Phish Honors Fallen Fan & Giants In San Francisco | Night One

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Written By: Ben Greenfield

On Monday, Phish returned to San Francisco for their third three-night run at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in as many years. The 8,500-person, all General Admission venue, which in 2012 and 2013 provided rare indoor stops in the middle of summer, was right at home in this year’s Fall Tour. The opening show of this stint touched quite a few bases: 10 tour debuts, a couple of memorable jams and a touching tribute to a fallen fan.

[Photo by Sterling Munksgard]

Phish made clear right off the bat that this was about more than just the music. Following a campaign to honor Phish fan Adam Berger, who passed away earlier this year, the band opened the show with Berger’s favorite song, “Walfredo.” Following last year’s “Driver,” which was played in this same room for the late Ryan Hoherd, this was another reminder of the incredible bond between the band and its fans. As for “Walfredo” itself, the instrument-switching song was making just its seventh appearance ever, and its first since June 27, 2010. The band then returned to their normal instruments for a soulful rendition of “Ocelot.” A couple of tour debuts followed. First up was a tight, funky “Camel Walk” with teases of “Simple.” The energy stayed high for “Axilla,” which was followed by a well-executed take on “Rift.” The set’s lone Fuego tune, “555,” took sole possession of first place in its neck-and-neck race with “Fuego” for most played song of 2014. Its funk gave way to the frenetic jamming of “Maze.” While in recent years, Trey has been noted for his inventive rhythm work during Page’s blazing solos in “Maze,” this time around the roles were flipped, as Page added a spicy kick to Trey’s solo. The effect was a blistering version, the show’s first highlight. The band cooled down with the tour’s first “Brian and Robert.” This version, typically pretty, was notable for the short guitar solo it contained. The energy picked right back up again with “Stash.” This version was all about Jon Fishman, who was working every corner of his kit early on, making his way from one inventive beat to another. The rest of the band flirted with a couple possible directions for the jam, but never quite settled on one. Finally, they brought the jam to a small peak. The set wasn’t over, though: its high-energy vibe became outright celebratory with the first “Party Time” since April’s show at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Both Page and Trey got in better-than-usual solos. Finally, the set came to an end with a short but raging “46 Days.”

[Photo by Sterling Munksgard]

The quartet kicked off the second set with a particularly patient and groovy “Sand.” “Birds of a Feather” came next, and while its ending wasn’t the mess that Santa Barbara’s version last week was, the song was over almost as soon as it had started. Those who were hoping the set’s third slot would yield its first extended improvisation were not thrilled to hear “Waiting All Night.” As some began to fear a second consecutive show without any big jams, along came “Ghost.” Some anxieties quickly returned, though, as Trey and his bandmates seemed not to be able to agree on which key the song is in. Trey got playful with his mistake, though, intentionally modulating in and out of the correct key. This looseness led to what was by far the most memorable jam of the evening. Early on, Fishman dropped out almost completely, as the band settled into a hazy psychedelia reminiscent of some of what the band loved playing in some of the moments in Fall ’97 when they weren’t playing funk. The slow groove gained steam, morphing into a plodding major key jam, with a gorgeous descending pattern from Page. Trey’s solo over this bed was marked by heavy trilling that made it sound almost like a slower cousin of “Theme from the Bottom.” The band briefly sped up, but then faded away into a spirited version of “Bug.”

The show’s seventh tour debut, “Seven Below,” followed. Those with fond memories of its previous rendition in this building, on 8/2/13, were blessed with another good memory to keep it company. Where last year’s jam worked some Type II start-stop magic, this one was a hyper-focused Type I stunner. Trey’s solo was light on wankery, heavy on theme and full band synching. It was followed with some comic relief came next, as Trey introduced Jon Fishman as Moses, “here to take you across the Red Sea” for “I Didn’t Know.” As Avi Lichtschein (@alicht) noted, Trey’s drum work on this tune, coupled with Page’s on “Walfredo” left Mike Gordon as the only band member not to pound the skins all night. It was back to business after that, with a quick, rocking “Chalk Dust.” Next up was “2001,” which, though typically short for this era, featured some heavy use of the Echoplex pedal from Trey. A typically beautiful “Slave To The Traffic Light” brought the second set to a close. As the band took the stage for the encore, they paid tribute to the home team with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” cheering on the Giants before they try to close out the World Series on Tuesday. Next, the band honored a sign-holding fan with a take on “Winterqueen,” before closing the show out with the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” Making its first appearance in just over a year, “ADITL” was the show’s 10th tour debut.

Phish continues its run at Bill Graham on Tuesday.

Photos by Sterling Munksgard

Setlist…

[via Phish.net]

  • Venue Type: Indoor Arena / 8,500
  • Previous Shows at Venue: 6 Shows -08/17/2012, 08/18/2012, 08/19/2012, 08/02/2013, 08/03/2013 and 08/04/2013
  • Number Of Songs – First Set: 11
  • Number Of Songs – Second Set & Encore: 13
  • Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 24 / 3 / 21
  • Biggest Bustout: Walfredo -06/27/2010 (186 Shows)
  • Average Song Vintage: 1998
  • Debuts: Take Me Out To The Ballgame
  • 2014 Debuts: Walfredo, Take Me Out To The Ballgame, A Day In The Life
  • Average Song Gap: 18.96
  • The Spread: Picture Of Nectar -2, Rift -2, Story Of the Ghost -3, Farmhouse -2, Round Room -2, Joy -1, Fuego -3, Misc -6, Covers – 3
  • Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Ghost 16:36 / Take Me Out To The Ballgame 0:48
  • Audio: Live Phish

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