Phish at Dick's, Labor Day Weekend, night one, 8/30/13 (photos, review, setlist)

Categories: Last Night, Phish

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Eric Gruneisen
Phish's Trey Anastasio last night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, night one of the annual three-night Labor Day Run.

PHISH @ DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK | 8/30/13
The night started with a familiar sight in the Denver skies last night over the Phish show at Dick's Sporting Goods Park -- the airplane that local grow supply store chain Way to Grow usually has flying overhead at concerts with its "Grow Your Own" banner. But then a second plane appeared, this one with a banner trailing it beckoning, "Read the Book." When fans saw it, they quickly got excited and started screaming "Read the book!"

See also: Review, photos, setlist from Phish at Dick's, night two, 8/31/13 and night three, 9/1/13

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"Read the book," of course, is a lyric from the scarcely played and constantly chased song "Icculus." Over the past few months, there had been an online campaign to gather funds to get this banner flying, so people that had been reading about it were going wild. Shortly before the band took stage, the plane swooped low twice over the audience, making it feel like we were at a sporting event where everyone was rooting for the same team.

See also: Slideshow - Phish and fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park

The band took the stage with "Ghost" and was greeted by a roar of approval from the crowd, as "Ghost" hadn't been used as an opener since 1998 at the San Francisco Fillmore -- never mind that it's a great, funky song that showed tonight could be serious. The band sounded good so far, with Trey really shredding into the peak and the sound dialed in all around the stadium.

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Eric Gruneisen
Phish at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on night one of its annual three-night Labor Day Run.

"NICU" bounced up next, and the tropical dance beat got everyone bopping around. At the end, Trey exclaimed, "We love Dick's" as the opening notes of the great and wonderful song "Icculus" began. Once more, a roar of approval from the crowd. With even louder cries now of "Read the fucking book!" Trey went into the opening narration, talking about seeing planes fly by with special messages. Now, whether or not the band had already planned on playing "Icculus," or if they had been inspired by the plane is anybody's guess, but either way, it was played well and extremely favorably received -- at least two guys were crying.

See also: Slideshow - Phish and fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park

After a standard "Heavy Things," Page played the initial notes to "Theme from the Bottom," and the crowd, in unison, went "wow!" This was a great version of the song, as Page's keys are always a highlight and the band really created a fantastic loud wall of sound, ending with a really raw, funky Page outro that I was hoping was going to stick. Instead, "Esther," another song that rarely shows up often, started up, with its carnival calliope melody making friends hug and high five. "Moma Dance" was next, and this one had some fire, straight energy from everyone on stage and the audience giving right back.

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Eric Gruneisen
Phish at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on night one of its annual three-night Labor Day run.

Now the thing about Phish playing Dick's is that after the "S Show" in 2011, where the guys played all songs with titles starting with the letter "S," people began expecting gimmicks. Last year, a setlist spelled out "Fuck Your Face," followed by the titular song, with a "Grind" and "Meatstick" encore. Everyone has heard every tired joke about Dick's and Phish and what they like to do with them, and I thought that show was a clever way to show the crowd that they are aware of what people are saying. And that they like dick jokes, too.

See also: Slideshow - Phish and fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park

Since then, there has been lots of talk about what the gimmick would be this year, what they were going to spell out, etc. During "Theme from the Bottom," a friend noticed that the set list was spelling "thing" backwards. By "Moma Dance," I took a guess that they were spelling "Say Something" backwards and then would play the new song "Say Something" (and that I think the song snippet Tom Marshall posted months ago "Hotbox" may have been incorporated into, listen to both, the cadence is there, but the lyrics are different in one section). When "Ocelot" came on next, we knew we were on to something.

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Eric Gruneisen
Phish at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on night one of its annual three-night Labor Day Run.

"Ocelot" tends to be a bathroom/concessions break song for many, but the past few have really had some teeth, and this was no exception. Next was "Stash," a really beautiful version with Jon and Mike slowing down the beat and a major key change in the jam causing the blissful sound that I love to hear out of these guys.

See also: Slideshow - Phish and fans at Dick's Sporting Goods Park

Page began "Lawn Boy," making that "Say Something" guess off, and herein is the problem with gimmick shows: Instead of listening to "Lawn Boy," most everybody around me was doing brain puzzles, trying to guess what was next, instead of enjoying what was currently being played. "Limb by Limb" followed with them closing the set with the first time they have played Little Feat's "Easy to Slip."

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Eric Gruneisen
Phish at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on night one of its annual three-night Labor Day Run.

Keep reading for more on the show, including setlist and review of set two


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13 comments
gratephil915
gratephil915

Great Review!  Awesome show!  My only critique, rather important, is that the date is wrong.  Night one was 8/30/13

Denver Westword
Denver Westword

Right you are, Candie Bernard. Good news, though: we're covering tonight's show too.

Judd Donelson
Judd Donelson

Way to Grow thanks you for posting a photo of their banner! haha

Jef RV
Jef RV

Good article, thank you.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

It was an amazing show, but it was 8/30/13, not 8/31/13 ;).

Jeremy Coss
Jeremy Coss

So the sound and venue is awesome this week, but for Dave Matthews the venue sucked? There is no consistency with the writers here

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