Phish in Chicago

Having finally had my first Phish experience, I'm still reeling a little from the weekend. After severe weather forced them to cancel their second set on Friday night, the Vermont quartet came back onstage Saturday night and played a blistering marathon of a three-set show. Sunday night started off easy before picking up steam into an epic finale that left the venue rocked to the bones. Highlights from Friday include a surging "Suzy Greenberg" opener into a cool little "Wolfman's Brother" jam. A few surprises included "Backwards Down the Number Line" and "46 Days" before my personal favorite, the slinky, groovy "Julius" closed the first set. Second set opener and crowd favorite "Down With Disease" was stellar, before the storm cut everything short.

Saturday's best moments were an early barn-burning "Possum", with jazzy garden number "Lawn Boy" including a special vacuum cleaner solo from drummer Jon Fishman. There were some special barbershop quartet moments sprinkled throughout the first set before the second set kicked in with "Back On the Train", sunny "Mike's Song", a super funked-out, spastic "Weekapaug Groove" before "Golden Age" and "Waves" dominated the rest of the set. The third set opened with "Meatstick" and really got the crowd back on their feet (we had been under some rain again). "Birds of a Feather" really picked things up and they cruised through some standards before finishing up with Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times", and the Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light" for the encore.

Sunday night was my favorite, with my personal highlights of the thudding "AC/DC Bag", the back-alley creep and preposterous vocals/melodies of "Bathtub Gin" followed by the crunch and stomp of "Wilson", one that I didn't think I would get to see. "Water in the Sky" led into a great cover of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman" and they finished the first set with the spacey "Run Like an Antelope", another of my favorites. After yet another 45-minute rain delay, they came back with a sizzling "Energy" into crowd favorite "Ghost", and in my opinion one of their greatest and silliest songs, "The Lizards". The tropical flow is so good in "Lizards", and the story is just superb. Following this was what I have heard described as the Holy Grail of Phish songs, "Harpua", that even many veteran fans haven't seen in quite some time. At over 22 minutes, it included a guest spot by Second City comedians and a very strange story by bassist Mike Gordon. It was one of the most intense songs I have ever seen live and it went back into "Run Like an Antelope" to close out the set. A "Character Zero" encore blew everybody's faces off as Phish thanked us for sticking it out with them and the weekend finally came to a close.

It was a long, difficult weekend of navigational strife and financial troubles, but in the end I'm very glad I went and even more so that I went to all three nights. Time to relax for a bit. Happy listening everybody.

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