A San Francisco Treat

8.17.12 – BGCA (Michael Stein)

Playing their first non-festival show in San Francisco proper since 1998, Phish continued their musical assault on The Golden State at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday night with a second set of non-stop action. Centering a relentless setlist on two experimental peaks in “Down With Disease” and “Tweezer,” the band tore the tiny Bay Area venue to smithereens. Supporting the notion that Long Beach was the start of something big, the band came back the very next night and opened up the vault again, illustrating an enthusiasm for unconventional jamming.

8.17.12 (M.Stein)

Steering clear of any second set filler, the guys came out with a intense desire from the first note to last, and when paired with the level of creativity that is currently oozing from the stage, this made for quite the explosive combo. Bursting out the gates with a monstrous exploration of “Disease,” the band navigated the piece with a loose, psychedelic San Francisco vibe, allowing the music to play the muse, organically morphing through several distinct portions of jamming. Connected in a way not dissimilar to the opening night’s “Rock and Roll,” this “Disease” showed a proclivity for free form improvisation. Once breaking form, Trey laid notably back, allowing Mike and Fish to set the groove. Collaborative to the core, a band member presented a thematic idea to which the rest of the guys would gravitate, and moving in this organic fashion from one section to another, the jam slowly progressed towards abstract territory. And once Fish dropped his driving beat, the band entered a psychedelic playground would have made their tie-dyed mentors proud. Some of the strongest portions of playing of tour’s opening two nights have come in this amorphous style, and it was within this milieu that the band pushed and pulled “Disease” through a soul-affirming final segment—instantly becoming another golden moment of 2012.

8.17.12 (M.Stein)

Thus far this run, the band has shown no need to cool down after their set-opening jam, on this night, falling right into a fierce, though compact, “Birds.” But when the final hits of “Birds” gave way to “Tweezer,” shit was clearly about to get bonkers. Where so many “Tweezers” of this summer and this era have fallen short, Bill Graham’s “Tweezer” went where “Tweezers” are meant to go—into other realms. Fusing three distinct segments of jamming together, the guys dropped the most significant “Tweezer” since Dick’s, and one of the elite of this era. Within the opening, bass-heavy groove, Gordeaux dropped enough crack to satiate all the junkies in the Tenderloin, and his generosity didn’t cease from there, as he anchored much of this jam with narcotic bass lines. Moving away from his rhythm licks, Trey began to weave intricate leads into the dance patterns, lending a more nuanced dynamic to the jam. Naturally building into a small guitar-led section, the band momentarily peaked the jam before dropping into the jam’s third movement—a glitchy, looped-out, bass-anchored segment of experimentalia. And while the other parts of the jam certainly spoke to the dancer in all, this section blossomed into something far more atmospheric and cerebral. Dripping into “Twist” out of this gargantuan centerpiece, the band showed effects of a newly discovered musical Viagra, keeping things going strong for 45 minutes before showing any semblance of slowing down.

Standout takes of “Velvet Sea,” “Chalk Dust” and “Joy” set up a set-closing “Antelope,” a subtle nod from the guys to someone’s 666th night spent with them. And just when the show was over, Trey stepped to the mic and commenced a perfectly placed “Shine A Light.” A glorious afterthought to a thorough set of Phish, this is exactly where the piece of gospel-rock belongs. Capping the night with a ferocious take on “First Tube,” Phish slammed the door on their first night in the Bay. But where one door closes, another opens—at the same bat time, same bat channel.

8.17.12 (Graham Lucas)

First Set Notes: The first set felt like a pep rally for the rest of the Bill Graham run, featuring a high-energy, crowd-pleasing vibe throughout. Though “Sand” had some teeth and “Corrina” provided a welcome respite amongst a set of straight rotation songs, this set was more about setting the vibe in the intimate room, and did so quite well. A surprising “Slave” came at the end of the opening set for the first time since The Fox in ’09, and appearing in the first set for the first time since Portsmouth ’10. Trey doled out a prankster-like tease at the end of “Roses” as the band hinted at a gorgeous music before Trey pulled the plug for “My Friend,” clearly knowing how much everyone craves for “Roses” jams. Funny, but not really, this move was the only jolt of the first two nights—not bad, I say…not bad at all.

I: AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, Possum, Corinna, Sand, Halley’s Comet > Funky Bitch, Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free > My Friend, My Friend, Slave to the Traffic Light

II: Down with Disease > Birds of a Feather, Tweezer > Twist > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Chalk Dust Torture, Joy, Run Like an Antelope, Shine a Light

E: First Tube

8.17.12 – BGCA (Graham Lucas)

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399 Responses to “A San Francisco Treat”

  1. RoosterPizza Says:

    Thanks Voopa! Just in time for the 16 hours I will be spending in airplanes tomorrow.

