Few things are certain in life: death, taxes, and inclement weather when Phish plays Deer Creek. It’s a landmark for the midwestern phan, a consistent stop for a big portion of Phish’s career, and the site of some amazing shows, but in 3.0, Mother Nature has added an extra degree of difficulty to what should be a simple trip to Indiana. 2009 saw an incredible lightning storm as the backdrop for the first set, an epic set break storm complete with lawn evacuation, and a postshow storm that forced Green Acres campground to request hurricane relief funds. To help everybody dry out, when Phish returned for 2 nights in 2012, the area experienced a record setting heat wave. But, missing Deer Creek is not an option. After a new experience at Wrigley, a Sunday show at a familiar midwest shed seemed set up for greatness
After the Wrigley shows, we hung around Chicago for a little while and laid down a healthy base of deep dish pizza before hitting the road. Halfway through what should have been a three hour drive, the weather made its move. This was the kind of Indiana thunderstorm that made Mike Pence hate everybody. Highway signs are the tallest structures for hundreds of miles in Indiana, so lightning typically strikes just a few feet from traffic. We were moving slower than a Dead & Co. Jack Straw for a good hour and a half. Luckily, Phish delayed the show even though the storm never hit Deer Creek. I like to think they were looking out for me.
The first set was solid. “My Friend, My Friend” was a nice surprise as an opener. “Camel Walk” is always a treat. “Tube” had a slower pace and the band settled in to a killer funk groove. The band would bust “Tube” wide open later on in the summer, and Deer Creek showed signs of promise. The debut of “Breath and Burning” was uninspiring but the set closed out with a great trio of “Saw It Again,” “Theme From The Bottom,” and “First Tube.” The highlight of the set was definitely the sunset.
I love “Punch You In The Eye” and it has become a bit of a rarity so I was pumped to have it open the second set. When they followed with “Back on the Train” I thought we were primed to go type 2 but we got a quick runthrough before launching into “Light.”
“Light” has become one of the band’s most consistent jam vehicles and Deer Creek delivered on that promise. The typical “Light” jazziness gives way to percussive weirdness around the 7 minute mark. Trey is really dialed in and leads a bliss section starting around 8:15. Page finds the perfect accompanying melodies and Trey starts fiddling with the loops and they build a nice peak. Trey flips to a rhythm role and Mike and Fish dip us back into percussive weirdness. Page gets on the clav and an alien symphony commences before the jam dies out.
“Golden Age” follows with a sick funk jam that harkens back to the first set’s Tube. Mike morphs the groove into “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and the funk keeps coming. “Wingsuit” and “Shade” chill things out before a “Possum” closer and :Rock and Roll” encore get the crowd moving again.
All in all it was an average show at best. “Light” was definitely the highlight, and the “Golden Age” that followed made for a nice mid-2nd-set segment, but there is not much more to go back and relisten to from this show. The nostalgia of spending a midsummer’s night at Deer Creek is always worth it, though.
About Brandon: I am a 32 year old from Detroit and it’s really not so bad. I am anxiously counting down the three weeks until Northerly, which will be my only shows this summer. I waste away my workdays listening and DJ’ing in ThePhish.FM. I tweet about Phish and Funk and Life (Phish and Funk are life) as @IAmSpund. Follow me on mixcloud for the dope funk mixes at https://www.mixcloud.com/brandon-yarsike/