Fattening the First

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Dick's 2016 (Stephen Olker)

Dick’s 2016 (Stephen Olker)

Let’s be frank, Phish’s modern first sets have been, for the most part, pretty lame. A selection of songs with one or two composed jams sprinkled in serves the purpose of getting everyone’s legs warm and drugs working in time for the second half. Once in many blue moons, the band will drop a highlight with lasting merit before setbreak, but most often there’s very little substance of which to speak. At Dick’s however, first sets took on a more emphatic role in the evening, each offering far more meat and engaging music than usual. Let’s take a walk through the first halves from a few weeks ago.

September 2

Ghost, No Men In No Man’s Land , Breath and Burning, Undermind, Heavy Things, Stash, Ass Handed,  The Wedge, Alaska, 46 Days

bcs bvr

9.2.16 (Michael Stein)

Phish came into their annual Dick’s weekend lacking any momentum from summer tour, and many in the community weren’t exactly sure what band would show up at the annual Labor Day party. When the guys came out and opened with “Ghost” for the first time since 2013, however, it felt like they delivered a certain message of intent. A compact though fiery rendition kicked off the weekend and was backed up by the always-energetic “No Men in No Man’s Land.” Upon the lyrical reprise at the end of the song, it seemed that Phish was ready to move on, but in a surprise move, they exploded into an outro jam that blossomed into an abstract foray. Staring from a chugging groove, the band gradually moved into darker territory where Trey eventually took over with wailing and echoed guitar screams. Maintaining a quickened tempo throughout the piece, out of nowhere Phish had kicked down the improvisational door and we were barely twenty minutes into the weekend. Though the set took on a more standard contour from here, it did feature a slightly stretched out version of “Breath and Burning” which provided a dash of hope that the band might jam off the new single come fall as they prolifically did in its second ever version in Philadelphia this past summer. The set, however, did contain one more standout highlight in its “46 Days” finale, where immediately upon the ending of the lyrics, the band dove deep into a primordial soup. Led by Fish’s tribal marching beat, they built a thick, distorted soundscape into which Trey unleashed furious guitar leads, slyly blending the “What’s the Use?” theme into this darkened excursion. The band was fully synched up in this sinister passage, foreshadowing good things for the weekend. And just like that we had ourselves a first set. Set break contained a palpable buzz after this set, as fans felt a mixture of excitement and surprise at what had just transpired. It was the rare time folks really discussed the music of the first set rather asking where that joint had gone.

September 3

Slave to the Traffic Light, Down with Disease, What’s the Use? > Maze, Farmhouse, 555, Wolfman’s Brother, Divided Sky, Rock and Roll

ewfcwcw

9.2.16 (Michael Stein)

The second night started off in a bizarre, though explosive, fashion as Phish welcomed the Saturday night audience the first “Slave to the Traffic Light” opener since 1988. The band backed up this surprise with a legitimate “Down With Disease” jam in the two slot, opening up the piece into experimental waters and taking the jam into dark, dungeon-like territory. Led by Trey’s growling tone, once again Phish had delved into the depths of improvisation at the very beginning of the night, offering some serious music to engage the crowd from the get-go. A rare stand-alone version of “What’s the Use?” came third, continuing the strange but welcomed song ordering. At this point, the set came back to earth a bit with the first set staples of “Maze,” “555,” and “Farmhouse,” but the guys followed up this trifecta with a popping version of “Wolfman’s Brother.” Led by Mike’s larger-than-life bass leads, the band leaned into into a slowed down, heavy-handed version of their cowfunk vehicle, that kept the energy of this opening frame sky high and the crowd enraptured. With “Divided Sky” and “Rock and Roll,” Phish completed quite the first half of music, arguably the best of the three-night stand.

September 4

The Moma Dance > Chalk Dust Torture, Mike’s > Wingsuit > Weekapaug, Party Time, Bathtub Gin, Split Open and Melt, Tube, Character Zero

(Michael Stein)

9.2.16 (Michael Stein)

On the third night in Colorado, Phish scripted a powerhouse first set song list that never relented from start to finish. Though they stayed within the confines of each selection, the band unleashed several type-one improvisations of crowd favorites. An early set “Mike’s Groove” got things warmed up quickly, and following a “Party Time” interlude, the band dropped a searing three-song sequence of “Bathtub Gin,” “Tube” and “Split Open and Melt.” The “Gin” was the clear highlight of the set, featuring energetic interplay between band members amidst an upbeat and peaky jam that continued to climb higher and higher. Mike anchored a somewhat extended “Tube” jam, and “Split” saw the band lock into an aggressive and abstract soundscape that, while not uncharacteristic of the song, formed an engaging and more-than-worthy highlight. “Character Zero” rounded out the opening half, a set that once again lent some serious weight to the concert before set break.

The presence of legitimate first sets gave an enhanced feel to the shows in Colorado, and completely shifted the vibe of each night. To be totally transparent, it’s a shame the band doesn’t offer the same level of music in most of their first sets. Shows are about three hours long, and the first set comprises almost ninety minutes each night, why waste it? Not to say that each opening frame needs contain multiple type-two jams, but how ’bout a little more meat for the kidz, ya know? This is a fairly universal sentiment across the Phish community, and these Dick’s shows illustrates how a significant first set can provide a far loftier feel to any given night of Phish.

