26 in 26 of 2019: #1 06/11/2019 Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO (Brad Beneky, @brad6513)
St Louis, MO Night 1
You never know what you’re gonna get on the first night of tour. There’s as many opinions on how the first night will go as there are reviews afterwards. Anticipation is always really high regardless. The Chaifetz Arena is fairly small for Phish in my opinion. Located on the campus of Saint Louis University, Chaifetz Arena is a 10,600 seat multi-purpose arena mainly used for basketball. Really tight and cozy and everyone loves indoor shows on summer tour.
I had been to Chaifetz in 2012 where Phish had put on a stupendous show. The Limb By Limb from that 2012 show is one of my all time favorite jams. Although that show was towards the end of second run of that summer tour, this is almost opposite in terms of placement. The Shakedown scene was in a very small parking lot right next my hotel and about one block away from the venue, so good vibes in the air. Not as crazy as the scene the next night, but I’ll leave that to tomorrow’s reviewer. On to the show…
Cool Amber and Mercury opener was very good to me. Chill way to start, but the jam seemed to get going really good then opening notes of 46 Days got everyone hyped and ready to rock. Leigh Fordham had recently passed away and a lot of people were calling for this as opener so in the #2 slot was kind of not a huge shock. Trey got a lot of crazy tones going and another good jam ensued clocking in at almost 10 minutes. Pretty satisfying and the boys were warmed up and ready for what came next.
Stash is always a fan fave and this was the jam of the night for me. Third song of opening night and treated with a 17-minute Stash! The composed sections are played about perfect. They waste no time and around the 6-min mark already heading into Type 2 territory with Mike leading the charge. Nice cowbell work from Fishman and everyone taking turns leading the jam with Trey holding back. Around 10-min mark, Page and Mike start with some wild effects and pretty sure everyone including Phish must’ve forgot what song we are in, which is a great feeling this early in the show and tour. A minute later, ring bell sounds a few times and it’s time for Trey to riff on some bluesy notes. Is this really the 3rd song? The 13 min-mark has Mike funkin it up with Bootsy Collins-type wet sounds. At the 15-min mark, Trey finally veers everyone back to Stash familiar territory. All in all, this version is an encapsulation of why I love Phish. Tight composed section, then jammed out with each other feeding off each other before coming back together perfect.
Next up, some bluegrass with Mike taking reins on Nellie Kane. This is the only song of first set without a jam. Free > Theme From Bottom > Tube all had really good jams. The debut of Drift While Your Sleeping ends the set,which is very cool and may have caught people off guard, but all in all a decent end to a great opening set.
Set 2 did not have any jams longer than the big Stash jam, and not nearly as consistent as the first set. No Mans > Bathtub > Ghost > Piper > Blaze On looks good on paper, but not terribly inspiring as far as jams and yet still a lot of fun
After super quick run throughs of Joy and Simple, they drop into Limb By Limb. At first, it didn’t come close to the 2012 version, which was on people’s minds when this dropped. Decent Slave ended the set, before an encore with Turtle in the Clouds dance party into Character Zero. St. Louis night 1 was in the books.
Great first set and good feelings abound for night 2!
My name is Brad Beneky and saw my first Phish show on 6-13-95 in St Louis. Veteran of over 100 Grateful Dead shows from 85-95 I have played Bass in various bands since 1987. I am currently in Sunshine Daydream a jamband tribute based out of Central Illinois that does about 50% Grateful Dead covers and the rest Phish, WSP etc.