Phish | 08.01 | Red Rocks Day 3

Words by: Brian Bavosa | Images by: Dave Vann

Phish :: 08.01.09 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: Morrison, CO

Gordo - Phish :: 08.01 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
For as long as I've been seeing Phish -1 6 years and counting - the third night of a four night run has always been, well, wild, special and more often than not, THE night. Night three of Red Rocks was certainly a worthy contender in this tradition.

Opening with "AC/DC Bag," the fire-fueled, Gamehendge rocker, it was on from note one. The line, "Let's get this show on the road!," is always a surefire way to let the masses know the band means business, and set one was my favorite of the three firsts opening sets thus far, on paper and in execution. Speaking of execution, the second tune, "The Curtain With," was the first reading since the now infamous encore at Coventry, which Trey screwed up something awful. Tonight was flawlessly executed to perfection. The band really appeared to take their time in practicing and making sure they played this one right, and this take gave a flying "Fuck You" salute to Coventry and the bad memories it has held since '04. Good riddance.

And then the band launched into the drum-lead "Mound," a bust out not played since the last "return" show at MSG on New Year's Eve '02. Always a fan favorite, this too, is a difficult composition to pull off, and the band crushed it. All four members were in sync from the jump tonight, something that carried over to the crowd inside (and the few hundred who climbed the mountain behind the venue).

"Gotta Jibboo" was as fun and danceable as ever, while "Guyute" served as the composition song in set one. "Punch You in the Eye" - a song the band hasn't had the easiest time with this summer - was exceptionally locked-in, and Trey led throughout; he was very sharp and spirited this evening, particularly in set two. "Tube" was the first set highlight, and was super-duper tight and funky, featuring McConnell on the Clav/synth who was simply laying it down. "Alaska" was reworked and featured a triple repeat of the opening line. It was loose and took on a bluesy, stripped-down feel. Another big gun, "Run Like an Antelope," closed set one and was not as razor sharp as normal, but rather dark, twisted and weird. Overall, a great first set with some major treats.

Phish :: 08.01 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Unlike the previous night's (read about it here) rain-soaked set break, Saturday felt quick and saw Anastasio and company land in The Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll." It lived up to its name for sure and eventually devolved into a spacey breakdown that found Trey looping effects and Gordon smothering pedals before dropping the intro bombs of "Down With Disease." A song that took on real character in Leg One of the tour, this night's "DWD" was shorter and more out there than usual, but still interesting.

The hammer was then dropped into "Free," which with the exception of the big five or so, is, in my opinion, the quintessential, ultimate Phish song. Lyrically, musically and emotionally, "Free" represents all things good about Phish and why we continue to traverse the country to see them. It allows one to get lost and fly "freely" across a slamming anthem. But, the highlight of Red Rocks thus far, in my mind and in terms of sheer balls, was the first "Esther" since Vegas '00, and my personal first since The Clifford Ball in '96, ironically enough the same tour Phish last played Red Rocks. What most impressed me about this rendition was that Trey hit every single lyric. Not a flub to be found. It was also in these moments that I truly managed to lose myself and my ego, drift off to the sublime spaces that only Phish generates and truly believe in my heart of hearts that PHISH is the greatest band of our generation. While most of Phish 3.0 has been "safe," the gall it takes to play "Mound" and "Esther" leads me to believe that there are still hints of greatness left in the Phab Phour.

Trey & Gordo - Phish :: 08.01 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
"Dirt" served as the breather song of the second set, but was more upbeat and Trey-charged than usual, with him adding some extra spice, so much so that the set-closing "Harry Hood" featured a "Dirt" guitar lick tease by Trey in the intro section. If I ever had to choose a place to "live beneath the dirt," Red Rocks would be at the top of the list. "Hood" is also a perfect song for Red Rocks, with Chris Kuroda's lights resonating off of the giant red slabs to either side of the venue while the city lights of Denver glistened silently in the background. In a word, it was majestic. While the second set seemed short tonight, it still featured some big guns and a MAJOR bust out.

An encore of "Sleeping Monkey" was a semi-gospel prayer (with organ worship hands flying high) with a Beatles "Let It Be" tease by Page. The night was capped off by "First Tube," which was super high energy and saw Trey jumping all over the place, literally and musically. Not only has Phish delivered three monstrous efforts in a row but the tour is just heating up. All signs for Sunday point to a narration, a huge "You Enjoy Myself" and a deep "2001" to help us wrap up Red Rocks. Night four still has some huge tunes in store, but also some final surprises I'm sure.

Lastly, Happy Birthday, Jerry. Without you, Phish wouldn't be what they are today.

Dig in, night four is descending upon us...

Phish :: 08.01.09 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: Morrison, CO
Set I: AC/DC Bag, The Curtain With, Mound, Gotta Jibboo, Guyute, Punch You in the Eye, Tube, Alaska, Run Like An Antelope
Set II: Rock and Roll, Down with Disease > Free, Esther, Dirt, Harry Hood
E: Sleeping Monkey, First Tube

Phish :: 08.01 :: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
For more pics of Phish at Red Rocks Night 3 go here. And for coverage of Night 1, go here, and coverage of Night 2 here.

Phish perform again tonight at Red Rocks. Check back for live Tweets, setlists, pics and full reviews. Complete Phish tour dates available here.

Just like Leg I of Phish's Summer Tour, JamBase will be at every stop with more coverage than you'll find anywhere! Keep up to speed with all things Phish at jambase.com/phish.

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[Published on: 8/2/09]

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