Phish returned to Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys in Stateline, Nevada on Wednesday for their second show of 2018. The band focused on original material from various periods of their 35-year career as they continued to shake off the rust following a six-month layoff. Improvisational highlights included “Everything’s Right” and “Bathtub Gin” in the first set and pairings of “Down With Disease” > “What’s The Use?” and “Blaze On” > “I Always Wanted It This Way” in the second set.
The quartet came out of the gates with a typically hard-charging “AC/DC Bag.” Next up was “Martian Monster,” which saw guitarist Trey Anastasio utilize a Leslie speaker for a portion of his solo like he did often with his trio and quartet earlier this year as well as at various points during last night’s tour opener. Drummer Jon Fishman went on to introduce his own “Ass Handed” by telling the crowd, “This one’s a singalong” and reciting the song’s few lyrics ahead of actually starting the tune.
After quickly moving through the first three numbers of the show, Phish dug in a bit on “Everything’s Right.” The band explored a dark motif with Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell exchanging compelling riffs throughout. Bassist Mike Gordon then stepped into the spotlight to lead “555,” which was fittingly played in the five slot. A straightforward “The Wedge” followed before McConnell displayed his lounge-singing prowess on “Lawn Boy.” Forty minutes into the frame the foursome had played as many songs as the entire first set contained the previous night.
Phish flirted with taking both “Back On The Train” and “Ocelot” outside the lines, but were content building each to strong, guitar-driven peaks. The same pattern held true of the “Theme From The Bottom” that came after a quick romp through “My Sweet One.” Wednesday’s first set concluded with a particularly groovy “Bathtub Gin.” Fish provided a disco-fied beat, while Mike held down the bottom end as Trey and Page traded melodic riffs on the road to a hearty climax.
“Down With Disease” filled its common role as the second set opener. Trey alternated between lead and rhythmic work to start off the jam with Mike and Page providing the heavy lifting. McConnell eventually fronted a transition to a blissful major-key space and soon thereafter Phish launched into the instrumental “What’s The Use?” The band delicately moved through the one-time rarity that has become a staple in recent years. Last night was the fifth time “Down With Disease” led directly into “What’s The Use?,” a trend that started at an Alpine Valley show in 2010. Next came an uber-funky, frisky and playful “Blaze On.” Again, Anastasio was content to focus on rhythms as Gordon used a synth-heavy tone, which foreshadowed the “I Always Wanted It This Way” that followed a spacey interlude. McConnell’s electro-tinged Big Boat number continued the dance party in Tahoe. Fish kept steady time, while Page, Mike and Trey eeked out wild and unusual tones. “IAWITW” wound up dissolving into the ballad “Joy.”
The foursome picked the energy back up with “Limb By Limb.” Anastasio once more utilized the Leslie speaker, giving the “under water” effect before he used a more clean tone to punctuate the end of his fierce “Limb By Limb” solo. Trey seemed to be feeling it as a cover of “Also Sprach Zarathrustra,” a.k.a. “2001,” began. He fit nimble, angular and downright dirty riffs into the start of the funk workout just over 25 years to the day after Phish debuted their version of the song, which owes more to Deodato than Richard Strauss. Surprisingly, with the 10:30 p.m. curfew quickly approaching, Phish revved into “You Enjoy Myself.” The quartet rapidly moved through all the sections of their signature tune including a short but sweet guitar solo and returned to end the night with a brief “Suzy Greenberg” encore.
Phish now heads to The Gorge in George, Washington for a run of three shows beginning on Friday night. Webcasts of all three performances are available via LivePhish.com.
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys [See upcoming shows]
5 shows — 08/09/2011, 08/10/2011, 07/30/2013, 07/31/2013, 07/17/2018
12 songs / 7:06 pm to 8:28 pm (82 minutes)
9 songs / 9:03 pm to 10:33 pm (90 minutes)
21 songs / 20 originals / 1 cover
5.9 [Gap chart]
My Sweet One - 20 Shows (LTP - July 22, 2017)
You Enjoy Myself - 20:31
Ass Handed - 2:02
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 3, A Picture of Nectar - 0, Rift - 1, Hoist - 1, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 1, Round Room - 0, Undermind - 0, Joy - 2, Fuego - 1, Big Boat - 2, Misc. - 6, Covers - 1
76° and sunny at showtime