A Closer Look: Phish Summer Tour 2014
Phish tour is here! After months of speculating and compulsive refreshing of Phish.com, the dates are finally here, laid out before us to fret over until tickets are in hand. While the band certainly visits some familiar stomping grounds this year, they also managed to mix in a few venues they haven't played in a while, some recent favorites, and two debuts in the three-night run at Randall's Island and the one-off in Orange Beach, AL.
To celebrate Phish's brand new summer tour, here is a quick video guide to every show on the tour, sans Randall's and Orange Beach, AL, of course.
July 1: Xfinity Center, Mansfield, MA
History: Phish will makes its 20th appearance at Great Woods/Tweeter Center/Comcast Center/Xfinity Center to kick off their tour. Over the years, Great Woods became a landmark stop on Phish's summer schedule, eventually growing from a one-night stand to a two-nighter in 1994.
Last Time Phish Was Here: This year's tour opener will mark the band's triumphant return to the newly-minted Xfinity Center after two years away. 2011's jaunt saw Trey get redemption after a flubbed "Divided Sky" on the previous night as well as this debut of Al Green's "Rhymes," a one-and-doner in Phish lore.
July 3-5: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
History: Much like the Miami Heat aim to do this year, Phish will accomplish a three-peat of their own this year, performing their third consecutive three-night stand at the famed upstate New York venue. A hometown show of sorts for some of the band members, SPAC is known for harvesting multiple guest appearances over the years including band collaborators Tom Marshall, Dude of Life and Page's father, Dr. Jack McConnell.
Last Time Phish Was Here: The 2013 run was a highlight factory, from the "Energy" debut to expert transitions throughout the weekend. No song personified the raw power of SPAC 2013 more than the "Down With Disease" that opened the final set of the run. Trey teased "Call to the Post" and It. Was. ON.
July 8-9: Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA
History: Normally opting for the larger sheds in Camden and Burgettstown, Phish will instead indulge in the 14,000-seat Mann Center for its second multi-night run of the tour. Much like Mansfield and SPAC, the band made their debut here in 1992, but hasn't been back since 1995.
Last Time Phish Was Here: Phish's farewell at The Mann Center featured the best of what the band had to offer during that era, with an opening quartet of "Ya Mar," "AC/DC Bag," "Taste" and "Theme From the Bottom" which managed to be followed by the loveliest of Phish ballads "If I Could." A relentless second set sent the band off to greener pastures in grand fashion, most notably a destructive "Weekapaug Groove" with Blondie teases from Big Red.
July 15: CMAC Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, NY
History: Another original '92 venue, Phish made their return to this particular Finger Lakes shed in 2010 after a 15-year absence. Despite dating back to 1992, Phish has only performed here four times, with one set coming in the form of an opening slot for Santana. However, the band made it count in 1995, delivering a 40-minute "Tweezer" forever known as "The Fleezer" and changing music forever.
Last Time Phish Was Here: While 2010 may have been a transformative year for the Phish 3.0 era, the band stuck fairly close to the script, working through a variety of tour staples. However, one band debut did make it into the second set, as Phish dug into their Beatles repertoire to debut "I Am the Walrus." Check it out below.
July 16: DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI
History: A relative newbie to the Phish circuit comes in the form of this Michigan venue. While a popular stop with most other national acts, Phish only made their DTE debut in 2011 and did they ever make up for lost time. The band took the stage to a glorious Michigan sunset and immediately got heavy, opening with "Wolfman's Brother" and never looking back. The second set speaks for itself, really.
Last Time Phish Was Here: The "Phish doesn't jam anymore" narrative crawled out from the depths of hell in early 2011, then Phish rolled into Detroit Rock City and shut everyone up, quickly. Check out this behemoth "Disease" that kicked off a second set that also included "Fluffhead" and "David Bowie."
July 18-20: FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL
History: Rain, rain and more rain. That's how attendees of Phish's first run at Northerly Island in Chicago would describe it, and aptly so. All of a sudden the steep hill and expensive beers of Alpine Valley didn't seem so bad, as the band was forced to abort their first show two songs into the second set due severe weather. The weekend recovered slightly, as Phish delivered three sets on the following night to make up for it, but the rain quickly returned during the finale, prompting yet another delay.
Last Time Phish Was Here: Harpua. The Right Way.
July 25: PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC
History: No matter the name change, this Charlotte venue still remains one of Phish's favorite. For whatever reason, the band seems to be at ease as they cross the Mason/Dixon. The Charlotte crowd digs it too, creating a tidal wave of energy throughout the show.
Last Time Phish Was Here: As someone who attended the 2012 Charlotte show, I can honestly say I laughed just as much as I danced. The humorous side of the band came out almost immediately, with Trey recounting memories of reading Jon Fishman's old journal to the antics in the encore during "Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars." Watch the finale below.
July 26-27: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD
History: Including one of the last original '92 venues seems appropriate, particularly one as scenic as Merrirweather Post. Nonetheless, the home of "Walfredo" will always hold a special place in the band's history.
Last Time Phish Was Here: An improv-heavy show from the start, Phish dug into this "Stash," delivering an excellent multi-section jam that exemplified the variety and adventurous nature of the show. Take a look and listen.
July 29-30: nTelos Music Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA
History: Despite a venue in nearby Charlottesville with a similar name, the Portsmouth nTelos Pavilion no longer plays little brother to C'Ville in the Phish world, as the band is now on its fifth show at the oddly shaped shed. Upgrading to a two-night run in 2012, Portsmouth was sadly left off the docket in 2013, but is surely back with a vengeance this year.
Last Time Phish Was Here: Trey is Fish's father. It makes so much sense now....
August 2: Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL
History: Venturing into Widespread Panic County, the Deep South got a healthy dose of Phish in 2012 for the first time in thirteen years. The first time Phish debuted at this Alabama venue, they were joined by opening act Dave Matthews Band. Drummer Carter Beauford collaborated with Phish in the encore for "Drums" before the whole band came on stage to close the show with a rendition of "The Maker."
Last Time Phish Was Here: Fans were treated to a massive 24-song setlist that wasn't short on improv. Phish dug into every aspect of their musical and stylistic arsenal, touching on multiple genres throughout. Here is a particularly heavy trio of "Sand," "Twist" and "Birds of a Feather."
August 3: Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Alpharetta, GA
History: The shiny, brand new venue placed perfectly just outside of Atlanta has been home to some memorable two-night runs in its short history. There was the "Killing in the Name" insanity in 2010, severe rain in 2011 and the "Heartbreaker" set of 2013. All in all, a fairly uneventful first three years.....
Last Time Phish Was Here: A rare unfinished version of "Fluffhead" anchored the second set, transitioning into "Piper" which was fittingly followed by "Fast Enough For You." Because if there's one thing about "Piper" these days, it is the speed.
August 29-31: Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
History: The most and least surprising announcement of the day goes to the three-night Labor Day run at Dick's. While most people knew it would happen, I don't think anyone expected it to be included in the initial leg. That said, Phish sure does love Dick's. 2014 will mark the fourth consecutive year that the band spends Labor Day in Denver, with the first three practically drowning in highlights. From The "S" Show to Fuck Your Face to last year's "Ghost" weekend opener, Dick's is a special place for Phish in just a few short years.
Last Time Phish Was Here: In one of the more stereotypical moves in the band's career, they debuted a cover of Peter Tosh's "Legalize It" as the state was about to legalize the use of marijuana. For better or for worse, here's the replay.