21 in 21 of 2017: #3 07/16/2017 Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL (Brandon Yarsike, @IAmSpund)
Never miss a Sunday Northerly show. Phish’s two prior trips to the Chicago’s waterfront venue have provided memorable night 3s. 2013 featured an intense setbreak rainstorm, but Page told us they’d be back and he wasn’t lying. When the rain died down, Phish returned with a 5 song second set that featured a killer “Energy>Ghost>Lizards” segment and a controversial “Harpua.” In 2014 the weather was no factor and the band blessed us with an epic 4th quarter “Mike’s Groove” which contained the revered Northerly “Wedge.” This time around, the band was coming off of an amazing show with all time versions of “Simple” and “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” and excitement was high to see if they could follow it up.
After a fairly uneventful first set, the band fires up “Carini” to get set 2 underway. “Carini” had been one of the most consistent jam vehicles for a time, but it had been a few years since we heard a landmark version. In 2017, however, “Carini” came out of the gates swinging for the fences.
After the typical “Carini” solo, the jam gets quiet and spooky for a bit before Trey overrides with some happier notes. The jam gains steam around the 9 minute mark with Page on the Wurlitzer. Mike and Fishman provide Trey and Page a spacious pocket that allows the jam to build patiently. At 11:25, Trey sets up one of his classic widdly loops and by 12:25, he locks into a riff to play over it which will provide the theme for the bulk of this jam. While Trey and Page’s playing get more intense, Mike really provides the balance as this jam builds with laid back playing throughout. Once this jam really gets rocking around the 15 minute mark, it is all about that Trey/Page interplay. After the jam winds down, Trey continues with some beautiful, mellow playing and neatly segues into “Twenty Years Later.”
This jam really doesn’t have a signature moment, but from start to finish the band sounds locked in and they move from section to section with ease. Trey and Page really shine in this one and the rhythm section holds it down masterfully. Trey doesn’t necessarily go off for the peak but this allows for a very fluid outro into “Twenty Years Later.” “Twenty Years Later” requires a listen, as well. It features a dark, snarling jam with a lot of ‘99 sounds from Trey. The perfect foil to the more majestic “Carini.”
By time this tour opening 3-night-stand was finished, it was clear that Phish was playing inspired. They hadn’t opened a summer tour this strongly in a few years and it was obvious they were building toward big things at the Baker’s Dozen a week later. I look forward to the rest of the reviews of what truly was a great summer.