Dick's Sporting Goods
Commerce City, Colorado
Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
After two glorious nights at Dick’s it was time to say goodbye to The Phish from Vermont. It was also the band’s last stop of Summer Tour 2012 meaning everyone in attendance was in for a big show. Having been spoiled for the last two years with three-night finales, I can honestly say I hope they continue to shut it down at Dick’s. The band is at their most fluid musically and they want to have a little more fun before the nail hits the coffin.
Phish opened with a bouncy “Cars Trucks Busses,” to get the night started smoothly.
Set One: Cars Trucks Busses, AC/DC Bag> Down with Disease, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane> Sample In a Jar, Back on the Train> Rift> Free, Ride Captain Ride> Maze, Halley’s Comet> 46 Days> Possum
Set Two: Sand> Ghost> Piper> Twenty Years Later> The Lizards, Harry Hood
Encore: Character Zero
Just looking at the setlist tells even the most nascent of enthusiasts, that this was a barnburner. Chunky first set for the ADD fan with nothing really getting into the “deep cut” territory, and a jam-infused six song second set. It’s basically an all you can eat buffet of Phish, reaching across their entire catalog. “AC/DC Bag” into “Down With A Disease" felt a bit rushed from what we had experienced on nights one and two. The “Bathtub Gin” stretched into decent length before a bluegrass blast off with “Nellie Kane.” The crowd seemed utterly energized, everyone was there to have a good time and leave it all out on the dance floor. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The “Sample in a Jar” was crispy and clean as was the “Back On The Train.” There was a fluid break into “Rift” ending with a single beat transfer to “Free.”
Phish is a band firing on all cylinders, and they continue to raise the bar year after year. It’s been an interesting journey during the 3.0 era, listening to recordings, couch touring, and catching the off weekend here and there. Phish has really blossomed and it’s obvious by the fact that they are playing diverse shows, having fun, and continuing to tour every year. I couldn’t be happier with their playing as of late, and it makes me excited for the next time I’m lucky enough to see them live. Up next was a rare performance of “Ride Captain Ride” originally by Blues Image. Page’s buttery vocals took the lead through this crowd pleaser, before the song took an eerie turn eventually taking shape with the familiar beat of “Maze.” It was a solid version that finally showed the group stepping into a deeper jam, and also many including myself thought that was the end of the first set. We were greeted with a red-hot three song closer including a cozy “Halley’s Comet” into “46 Days” into an explosive “Possum.”
The second set would open with the most exploratory adventure of the night; the twenty-four plus minute “Sand.” This was Phish at their finest passing around the lead like a hot potato, dribbling into the ether before breaking into a funky riff that stretched on. The song peaked with a fiery Trey solo that snapped back into the close of “Sand” before we all stepped over the precipice into a dark “Ghost.” These two songs were as far as we got down the rabbit hole on Sunday clocking in at almost forty-minutes combined. Phish caught their breath with a huge “Piper” followed by a straightforward “Twenty Years Later.” The real treat of the second set was “The Lizards” which washed over the audience like a cool breeze. They closed the second set with a transcendental “Harry Hood” that finished with an extended thank you from Trey, Page, Mike, and Fish and Trey ending by saying “Fuck Your Face.”
All in all the it was our second six-song set of the weekend, proving to me that Phish is most definitely willing to kick off the training wheels and just jam. They encored with a quick but appropriate “Character Zero.” It was just a joy-filled weekend with old friends and Phish as the ultimate soundtrack. It’s amazing to look back on the weekend and see how this band continues to reunite so many old friends. It’s not uncommon for me to be at any given show and see people that I haven’t seen in almost a decade. This weekend was no exception, not to mention the twentish or so group of extended phamily riding the bus to and from Fort Collins each night. We did it right this year and thanks again to all who helped to make this an incredible weekend. Let’s do it again next year.
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