Phish began their 2018 Summer Tour on Tuesday night with a performance at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys in Stateline, Nevada. Just shy of five years have passed since the band last played the venue — the show that birthed the beloved “Tahoe Tweezer” — and their return to Harveys for their first concert of the year produced a setlist constructed primarily from their well-established material, alongside some newer additions to the repertoire.
“Free” got the call to be the tour opener as guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon exchanged a few fierce early runs. Page McConnell’s frenetic piano build introduced the Gordon-sung “Possum,” which saw more nimbleness on the keys throughout the energetic old standby. The funky start to “The Moma Dance” was drummer Jon Fishman’s turn to showcase his singing and timekeeping as the frequent first set favorite sprouted a jam that lasted a few hard-charging minutes.
The momentum spilled into the infrequent first set funk-jam vehicle “Ghost.” The “Ghost” jam evolved out of an initial wash of layered sounds when Anastasio found a pretty melody to riff on, lock into and springboard off of, as he led his band mates through a series of captivating passages that finally wove back to end the fantastic “Ghost.”
Mike was then back singing the blues on a rocking cover of “Funky Bitch.” The band continued to pull from the earlier part of their career as “Stash” was exercised for another round of first set improvisation. This jam meandered within the framework of “Stash,” Trey jolting around his band mates’ solid foundation as tension developed with each twist and turn. Sticking to their pre-2000s catalog, a blast through “Character Zero” enthusiastically punctuated the notably old-school (“Moma” was the newest played song and it’s 20 years old) first Phish set of summer.
Phish emerged from setbreak by opening set two with “No Men in No Man’s Land,” a song from their most recent studio album, 2016’s Big Boat that made its live debut in 2015. The foursome quickly shifted into improvisational mode out of “NMINML,” first with Trey leading the way for several minutes of guitar-powered jamming, then after a return for few runs at the chorus, Page took control with his array of synths while Mike followed suit with his arsenal of bass effects.
The “Carini” that came up next was a doorway to improvising that abandoned the song’s anxious, menacing feel for a more angular and controlled segment that made for rewarding group play. “Slave To The Traffic Light” inconspicuously arose out of the “Carini” jam, producing more refined instrumental interaction between the guys performing under lighting director Chris Kuroda’s ever increasingly more visible patterns and movements. The concise “Slave” was trailed by a tight run through “Bouncing Around The Room.”
Phish rang in 2018 while debuting “Soul Planet” at Madison Square Garden and the Trey Anastasio Band tune quickly received its second appearance at Harveys (but without the nautical stage overhaul). The new setlist addition ushered in a multi-compartmentalized jam segment fueled by Fish’s propulsive patterns.
The quartet then slinked into “Steam” — one of just three songs played Tuesday debuted in 2011 or later — and Trey was sure to get his money’s worth from his assertive solo. Shouts of “Hood” from the crowd came in response to the start of “Harry Hood” and by the conclusion of the sweet and soaring, well-traversed original the second set of the summer was also complete. The encore call was the classic participatory ode to autos “Contact” with the toe-tapper “Julius” tacked on to end the evening with a final blast of energy.
Phish returns to Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys for another concert on Wednesday night.
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys [See upcoming shows]
4 shows — 08/09/2011, 08/10/2011, 07/30/2013, 07/31/2013
7 songs / 7:03 pm to 8:21 pm (78 minutes)
8 songs / 8:54 pm to 10:30 pm (96 minutes)
15 songs / 14 originals / 1 cover
5.44 [Gap chart]
Contact - 21 Show Gap (LTP 7/19/2017)
No Men In No Man's Land - 17:13
Bouncing Around The Room - 3:49
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Billy Breathes - 2, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 6, Covers - 1
82F and sunny at showtime