  2. Lewda Says:

    This is just my opinion, but tonight’s show was absolutely terrible. Trey could not find a groove at all. His playing was some of the worst i have ever heard. Not just for him but any gutarist. The whole band just could not get on the same page. It seemed as though trey might have been sick. I do not know. It sounded like a bad cover band of phish. Hopefully they can get it back tomorrow to save this run.

  3. sumodie Says:

    Seemed like a very unfocused set that failed to meet the promise of set1

    Simple was fantastic tho

    overall, well 3 shows in, for leg2 the band doesnt sound as on point & focused as leg1

    sure, seems they want to keep pushing, but set list construction is very haphazard, something’s missing

    stay tuned as always…

  4. Snow Says:

    I loved it. So much creativity and risk taking. There were moments of unrequited love, for sure. The bullets just kept flying, so it was still killers. For me at least.

    Great seeing bb crew. Could feel ya all in the bgca.

  5. sumodie Says:

    Ck5 is killing it

    dunno what it is about bgca, but the lights have been outstanding the last two nights

  6. ThePigSong Says:

    Fell asleep during #line, guess the rumor of a second rig on stage was just that. Lots of high points listening from home. Looking forward to spinning them later today.

  7. RoosterPizza Says:

    Rough good byes here. Until next time, Japan.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Safe travels Rooster!

    Thought last night was poised to go off after the first set, but the boys came up a little short…GA>Piper seemed to revert to ripcord Phish, but Simple saved the day IMO. They seem to be very willing to take risks, I noticed some nifty little effects and a couple nice outros, so nothing but excitement for what’s to come.

  9. Corey Says:

    @Rooster, tough to leave such a beautiful place, people. Do what I did and finish all your veggies in the airport and your flight will be awesome…until your meal is served, in what you swear is 20 minutes after take off. Everybody will seem to be ravaging their food and you’ll just let yours sit there for an hour. But, man check out the stars! Seeing the lights of the west coast cities come into view was trip-py.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I made thru 6 songs blast night..

  11. phoammhead Says:

    i’m looking for a drop . . . a miner review drop, that is

    sounds and looks like last nite was a saturday night special

  12. JP Says:

    def agree that on paper SNS and would expect miner to review as such – soam and simple hopefully top notch tho

  13. phoammhead Says:

    . . . hitting refresh every 30 secs

  14. JP Says:

    also see the early wolfmans and that was likely quite nice

    minimal jamz unf tho, maybe tonight

  15. joe Says:

    I needed the reminder yesterday that this is a good place to listen to the previous night’s show.


  16. joe Says:

    funny that some comments mention hearing a Wheel transition last night. On Thursday, I was listening to the Hampton 97 box set with a friend and during Halley’s we were saying that it sounded exactly like they were going into the Wheel.

  17. JP Says:

    seems like the ripcord must have been out in full effect last night based on song lengths and def would not have been best song choices to finish up with for me, but the degree of > from phish.net’s setlist is a good thing at least

    Set 2: Golden Age > Piper > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line > Carini > Wilson > Weekapaug Groove, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fluffhead > Loving Cup

    is SF starting to feel a little like nTelos in terms of toughest ticket/highest expectations shows with some natural degree of letdown happening?

    @butter = would like your review of last night sir

  18. litteringand Says:

    The formula is still there just jumbled up a bit. The typical second night show (tight show anchored by one or two huge jams) happen on the first night. The typical third night show ( lots of songs possible ADD/ripcord problems etc) happened last night. So all you peeps out in SF hold on to your ass because tonight is going to be a typical first night( just a masterpiece top to bottom) show.

  19. phoammhead Says:

    yeah, i see a lot of > but no -> . . . hmmm . . . looks like there’s not much more to reviewing setlists online than meets the eye 😉

  20. phoammhead Says:

    here we go . . . turn page

  21. William H. Bonney Says:

    “Sounding very much like “The Wheel,” this vibration-uniting excursion silenced a chatty-Saturday night audience with its mystical aura. An instant favorite, and a certain must-hear-now chunk of music, this “Simple” stole the second set all by itself,”

    Yup, was saying the same thing, great version…..

  22. William H. Bonney Says:


    Ezekiel Saw the Wheel

  23. Slicksasquatch Says:

    Boulettes larder . One of the best brunches I’ve ever had. Talent.

  24. IrieWalton Says:

    Today’s question: can you split a kief cap between two folks or will it just explode rendering it useless to all? The mrs and the sis want to share one on saturday.

    Also the strawberry diesel i had last night was akin to that Sally jam.
    Holy smokes.

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