Phish Sets the Gearshift Out of Control for SPAC Night Two

Phish’s second night at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center was preceded by a beautiful early summer afternoon, a welcome change from Friday’s thunderstorms that served as the soaking precursor to the night one show. Fans also seemed to feel more settled, ready to dive into the middle of the run, despite having to wait in the lengthy security lines.

The boys kicked things off with “Crowd Control,” a solid but rather underwhelming choice considering the intensity that would awaken later in the show. Mike Gordon took the lead vocals on the “555,” with accompaniment from John Fishman before sailing into some improv grooves on “Seven Below.” The consistently upbeat and funky “Back on the Train” had fans howling with delight. Trey Anastasio slammed into a solo only to be matched by Page McConnell’s key shreds. This led to “Army of One” with additional impressive displays of jazz inspired liberties on keys. The “Divided Sky” included the basic choreographed dance jumps of Anastasio and Gordon. The song included its lengthy pause in which all four members appeared still as statues. The raw human emotion could not be hidden as a wide grin on Anastasio’s face shined like a pillar of light, letting the 20,000 or so die-hard fans know he was just as happy to be in the spa city as they were.

“Martian Monster,” a Halloween 2014 debut track, gave Anastasio another chance to demonstrate melodic percussion on Fishman’s marimba lumina as he did the previous night during the massive and lengthy “Chalkdust Torture.” A quick “Rift” followed by “Water in the Sky” moved into a slamming “46 Days.” Chris Kuroda’s new LED light boards beamed throughout the song, mimicking the look of liquid in motion as Anastasio and McConnell drove the song to the first set’s closer, “Walls of the Cave.”

The jam-heavy second set began with “No Man in No Man’s Land” before diving into the intensity of “Fuego,” featuring long and deep improvisations and jams. The crowd sang along the tune’s “whoa-ohs” and simultaneously tossed boat loads of glow sticks into the night sky. “Light” included some type II style jams before teasing back the lyrics of “No Man in No Man’s Land” and ended with a fun rendition of TV on the Radio’s “Golden Age.”

The later half of the second set was stocked with tour debuts, beginning with “Taste,” which featured some intricate piano playing that moved throughout the song with McConnell’s directive. “Horse” glided right into “Silent in the Morning,” as it typically does. The ever perky “Julius” made it nearly impossible not to boogie down before the foursome took to the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” bringing the second set to a triumphant close. A small child on her father’s shoulders graciously accepted Anastasio’s guitar pick as a token of his appreciation for even his youngest fans.

A bubbly “Bouncing Around the Room” kicked off the two-song encore before exploding into “Run Like an Antelope,” demonstrating the extensive musical prowess of all four members and closing SPAC night 2 with a bang.

As if your face hadn’t fully melted off after nights 1 and 2, there’s still time to grab the mop and bucket for night 3 at SPAC this evening. As they say, “never miss a Sunday show.”

Setlist via Phish.net
Soundcheck: Funky Bitch, How Many People Are You, Miss You, Tide Turns

Set 1: Crowd Control, 555 > Seven Below > Back on the Train, Army of One, Divided Sky, Martian Monster[1] > Rift, Water in the Sky > 46 Days, Walls of the Cave

Set 2: No Men In No Man’s Land > Fuego > Light -> Golden Age > Taste, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Julius, A Day in the Life

Encore: Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope
[1] Trey on Marimba Lumina.