Sunday At SPAC: Phish Saratoga Springs Night 3 – Recap, Setlist & The Skinny

By Scott Bernstein Jul 3, 2016 8:38 pm PDT

The old “Never Miss A Sunday Show” saying often leads to lofty expectations from fans. On Sunday night Phish proved the saying doesn’t always bear fruit. While the quartet’s Sunday night finale at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York had its highlights, the band lacked cohesion for large swaths of the night. Thankfully even below average Phish shows have standout moments and Sunday’s concert was chock full of tour debuts and featured an all-time version of a first set staple within the second set as well as another impressive “Harry Hood.”

Phish began Sunday’s show with the loping “Wedge” and continued with first set staples “Heavy Things” and “Tube.” The evening’s first set would contain six tour debuts, not too shabby for the ninth show of the run. Bassist Mike Gordon’s “Sugar Shack” was the first tour debut of the opening stanza. Keyboardist Page McConnell then had a turn in the spotlight for “Lawn Boy.” The former saw guitarist Trey Anastasio struggle through most of his part, while Page played up the loungey elements of the latter.

While “Sparkle” was in heavy rotation back in 2014, the song disappeared in 2015. The version at SPAC ended the longest gap between takes on the Anastasio/Marshall tale since its first appearance in 1991 as “Sparkle” was last played on October 24, 2014 – a span of 52 shows. A quick romp through “Sample In A Jar” gave way to the tour’s first “It’s Ice.” McConnell led a typically short but sweet “Ice” jam with funky clavinet work. The return of “Guelah Papyrus” after nearly a year gave Gordon and Anastasio a chance to show off their dance moves. Drummer Jon Fishman got in on the act at the end of the song by coming out from the kit to join in the dance. At one point Mike and Trey held their feet up with “H” written on Anastasio’s sneaker and “I” on Gordon’s neon green sneaker. From there, Phish served up a languid “Ocelot,” which was followed by a “Scent Of A Mule” that saw Fish show off his Marimba Lumina skills to complete the double dose of tour debuts. A straight forward, high energy “Possum” brought the set to a close.

The foursome came out of the gates with “Soul Shakedown Party” to the delight of the crowd. Phish last played the Bob Marley cover in Santa Barbara on October 22, 2014 – a span of 53 shows. “Soul Shakedown Party” had never opened a second set before and the odd setlisting continued with the first second set “The Moma Dance” since November 29, 2009. Phish stretched out “Moma” befitting a second set version of the tune. The atypical Type II “Moma” saw the quartet connect on a dark pattern they used to escape the song’s normal boundaries. Anastasio utilized a dirty octave/wah tone, while McConnell moved over to electric piano. After a few interesting minutes of exploration, the guitarist led a build to a peak and then a transition into a major key for what at this point was already the best “Moma Dance” of the current era and longest in the song’s history. Mike dropped a handful of powerful synth’d out notes while Page and Trey riffed beautifully on the all-time “Moma.” Eventually the band had its fill and kicked into “Twist.”

Sunday’s “Twist” was of the Type I variety with Trey again employing the dirty octave/wah tone at the end of his solo. It was then time for a breather in the form of the summer’s first “Joy.” The pretty ballad was followed by one of Phish’s newest originals, “Breath & Burning.” The Vermonters debuted “Breath & Burning” one week earlier at Deer Creek and then took it deep a few nights later in Philadelphia. SPAC was treated to a standard rendition ala Deer Creek ahead of the tour debut of “Axilla (Part One).” Up next was a heavily botched, unSPACtacular (sorry) “Theme From The Bottom.” Anastasio was in much better form for “Harry Hood” and led a patient and often powerful jam not too far removed from the Mann version last week. Phish then ended the set with the tender ballad “Show Of Life,” making its return for the first time since New Year’s Eve 2013 – 2014, a span of 84 shows. The long layoff was evident in the song’s rusty performance. Phish then brought the concert and run to its conclusion with a “Rock & Roll” encore. Next up is a Wednesday night show in Portland, Maine.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Saratoga Performing Arts Center [See upcoming shows]

25100

19 shows — 07/27/1992, 07/10/1994, 06/26/1995, 06/19/2004, 06/20/2004, 08/16/2009, 06/19/2010, 06/20/2010, 07/06/2012, 07/07/2012, 07/08/2012, 07/05/2013, 07/06/2013, 07/07/2013, 07/03/2014, 07/04/2014, 07/05/2014, 07/01/2016, 07/02/2016

The Music

12 songs / 8:17 pm to 9:36 pm (79 minutes)

10 songs / 10:16 pm to 11:34 pm (78 minutes)

22 songs / 20 originals / 2 covers

1997

17.64 [Gap chart]

None

Sugar Shack, Sparkle, It's Ice, Guelah Papyrus, Ocelot, Scent Of A Mule, Soul Shakedown Party, Joy, Axilla, Show Of Life

Show Of Life - LTP 12/31/2013 (84 Show Gap)

The Moma Dance - 17:34

Lawn Boy - 3:08

Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Rift - 3, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Farmhouse - 2, Joy - 3, Misc. - 6, Covers - 2

The Rest

74° Cloudy

Koa 2 / Languedoc G2 #4

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