There have been plenty of shows at casinos or towns with casinos in Phish’s history, the various Vegas and Atlantic City runs, Vernon Downs, and even Bangor earlier this summer had a casino nearby, but last night the band made their debut at Mohegan Sun. The shows throughout the bands history in proximity to casinos usually work out for fans as the band conjures up something special and the 24 hour party cycle of a casino gives the fans an extra excuse to let loose. History was on everyone’s side last night as the band put together one of the best start to finishes of the summer.
Throughout the night the show felt like various experiences you might have at a casino. The beginning of the show felt like when you get into a casino and immediately put all of your money down and somehow double it. The surprising choice of The Apples in Stereo’s “Energy,” the first in almost six years, gave everyone that early win. The cards just kept getting dealt in our favor as out of nowhere during the song’s jam Trey Anastasio moved the whole band into “Weekapaug Groove.” Both the band and fans had smiles a mile wide as if we moved onto the slot machines and pulled the lever and won the jackpot. This would not be the last time this feeling spread over the crowd.
“The Moma Dance” was played straight forward, but Jon Fishman had a surprise ace up his dress as he sang the rare “Lengthwise” at the songs conclusion before the band dropped into “Maze” that had the crowd egging the band on to continue it’s hot streak that started the show off. “Petrichor” was the breather that was needed by everyone as you can’t keep a hot streak going forever, no matter what game you play in a casino. Page McConnell’s “Things People Do” followed and felt like the band, and the fans, were all looking for the next game to play.
A strong “Sample in a Jar” led the band into the set closing “Bathtub Gin” that felt like the band was just playing with all of the house money they acquired during the beginning of the set. They went full type-two during the jam, leaving the confines of the songs structure, and delivered one hell of version. Trey and Page moved the first part of the jam until Mike Gordon completely changed directions and the whole band followed him down into another key and then continued that thread before bringing it all back home to the normal ending of the song. It seemed everyone was happy to be seeing some indoor Phish in the middle of summer and the band fed off of it the entire set.
Many people left the arena during set break to explore the casino, get some food and drinks, and do a little gambling. Lucky for them the break was slightly longer than usual, but when the band came back on they wasted no time going to the high roller tables in the jam during “Soul Planet.” Fishman was on fire throughout it, playing ridiculous fills left and right. It was as if he could be dealt any cards at the table and win no matter what the dealer had. If it sounds like cheating, we all know that isn’t allowed at casinos, but if anyone could pull it off it would be Fishman. The segue into the band’s first take on Trey’s Ghost of the Forest song “Wider” was unreal. All four hooked up and perfectly dove head first in. The band wasn’t doing breaking the house’s bank yet though as another amazing segue took the band into “Undermind” and had Fishman showing off again near the end of the song just nailing everything in his path and continuing his hot streak.
“The Final Hurrah” was played straight forward, but had a ton of energy to it and even had a “Blaze On” style jam in the middle of it with the crowd egging the band on hard. “Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 1” followed and at first it felt like it was going to be the cool down portion of the night where you’ve been riding high at every game inside of the casino and you need a break from the floor. Maybe you go get some food or go to your room to rest, but like this jam, you get lost in the casino and continue playing. The jam went from dark and dirty to blissful and back again, with the band locking in perfectly with one another for what is already being called one of the major highlights of the entire tour. Chris Kuroda, the band’s lighting director, pushed the jam forward with his work as he was completely locked in during the song as well. The whole portion felt like five people pulling a trick on the casino and walking out with millions without being caught. This is a must hear segment of the show.
“Ghost” rode into town because why not at this point and they dove right into the jam and took it far out of the confines directly into type two. Trey yet again led the band into a “Weekapaug” jam, after a brief tease of “Under Pressure” and then went directly back into the “Ghost” jam they had just been in. “Birds of a Feather” was forced by Trey, but no one in the crowd hated the idea and after a quick run through of the song, with samples from “The Birds” included, the band immediately took this out for a non-traditional jam with some excellent full team work. To bring this back to casino talk, it felt like no matter what slot machine you walked up to, you hit a jackpot each time, with money pouring out onto the floor for everyone to enjoy. A beautiful “Waste” followed by the giant sing a long of “Golgi Apparatus” to close the set.
The band had more fun in store for the crowd after coming back on stage for the encore with Trey joking asking “Is anyone in a rush to get out of here?” with the crowd responding in a powerful “No.” With that the band launched into the first “Foam” since 2017 and immediately everyone felt like they hit yet another jackpot. While it may not have been played perfectly, we were all playing with as much house money as we could hold at this point. It was also the first time the song had been in the encore slot. “Contact” followed with a wave of the arms from the crowd and the band finished it off with “More” that felt like the victory lap after breaking every machine and game in the casino. Phish has one more night in the Northeast tonight and then they are on to Alpine Valley and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to close out their summer tour.
Article: Bryan Lasky