25 in 25 of 2015 #25 09/06/2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO (Pete Mason, @phanart)
Thank You for a 34 minute encore
After the final set of music at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park ended with “Slave to the Traffic Light” in stunning fashion, it seemed as though the five year run of performing a thematic set had become lost in the mix. Nothing was spelled out Friday night, as per the past four years, and while Sunday brought out many bustouts, including “The Landlady” and “The Birdwatcher”, there was no indication we would have a * on the shows as a mental note of what made them special that year, beyond the friends, family and overall community the arrives at Dick’s each year.
Then Phish opened up the encore with “Tweezer Reprise,” which is nearly always found as the final song of the encore for the energetic sendoff it provides. After a few seconds, they were still on stage and approached the mics with hands near their faces, breaking into “Harpua” and we were off and running. The rare treat that many chase and few would disavow was brought back to Colorado, which has spent nearly 20 years being performed in the state.
Asking Micah to not include “Harpua” in the setlist once, a very subtle hint towards what was to come. Talking about Jimmy living up in the mountains with his oxygen tank and edibles, they embarked through Jimmy on songs that easily helped spell the eventual THANK YOU encore. “After Midnight” provided some rock, “N20” a little weirdness and commentary on nitrous, and “Keyboard Army” took a lighthearted shift to a song not played live since 1995. “Your Pet Cat” played nicely into “Harpua,” with Poster Nutbag making an appearance in the Thrilling Chilling Sounds original.
In this version of Poster Nutbag dying, Mike eats him, slightly anticlimactic. As Jimmy waxes philosophic, he thinks “How did I get here?,” filling the ‘O’ slot with a rusty at first “Once in a Lifetime” and thankfully, not a weird segue into “Ocelot.” Jimmy reflected on the loss of his cat, while Phish sang “A Dog…” lines over the ending of “Once in a Lifetime,” a powerful ending to the story.*
“United We Stand” brought the show back full picture to the Phish crowd. We were now out of “Harpua” and had the summer close out with a rare 1970’s track by Brotherhood of Man that no one knew but damn if we didn’t all sing “For united we stand, divided we fall!” Trey thanked the crowd deeply as the band played the opening chords of the otherwise unknown song, but that night they made “United We Stand” their own, reserved in Phish lore for eternity. This was the coda on a major THANK YOU to the fans, an entire encore spelling out their appreciation for a community that comes together across the country for this wonderful band.
*Note from the author: in late July, before heading out on Phish tour, I said goodbye to Halley, my dog since November 1999. Heading through shows down south, the Northeast and Magnaball while seeing friends from all over was the best therapy I could ask for, but the Dick’s encore spelled it out for me – be thankful, Halley was a once in a lifetime dog.