, and Trey and company again impressed with the technical delivery that makes or breaks this song. A short, yet big bust-out of "Walk Away" was a nod to the absolutely bonkers setlists this venue has boasted and hosted in the past, while the song of set one was an ultra-funky, dancealicious "Tube." McConnell's Clav solo was absolutely filthy, and the band stretched their legs on this one - a welcome treat by all.

Phish :: 06.18.09 :: Burgettstown, PA
The second ever "Alaska," a song I fully expect to hear on the upcoming new album, is poppy and features some clever wordplay. Set closer "David Bowie" saw Trey fuck up the last verse before the jam, which found the foursome diving into the dark abandon of this tune.

Set Two, however, was very solid with some great playing. Of note, Trey was particularly bubbly and animated throughout this night, as was the rest of the band. In short, the vibe was mutually contagious for band and fan alike; comfortable now approaching the end of the first leg of tour at weekend's conclusion.

"Down With Disease" > "Free" opened set two, and were both solid yet standard, while "Piper" was a sure highlight. The latter saw the boys shake and move while exploring some new themes of tension and release and delivering a high point of the evening. "When the Circus Comes to Town" was particularly poignant. I smiled to myself during the line, "Never thought I would make it this far" (15 years and counting for me, fellas). But, the surefire best song of the night in my mind was a majestic, sublime, perfectly executed "Harry Hood." It was during this jam that I managed to close my eyes, get the goosebumps that initiated me into this band in '93 and '94, and truly believe that they still have some magic in them, no matter what some jaded vets and the harshest of critics may say (myself, admittedly, sometimes included).

Point blank, this "Hood" was the reason I continue to trek on with this band. It represents all the magic the world of Phish can offer. One of my favorite "Hoods" in a long time.

Phish :: 06.18.09 :: Burgettstown, PA
"The Squirming Coil," complete with Page piano outro and a slamming "You Enjoy Myself" equipped with what I swear was a huge "Manteca" tease by Trey, put the icing on a really solid effort this evening.

Not to be outdone, and offering the zany goodness and humor of Phish, the band offered an a cappella "Grind," complete with the exact numbers of days each member has been alive and the collective total built into the lyrics. They then took a minute, formed a huddle, where Trey jested, "Page hit a wrote note," and, "If we screw this one up Fishman will sing 'Bike'," before starting and Trey aborting (jokingly, I feel) "Hello My Baby" for about a minute. After that, Trey got behind the kit, and Fishman tried his best to remember the words to "Bike," (which hasn't been played since 9/12/00 - 95 shows) as he quipped that we'd now entered the "trainwreck portion of the show." It was 'Quirky Phish' that worked on this night.

Toss in "Loving Cup" and the show was complete. Good times, good venue, but not the bust outs many have come to expect from Star Lake over the years. Regardless, the boys turned in a super solid effort and really nailed that "Hood" - just one of those ten things that can make a Phish experience what it really should be.

Whew. Onto the final leg with Deer Creek, Alpine and hopefully my own bed lurking in the near future. Don't think we've seen the last of the fireworks of leg one just yet...

Phish :: 06.18.09 :: Post-Gazette Pavilion :: Burgettstown, PA
Set I: Golgi Apparatus, Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Wolfman's Brother, The Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie
Set II: Down With Disease > Free, Guyute, Piper > When The Circus Comes To Town, Harry Hood > The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself
E: Grind, Hello My Baby, Hold Your Head Up > Bike* > Hold Your Head Up, Loving Cup
* First "Bike" played since 09.12.00 (95 shows)

For more pics from this show go here.

Phish perform again tonight (6/19) at the Verizon Wireless Music Center (Deer Creek) in Noblesville, IN. Check back for setlists, pics and full reviews. Complete Phish tour dates available here.

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[Published on: 6/19/09]

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