Phish Finds Sanity & Takes Hood Deep | San Francisco Night Two

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Written By: Ben Greenfield

As Phish fans filed into Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Tuesday night, they had to make their way around a crowd of San Franciscans watching their Giants get walloped at a World Series screening just outside the venue. Possibly in homage to the dueling gatherings, the band opened with “Crowd Control.” And much like the Royals, they kept running up the score as the night continued, with a crowd-pleasing setlist and one of the most improv-heavy shows of this Fall Tour.

The evening’s opening stanza featured a bit of everything: old songs and new songs, and songs at least co-written by all four band members. It all started with “Crowd Control,” which was opening a San Francisco show for the third straight year. The rocker was followed by the first “Mike’s Groove” proper — that is, “Mike’s Song” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove” — since last fall’s Atlantic City run. Each end of the Groove featured a crisp, high-octane jam. But these classics were arguably upstaged by the set’s first recent song, “Wingsuit,” in which Trey reached the ends of the fretboard for a screaming solo. A breather was in order, and “Water in the Sky” answered the call. Next up, the band whipped out “Plasma,” the Trey Anastasio Band song debuted by Phish in their tour opener earlier this month. The song’s appearance seemed to confirm, to the delight of most Phish fans, that it is officially in Phish’s rotation, and not a one-off. Its jam, slightly reminiscent of “Timber (Jerry),” reached a rousing peak. Next, Page McConnell’s vocal chords got his first exercise of the night, with “Halfway to the Moon.” An upbeat “Poor Heart” was followed by one of the more extended versions of “Gumbo” in recent memory, with Page funking it out on the clavinet for a solid couple minutes. The crowd went bananas as this jam dissolved into the seldom-seen “Sanity,” which was last played in this same room last year, and which once before famously emerged from “Gumbo” — at the band’s Lemonwheel festival in 1998. The “Sanity” featured some “Gumbo” teases, some staccato “boom-pow!” screams, and a whole lot of happy fans. The set came to an appropriately raucous close with “Run Like an Antelope,” which included some old-school melodic soloing from Trey, buttressed by some fantastic accompaniment on the keys. The band squeezed in one more “Gumbo” tease before the song’s triumphant closing notes.

“Kill Devil Falls” opened the second set for the first time in over two years, and they used the opportunity to take the tune for a walk. Eschewing the song’s usual rock-star guitar riffery for a thumping bass-driven groove, this minor-key jam never escaped the basic rhythmic structure of “KDF.” Nonetheless, it was one of the song’s most unconventional and memorable renditions since its debut. It eventually settled into a pool of loops, followed by the tour’s first “Mountains in the Mist,” which was well-received after the powerful punch that opened the set. Next up was “Fuego,” which featured an above-average guitar solo, which was briefly deconstructed into a tender major-key jam. That fizzled into a typically rocking “Julius.” The band kept the momentum up with “Twist,” a song that typically grooves along for 7 or 8 minutes, but was stretched to nearly double that length this time around. After some slinky funk, Page and Mike led the band into a gentle eerie fog. In improvisational spaces like these, Trey often begins another song, but here he layered a tasteful solo over the band’s groove, resulting in one of the most mysterious and compelling jams of the tour.

Next, the band shifted gears completely, bringing things back to earth with “Runaway Jim.“ Trey did some modal acrobatics in his guitar solo, while the rest of the band kept the jam anchored in the typical “Jim” framework. As the final notes of “Jim” rang out, Fishman pounded the opening to “Harry Hood.” After “Hood”’s exploratory summer, this fall’s previous versions seemed to signal that it had returned to its conventional role as a late show Type I jam vehicle. But soon into the jam, this rendition flipped the script once again. A rocking section reminiscent of “Party Time” crashed into the James Gang classic “Funk #49.” A “Have Mercy” tease and a few minutes of lovely jamming later, the band returned to a hushed version of the “Hood” chords. There was no peak, per se — that was saved for the “Loving Cup” encore — but this “Hood” capped off a set that included some of the loosest, most organic-sounding jamming since summer. In the midst of a tour that has received mixed reviews from fans, this set was a strong statement that with four shows left this fall, Phish is not done yet.

Phish closes out its three-night run in San Francisco on Wednesday night.

Setlist…

[via Phish.net]

  • Venue Type: Indoor Arena / 8,500
  • Previous Shows at Venue: 7 Shows -08/17/2012, 08/18/2012, 08/19/2012, 08/02/2013, 08/03/2013, 08/04/2013 and 10/27/2014
  • Number Of Songs – First Set: 12 / 74 Minutes
  • Number Of Songs – Second Set & Encore: 8 / 91 Minutes
  • Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 20 / 1 / 19
  • Biggest Bustout: Sanity -08/04/2013 (55 Shows)
  • Average Song Vintage: 1996
  • Debuts: N/A
  • 2014 Debuts: I Am Hydrogen, Sanity
  • Average Song Gap: 11.8
  • The Spread: Junta -1 , Lawn Boy -1, Picture Of Nectar -1, Hoist -1, Story Of The Ghost -1, Farmhouse -2, Undermind -1, Joy -1, Fuego -3, Misc. -7, Covers -1
  • Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Harry Hood 19:09 / Poor Heart 2:14
  • Audio: Live Phish

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