Fourth of July With Phish, Vol.1

Three Phish shows in three days. That is what lay ahead of me as I arrived in Charlotte, NC last Friday afternoon. Phish’s summer tour was swinging south, with one night at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte on Friday, followed by a two night set at another Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, this one located in Alpharetta, just outside Atlanta.

This Phish tour has been marked by an energized band putting out a notable setlist almost every show. A review of the setlists from previous shows on the tour revealed seldom heard covers, originals the band had not performed in years, and generally just some very good stuff.

This was the first show I had ever seen in Charlotte. The first set was strong, with an excellent AC/DC Bag appearing early. I felt the band was playing very tight, particularly Mike Gordon on bass. A highlight for me was Wolfman’s Brother, and the set closed with a very solid Chalkdust Torture.

The second set was good but not great. Early in the set, the band played a very good 46 Days, transitioning into Twenty Years Later. Twenty Years Later is the final track off Phish’s latest album, Joy, and it seems to capture a poignant look back by a band that has been doing things their way since day one. I was excited to hear it and some of the other new material performed live. However, the band’s transition into Twenty Years Later was a little awkward, and Trey Anastasio’s vocals seemed strained, particularly in the first verse. After that, the set just seemed to lose a little momentum. A rocking Carini was a highlight, followed by Fuck Your Face, which marked the first time this song was performed since 1987.

YEM rounded out the set with a vocal jam that included Proud Mary with a Beatles’ Get Back tease. This is unique stuff that only Phish can do, and I am sure someone looking at the set list would be impressed, but to be honest with you, I’m not a big vocal jam guy, and it seemed that tacking YEM onto the end of the set was a cheap way to prop up a standard set. This feeling returned when the band returned for an encore and performed A Day in the Life off the The Beatles’ White Album. Overall, I was pleased that the band sounded like they were playing well together, and I enjoyed hearing some rarities. Not the best Phish show I have ever seen, but definitely enjoyable.

After a night spent on the hardwood floor of a friend’s sister’s dining room at their condo north of Charlotte, my crew and I departed EARLY Saturday morning. We made a quick stop at the last exit on I-85 in South Carolina to purchase some fireworks. The good ones are not legal in Georgia, and hippies LOVE fireworks – did I mention that at this particular establishment, you can buy a patriotic-themed firework named “Untamed Retribution”? Check it out:

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