PHISH @ DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK | 9/1/13 One of the best things about Phish playing Dick's on Labor Day Weekend is that each night you get treated to a good, juicy, late summer, Colorado sunset pre-show, and then you get to see two whole sets of Kuroda's light show, like it's an indoor fall show. Last night, which marked both the end of the band's summer tour and its three-night Labor Day run, was definitely more crowded than last year's final show.
People also figured out that the back stands weren't a bad place to be, but you had to stay pretty aggressive to keep your space, particularly if you were in a big group back there. Any time one friend went to the bathroom, two or three people would try to squeeze in to their freshly vacated, one-square-foot spot. Gotta stay on your toes. All was right with the world as usual, though, once the music started. "A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing" was yet another interesting opener on this Interesting Opener Run.
"Kill Devil Falls" came next, and it was a standard rocking out version, and it came with the added bonus of some of those blue lights that scatter and shine out on people. They've been around on this tour but were initially seen (by me, at least) on Bieber's tour. (Speaking of the Biebs, the pop star, who made it out to the Long Beach show, was spotted at Dick's last night with Dan Kanter, his guitarist and musical director.)
When "Back on the Train" started, the audience really perked up, and Page treated everyone to some churchy organ (thank you, Sunday show). Up next was a solid version of "Rift" that ended with what sounded like a firework or shotgun blast coming from Fishman. Page missed a cue slightly at the beginning of "Meat," but more than made up for it in the next measure, a smaller version of that sweet 360 degree make-up move he pulled in Chicago.
The song chugged along with Gordon throwing bass bombs out and funky falsetto. Lyric heavy "It's Ice" came next. On this one, I always like checking out other people's dance moves, it makes for some pretty elaborate, if confusing, pantomiming. The song got into a steady groove, and then the band suddenly went into a huge drop and key change, which sent a jolt of energy through the audience. A nice version of "Guelah Papyrus" was next followed by "Divided Sky."
This version of "Divided Sky" will always stand out to me due to the ingenuity and practicality of the fans having access to a veritable shit ton of metal bleachers to bang on. It sounded like the wildest pep rally imaginable in there (really great use of venue as percussion -- great job, everyone). The MVP of "Divided Sky," however, was the really, really talented hooping chick mesmerizing the back stands. (Note to Hooper Woman: If you don't work for Cirque de Soleil, you should go try out.)
On the next tune, Trey decided to go full rock guitarist and his guitar squealed into "Funky Bitch." This version was really tight, and Mike laid it down on the bass as he is wont to do, and he kept laying it down into "Cavern," which sounded extra slappy tonight.
As the guys came out of "Cavern," they moved into spacey territory, veered into losing focus slightly before settling into "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan," a song that really lets Trey guitar wank it up and the audience then lap it up. From there the band went back to the spacey theme, "David Bowie," with drums seeping in, and then it was back to the spacey stuff, with "Bowie" finally blowing through the doors. I loved the high bass line Gordon was repeating; it really made for a pretty, almost blissful version.
Keep reading for more on night three, including setlist and a review of second set
Set Two came kicking in with a bang with one of my favorite songs, "Carini." Someone brought a big bag filled with blinking light up balloons onto the floor and let them fly. Trey started out delicate, and the band created waves of buildup, really playing with volume in this jam. This was a highlight of the show for me, as it had the aggressiveness that I love out of "Carini," but it got very dreamy in parts, offering the best of both worlds.
A well-executed "Birds of a Feather" followed, pumping the crowd up so that when they started "Golden Age," we all were ready. The crowd also knew to clap twice -- there has been much debate over how many claps and where, exactly, but last night's crowd was pretty in unison with the two claps.
As "Prince Caspian" started, I ran to the bathroom and saw almost every single person I know, and got back in time to hear the song peak and roll into "Piper." Everything sounded great. Fishman was laying down the bass drum like a madman, and Page was really getting funky. Then the guys did a start-stop, and once again with the "woos" commenced, and it felt like they would never stop.
Luckily, they did, and it was on into "Boogie On Reggae Woman," which is such a great Stevie Wonder cover that it even gets girlfriends who hate Phish to dance and let it all out. The dance song slowed to a cool down, and suddenly, there was "Saw It Again." It wasn't a long version, but it was powerful and awesome watching that huge crowd punching at the sky repeating the lyric louder and louder every time.
The playful bass line of "Mike's Song" started up, and everyone was having a good time, and then here came the sound of the most covered song in Denver by touring bands, Peter Tosh's "Legalize It." But Phish's version was far more practiced and grander than any rendition I have seen. In a city full of vape pens, finally a bunch of joints got lit up, and the classic "rock concert pot smoke cloud" made an appearance.
The tune finished out with "Weekapaug Groove," with Page once again destroying it on the organ and showing everyone that he needs to tour with the Meter Men every Spring. "Show of Life" gave everyone a chance to catch their breath and/or put their arm around their buddy from college, and the set ended with a crisp "Suzy Greenberg."
"Character Zero" ended the run with celebration, right down to some perfect glow stick precision from the crowd (there was really great timing and the sheer volume of glow sticks on this run was impressive). As I walked out of the show, I heard everyone talking about how they want to move to Denver, so I'm taking it that people had fun. The way the housing market is here, though, people better start looking today.
Phish Dick's Sporting Goods Park - 9/1/13 Commerce City, CO
A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing Kill Devil Falls Back on the Train Rift Meat It's Ice Guelah Papyrus Divided Sky Funky Bitch Cavern Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan David Bowie
Carni Birds of a Feather Golden Age Prince Caspian Piper Boogie on Reggae Woman Saw It Again Mike's Song Legalize It Weekapaug Groove Show of Life Suzy Greenberg
Personal Bias: I saw the Bieber show Kuroda designed and ran lights for at Pepsi Center. I also thought it was one of the best spectacles I had ever seen. Random Detail: You can't bring missiles into Dick's, but you can bring bubble guns. By The Way: The night officially ended with some pretty sweet fireworks in the lot. Thank you, Phish.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.