Phish Brings 2018 Summer Tour To Austin – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny
After nine shows on the West Coast, Phish’s 2018 Summer Tour headed east, landing in Austin, Texas for a concert at Austin360 Amphitheater on Tuesday night. The band’s first show at the venue since making their debut there in 2015 began with temperatures still in the low 90s. Guitarist Trey Anastasio, who was born in Texas but moved to New Jersey as a toddler, along with his three longtime band mates presented a first set loaded with tour debuts and a second set offering plenty of memorable jamming.
The first Phish offering of “Sample In A Jar” of the summer opened Tuesday’s first set in Texas breaking the longest gap between plays since its 1993 live debut. The pepped-up rocker was unexpectedly followed by just the fourth first set “Light” out of 89 total performances played by Phish since they introduced the regular jam vehicle in 2009. Anastasio stretched out for a few tight minutes as a succinct jam developed out of the peculiarly placed tune. “The Moma Dance” had all four members getting a better feel for the evening as bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman eased into a groovy pocket. Gordon sang lead on the commandeered blues cover “Funky Bitch,” after which Anastasio addressed the audience.
“Thanks everybody — we’re so happy to be in Texas,” Trey said. “I gotta ask one quick question before we go on here. I know a lot of people move to Austin from different parts of the country, I’m just curious how many real Texans — meaning you were born in Texas — are in the audience. Put your hands up, thank you, real Texans.” The guitarist then quipped that “Texas was in the house” while noting he himself was born at Fort Worth Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas in 1964.
“Heavy Things” helped the first set bop along behind Trey’s beeping pulse and Page’s wobbly soloing. Page then dripped the familiar piano notes that signal the start of “Theme From The Bottom.” Trey hinted at a melodic line he’s toyed with often recently while driving “Theme” into a tight improv sequence. The reflective ballad “Brian And Robert” then got called for its first appearance of the tour. Page then commanded the captain’s chair as he steered a rendition of his “Halfway To The Moon,” another tune not played before on this tour, which swelled to a vigorous conclusion. “The Line” was drawn for the first time in over a year.
Fish — introduced by Trey as “Moses Heaps, Moses Brown and Moses Dewitt” — got off his throne to take center stage for his first vacuum solo of the summer tour during the typical Electrolux breakdown in “I Didn’t Know.” What was atypical about Fish’s vac solo was Mike setting down his bass to remove his shoes and his pants to reveal a pair of shorts he was wearing underneath. Anastasio got back to rocking out by tagging “46 Days” for the set closer, but not before unleashing a cascade of siren calls within the burst of improvisation that ushered in setbreak with a fiery climax.
The half-hour halftime broke with the start of the positiveness reinforcing “Everything’s Right.” The newer addition to the repertoire was a gateway to improvisation, the foursome leaving the confines of the song’s structure first in favor of a pulsating collective charge forward that fluctuated in tempo and tone, Trey again introducing that now familiar melody for a few lines before launching himself and his three band mates toward a series of soaring climaxes built on that melodic run. The tremendous peak valleyed with another spin through the “Everything’s Right” chorus and the swell of Mike’s bass that kicked off “Down With Disease.” Picking up where the set opener left off, “DWD” delivered a hefty dose of jamming that saw the foursome working off each other as Trey sent scorching blasts into the warm Austin air, answered by Page’s watery synths and jittery organ embellishments and a linear groove propagated by the rhythm section.
“Steam” emerged from the ambient conclusion of the preceding jam and was the third straight springboard to spontaneity. A dark and dirty jam developed from “Steam” as Fish fired off a smattering of fills and Page’s organ peppered the sequence along. Without stopping, the quartet transitioned to “Seven Below” and just as effortlessly transitioned into improvising guided by Anastasio’s sustained soling. Pausing for the first time in the set, the brief reset was followed by the reflective ballad “Dirt.” Break time was over once they fired up a nice and tightly presented “The Wedge.” Trey then put the call out for “Wilson,” further revving up the crowd before sending them off with a rousing romp through “Run Like An Antelope.” The night ended with “Loving Cup” once again serving well in the celebratory encore slot.
Phish’s 2018 Summer Tour continues on Friday with the first of three show at Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, Georgia. Webcasts of the run are available via LivePhish.com.
Austin360 Amphitheater [See upcoming shows]
1 shows — 07/28/2015
11 songs / 8:08 pm to 9:26 pm (78 minutes)
9 songs / 10:00 pm to 11:30 pm (90 minutes)
20 songs / 18 originals / 2 covers
11.7 [Gap chart]
Sample In A Jar, Heavy Things, Brian And Robert, Halfway To The Moon, The Line, I Didn't Know, Seven Below, Loving Cup
Halfway To The Moon & Seven Below - LTP 7/21/2017 (29 Show Gap)
Everything's Right -- 19:20
I Didn't Know -- 3:40
Lawn Boy - 1, Rift - 1, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 2, Joy - 1, Fuego - 2, Misc. - 4, Covers - 2
92° F and partly cloudy at showtime
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