Phish SPAC Setlist & The Skinny | Nights Two & Three
Over the course of this year’s SPAC run, Phish has shown how they are keeping things fresh after a 30+ year career. One way is by presenting new material off the recently-released Fuego LP. On Friday night, the quartet used the title track as a jumping off point for one of the weekend’s best and most inventive jams. Another way is by presenting older songs in new ways. “You Enjoy Myself” may have been debuted in 1986, but the jam section of the version played on Saturday night, which featured a funkified duel between guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon, was vastly different than any of the 550+ “YEM”s that came before it. A third way is by giving themselves new parameters to work with. Through the first four shows of summer tour Phish has only performed originals, with the exception of the Fourth of July-opening “Star Spangled Banner” on Friday night. Limiting themselves to originals creates both a challenge and opportunity for a band that seems to thrive on challenges and opportunities.
You’ll notice one of the data points we keep track of within The Skinny is “Average Song Vintage.” If you’re unfamiliar, what we do is take the year each song played on a particular night was debuted and divide it by the total number of songs performed that evening. Throughout last summer’s tour and the beginning of the fall tour, the “Average Song Vintage” was in the early and mid ’90s more often than not -an unhealthy sign for a band who broke up at one point because they didn’t want to be a nostalgia act. The infusion of the Fuego material has helped allay what was becoming a concern.
Friday night’s show began with the tour’s lone cover thus far -an a capella rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” in honor of Independence Day. In fact, the last “Star Spangled Banner” took place on the Fourth of July holiday as well, back in 2012 at Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY. The performance continued with the tour’s first repeat -the Scott Murawski/Mike Gordon-penned “555” off Fuego. The staple-heavy set saw another repeat in “Waiting All Night,” a fun take on “Runaway Jim” that contained a nice series of staccato jabs from Anastasio and a compact, fiery “46 Days.” The adventurous “Split Open And Melt” was highlighted by keyboardist Page McConnell’s dazzling counterpoints, while the band built “Reba” to a typically beautiful peak.
The second set on the Fourth of July began with the aforementioned jammed-out “Fuego.” Phish explored plenty of ground within the 20-minute version, including a healthy dose of blissful improvisation. Whenever Phish debuts a song fans often hope the band will give it the treatment given to “Fuego” on Friday night. The “Fuego” came to a head when Trey landed on a powerful, anthemic riff that the quartet then used as a base to launch into a massive climax that drove the crowd wild. A lengthy “Down With Disease” kept the jamming coming, though this time with more spacey, psychedelic underpinnings and eventually gave way to “Twist.”
Just as the group made the turn towards “Twist,” the members of the band took to their mics for a series of vocal clicks and pops that added a bit of fun to the segue and set the groundwork for an energetic, Trey-led jam. At one point McConnell jumped over to electric piano from his grand piano and took control of the improv. Through the beginning of the tour this is another trend we’ve seen a number of times -Anastasio’s willingness to cede the leadership role to Page with impressive results. “Twist” was just starting to meander when the guitarist lit into “Light,” another example of a jam fueled by McConnell’s electric piano work. Trey seemed content to offer sharp, jabbing rhythms while Page tickled melodies on the Rhodes as drummer Jon Fishman propelled the beat and Gordon dropped bone-rattling bass notes. After four improv-heavy songs to kick off the set, Phish brought the second set to a close with the run of setlist staples “Theme From The Bottom,” “Backwards Down The Number Line” and “First Tube” and then encored with “Character Zero.”
The Saturday night show was surprisingly heavy on songs off the band’s first studio album –Junta. All in all Junta was represented by five songs throughout the night, while in comparision Phish only performed two tunes off Fuego at the SPAC finale. There were also three songs off 2004’s Undermind LP in the span of just the first five selections that opened the show including the “Crowd Control” opener, a potent version of the title track and the Traffic-esque “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing.” An early “Scent Of A Mule” gave Fishman a chance to use his Marimba Lumina MIDI cntroller, while “I Didn’t Know” saw the drummer bust out his vintage Electrolux vacuum for the first time this tour. The Vermonters were fairly tight through the first three shows of the tour, but showed rust as they worked through their most complex compositions on Saturday night. “Foam,” “Divided Sky,” “Fluffhead” and “You Enjoy Myself” each suffered from a case of the flubs. “David Bowie” didn’t suffer the same fate and while the jam didn’t move beyond the song’s typical boundaries, the emotion each member infused into the improvisation made for an above-average version.
