On the second night of its three-night run, Phish continued at least part of its "S"-theme from the night before by being supremely solid. We headed in around 7:15 p.m., and the venue was already noticeably fuller than it was the night before, with floor space already filling up along both sides of the venue where it had been so spacious the night before. We milled around a bit, found a few more old friends and then settled in for the long haul.
The band took the stage around 8:15 p.m., and from the start showed that the night would be a jammy, loose endeavor, punctuated by a few ripping rock songs for good measure. Trey Anastasio opened the show with the arena-blasting chords of "Possum" before taking the song for a ten minute ride.
That song faded out and the band doused the crowd with a bucket of wah-wah funk in the form of a screaming "Moma Dance." Anastasio set the bar high over the next few songs, nailing composed parts of "Wedge" and "Divided Sky," and beating his guitar around during the wailing chorus of "Ocelot" in between.
Just in case anyone wasn't paying attention to that, Anastasio got everybody's attention with the blistering blues work on Son Seals' "Funky Bitch," on which the volume got noticeably louder through this song, enveloping the crowd in thumping bass from Mike Gordon and the wash of Page McConnell's Hammond B-3.
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Anastasio was clearly into heavier tunes through the first set, laying down ear-piercingly distorted leads on "Axilla I" and a light-speed fast introductions to "Llama" that forced the entire band to play at warp speed to keep pace. Then, just as quickly as he ramped it up, Anastasio tapped the brakes a bit and eased smoothly and quietly into slow-paced, sweet "Fast Enough For You."
Edging back into the funk brought earlier with "Moma Dance," McConnell banged out the opening chords to "Wolfman's Brother," pushing the boogie-woogie tune into a soaring, lengthy jam before bringing it back down to earth and taking us to the set break, which was uneventful and slightly long. Half of our group decided that the front was getting too packed, so they relocated to the back of the floor behind the rear speakers. Space was tight, but the sound was amazing where we were, and I didn't want to give up the feel of thousands of watts of sound pressure blasting my head for a few more inches of dance room.
The second set kept the flow and energy of the first set up well. Gordon riffed around on the Brady Bunch theme song briefly before dropping the first of many second-set bass bombs with the intro of "Down with Disease." Though the song has been drawn out over this summer, the band kept this version short, bringing the jam to a peak within eight minutes before treading into murky, bass-heavy waters. Teases of "Undermind" began to surface from Gordon's basslines, but Anastasio either missed it or heard something else entirely, because he began a slow, steady climb into "Tweezer."
A brief war of glowsticks erupted as the band boomed into the medium-tempo version of the jam-heavy tune, but ended as quickly as it started because everyone was too busy shaking their ass to keep the battle going. McConnell was clearly having fun with the tune, dropping teases of Sugarloaf's "Green Eyed Lady" into his organ melodies throughout and building the song quickly to a roaring swell with his organ washes and rolling piano fills.
The song went from dark and danceable to bright and beautiful when Anastasio began teasing the melody of TV On the Radio's "Golden Age" over Gordon's smooth, balloon-like basslines and Fishman's airy drum work. The band played on that melody for a good five minutes before fading out effortlessly, only to build right back up into the actual "Golden Age."
New tune, "Kill Devil Falls," came next. A solid, straight-forward rocker with a catchy melody, this song jams in a way too similar to both "Chalkdust Torture" and "Birds of a Feather," and without fail, I can't get either of those tunes out of my head while "Kill Devil Falls" is playing.
The band went back to the funk next with a thumping, trance-like "2001," and Anastasio flicked out funky notes over Gordon's thunder bass and McConnell's creamy Fender Rhodes piano work. The dance party wasn't long enough, though, as the band went into "Light" after only six minutes. "Light" was the only sloppy point of the night, with Anastasio fumbling a few of the chords in the first verse - but the jam made up for it by moving away from the composed structure into a subtle, quiet jam of synthesizer washes and watery basslines from Gordon.
Anastasio's noodling in "Light" morphed slowly into the final passage of "Down with Disease," with the band picking up on it for about a minute before Anastasio abandoned the riff altogether for a smoking hot version of "Julius." McConnell and Anastasio battled it out on this song for MVP, with McConnell's grand piano work edging him out for the photo-finish win.
The crowd thinned out noticeably during the encore break after "Run Like an Antelope," leaving plenty of space for dancing along with Trey as the band exploded through "Tweezer Reprise." The little red headed guitarist bounced around in place possessed, screeching out the climactic solo to end the song while thrashing his guitar back and forth and pumping the crowd into a roar.
Random Bias: I would vote for Jon Fishman for president of the United States. Random Detail: Found all ten of the pins found in our Ten Most Collectable Pins post in the lot yesterday. Pinning! By the Way: The venue was clearly fine with vending, charging double parking rates for people setting up shop behind their cars along the far edge of the dirt parking lot to the west of the venue. Two full rows of vendors slanging T-shirts, food, glass pipes, pins and even toiletries set up in an in impromptu open air market. The lot was also teeming with undercover cops. We saw at least three people busted behind our car by one who pretended to be on his cell phone looking for friends, only to walk up behind people to spy on what they were doing to arrest them.
PHISH Dick's Sporting Goods Park Commerce City, CO 09/03/11
Possum The Moma Dance The Wedge Ocelot Divided Sky Funky Bitch Axilla I Llama Fast Enough for You Wolfman's Brother
SET TWO Down with Disease Tweezer Golden Age Limb by Limb Kill Devil Fans 2001 Light Down with Disease Julius Cavern Run Like an Antelope
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Sleeping Monkey Tweezer Reprise