Phish Fall Tour 2019: Pittsburgh – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny
Phish‘s Fall Tour 2019 continued Wednesday with the band’s first performance at Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center since their lone other appearance in 2017. The mid-size arena was a more typically sized room following the band’s concert the night before at the smallest venue they had played since 2000. The approximately four times larger crowd — but still a modest 12K capacity — saw a pair of Phish debuts of songs from two of the members solo repertoires, among other highlights.
After keyboardist Page McConnell’s seemingly misfired “Ghost Of The Forest” sample hit the arena’s speakers, bassist Mike Gordon got the call to start off the first set with his “555.” The bluesy burner was trailed by the classic Gamhendge number “AC/DC Bag,” concisely presented with some sharp guitar work from Trey Anastasio. McConnell’s instrumental rarity “Cars, Trucks & Buses,” appearing for the first time since 2017, was warmly received and well-executed with the keyboardist and Anastasio answering each other’s fiery solos. Trey and Page then traded nimble, bluegrass-tinged solos inside “Water In The Sky” — the everglades eliciting a cheer going on nearly two decades now. The foursome then peppered along with “Sample In A Jar.”
The band was able to stretch out a little through a focused rendering of “Theme From The Bottom.” Mike again assumed the leadership role for a run through “Funky Bitch.” From the bluesy cover came the funk rock original “Wolfman’s Brother,” which was spun out for a few energized turns but remained relatively tame. Gordon then began the a cappella opening of “Halley’s Comet” and the former sure-thing jam-vehicle delivered a few minutes of quality improvising, stretching beyond the 10-minute mark for the first time since 2011. The jam would find its way into Los Lobos’ tender ballad “When The Circus Comes.”
Called upon for the third time, Mike then led his band mates through their first performance of “Victim,” making it the first song from his solo repertoire to be debuted by Phish since “Marissa” at the band’s only other performance at Petersen Events Center in 2017. The debut was followed by a 34-year-old set-closing favorite, “Run Like An Antelope,” which punctuated the set with a blistering crescendo.
Phish punched back in after set break, opening a second set with “Cavern” for just the third time and for the first time since summer 1998. The unexpected opener was followed by “Runaway Jim,” which led to a spacey jam that held steady for several grooving minutes. As the jam intensified and dissolved under Jon Fishman’s guiding drum rhythm, Trey signaled the start of the previously hinted at debut of “Ghosts Of The Forest.” The song shares its name with the band and album the guitarist introduced earlier this year and now 10 GOTF songs have been played by Phish.
“A Song I Heard The Ocen Sing” followed the debut, and after taking a few minutes, the ensuing improvisation eventually found a groove. They drew from that momentum and — sticking with a nautical motif — segued into “Prince Caspian.” Trey’s guitar sang and soared as “Caspian” hit one roaring peak after another. “Fuego” kept the second half rolling and soon got dark in tone and minimal in structure as an array of synthesized sounds emit from the stage. From the depths of the deconstruction came the old-timer “You Enjoy Myself.” Mike was given the literal spotlight during the song’s ending bass/drums breakdown while Trey put down his guitar and enthusiastically danced along. Trey strapped his guitar back on after the “YEM” vocal jam ending and blasted into Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” for a fully charged end to the set.
Trey was again without his guitar at the start of the encore, instead sitting behind the drum kit as Fish emerged with his vacuum at the front of the stage and the sounds of “Hold Your Head Up” filled the arena. The drummer/vacuumist then led the band through Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin.” During the “HYHU” outro Fish was up to his usual antics, working the crowd and introducing his band mates: “Page McConnell, Cactus Gordon and Ernesto Giuseppe Anastasio.” Trey returned the favor by introducing “Jon ‘Sullen Melancholy’ Fishman” to the audience. After the antics, Trey came back out front and picked his guitar up a final time to finish off the show with “Julius.”
Phish’s Fall Tour 2019 concludes on Friday with the start of a three-night run in North Charleston, South Carolina. A webcast is available via LivePhish.
Petersen Events Center [See upcoming shows]
1 shows — 07/19/2017
12 songs / 8:08 pm to 9:37 pm (89 minutes)
11 songs / 10:10 pm to 11:42 pm (92 minutes)
23 songs / 18 originals / 5 covers
35.18 [Gap chart]
Victim, Ghosts Of The Forest
Terrapin -- 436 show gap (LTP 08/11/2004)
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1,Hoist - 3, Billy Breathes - 3, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Undermind - 1, Fuego - 2, Misc. - 5, Covers - 5
36° F Snow Shower at Showtime