Phish Kick Off 2015 Summer Tour, "Blaze On" To Night Two July 22, 2015 11:43
Phish kicked off their 2015 Summer Tour to a sold out Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon last night, hitting on a steady variety of each generation of the band's now 30+ year catalog, while debuting three brand new songs. Nearly 8,000 fans from across the country gathered at the outdoor, riverfront amphitheater in Bend's historic Old Mill district. Modern technology prevailed yet again as LivePhish.com has offered HD webcasts of both nights in Bend for those of us wanting to watch at home.
The band took the stage at 6:24PM PST and opened up the nearly 80-minute set with "Sample In A Jar," which always proves to be a safe and effective way to get the crowd moving. The unusually compact stage, which was dawned with an elaborate image of a multi-colored owl, provided a slightly different feel. A rather rare first set "Sand" came next and certainly had its moments, clocking in at just less than 10 minutes. Next came "555," "Rift," and "Halfway To The Moon," which seemed appropriate in the broad daylight, well before Chris Kuroda's lighting mastery would be utilized. Trey Anastasio took us back to the Rift album with "Horn," a tune that tells a sad love confession, but provides a classic and quintessential Trey led crescendo. "Devotion To A Dream," one of my favorites from Fuego, would follow and click in at just under 9-minutes.
The night's first debut came in "Blaze On," which felt like something from Little Feat or The Band from the get-go. The brand new song's title and chorus were clearly products of Anastasio and long-time Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, and the composition seems to leave plenty of room for the band to explore. "Tube" was next, much to the crowd's delight, but was cut much shorter than we all hoped for at just 4 minutes. A funky, 10-minute "Wolfman's Brother" brought the set to a close with a nice sing-a-long for the 7,700+ fans in attendance.
After a nearly one-hour set break, the band took the stage with plenty of sunlight still shining. "Ghost" set the tone immediately, providing early indication of what we like to call a "heater." The 13-minute jam featured some classic interaction between Anastasio and Page McConnell, who really took it to the next level before moving into "Birds Of A Feather." We got a tiny taste of the band's 2014 Halloween antics when we heard the "They attack!" sample once at both the beginning and end of the song. "Mike's Song" came next providing the powerful but dark jamming that we have come to expect while simultaneously and appropriately aligning with the setting sun. I had my fingers crossed for a "Mikes>Wedge," and that's exactly what happened. "The Wedge," another track off the 1994 release, Rift, always makes for a fun sing-long, and occasionally some next-level improvisation. Unfortunately, Tuesday night was not one of those nights, but I'll take a Wedge in any form any night.
The first "Fuego" of Summer Tour would follow and provide for more red-hot but concise jamming, which seemed to be the theme of the night. Two more brand new originals, "Shade" and "No Men In No Man's Land" would follow last summer's 'anthem'. I can't say much for "Shade" just yet, but many original debuts don't always blow you away the first time. The highlight of the show came with the third and final debut of the night, “No Men in No Man's Land.” This Page and Trey led funk number immediately set the tone for the rest of the set. Incorporating his Mu-Tron pedal from GD50, Trey played several notes that were reminiscent of a Spring 77 “Dancin'”, and while this jam didn't go quite as far as we would've liked, it segued somewhat smoothly into a rocking “Weekapaug” that continued the groove. Sure to be a major jam vehicle moving forward, we can't wait to see where this new tune goes. With a great rhythm and wildly catchy lyrics, I can already see this one as one of the jams of 2015 Summer Tour. Anytime a new original is debuted and surpasses the 10-minute mark, you have got to feel good about its potential.
Chris Kuroda finally saw the sunlight move out of the way for the latter half of set two, and we saw the lights take full effect during "Weekapaug Groove." You knew it was coming at some point with "Mikes Song," and on Tuesday night a total of 4 songs were sandwiched in between. Anastasio and McConnell both shined during opportunities for extensive solos. Jon Fishman carefully slowed the pace for a beautiful transition into Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman," the first and only cover of the night. "Chalkdust Torture" closed out the set in raging fashion, while continuing the theme of red hot but concise jamming. "Theme From The Bottom" made its first encore appearance since September 9th, 1999 (Portland Meadows - Portland, OR), clocking in at 9-minutes and capping off what evolved into a particularly strong tour opening show.
The first set started off feeling fairly "run-of-the-mill," with songs like "Sample In A Jar," "Sand," and "Wolfman's Brother" all having their moments. "Ghost" truly set the tone for set two and aside from "Shade," the dance party really never let up. There is a notably different feel after the sun sets with the lights taking full effect, which naturally did not occur until midway through the second set. The energy that keeps us all coming back was clearly flowing and could easily be felt, even for those of us on "couch tour." Marshall's latest lyrical work will be what I remember the most when thinking back on this show. One particular part of "No Men In No Man's Land" really sticks out and that's what I will leave you with as we shift our focus towards night two of Summer Tour in Bend, OR.
"And the truth will rise above, and fiction falls beneath. Though the lies may bite, the truth has all of the teeth. You see us as a window, all happy that we're here. Exposed to all the elements, while inside all is clear. But if you hold a mirror, and you turn it to one side. The depth you see within at first will find a place to hide" - "No Man In No Man’s Land" - Marshall/Anasatasio
07/21/2015 Les Schwab Amphitheater
Encore: Theme From the Bottom