Photo by Brad Hodge
After just a few hours of sleep the sun again shoved me out of my tent. The manicured lawns are great, but it’s essential to bring an easy up or something to protect you from the oppressive Colorado sun. I spent the morning playing disc golf at the impressive Beaver Ranch in Conifer with friends in from Iowa. We got back and played Polish Horseshoes with some of our neighbors. Everything feels a bit slower on day three. There was a leisurely feel to the afternoon as we strolled around the Lot. I finally reconnected with my wife and the rest of my friends just before show time. We took our place just behind the soundboard again and settled in for the final night of Phishmas. This is the third tour closer Colorado has had the pleasure of hosting and they never seem to disappoint. They opened up with a somewhat unusual “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”
Set 1: A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Kill Devil Falls, Back on the Train> Rift, Meat> It’s Ice> Guelah Papyrus, Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Cavern, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan> David Bowie
Set 2: Carini> Birds of a Feather> Golden Age> Prince Caspian*> Piper> Boogie On Reggae Woman> Saw It Again, Mike’s Song> Legalize It**> Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life> Suzy Greenberg
Encore: Character Zero
The band moved from docile to destructive with an unruly “Kill Devil Falls.” “Back On The Train” seems to be getting less airplay these days, so it was nice to see it performed. “Rift” was solid, but the funky “Meat” is what got my attention. “It’s Ice” saw some intricate jamming from Trey, before the song melded into a bubbly “Guelah Papyrus.” “Divided Sky” showcased some of the most intrepid jamming of the entire show. During the moment of silence the crowd exploded. “Funky Bitch” was a bass driven dance party. For the second possibly third time in a row, I witnessed Trey execute “Cavern” without dropping any lyrics. This is an impressive feat to say the least. Phish closed their first set with a heavy “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” into a deep jam on “David Bowie.” They went to the dark side before the lights went out for the set.
They continued that sinister tone by coming back with “Carini.” The second set featured some of the best transitional jams of the entire run showing some real creativity in the process. Phish broke into a tight “Birds of a Feather” before heading to the lighter side with “Golden Age.” “Prince Caspian” was left unfinished, but “Piper” went off the rails. Phish sounds like a band firing on all cylinders. They are a well-oiled, well-maintained group playing somewhat succinctly at times but always with authority. “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was funky and full of bounce. Phish went into an unexpected “Saw It Again,” which was a first for me. Afterwards they took a slight breather before going into an interesting Mike’s Groove. The meat of the sandwich was Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It,” which was a debut cover for the band. Three days and three premiere covers… This was obviously a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 here in Colorado. “Show Of Life” is the type of song that makes random people hug in the audience at the end of a three-day run. They closed with a beautiful “Suzy Greenberg.” The “Character Zero” encore was clean and without much fanfare… And just like that it was over.
Phish loves Dick’s. It’s apparent to anyone who has seen their connection with the fans over the course of three years. Again, it’s not because this is some magical soccer field in the mountains. Quite the opposite actually, it’s a sporting stadium in the heart of Commerce City. It’s also home to a massive oil refinery, which pumps out 90,000 barrels a day. The smog can clearly be seen with each sunset. That being said it’s the only outdoor venue with that type of capacity in the Denver area. It’s super convenient for travel and everyone that wants to gets inside. The band’s connection with Dick’s is with the fans that come back each year. No one knows how much longer Phish will spend Labor Day Weekend in the comfy confines of Dick’s, but I hope that it’s something that will last for the foreseeable future.