Phish Dusts Off Second ‘Mike’s Song’ Jam In Nashville – Setlist & The Skinny
On Tuesday Phishmade their debut at the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville. The quartet is only the second artist to play the gorgeous 6,800-capacity venue which just opened on Thursday night with the first of two Eric Church concerts. While Phish hadn’t performed within Music City’s downtown in nearly 20 years, the band partially recorded their most recent album – 2014’s Fuego – in Nashville. If what guitarist Trey Anastasio reportedly said at soundcheck holds true it won’t be long until Phish returns to Nashville to record a new studio album. Tuesday’s show, an outstanding all-around performance, will best be remembered as the night the second “Mike’s” jam returned thanks to the efforts of one fan.
Phish waited 16 years from the time “Free” was debuted to first use the song to open a show on December 28, 2011. However the “Free” opener has become more commonplace in recent years with tonight’s version marking the fifth time since 2012 it has appeared in that slot. “No Men In No Man’s Land,” an Anastasio/Marshall original debuted earlier this tour, popped up for the fourth time this summer. “Wolfman’s Brother” kept the intensity high on a hot night in Nashville. Anastasio came out on stage wearing a hoodie over a henley shirt and won a huge roar from the crowd when he took off the hoodie before going to work on an extra groovy “Wolfman’s.” Trey took a moment at the start of “555” to mention how happy the band was to be breaking in the new venue. The guitarist continues to switch between axes with greater frequency than usual this tour but in the past has stuck to playing the same instrument all night. On Tuesday he changed instruments mid-set from the “Ocedoc” through “555” to his first Koa Languedoc for “Birds Of A Feather” and then went back to the “Ocedoc” for the rest of the night. A tight and compact “Birds” featuring weird sound effects from keyboardistPage McConnell led into a pair of covers – Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch” and “When The Circus Comes” by Los Lobos.
“Stash” was similar to much of the rest of the first set in that it was well-executed and straight-forward. McConnell had his turn in the spotlight for “Lawn Boy” and also praised the “beautiful new amphitheater.” Page asked Mike Gordon for a bass solo and replied “Oh, that’s sweet” after Gordon obliged. One of the signs Phish is having a good night is when they add little flourishes where you would least expect them. The “Walls Of The Cave” set closer featured plenty of these nuances, whether it was Trey working riffs into unusual spaces before the first verse or drummer Jon Fishman propelling the band into the song’s jam with a different figure than he usually does.
Phish came out of the gates for the second set with the tour’s first cover of TV On The Radio’s “Golden Age.” Anastasio made good use of his MuTron effect at the start of “Golden Age.” Fishman picked up the beat as his bandmates transitioned from a minor to more blissful major key for the duration of the buttery, short-but-sweet “Golden Age” jam. “Light” came next and was highlighted by a frenetic give-and-take between Anastasio and McConnell. Trey showed off a dark and dirty, fuzzed out tone while Page mixed clavinet jabs and electric piano stylings as the band briefly broke through into unchartered Type II terrain. New ballad “Shade” emerged out of the “Light” jam and was followed by “Mike’s Song.” Now, a little back history on “Mike’s.” For a long time Phish would insert a second improvsiational segment in the tune before they segued into the next song. This second “Mike’s” jam has been missing since the year 2000, but many fans have pined for its return. One such fan, Drew Hitz, made it his mission to get Phish to play a second “Mike’s” jam and in Nashville he succeeded. (For Fishman’s thoughts on the second “Mike’s” jam read here).
Drew spoke with Anastasio before the show and played him the last “Mike’s Song” with a second jam from July 14, 2000 in Columbus, Ohio and even noted as much on Twitter:
You can imagine Hitz’s reaction when Trey and Phish finally threw a second improvisational segment into “Mike’s Song.” Nashville’s wild “Mike’s Song” showed us what a second “Mike’s” jam would sound like in the age of 3.0 – at times dark and dirty and at times light and pretty, just like many Phish jams from the era.
[“Mike’s” > “Piper” > “Crosseyed” > “Weekapaug” video by Z-Man]
While fans at home and online were celebrating the return of the second “Mike’s” jam, the quartet found their way into a “Piper” that hit upon two distinct and very different jam spaces. Not content to let the energy slip, the Vermonters lit into the tour’s first cover of “Crosseyed And Painless” by Talking Heads as “Piper” started to fade. Anastasio quickly led a move to “Weekapaug Groove” as the “Crosseyed” jam began. Fishman fought back a bit and sang “Still Waiting” before kicking into the “Weekpaug” rhythm. The band went into “Weekapaug” at a fast pace and during the verse collectively slowed the tempo. The “Weekapaug” jam’s slower tempo allowed for a particularly adventurous jam with Anastasio unleashing monster, Black Sabbath-tinged riffs over the deep in the pocket groove laid down by the rhythm section of Fishman and Gordon. After the slow and dark part of “Weekapaug” jam, the quartet picked up the pace to the song’s normal speed and Trey took another, more frenetic run at the solo. Fishman and the gang threw more chants of “Still Waiting” into the mix before the instant classic “Weekapaug Groove” and the set concluded. A rare “Slave To The Traffic Light” encore put an exclamation mark on a wonderful evening of Phish in Music City.
Next up for Phish is a visit to Kansas City tomorrow night.
Venue Type: Outdoor Amphitheater / 6,800
Previous Shows at Venue: N/A
Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: 10 / 7:34 p.m. – 8:53 p.m. (79 Minutes)
Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set & Encore: 8 / 9:24 p.m. – 10:50 p.m. (86 Minutes)
Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 18 / 4 / 14
Biggest Bustout: When The Circus Comes – 23 Shows (LTP – 10/21/2014)
Average Song Vintage: 1998
Tour Debuts: Funky Bitch, When The Circus Comes, Golden Age, Crosseyed & Painless
Guitar Used By Trey Anastasio: KOA #3, aka Ocedoc except for “Birds” (KOA #1)
Weather: 88°F and Mostly Cloudy at ticket time
Average Song Gap: 8.06
The Spread: Lawn Boy – 1, Picture Of Nectar – 1, Hoist – 1, Billy Breathes – 1, Story Of The Ghost – 1, Farmhouse – 1, Round Room – 1, Joy – 1, Fuego – 1, Misc. – 5, Covers – 4
Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Lawn Boy 3:17 / Weekapaug Groove 15:10
Audio: Live Phish
Phish From The Road Photos…