10,924 Responses to “Fattening the First”

  1. HadToHaveThat Says:

    NOT TOM!! SMASHED bananas
    Misted you and thAT SLF

  2. HadToHaveThat Says:

    I missed dornskie

  3. Sex&City Says:

    New post>>>>>>>>

  4. theBaker Says:

    For the Forbinth-day in aRow @6:30ishA.M. MGMGRAND’s “Lobby Bar” plays , “I really, Really, REALLY-REALLY–REALLY—REALLY Like EWE”…
    …like Clock-Werk

    *i’ve SEEN TOOO MUCH…send-me-on-my-weigh

    #phishtastic
    #worldlessness

    Happy All Soul’s Day BB!

    Gnite

  5. theBaker Says:

    Are ther WOMBATS @theLobbyBar MGMGRAND?

  6. phishm Says:

    I’m so lame. Turns out I like sleep more than Phish. Made it to about song 2 in Ziggy and was out. Ate some pizza, which I’m now dealing with, and went to bed. Watching the show people of earth getting ready for my 10am meeting that I don’t have to say a thing on. Great show after episode one. Funny with a hint of what’s really going on around here what with lizard people and what not. So ya. Glad everyone had fun.

  7. dorn76 Says:

    I missed Wombats.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Passed out 745PM EST, woke 12 hours later feeling sorta better kinda.

    Best 3 in a row I’ve caught.

  9. phishm Says:

    So a Trump supporter asked me who I was supporting. I proudly showed him my new Forbin/Rutherford 2016 shirt and just said vote Forbin. I think he thought I was weird.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    GSBG BBVegas Matinee Set 10.31.2016

    Set 1:
    Old Home Place
    Boogie on Reggae Woman >
    Time
    Paul & Silas
    Funky Bitch
    A Day in the Life
    Nellie Kane
    Light Up or Leave Me Alone >
    We’re an American Band >
    Light up or Leave me Alone
    Rock & Roll
    Ride Captain Ride
    Beauty of my Dreams
    Ballad of Curtis Loew
    Broke Mountain Breakdown (1) (2) (3) >
    Sweet Emotion >
    Walk Away >
    After midnight >
    Broke Mountain Breakdown

    Encore:
    Free Bird intro >
    Rocky Top

    (1) – w/ Simpsons Secret Language
    (2) – w/ While My Guitar Gently Weeps tease
    (3) – w/ Bathtub Gin tease

    yes, that is a full set of covers Phish performs.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I have a pair for 12.28 that need a good home: section 216, row 3, seats 1-2 (on the aisle!). that section is up behind fish and these seats are in front of the barstool area but behind the box ring above the 100 level. we had barstool for 1.2 on the other end of this year and the view here is pretty sweet if you like the behind stage scenery.

    hit me at typeiiijpd of the mail called g

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    man, heavy serotonin crash for everyone or is posting broken? lol

  13. mr. Palmer Says:

    Refresh page C. New post / old post

  14. Selector J Says:

    ::tumbleweeds::
    Man, I figured that there’d be pages and pages to catch up with today.
    I fell asleep about the same time as @phishm. Yet ro listen to any of it.
    Heard that 2001 was the bizness. True?

  15. Selector J Says:

    ::tumbleweeds::
    Man, I figured that there’d be pages and pages to catch up with today.
    I fell asleep about the same time as @phishm. Yet ro listen to any of it.
    Heard that 2001 was the bizness. True?

  16. Selector J Says:

    Double post… Progress!
    #paddlin’

  17. Aquaman Says:

    @SelJ

    Just a reminder….sidewalk is meant for walkin’……not fancy walkin’. And certainly no using the school canoe.

    #JasperBeardly

    -Aqua-

  18. Chris Says:

    Anyone else a bit disappointed that they didn’t extend any songs in set 2 yesterday? It’s my one and only gripe from Vegas. Seems like the album won’t have that special ‘its Bowie but we’ve made it our own thing’ quality to it that the other Halloween costumes have.

  19. yematt Says:

    any video link to the halloween set?

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    V E R N O thanks!

  21. florentine pigpen Says:

    Did this party just spontaneously combust? Nothin’ to say when we like the phish?

  22. butter Says:

    over my wook flu lite and went and got a new charger for my macbook. i’ve been all thumbs for the last week and a half.

    I’m starting to view this Vegas run as tons of darker worm portal jams with the shining beacon of soul hope and light being Ziggy. or the celebration of being alive thru Phish covering Ziggy.

    GA was a fairly happy jam with the very long fuse tone, but things got considerably darker after, pretty much right away with Light.

    I really couldnt be any happier with the intent coming off the stage. That Merc drop to start that zany set 2 was the call of calls.

  23. butter Says:

    posted in the wrong post lol

    >over my wook flu lite and went and got a new charger for my macbook. i’ve been all thumbs for the last week and a half.

    I’m starting to view this Vegas run as tons of darker worm portal jams with the shining beacon of soul hope and light being Ziggy. or the celebration of being alive thru Phish covering Ziggy.

    GA was a fairly happy jam with the very long fuse tone, but things got considerably darker after, pretty much right away with Light.

    I really couldnt be any happier with the intent coming off the stage. That Merc drop to start that zany set 2 was the call of calls.

  24. Pence Says:

    Damn so sad tour Is over…GD on the youtube ain’t bad tho. DESOLATION ROW!

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