Phish summer tour 2023 came to a close on Sunday evening with a weather-altered performance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park featuring “one long-ass set” rather than the typical two.
The single-set concert stood in stark contrast to the previous night’s standout performance, which featured a six-song encore to go with its six-song second set, prompting many fans to half-jokingly refer to it as a three-set show. The fact that Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of a 2022 Commerce City gig that was similarly condensed to a single, “long-ass set” only added weight to that take: On some karmic level, September 2nd at Dick’s was owed an extra set of Phish, and 9/2/23 seemed to balance the metaphorical scale. That balance didn’t last long.
Intermittent flashes of lightning painted the sky in the distance on Sunday as the lines to enter the stadium grew longer, the gates still not open as the scheduled 6:00 p.m. door time came and went. Just before 6:30 p.m. local time, the band announced on social media that gates were being delayed until the storm had cleared the area. After two hours of waiting and hoping, the doors to Dick’s finally opened, allowing fans to get situated ahead of an eventual 9:25 p.m. MT start time for yet another single-set Labor Day Weekend soiree.
Doors have finally opened at @DSGpark and the show will begin as soon as we possibly can. There will be no set break tonight, just one long-ass set. Thanks for your understanding!
📸 Jesse Faatz pic.twitter.com/u1SHx3To9i
— Phish (@phish) September 4, 2023
Saturday night’s performance would have been hard to top regardless, but the weather-related format change all but ensured that Sunday wouldn’t reach the same heights. Still, one set Dick’s is better than none, and fans quickly settled in to savor their last taste of summer 2023 Phish.
If the band had plans to do something “special” on the tour’s final night—bust-outs, big jams, quintessential Phish/Dick’s antics—those plans seemed to go out the window with the last-minute shift to the schedule. Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Page McConnell, and Mike Gordon could seemingly hear the ticking clock winding down from the moment they took the stage, defaulting to relatively brief, fast-paced takes on heavy-rotation tunes throughout the night. Of the 18 songs played during the single “long-ass set” and ensuing encore, 13 had been played the weekend prior at SPAC, resulting in a night of Phish that never quite achieved liftoff in the way so many summer 2023 shows have.
That’s not to say the night was devoid of high points, of course. An early show “Down With Disease” stretched out to more than 16 minutes in length behind a flurry of frantic Fishman backbeats. Anastasio was particularly nimble on his fretboard during a bite-sized “Kill Devil Falls”. “Everything’s Right” got an extended reading that moved from watery funk to anthemic guitar leads over the course of its 16-minute runtime. “Gumbo” could have been a nod to the late Jimmy Buffett, who notably covered the track on 2001’s charitable Phish covers album, Sharin’ in the Groove, but even that connection felt like a stretch amid the band’s mad dash to fit a night’s worth of music into a couple short hours. [Note: even if you don’t subscribe to that theory, the P.A. walkout music after the Sunday show, Buffett’s “Come Monday”, with its “labor day weekend show” lyrics, is as clear a hat tip as you’ll find to the late mayor of Margaritaville.]
The energy spiked noticeably as “Gumbo” gave way to “2001”, then “Fuego”, then “Runaway Jim”, then “Twist”, but while they each had their bright spots, they largely came across feeling rushed. Even “About To Run”, the Ghosts of the Forest rocker that tends to pull its power from its slow, measured strut into distorted chaos, took off at a brisk pace and finished its development arc in just over five minutes.
After a solid “Harry Hood” (though not quite as solid as various other recent editions) and a standard “More” brought the “long-ass” set to a close, the band returned to encore with “First Tube” and the “Tweezer Reprise” that had lingered over Commerce City since Thursday’s hefty “Tweezer”.
While this may not have been the Dick’s/summer tour finale many fans hoped for—a scramble to the finish line as opposed to a momentous celebration of the ground covered over the last few months—some Phish is always better than none at all. Rain delays and thwarted sets aside, 2023 has been an outstanding year for Phish. This summer has largely been top-notch, and the band is bound to hit the ground running with a “long-ass” chip on its shoulder when fall tour kicks off in Nashville in just over one month. Travel home safely, everyone. We’ll see you out there soon.
Below, check out the full setlist and a selection of videos from Thursday night’s Phish show at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. Subscribe to LivePhish+ to listen to every show on the tour and browse an archive of live Phish recordings.
Phish – “Sigma Oasis” [Pro-Shot] – 9/3/23
Phish – “2001” (Partial) – 9/3/23
[Video: Mark Apple]
Setlist [via Phish.net]: Phish | Dick’s Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, CO | 9/3/23
Set: Sigma Oasis > Down with Disease, The Moma Dance > Kill Devil Falls, Free > Everything’s Right, Roggae > The Wedge, Gumbo > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fuego > Runaway Jim > Twist, About to Run, Harry Hood > More
Encore: First Tube > Tweezer Reprise
This show started late and consisted of only one set due to a lengthy weather delay.