A Spectacular Sit-In At SPAC: Watch Derek Trucks Jam With Phish

The guest guitarist sat in with the band for much of the second set and encore.

By Ryan Storm Aug 27, 2023 8:52 am PDT

The second night of Phish’s flood recovery benefit shows at SPAC was a special one.

Having raised $3 million over the course of the two nights, the band’s final Northeast performances of the summer made a huge difference to the communities of upstate New York and Vermont who had been hit hard by flooding earlier this season.

They also made a difference for Phish fans – the first night boasts back-to-back 20-minute jams for just the sixth time in the band’s history, while last night’s show was memorable for its incredible sit-in. Let’s dive in!

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Beginning the night with a groovy “Free,” any evidence of rust from Friday’s show was gone as guitarist Trey Anastasio dialed in various synth tones during the jam as keyboardist Page McConnell switched between clavinet and Wurlitzer. An excellent Type I reading of “Wolfman’s Brother” followed, full of inspired runs and riffs from Anastasio as the crowd responded in kind to the intense blasts of white light from Chris Kuroda at each peak.

The stretch of exceptional Type I playing continued with a blistering and concise “Maze,” which was followed by “Sigma Oasis.” Just falling short of the 10-minute mark, “Sigma” soared through its typical jam, yet left some wanting more from the jamming. Phish’s second performance of “Pillow Jets” came next – definitely a song that I expect to find a home as a jam vehicle in the second set fairly soon. Its atmospheric vibe and layers of keyboard textures are perfectly suited to be a launchpad for improv.

A speedy “Tube” saw McConnell attack his clavinet with gusto as Anastasio dove deep into his bag of delay effects. Drummer Jon Fishman kept the groove tight throughout the relatively short jam before a groovy “Twist.” “Harry Hood” was chosen to close the first set – a perfect choice – and had some smooth minor-key playing from Anastasio. It’s always a treat when “Hood” makes an appearance in the first set and the crowd was very excited about!

Read on after The Skinny for the rest of the recap and more.

The Skinny

The Setlist

Set 1: Free, Wolfman's Brother, Maze, Sigma Oasis, Pillow Jets, Tube > Twist > Harry Hood

Set 2: Down with Disease [1] -> Ghost, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Golden Age [2] > Everything's Right [3], A Life Beyond The Dream [4], First Tube [5]

Encore: Possum [6]

This performance was a benefit for Vermont and Upstate New York flood recovery efforts. Down with Disease was unfinished. Golden Age through Possum featured Derek Trucks on guitar. Trey teased If I Only Had a Brain in Everything’s Right.

The Venue

Broadview Stage at SPAC [See upcoming shows]

25,100

23 shows
7/27/1992, 7/10/1994, 6/26/1995, 6/19/2004, 6/20/2004, 8/16/2009, 6/19/2010, 6/20/2010, 7/06/2012, 7/07/2012, 7/08/2012, 7/05/2013, 7/06/2013, 7/07/2013, 7/03/2014, 7/04/2014, 7/05/2014, 7/01/2016, 7/02/2016, 7/03/2016, 7/02/2019, 7/03/2019, 8/25/2023

The Music

8 songs / 8:03 pm to 9:13 pm (70 minutes)

8 songs / 9:48 pm to 11:19 pm (91 minutes)

16 songs
14 originals / 2 covers

2000

5.44 [Gap chart]

None

None

Pillow Jets 07/21/2023 (13 Show Gap)

Everything’s Right 16:16

Tube 6:15

Rift - 1, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Sigma Oasis - 3, Misc. - 4, Covers - 2

The Rest

69° and Mostly Clear at Showtime

Koa 1 (Trey), Gibson SG (Derek)

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More Skinny

Speculation of a Derek Trucks sit-in had been running rampant on the internet in the days leading up to this show, and were only fueled by the extra monitors and stage tape in front of Fish’s kit during the first set last night.

Phish came out for the second set without a hint of what was to come and launched into “Down With Disease,” complete with various Fish samples in the intro. The airy and propulsive jam (thanks to Fish) seemed to be building momentum when Anastasio stumbled upon the opening riff to “Ghost.” Nice segue aside, it felt a little bit premature and that the “Disease” could have gone on for longer – but there have been far worse setlist calls.

“Ghost” quickly made a major-key pivot into an absolutely breathtaking mode as the band fluidly adventured through space. Bassist Mike Gordon accentuated the upbeat playing with some dark synth effects as Anastasio lifted off with some amazing and light delay work. Gordon would then go full texture mode for a brief spell, the dreamy and airy theme captured in the waning minutes of “Ghost” standing as my improvisational highlight of the night.

Phish ripped through “2001” next, and while the groove was deep – it was clear they were excited for what was to come. With no fanfare or announcement of any kind, techs rushed an amp onstage as the space odyssey concluded and Anastasio started up “Golden Age.”

The crowd went absolutely nuts as Derek Trucks walked onto the stage and plugged in for an exceptionally rare Phish sit-in – just the second since 2016.

From the first notes of Trucks’ first solo, he had the capacity shed crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as he added to the TV On The Radio cover. Much like during their collaborations at the LOCKN’ Festival in 2019, Anastasio and Trucks faced off at center stage, trading licks and weaving around each other’s aggressive melodies. The big difference this time – 2019 Trey can’t hold a candle to the well-practiced and confident 2023 Trey. “Golden Age” was just the beginning, and jaws were on the floor as the two guitarists battled it out to a satisfying peak.

“Everything’s Right” was tapped next and contained yet another guitar battle – but as the comfort level rose, so did the level of the music. As Anastasio took the lead for the first peak, Trucks’ tension-building chords and riffs acted as a perfect complement to the Phish guitarist as they fluidly finished each other’s musical sentences as if longtime bandmates. “ER” moved forth into a blissful Type II space for a spell with that trademark Allmans touch from Trucks before going right back to the dogfight mode for the remainder of the jam.

Trey thanked Trucks for joining them (in his excitement accidentally calling him Jared … oops) before gently leading into “A Life Beyond The Dream.” Slide guitar was a perfect addition to this ballad and was a great call for this slot – giving Trucks a beautiful progression to open up over within a song he had played with TAB in 2019.

The set closed with “First Tube” – and let me tell you, hearing the two guitarists harmonize the leads on this song was really something special. The solo section was full of more excellent work from both musicians as the full SPAC went crazier and crazier with each peak – the only thing missing was Derek joining Trey in his feedback-Jedi ending.

Encoring with “Possum,” the lone song also played with Trucks in his previous Phish appearance on July 7, 1999, we got one last opportunity to appreciate how natural the two guitarists sound together – hopefully they collaborate again soon!

Watch night two at SPAC below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya5oV64IB-M

00:00:00
elias8040 (See 3 videos)
Phish (See 4,060 videos) and Derek Trucks (See 69 videos)

00:00:00
elias8040 (See 3 videos)
Phish (See 4,060 videos) and Derek Trucks (See 69 videos)

00:00:00
elias8040 (See 3 videos)
Phish (See 4,060 videos) and Derek Trucks (See 69 videos)

00:00:00
grad Gd (See 2 videos)
Phish (See 4,060 videos) and Derek Trucks (See 69 videos)

Phish heads to Commerce City, Colorado for their annual Labor Day Weekend Run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Watch the Dick’ shows and the rest of Summer Tour 2023 via LivePhish.com.


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