Phish Summer Tour 2019: St. Louis Night 1 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny
Phish tour began on Tuesday with the first of two concerts at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. The show marked the band’s return to the 10,600-capacity venue nearly seven years after they made their Chaifetz Arena debut on August 28, 2012. Opening night included the Phish debut of a Ghost Of The Forest song, a sublime “Stash,” the first appearance of a Kasvot Växt tune in the encore slot and more memorable moments.
The quartet came out of the gates with “Cool Amber And Mercury” from their Kasvot Växt set. Page McConnell got the crowd going by repeatedly triggering the “Faceplant Into Rock” sample on his Nord Stage 2 keyboard before and during the first jam of the summer. Guitarist Trey Anastasio tore through his solo with intensity as the band nailed the opener. Next up was “46 Days,” which came just weeks after the passing of former crew member Leigh Fordham, who is name-checked in the first line of the song. Anastasio utilized a swampy tone and McConnell focused on Clavinet, while the rhythm section of Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman held down the beat.
“Stash” often appears in the first set of a tour and Tuesday night was no exception. However, the version in St. Louis was far from typical. The longest “Stash” in 10 years saw the band take a patient and slow-paced approach to the song. Phish moved from the usual dark minor key to a beautiful major key within the jam and back again with much success. Anastasio was assertive at points and at others let the rest of the group do the heavy lifting, which made for the first “must-hear” moment of the summer.
It was then Gordon who had a turn in the spotlight for a cover of Hot Rize’s “Nellie Cane.” Mike also shined in the straight-forward “Free” that followed. A double dose of Billy Breathes was concluded with “Theme From The Bottom.” Tuesday’s “Theme” saw Anastasio work in cool fills between verses. Just as with “Stash,” the band kept the pace slow and deliberate in both the “Theme” jam and the improv in the “Tube” that came next. While neither “Theme” or “Tube” reached the heights of “Stash,” both were quality versions especially so early in the tour.
One of the big questions coming into the tour was whether any material from Trey’s Ghosts Of The Forest project would make the jump to Phish. The answer was yes as a set-closing “Drift While You’re Sleeping” became the first GOTF song played by the Vermonters. Phish didn’t stray far from the versions that were performed in the #2 slot at all nine Ghost Of The Forest concerts, as they slickly moved through each of the three main sections.
“No Men In No Man’s Land” was the call to open the second set. Phish quickly broke structure and entered Type II territory for a blissful exploration. The band connected on a powerful pattern from which they built to an uplifting peak. Anastasio sang the refrain but the band wasn’t done with “No Man’s” quite yet. The second jam was a more psychedelic and egalitarian affair that eventually gave way to an unusually placed “Bathtub Gin.” Page and Trey engaged in a game of “top this” as they volleyed anthemic melodies back and forth and Fish propelled the tempo to overdrive. Yet it was Mike who was in the driver’s seat for a short “Ghost.” Gordon shifted through various keys and his band mates followed along before Anastasio started “Piper.”
Of the four members of Phish, Page is the only one who hasn’t toured yet this year. Despite the lack of recent stage time, McConnell was in late-tour form on Tuesday. An example was his creative work in “Piper.” The keyboardist started off on organ and added tinges of gospel to the soulful musical stew the quartet was cooking up. He then headed to Fender Rhodes to provide gorgeous coloring to Trey’s soaring leads before the guitarist forced a transition into “Blaze On.” Phish played it straight on the Big Boat funk-rocker.
The ballad “Joy” provided band and fans a breather after an hour-long, seamless beginning of the set. “Simple” continued the parade of jam vehicles and Trey continued the trend of chopping them short by awkwardly starting “Limb By Limb.” Anastasio threw a lengthy tease of “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” into his ever-so-slightly extended solo. The set then came to a close with an ethereal “Slave To The Traffic Light” featuring a lengthy breakdown in which Mike and Trey traded riffs while Fish and Page waited for just the right moment to insert themselves. A loud chant of “Let’s Go Blues!” rose from the crowd during the encore break in reference to the hometown NHL team that fights for the Stanley Cup in Game Seven of the finals on Wednesday night.
For the encore, the quartet went back to Kasvot Växt for the opening track from the Halloween set, “Turtle In The Clouds.” This time it was Fish and Page who performed as a duo while Trey and Mike pulled off their dance moves during a portion of the first Kasvot Växt song within the encore in Phish history. “Character Zero” gave Anastasio one more chance to shred and McConnell plenty of chances to trigger the “Faceplant Into Rock” sample before calling it a night. Phish returns to the Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday. A live stream is available via LivePhish.com.
Chaifetz Arena [See upcoming shows]
1 shows — 08/28/2012
8 songs / 8:06 pm to 9:24 pm (78 minutes)
11 songs / 9:58 pm to 11:41 pm (103 minutes)
19 songs / 18 originals / 1 cover
5.39 [Gap chart]
"Drift While You're Sleeping" (Anastasio)
Piper - 21 Shows (LTP - 10/16/2018)
Stash - 16:40
Nellie Kane - 2:56
Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Billy Breathes - 3, The Story of the Ghost - 3, Round Room - 1, Joy - 1, Big Boat - 2, Misc. - 6, Covers - 1
74° and Sunny at showtime