Phish @ Riverbend Music Center – June 22
Phish entered this three-night run through the Midwest ready to turn back the dials with a wealth of unexpected bust outs and exploratory jamming. They used the amped up vibe of the sun soaked Cincinnati crowd appropriately to introduce the recycle period for many of their go to songs while complementing them well with some wild and memorable moments. The band brought their charismatic stage presence from the Portsmouth run to a first set that could have been plucked from another era and in the second set they changed the game entirely with Kill Devil Falls > Twist and a show-stopping Fluffhead encore.
[All Photos by Michael Stein]
As the circus rolled in from the lush riverside amusement park attractions of Riverbend, Phish showed no reservations about dropping directly into Wolfman’s to deliver a funky flavoring of Manteca teases and staccato funk. As a followup, Peaches en Regalia would foreshadow the bust out of the long lost relic of Phish’s dog cannon, Shaggy Dog. This unprecedented turn of chance had many heads looking around in shock because Shaggy Dog last appeared on stage with Phish over a decade ago on October 29, 1995 at Louisville Gardens in nearby Kentucky. As part of the humor, Trey lead the band into Runaway Jim to solidify the opening phase of the show as a throwback for the veteran crowd.
The remainder of the first set stacked up well with Traffic’s Light up or Leave Me Alone allowing keyboardist Page McConnell to tickle the keys on the baby grand while singing to the setting sun on the hillside. Alaska had a very enjoyable jam whereas Stash brought the remainder of the heat that was still barreling off that song from back in Atlantic City a week ago. Finally, after an impromptu version of I Saw it Again, our favorite lighting designer, Chris Kuroda, got his “official favorite song” out of Trey to close the set with a fiery David Bowie.
When the band took the stage for Set Two something clicked in to place for the them because they took the opportunity to launch directly from Down with Disease into a fantastic extended jam that teased the theme of Twist to foreshadow that jam vehicle’s impending return that evening. That event would be delayed as Guelah Papyrus came out of Disease to some surprise. However, the path was set as the quartet opened up Kill Devil Falls in unusual fashion by taking this straight forward first set shuffle into a spacey and textural jam that led to a seamless segue into Twist, finally. And this Twist was epic, bringing in elements of progressive metal and devious Type-II exploration that was wildly impressive.
Additional Set Two highlights came with the return of the funk during Sand, which continued the staccato steam from the opening Wolfman’s and flowed wonderfully into the crowd favorite Roggae and then even further into a brief Carini that led straight to Chalk Dust Torture, which featured some truly stellar Trey Face action. As the 11 p.m. curfew inched near by the end of the set, Trey rushed back on stage in a humorous bit to suggest he was in a hurry to avoid the fines for playing over. Alas, the crowd was pleased to discover that no such effort was to be made this evening as Trey ripped into the opening riffs of Fluffhead to place the proverbial cherry on the top of this rage-case in Cincinnati, Ohio. Onward to the next show!