Never Miss A Sunday Phish Show In Las Vegas

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Phish brought Fall Tour 2014 and a three-night stand in Las Vegas to a close on Sunday night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. Would the old adage “Never Miss A Sunday Show” hold true for the tour finale? Let’s just say by the end of the second set two members of the band were running around stage chasing after each other and the wild scene was followed by a 16-year-old song making its first appearance in the encore slot.

Phish came out of the gates with the third “Runaway Jim” of the 12-show tour. Guitarist Trey Anastasio led an extended pre-chorus vamp with staccato plucks at his axe, or “plinko” as fans like to say. Anastasio’s solo was filled with creative, rapid-fire riffs, which set a good tone for the evening. “Runaway Jim” led into its old friend “Foam” (the two songs had been performed in progression 47 times between 1990 and 1994 and seven times since). “Mexican Cousin,” a fitting song for the party vibe of Vegas, came next, marking the Round Room rarities return for the first time since June 19, 2012 (110 shows). Anastasio remarked, “an oldie, but a goodie” after “Mexican Cousin” and before starting up a languid “Ocelot.” The Undermind rocker “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing” never really found a place in Phish’s rotation until 2014. Tonight’s version was the seventh of 2014 after it never appeared more than four times in one year in the past. While upon its 2004 debut it seemed “ASIHTOS” would become a jam vehicle, this evening’s rendition was similar to others of the era as it contained a scorching Trey solo that didn’t stray from the song’s typical structure. Page McConnell’s “Halfway To The Moon” then led into “Bathtub Gin,” the set’s second song referencing an alcoholic beverage. McConnell foreshadowed the “Gin” by teasing “Rhapsody In Blue” during “Halfway To The Moon.” The band patiently built “Gin,” which took off when drummer Jon Fishman kicked into a double-time disco beat. Anastasio utilized a crazy effect that almost made it seem as if the notes were coming out of his guitar backwards before settling in on a rhythmic structure that sounded right out of Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” When the guitarist had simmered the “Bathtub Gin” soup to the consistency of his liking, he unleashed a powerful string of leads that brought the song to a righteous climax. Fish and Trey shouted quotes from the “Martian Monster” song in the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House set during the wild “Free” that followed. McConnell even got into the act as one of the more interesting “Free”s of recent years progressed. “Walls Of The Cave,” the set’s fifth of nine songs debuted after the 1.0 era, closed out the opening stanza. Fishman was in particularly fine form throughout the set and helped propel “Walls” to a furious finish that included a few shouts of “your trip is short” from the Chilling, Thrilling performance.

“Chalk Dust Torture,” the other main contender (with “Harry Hood”) for Most Valuable Phish Song Of The Year, kicked off the final set of the fall. Phish moved from the usual “Chalk Dust” rock motif to a pretty, major-key segment with a guitar-heavy peak soon after starting the jam. From there, bassist Mike Gordon was at the forefront of a move to a dark and funky jam space the quartet explored for a few minutes. As the adventurous “Chalk Dust” progressed, the Vermonters connected on an arena rock-tinged, ascending chord progression. This third completely different and impressive section of “Chalk Dust” had the intensity of “Tweezer Reprise” with the rhythmic foundation of “The Wedge.” “Piper” emerged just as the stand out 17-minute “Chalk Dust” bubbled to a conclusion. The band was eager to jump back into the improv and once again spent time throwing out different ideas before settling in a glorious blissful progression they milked for all it was worth. All in all, the second set on Sunday night started with 30 extremely improv-heavy minutes of high-impact Phish.

Phish would continue the set’s trend of not fully ending the previous jam before moving on to the next song as “Piper” melted down into a sizzling “Theme From The Bottom,” which in turn faded into “Wombat.” Fishman changed up the funky beat he’d play nearly every measure during the cow-funk “Wombat” improvisation. Anastasio took to the mic mid-jam to warble “cuddly but muscular, the thunder from down under” as the dance party “Wombat” neared its conclusion. Up next was a screaming “David Bowie” that featured impressive Trey/Page interplay and a particularly intense peak. Once again, Trey yelped lines from “Martian Monster” into the end of “Bowie.” While “The Line” sent many fans racing for the bathroom, “You Enjoy Myself” brought the energy right back. The quartet patiently worked over the “YEM” groove with no one member stepping to the forefront until Gordon unleashed a series of synth’d out bass bombs. Trey was content to settle into a rhythm role for the “Team Phish” version of “YEM.” Anastasio eventually put down his guitar and picked up his bullhorn and did laps around stage as he used the bullhorn’s siren feature to add to the outlandish scene. Mike got in on the act and started chasing the guitarist around. Gordon caught up to Trey and the bassist held his instrument up against the bullhorn. He then picked up a pair of drumsticks and started beating on his fight bell as Fish and Page grooved away. For his part, Trey stepped up to the drum riser and engaged in a drum duet with Fish that turned into a drum trio and quartet when Page and Mike joined in on the drumkit. The four-man drum duel came to a close and led into the traditional “You Enjoy Myself” vocal jam. Page McConnell spent a moment thanking the crew for their hard work at the beginning of an encore that saw the band use the 16-year-old “The Moma Dance” in that spot for the first time ever. If you’re looking for a reason behind the choice, bassist Mike Gordon penned a tour journal just before the run that in part talked about his fresh approach to “Moma Dance” this tour. Plus, the last version in San Francisco was rudely interupted by the Giants winning the World Series. A typically beautiful “Slave To The Traffic Light” was the cherry on top of the fall and the Vegas run.

Next up for Phish is a four-night New Year’s Run in Miami that starts on New Year’s Eve.

Setlist…

[via Phish.net]

  • Venue Type: Indoor Arena / 16,800
  • Previous Shows at Venue: 2 Shows -10/31/2014 and 11/01/2014
  • Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: 10 / 8:12 p.m.-9:35 (83 Minutes)
  • Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set & Encore: 9 / 10:07 -11:54 (107 Minutes)
  • Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 19 / 0 / 19
  • Biggest Bustout: Mexican Cousin -110 Shows (LTP – 6/19/2012)
  • Average Song Vintage: 1999
  • Debuts: N/A
  • 2014 Debuts: Mexican Cousin
  • Tour Debuts: Foam, Mexican Cousin
  • Weather: 58°F and Fair
  • Average Song Gap: 12.58
  • The Spread: Junta -3, Lawn Boy -1, Picture Of Nectar -1, Billy Breathes -2, Story Of The Ghost -1, Farmhouse -1, Round Room -2, Undermind -1, Joy -2, Fuego -3, Misc. -2
  • Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: YEM 28:12 / Mexican Cousin 3:22
  • Audio: Live Phish

Phish From The Road Photos…

Final Soundcheck of fall tour

A photo posted by phishfromtheroad (@phishfromtheroad) on

Soundcheck in Vegas

A photo posted by phishfromtheroad (@phishfromtheroad) on

Final Soundcheck of fall tour

A photo posted by phishfromtheroad (@phishfromtheroad) on

Poster…