Phish Summer Tour 2019: SPAC Night 1 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny

By Aaron Stein Jul 3, 2019 5:39 am PDT

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks of summer camp this time of year. Last night at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Phish reminded me of that old thing we used to do at camp called the “bat spin.” The “bat spin” is when you’d put your head to one end of an aluminum softball bat and put the other end on the ground and just spin around 10 or 20 times until you were good and dizzy and then tried to run the bases, often to hilarious, occasionally nauseating who’s-on-first results. Returning to SPAC for the umpteenth time since their first show there almost exactly 25 years ago, after a rather electric weekend in Camden, the Vermontsters had the crowd wondering which way first base was. It seemed almost every song they played felt like either a raucous set opener or a triumphant closer with very little filler in between.

After leaving “Tweezer Reprise” on the table at the end of Sunday’s “Tweezered” show, it wasn’t a complete surprise that they’d get the crowd’s head spinning with the usual night-ender to start the show Tuesday. What may have been a shocker was that they moved it to the second slot. Even more shocking was that it was bumped by the debut cover of the Everly Brothers’ “Cathy’s Clown,” played because {shoulder shrug emoji}. Of course, this meant that the common second-slot’er “Moma Dance” would get bumped in turn, which, sure, that makes sense. But setlist minders took their head off the bat to find that both “Carini” and “AC/DC Bag” were show openers three and four before the dance had begun. Yes, it would be that kind of night in Saratoga, perhaps the setlist was a promotional tie-in for the Stranger Things third season dropping this week, a trip to the “upside down” where zag meets zig, familiar but just a little bit different.

Regardless of song order and placement, the show featured all the things you travel to Saratoga on a Tuesday night to see. Adrenaline rush start of “Reprise” and “Carini,” smooth funk dance party of “Moma” and “Meat” and proggy triumph of “Walls Of The Cave” highlighted an anything-but-typical run around the bases in the first set. Tour debuts and four-man type A jams from a band that seems to be hitting that mid-tour stride after a weekend in Camden.

“Down With Disease” was an easier second set opener call than “Tweeprise” was for the first set, but, again, the crowd got spun a couple times around with the fourth ever “Cool Amber & Mercury” from last year’s Halloween show, the second time it’s opened the second set. Don’t worry, though, that Disease was waiting patiently and patiently it proceeded, an improvisational highlight that unfolded perfectly over its 20+ minutes, the band clicking into place on multiple fronts, no matter if it went around the bases in spiraling, random order.

Do people still say “all killer, no filler” because that more or less sums up the second set with the band, having a next-morning-replay 20-minute jammer in their back pocket, seemed to be having fun with more setlist juxtaposition, tour bust outs and fist-pumping, booty-shaking summertime Phish. Like they had Sunday night outside Philly, they treated the Capital Region crowd to a decidedly old school song selection with just a couple of tunes that weren’t from the ’80s or ’90s. “Scents & Subtle Sounds” > “Twist” > “Wilson” > “Scent Of A Mule” was an Apache Relay of style and substance and “Fuck Your Face” (!!??) > “Halley’s” > “Harry Hood” wouldn’t be too anachronistic on the Stranger Things soundtrack, but sounded very much in-the-moment in present day July 2019, the ridiculousness of Phish’s youthful lyrics making way for the pure forget-your-worries bliss of a perfect “Harry Hood” peak to end the night.

As they have done on many occasions this summer, Phish capped off another breadth-and-depth show with a multi-pronged encore, guitarist Trey Anastasio grabbing the megaphone for the first “Fee” since last summer, to the audience’s delight. They followed with the second ever “A Life Beyond The Dream” from Anastasio’s Ghosts Of The Forest project, a rare newer song and cool down for the night, and then playing the gazillionth show closer of the show, but actually closing things out for real this time with the always smoke-em-if-you-got-em “First Tube,” just in case the crowd’s heads had stopped spinning for a minute. It’s not every night on Phish tour that you get to (almost) start the show off with “Tweezer Reprise” and end it with “First Tube,” but, with their summer itinerary about 2/3rds complete, the band is clearly in a place where the lines between beginning and ending, left and right, up and down are increasingly meaningless. Eight more shows to go, grab that bat.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

The Venue

Saratoga Performing Arts Center [See upcoming shows]


20 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, 07/03/2016

The Music

10 songs / 8:01 pm to 9:21 pm (80 minutes)

12 songs / 9:57 pm to 11:40 pm (103 minutes)

22 songs / 21 originals / 1 cover


15.14 [Gap chart]

Cathy's Clown (Everly Brothers)

Cathy's Clown, Meat, Home, Scent Of A Mule, Fuck Your Face, Fee

Fuck Your Face - LTP 08/04/2018 (45 Show Gap)

Down With Disease -- 21:34

Fuck Your Face -- 2:33

Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Hoist - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 2, Round Room - 1, Undermind - 1, Big Boat - 1, Misc. - 8, Covers - 1

The Rest

77° and Clear at showtime


Capacity 25,100

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