25 in 25 of 2016: #23 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO (Sam Boone (Rosenberg), @PhishPhit)
Dick’s 9/2/16: Set I = A Hot Date
“Ghost” can be the perfect live tune. It weaves pockets of space for each member of the band to expand and retract as they see fit. The “Ghost” opener on 9/2/16 had Fishman driving the tempo from start to finish, and Trey, Mike, and Page throwing layer upon layer onto the fire. The band played off the crowd’s energy and came ready to have some fun.
“Ghost” was loose and welcoming, and Trey ripped his solos. But that didn’t prepare me for the 17-minute scorcher to follow. Enter “No Man in No Man’s Land,” one of my favorite new additions to the Phish catalog.
The way Trey toyed with his vocal inflections in the opening bars clued me into the treat we were about to receive. The band threw out a tight, high-energy “NMINML.” This foreplay was only the second song of the night!
Thank you, sir. May I have another?
Side Note: While re-listening to the show at work, I was rocking out to “NMINML” when a colleague needed me. So I, of course, started it from the beginning. Then came another interruption. I had to restart this song five times and loved it more and more each time.
Sometimes – in fact, many times in 3.0 – a set would begin with so much promise only to fizzle out by the end. The first set at Dick’s started strong and ended strong. We heard some solid tunes throughout, enough to keep me interested, moving, and wanting more. How could you not love a swing-style “Ass Handed”?
Let’s jump to the end of Set I of 9/2/16.
“Alaska.” You either love it, or you talk shit about it while secretly enjoying it. Is it your bathroom song? I’m sure it is sometimes. I consider it more a quick-run-to-the-beer-stand song. Perfect to sing along to yourself as you wait for the guy in front of you to figure out how to carry three beers at once (Pro Tip: Take a big swig, bite down hard on one, and hope for the best.)
The boys had fun with the 9+ minute “Alaska” section, which hadn’t been played in 77 shows. Around 5 minutes in, I could tell it wouldn’t be a typical set filler.
But this commentary is about more than “bust-out” Alaska. It’s about the “Alaska” > “46 Days.” At around 9 minutes, Trey is screaming, “I’ll stay right here,” and things were getting steamy. Enter “46 Days.”
Closing the set with “46 Days” was an improvisational highlight for me. Mike and Fishman stayed connected which allowed Trey to burst with soaring asymmetrical tones throughout the tune. Nothing felt rushed, and the pace never wavered, just like a good lover. By the 15 minute mark, I had entered orgasmic bliss.
Sometimes it takes a whole show to feel satisfied. Sometimes, it takes one epic song (ex: 12/31/03 Stash; 8/17/97 DwD; 12/31/99 C&P). In this case, Set 1 felt like one coherent, satisfying set. Similar to “NMINML” in the beginning, “46 Days” at the end broke through the song’s usual limits into new territory.
By the end of the first set – like the end of a good date – I felt satisfied.