“Carini” kicked off a marathon second set on the 5th. Once the band had enough of jamming on the dark, energetic space all “Carini”s enter, Anastasio led a transition into a more sparse, ethereal space. The contrast between the evil-sounding, minor-key start to “Carini” and the pretty major-key jamming was even more noticable than usual on this night. All four members of Phish had important contributions to beautiful end of “Carini” as once again Page utilized electric piano, giving the improv a dreamy-like sense of bliss. Just as with the “Fuego” from Friday, the band settled on an anthemic riff that they started to build to a peak. Though this time around Trey began “Waves” before full peakage was achieved. While not extremely long, the second section of improvisation within “Waves” featured a taste of the ambient jamming Phish favored in 1999 and 2000. Anastasio and Gordon each used intriguing effects to add a sense of spaciness to the proceedings. “Wingsuit” picked up on that spaciness and was a nice cool down after two lengthy jam songs. Next up, following Mike’s use of a drill at the end of “Wingsuit,” was the tour’s first “Piper.” In 2004 Phish delivered a “Piper” for the ages at SPAC, and while Saturday’s version wasn’t quite on that level it was a standout take on the song thanks to a willingness to explore many different jam spaces. The band would settle on interesting ground and move on to the next once there was any break in the action. There was not much downtime in the “Piper” jam, which contained highly-expressive flurries from Trey and one frenzied peak after another. “Fluffhead” and “Heavy Things” paved the way for a sparkling rendition of “Slave To The Traffic Light” – a song that has thrived in recent years. The second set came to a close with the previously mentioned “You Enjoy Myself” that saw Gordon and Anastasio engage in face-to-face duel that was unlike any section of the song previously played. Both men seemed to get a huge kick out of the funky breakdowns that made for one of the best versions of the era. Trey even showed off his best dance moves during the bass/drum segment that followed the jam. A fun romp through “Suzy Greenberg” capped a strong visit to SPAC for Phish.
Friday, July 4
Set One: The Star Spangled Banner, 555, Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Reba, Waiting All Night, Runaway Jim, 46 Days, Rift, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil
Set Two: Fuego > Down with Disease > Twist > Light > Theme From the Bottom, Backwards Down the Number Line, First Tube
Encore: Character Zero
Saturday, July 5
Set One: Crowd Control > My Friend, My Friend, Scent of a Mule, Undermind, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, I Didn’t Know, Foam, Wombat, Divided Sky, Wading in the Velvet Sea, David Bowie
Set Two: Carini > Waves, Wingsuit > Piper > Fluffhead, Heavy Things > Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Suzy Greenberg
 Fish on Marimba Lumina
- Venue Type / Capacity: Outdoor Amphitheater / 25,100
- Shows at Venue: 17 Shows Total Including 2014 Performances – 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
- Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: Friday -11 / 8:14 p.m. -9:41 p.m. (87 Minutes) /// Saturday -11 / 8:22 p.m. -9:45 p.m. (83 Minutes)
- Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set & Encore: Friday -8 / 10:09 p.m. -11:35 p.m. (86 Minutes) /// Saturday -9 / 10:16 p.m. -11:59 p.m. (103 Minutes)
- Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: Friday -19 / 1 / 18 /// Saturday -20 / 0 / 20
- Biggest Bustout: Friday -Star Spangled Banner -LTP 07/04/2012 (66 Shows) /// Saturday -Foam & Crowd Control LTP 8/4/2013 (26 Shows)
- Average Song Vintage: Friday -2000 /// Saturday – 1996
- Debuts: N/A
- Weather: Friday -72 degrees and partly cloudy at show time /// Saturday -74 degrees and sunny at show time
- Average Song Gap: Friday –9 /// Saturday – 10.6
- The Spread: Friday -Lawn Boy -3, Rift -1, Hoist -1, Billy Breathes -2, Story Of The Ghost -1, Farmhouse -2, Round Room -1, Joy -3, Fuego -3, Misc. -1, Covers -1 /// Saturday -Junta -5, Rift -1, Hoist -1, Story Of The Ghost -1, Farmhouse -2, Round Room -1, Undermind -3, Fuego -2, Misc. -4
- Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Friday -Fuego 20:05 / Star Spangled Banner 2:53 /// Saturday -You Enjoy Myself 22:37 / I Didn’t Know 4:19
- Audio: Friday Live Phish / Saturday Live Phish
Phish From The Road Photos…
Propane tank hit pic.twitter.com/6TGQZgqgSt— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) July 5, 2014
Lawn filling in pic.twitter.com/1xJpxotUP2— Phish: From The Road (@Phish_FTR) July 6, 2014