Phish Makes Wrigley Field Debut In Chicago – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny

By Scott Bernstein Jun 24, 2016 8:58 pm PDT

On Friday night Vermont quartet Phish continued summer tour by making their debut at one of the nation’s oldest and most storied ballparks, Chicago’s Wrigley Field. While the setlist didn’t feature crazy bust outs a la the tour opener in St. Paul, Phish unveiled a new song, treated fans to a second set featuring a pair of impressive jams and debuted an inventive David Bowie cover. The LED panels premiered in St. Paul won’t be limited to indoor shows as they were on hand in Chicago as was drummer Jon Fishman’s dress featuring images of Bernie Sanders.

The foursome kicked off Friday’s show with a pair of staples, “Sample In A Jar” and “Chalk Dust Torture,” with each featuring strong, straight-forward guitar solos from Trey Anastasio. Keyboardist Page McConnell then gave the audience a tour of his rig as he contributed synth, clavinet, organ, piano and various effects to the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House rocker “Martian Monster.” After a rough and ragged “Rift,” Trey took an opportunity to welcome fans to show and said, “this is incredible to play here, thanks for having us.” McConnell, a Mets fan, added “how about those Cubs this year?” in reference to the baseball team which calls Wrigley home. Bassist Mike Gordon had a turn in the spotlight as he led his mates through “Yarmouth Road” ahead of a rare first set “Sand.” The latter featured a powerful climax filled with shredding from Trey.

The first debut of the tour came next as Anastasio sang lead on a new original titled “Miss You.” Unlike The Rolling Stones’ song of the same name, Phish’s “Miss You” is a slow burning ballad in the same vein as “Show Of Life” and “Joy.” The guitarist told the crowd they are working on a new album and that the band would probably play more new tunes later in the evening. He thanked the audience for giving them the confidence to perform new material. However, the new tunes would have to wait as “The Wedge” followed “Miss You.” The last “Wedge” in Chicago (July 20, 2014) was the longest and most expansive in Phish history, but Friday’s version was a standard take on the Rift classic. A standard “Free” kept the energy up ahead of a fierce “Blaze On” set closer.

Trippy images flickered on each of the LED panels to accompany Phish’s second set opener of “Down With Disease.” The panels above the stage moved to a more checkerboard style and shifted in the second set while they were stationary during the opening stanza. Page hopped on electric piano shortly after Trey started his solo and soon thereafter the band had moved beyond “Disease’s” normal boundaries. Anastasio worked over his wah-wah pedal, while Gordon kept pushing the jam in exciting directions and McConnell added dark and dirty stabs at his clavinet. Just over ten minutes into “Down With Disease” the quartet connected on an anthemic progression they built to a frenzied climax highlighted by Trey’s euphoric riffing. Phish followed the peak with a few minutes of spacey exploration before Page headed to piano to start up “Fuego.”

“Fuego” may not have been too adventurous, but the band filled the song’s nooks and crannies with fun accents ahead of a transition to “Twist.” All four members of Phish had impressive moments over the course of the stellar “Twist” which at first featured a transcendent dark groove. The must-hear “Twist” contained a few distinct segments of improvisation including a blissful major-key jam that at points sounded akin to “Weekapaug Groove.” 2015 was one of the best years for “Twist” and the song is on pace for another standout year. After 40 high-impact minutes to start the set, the band took the energy down a notch and gave fans a breather with “Twenty Years Later” and “Waste.” Next up was the evening’s first cover, “Also Sprach Zarathrustra,” aka “2001.”

“2001” saw Trey show off his Echoplex effect and light designer Chris Kuroda make full use of his rig including the new LED panels. The seamless seven-song start to the set continued on with “Backwards Down The Number Line,” but Phish did come to a complete stop before charging into a set-closing cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup.” The band gathered around an a capella mic to start the encore. Instead of any of the expected a capella numbers Phish has performed in the past, the quartet shocked and awed the crowd by premiering a full-on a capella cover of “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. Trey handled the high harmonies, Mike sang the bass part while Fish was charged with the main melody and Page vocalized the lower register. The band wasn’t done yet as they ended the show with a short and sweet “Run Like An Antelope” to complete the “Space Antelope” encore.

Phish returns to Wrigley Field on Saturday. A webcast is available via LivePhish.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Wrigley Field [See upcoming shows]


The Music

10 songs / 7:38 pm to 8:49 pm (71 minutes)

10 songs / 9:26 pm to 10:57 pm (91 minutes)

20 songs / 17 originals / 3 covers


5.06 [Gap chart]

Miss You (Original, Sung By Trey), Space Oddity (Cover, David Bowie)


Waste - LTP 08/21/2015 (14 Show Gap)

Down With Disease - 16:52

Martian Monster - 4:46

Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 2, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 2, Farmhouse - 2, Joy - 2, Fuego - 1, Misc. - 4, Covers - 3

The Rest

79° and Partly Cloudy at showtime

Koa 1

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Photos by Dale Foster

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