On Wednesday, for the second consecutive night, Phish had to compete with the Giants for the San Francisco crowd’s attention. And although more than a few fans in Bill Graham Civic Auditorium spent the beginning of the show with their eyes on their phones, Phish capitalized on the victorious crowd’s energy, playing a rocking, celebratory first set as the World Series came to a close. For the second set, the band dipped into the same improvisatory bag of tricks that had worked for them on Tuesday, closing their three-night run in fine form.
As the clock struck 8 in San Francisco, the Giants were entering the 9th inning with a one-run lead, causing some fans to question whether Phish would let the game end before they began the show. They chose not to wait, and they acknowledged this potentially “faulty plan” with their song of the same name. The rocker gave way to “Moma Dance,” but the song was soon interrupted as the audience learned that the Giants had triumphed. On Trey’s signal, the band stopped the song, and played an instrumental take on the chorus of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” The moment called to mind the “OJ Show” on 6/17/94, as Phish’s setlist followed still-unfolding events. (Though, thanks to cell phones, this time the crowd let Phish know what had happened in the outside world — not the other way around.) The crowd, of course, was all too happy to have their celebrations scored by the band, which quickly returned to “Moma” then went into “Free.” As has become the norm, this song was short on improvisation, but it fit the upbeat mood well. In the next slot, “Back on the Train” included a slightly longer-than-average guitar solo, rocking the joyful crowd.
Chants of “Let’s Go Giants,” which permeated the set, could be heard as “Yarmouth Road” began. Trey answered with some “We Are the Champions” teases in his solo. Next up was the tour’s second “Strange Design.” The 12-day gap between Eugene’s version and this one was the shortest for the song, in terms of day count, since 1998. “Taste” came next, and with it, an energetic piano solo from Page and a Whammy-pedal-infused solo from Trey. A typically spirited version of “The Wedge” followed. Then, in an unusually extended bit of between-song banter, Page paid tribute to the Giants before being outed by Trey as a Mets fan — not to mention, outed for watching games on the job. The band announced that they’d pay tribute to a sports loser, with “The Line.” Ouch. Up next was the set’s closer and its most ambitious improvisation, “Wolfman’s Brother.” This version, like many a “Wolfman’s” before it, paired a funk jam with a blasting rock peak. This time around, the funk was especially funky, and the peak especially peak-y, leaving fans with quite a bit to smile about during setbreak.
As the energy continued to reverberate, both inside the auditorium and out, Phish opened the second set with some raucous energy of their own. “First Tube,” a frequent show opener, ushered in a second set for only the second time in its history, and the first time since 9/20/00. The high energy rocker gave the floor to “Down with Disease,” getting its third treatment of the fall. In stark contrast to the blissful hose jam last week in Los Angeles, the first part of this one was dark, even evil. And then, out of a swirling array of loops came a major-key riff from Trey. Those hoping for a reprise of the LA “Disease” were disappointed, as the jam petered out, becoming “Theme from the Bottom.” A quick, middle-of-the-road “Theme” was followed by a “Split Open and Melt” that made the dark “Disease” sound like a joyful stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. As Page pounded the hell out of his ivories, Trey let out a cacophonous stream of wailing guitar lines. The effect was a spooky, scary, hellish jam that felt like a perfect precursor to Halloween shenanigans.
The band did a 180 degree turn next, for the bouncy pop of “Heavy Things.” In this atypical version, Mike and Fish dropped out, leaving only Trey’s chords to complement Page’s organ solo. A small touch, but it’s often the small touches that prove the band is feeling loose and playful. That was further evidenced in the ensuing “Light.” As the song settled into a delicate, major-key jam, it seemed like it could go up, down, diagonal, or simply fade out. Instead, the band explored the space in which it found itself, resulting in a beautiful, sparse bit of improvisation. This led to a percussive passage, which dissolved perfectly into the opening hits of “Possum.” This version came with a bit of extra relish, as Trey used some wobbly bends, some chromatic scales, and a handful of other tricks to build tension. The set came to a close, but there were a few fireworks left for the encore. The year’s first “Contact” was also the first version since Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” — whose chord progression is suspiciously similar to that of “Contact” — hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Not one to miss the opportunity for a laugh, the band sang “all about that bass” over the final chorus of “Contact.” A quick run through “Meatstick” followed, but the band seemed to want to rock the San Francisco crowd one more time before releasing them into the mayhem unfolding on the city’s streets. So “Character Zero” closed out another memorable three-night run in San Francisco.
Phish takes Thursday off, then heads to Las Vegas for a three-night run to close out the tour. Those shows will all be webcast on livephish.com.
- Venue Type: Indoor Arena / 8,500
- Previous Shows at Venue: 8 Shows -08/17/2012, 08/18/2012, 08/19/2012, 08/02/2013, 08/03/2013, 08/04/2013, 10/27/2014 and 10/28/2014
- Number Of Songs – First Set: 10 / 74 Minutes
- Number Of Songs – Second Set & Encore: 10 / 88 Minutes
- Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 20 / 0 / 20
- Biggest Bustout: Contact -10/25/2013 (46 Shows)
- Average Song Vintage: 1998
- Debuts: N/A
- 2014 Debuts: Contact
- Average Song Gap: 7.9
- The Spread: Junta -1, Lawn Boy -1, Rift -1, Hoist -2, Billy Breathes -4, Story Of The Ghost -1, Farmhouse -3, Joy -2, Fuego -1, Misc. -4
- Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Light 14:16 / Strange Design 2:53
- Audio: Live Phish
Phish From The Road Photos…