Photo by Rene Huemer

The Phish & Bern Report: July 15th, 2017

Travis Weedon


Highlights of Phish’s tour opener last night; Bernie talks Medicare-for-All with Rainbow Push Coalition.


Phish kicked off their summer tour last night with one of the strongest opening shows since Fall 2014 in Eugene, OR. Some moments were awkward, some were sloppy, but others brimmed with the adventuorsness that only Phish can deliver. See below for the highlights.

“WTU?” opener, WTF?

The worst thing to bring to a Phish show is expectations. Confounding anyone who did, Phish opened the show with the first ever “What’s the Use?” in the lead-off position. There’s a reason why “WTU?” doesn’t typically open a show: it’s probably Phish’s most undanceable tune, and everyone at a Phish show came to dance. But once you’re swaying in “WTU?’s” melodic vortex, what’s the use in resisting?

“Wolfman’s Brother,” “In the Good Old Summertime,” “Everything’s Right”

The strongest sequence of the set soon followed. “Wolfman’s” is a tried and true first set option for Phish to bring up the energy, get everyone moving, and start testing the improvisational waters. This “Wolfman’s” jam takes its usual pleasant, funky course until Page swerves the jam a little on the grand piano. After tinkering around a bit outside of the song structure, the boys land back in familiar territory to bring the song to a climactic peak.

Then comes a rare mid-set acapella number, the debut of “In the Good Old Summer Time.”

Another Phish debut follows in the recent TAB original “Everything’s Right.” As is typical for a first-time live test-run, this “Everything’s Right” feels a little hollow at its center. When the members of Phish really lock in, it’s almost as if an unaccountable 5th member is born. Something in the coherence of their playing brings a fullness of sound that is more than the sum of its parts. “Everything’s Right” doesn’t quite have that yet.

But the jam is a different story. After a final refrain of the chorus, the guys break into a laidback blues jam. It’s all a little too laidback and a little too bluesy until Page comes in and gets weird and awesome. From there, a strange, special effects laden soundscape emerges. Definitely check it out.

Strong Peaks, but Not Much Variety in the First Set

Choosing the path of least resistance, most first set jams focus on building up to a satisfactory peak, which they invariably manage to do (see “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Limb by Limb,” “Theme from the Bottom,” and “Blaze On”). This is all fine and well and sure to please a crowd, but it ultimately makes for a set without much in the way of variety and texture.

“No Men in No Man’s Land”

Under the cover of a newly darkened sky, Phish reemerges with “No Men in No Man’s Land” to open the second set. Trey’s voice has a little trouble projecting and all-around the groove has a bit more slack in its step than usual, but Phish makes the best of what’s available in the moment. Rather than go for the usual high-octane funk jam, the guys hang back and allow for a rolling groove overlaid with ethereal textures to develop. This jam is reminiscent of something out of their ’99-’00 catalogue.

“Your Pet Cat” →”Golden Age” →”Your Pet Cat”

“Golden Age” in a sandwich of “Your Pet Cat” is definitely the uptempo highlight of the night. The funky dance party of “Your Pet Cat” goes Type II and segues into “Golden Age.” “Golden Age” lifts all spirits and then immediately takes a dive into some further funk. With some “Manteca” teases thrown in, we quickly land back into “Your Pet Cat.”

“Harry Hood”

This “Hood’ has everything that all good “Hoods” have, with the added bonus of some “Mountain Jam” teases and a “WTU?” reprise, which means it’s an exceptionally good “Hood” and well worth a listen.

The Debuts: “In the Good Old Summertime,” “Everything’s Right,” “Leaves,” “Love Is What We Are.”

An acapella number, a TAB adaptation, a new Trey ballad, and a reggae tune: all can be heard here and should be. “Love Is What We Are” is an especially nice addition to Trey’s series of “love and light” songs (think “Everything’s Right,” “More,” “Golden Age,” “Light.”) The refrain in “Leaves” of “Breathe…Breathe…Breathe” seems not to fall too far from that tree either.

Phish shows are a cohesive whole, and I recommend listening to them in their entirety. But if you only have time for some highlights, I hope this recap serves you well.

See full setlist here. And some more details here.

Two more nights coming up at Northerly Island!


You can keep track of Bernie’s agenda and digital whereabouts via his multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts, but, as for his physical whereabouts, this morning Bernie spoke at Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition International Convention. Other speakers at the convention included Elizabeth Warren, Al Sharpton, and Maxine Waters.

Jackson’s organization has been leading an anti-voter suppression initiative. Bernie spoke on that issue and also addressed the need for single-payer Medicare-for-All. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, it’s a popular idea with the Rainbow Coalition. It’s a popular idea with most people. We just need to get our representatives to start listening to us instead of the hired lobbyists and campaign contributors who want to steer legislation in the opposite direction.

This evening, Bernie spoke in Iowa for the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund.

For Phishy and Bernie news updates, follow @phishnbern on Twitter.