Phish continued to yo-yo up and down the East Coast on Friday with a gig at what is now known as the Coastal Credit Union Music Park At Walnut Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina. For the second time this week, the Vermont-based band revisited a familiar venue that they had skipped on recent summer tours. Last night’s show marked the four-piece act’s first performance at Walnut Creek since August 2015 and featured a number of unexpected moments and tour debuts. The first set saw Phish show off their silly side and even included some stage banter. Meanwhile, the seamless second set was highlighted by a wild “Runaway Jim” -> “Run Like An Antelope” -> “Runaway Jim” > “Run Like An Antelope” -> “Makisupa Policeman” > “Run Like An Antelope” mashup.
With the sun setting on a hot evening, Phish got things going in the City Of Oaks with “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan.” The band moved into their first jam of the night as guitarist Trey Anastasio took charge and never strayed too far from the song’s main structure while keyboardist Page McConnell banged away on his grand piano. Bassist Mike Gordon stepped up next for a take on “Funky Bitch.” McConnell initially led the way on keys before Anastasio — determined to match the temperature outside — brought the heat with a fiery guitar solo. “Ocelot” then emerged as the band settled in on a patient groove. The foursome fed off each other with a style of egalitarian jamming that was talked about on the most recent episode of the JamBase podcast. Anastasio eventually leaned in with a long sustained note before asserting himself throughout the rest of the song.
“The Wedge” followed, as the old-school tune saw action for the fourth time this summer, and was delivered with aplomb. Phish displayed their silly side next during and after “Wombat.” The Fuego track, which takes its cues from Funkadelic’s 1970’s output, found Phish channeling the iconic band throughout. Gordon dropped liquidy bass notes, as McConnell moved between Clavinet, piano and his array of keyboards while Anastasio took them towards some spacey sounds similar to what they served up in Alpharetta. Trey became chatty afterward dedicating the song to the late Abe Vigoda (whose name is dropped in “Wombat” and helped the band debut the song in Atlantic City on October 31, 2013). The guitarist asked the crowd if they knew the television show that the song referenced.
As the band deliberated their next number, Anastasio remained in a talkative mood. Drummer Jon Fishman provoked him as he dodged a bug on stage. Anastasio was clearly having fun with the fact that stage banter isn’t typically part of a Phish show declaring, “God we’re talking. This so weird. Fish is talking. I’m talking.” The guitarist prompted Mike to talk and Gordon referenced locusts before Trey said, “As long as we’re talking Mike and I want to dance, so we’ll be dancing” as they went into “Guelah Papyrus.” Anastasio struggled with the lyrics a bit, singing at a much higher octave than usual at points, during its first rendering of 2018 but managed to redeem himself during the complex instrumental part of the rarity which came complete with its coordinated dance moves as promised. The familiar scratchy opening cords of “Birds Of A Feather” followed as Anastasio continued his MVP set as he built it to high energy peak. “Saw It Again” was tapped next. The bit of weird psychedelia featured shouts from Fish, “Clowny Clown Clown” quotes from Trey and segued into “Timber (Jerry The Mule)” as Fishman sang “Saw It Again” before the band launched into some potent, acid-drenched jamming.
The loose first set rolled on with “Limb By Limb” as the band was in lock-step throughout a blissful, building run. Phish stuck to their folk-rock leaning material with “Farmhouse,” which found Anastasio continuing a recent trend by sneaking in a tease of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” during some concise and gorgeous playing. A short and punchy take on “More” brought the opening frame in North Carolina to a close.
The foursome was clearly feeling comfortable and playful tapping “Meatstick” to open up their second set of the night as Trey and Mike once again got to show off their dance skills. Anastasio added a new twist to the “Meatstick” dance by throwing in moves from “In My Feelings” by Canadian hip-hop star Drake. Phish hadn’t begun the second set with “Meatstick” since April 17, 2004. Next came “Drowned,” which was the second tour debut of the night. The tune from The Who’s Quadrophenia rock opera saw action for just the fifth time since 2014. As they charged through the classic rock cover, Anastasio used a watery, wah tone and would continue to toy with the variety of pedals at his disposal offering some sounds that were more successful than others. Just after Phish built the song to a head of noodle-funk, the quartet slipped into a rather sloppy version of “NICU,” as everyone seemed a bit out of sync.
The band redeemed themselves as they wandered into a jazzy, exploratory jam out of “NICU” that had some ethereal moments. One of just a handful of extended “NICUs” was followed by yet another tour debut as the prog-leaning “Thread” was played for just the third time ever. The song with dark lyrics, which harkened back to “Saw It Again” in terms of its harder edge, was debuted last summer. Phish brought the crowd back to life with “Runaway Jim” as Fishman sang “you’re alone” from “Thread” over the beginning portion of the setlist staple. Just when it seemed the foursome would conclude the mid-verse vamp, Anastasio had other plans as he led an unexpected left turn into “Run Like An Antelope.” Trey began singing “you’re alone” as lit into the “Antelope” solo, bringing it to a frenzied peak ahead of a slick transition back into where they left off in “Runaway Jim.” Phish made it through the chorus of “Jim” before they kept the mashup going by returning to the “Antelope” jam with more screams of “Thread” lyric “you’re alone.”
Phish once again turned on a dime as they transitioned from the start of the “Rye Rye Rocco” part of “Antelope” into “Makisupa Policeman.” Last night’s keyword was “Kush.” As Trey tried to get Fishman to sing, the tongue-tied drummer couldn’t think of anything as Page instead jumped in by singing “I got the push, because I laughed at the Hindu Kush.” They stuck to some dub-reggae sounds before Anastasio brought them back to the ending portion of “Antelope.” The wild back-half of the set looked to another heavy-hitter with “You Enjoy Myself” as they barreled their way through the composed section of the song. Both “Run Like An Antelope” and “You Enjoy Myself” are among the ten most played originals in Phish history, yet unbelievably they had never led into each other before. “YEM” gave Mike and Trey more chances to dance for everyone, as Page provided the soundtrack for their trampoline performance. Gordon and Anastasio then connected on some low-end sounds with an extended vocal jam that brought the song and set to an end.
The band returned to stage to serve up one more tour debut for the encore as a cover of the Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” closed out their evening in Raleigh. Phish now heads back up the East Coast for a pair of shows at Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Maryland on Saturday and Sunday nights. Webcasts of the concerts at the Frank Gehry-designed venue are available via LivePhish.com.
Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek [See upcoming shows]
9 shows — 06/29/1994, 06/16/1995, 07/22/1997, 08/07/1998, 06/25/2000, 07/27/2003, 07/01/2010, 06/18/2011, 08/14/2015
12 songs / 7:34 pm to 8:50 pm (76 minutes)
9 songs / 9:24 pm to 10:46 pm (82 minutes)
21 songs / 17 originals / 4 covers
11 [Gap chart]
Guelah Papyrus, Drowned, Thread, A Day In The Life
Thread = 32 Shows (LTP - 7/25/2017)
You Enjoy Myself - 20:29
Runaway Jim (Part Two) - 1:45
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 1, Joy - 2, Fuego - 1, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 6, Covers - 4
85° and partly cloudy at showtime