Phish Break a Record and Kick off Fall Tour in Albany

Two nights into Fall Tour and Phish is already breaking records to make up for their harsh Curveball fallout. Ousting Billy Joel with all time attendance at Times Union Center, a brand-new, celebratory banner welcomed the deep grooves and thoughtfully selected set lists to come from the Albany double-header.

Moma Dancin’ their way back into the NY state capital after nine lingering years, a delicious take on the The Story of the Ghost tune got the packed party underway as Kuroda quickly proved his light show came to steal part of the opening show. “Tube” followed next as phans waited to see what territories the experimental track would wander into. It’s foundation was uprooted in its entirety and before you could predict it, the quartet threw you right back into familiar grounds. While all four members rode the high-energy wave of the tour opener, Page kicked it into high gear, grabbing the reigns throughout the course of the jam and foreshadowing his exuberant and demanding presence throughout the night.

“Theme From the Bottom” emerged to ignite smiles as the crowd recited lyrics near and dear to their hearts. “Keep what’s important and know who’s your friend,” chimed throughout the TUCenter and hit home for many of the North Easterners who suppressed low spirits following the demise of Curveball. At its pinnacle of a capella entertainment, a quick segue picked the crowd up and placed them a the light-hearted “Free.” Kuroda offered up some tricks and treats with new patterns and Pac-Man looking motion lights. The rigs swirled above like rolling waves, at times mesmerizing the sold-out dance party over the action on stage.

Short and to the point, “Halley’s Comet” made a fleeting appearance before finding its way into summer tour favorite “Everything’s Right.” Gordon took the opportunity to bask in the glory of psychedelia among his moments in the spotlight, bold slaps and bassy vocals. An appropriate rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Cities” rang through the pulsating downtown venue, making locals pretty happy that Albany’s the city they’ve found themselves living in. A heavy hitting “Walls of the Cave” closed out an exemplary start to fall tour to an approving arena.

Appealing to the October chill in the air and Halloween peaking around the corner, “Ghost” corralled the crowd for set two before leading into pleasantly welcomed Big Boat number, “No Man in No Man’s Land.” The duo opened up the set with high energy that continued with “Piper.” Wandering down a evil tunnel, a gritty “Twenty Years Later” welcomed three rounds of raging applause and earnest praise. The metal leaning performance conjured devil horns proudly raised in the stagnant, smoky air. After a brief “Show of Life” interlude, Phish came out guns blazin’ again with a classic “2001” -> “Character Zero” close to the set, the latter a frequent set closer in Albany going back to 1997. A favored “Harry Hood” encore sealed the deal on a wild fall tour opener, notching a high-bar for Wednesday night’s gig to follow.

Setlist via Phish.net
Set 1: The Moma Dance, Tube, Theme From the Bottom > Free, Army of One, Halley’s Comet > Everything’s Right -> Cities > Walls of the Cave

Set 2: Ghost > No Men In No Man’s Land > Piper > Twenty Years Later > Show of Life > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Character Zero

Encore: Harry Hood

Night 2 offered up a second helping of Phish, with fans filling into the arena earlier this evening due to the on and off wind and rain that peppered downtown Albany. The first set opened with “Crowd Control,” which was hardly an issue at the Times Union Center this run, as compared to past Phish shows where maneuvering around the sold out crowd can be harrowing.

The first set was the highlight of the night, with a 16-minute version of “Chalkdust Torture” leading the way for Jam of the Run honors in the same spot where “Tube” shone the night before. “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Steam,” and a set closing “Bathtub Gin” each took a lengthy spin, with energetic numbers found in between with “Scent of a Mule,” “NICU,” and “Gumbo.” Throw in a few minutes of Jon Fishman on the electrolux vacuum for “I Didn’t Know” and you have a throwback to the “Bathtub Gin” jam on 9/8/00 where Fishman led us in an ambient vacuum-laden jam.

Set 2 kicked off with the new “Set Your Soul Free,” which has already found its place as a set opening jam vehicle in only five appearances. A rusty “Birds of a Feather” followed, along with the misplaced “Mercury,” which has its moments in the middle improv section but otherwise fell flat as the set tried to pick up steam. It did just that with a 11-minute “Light” but “The Wedge” failed to capitalize on that energy, and by the time “Wading in the Velvet Sea” started, not even “Wilson”->”Slave to the Traffic Light” could find the initial energy from the set’s beginning.

As always, “Julius” got the crowd up and dancing for the encore, and then Trey took a moment to remark that these shows in Albany were like hometown shows, and with that, the band threw in “Rocky Top,” a song of home-sweet-home, to close it out.

Phish heads to Hampton, Nashville, Chicago and Las Vegas for the rest of their tour. Stay tuned to NYSMusic for updates!

Setlist via Phish.net
Set 1: Crowd Control, Chalk Dust Torture, All of These Dreams > Wolfman’s Brother > Scent of a Mule, NICU > Gumbo, Steam > I Didn’t Know, Bathtub Gin

Set 2: Set Your Soul Free > Birds of a Feather, Mercury > Light, The Wedge, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Wilson > Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Julius > Rocky Top