Phish Bust Out Rarities, Kids for Unique Father's Day Gig - Rolling Stone
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Phish Bust Out Rarities, Kids for Unique Father’s Day Gig

Fresh off two headlining performances at Bonnaroo last weekend, Phish brought the first half of their first tour in five years to a dynamic end last night at Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley Music Theater. The band took the stage with some special guests — their seven children — before opening with their first rendition of “Brother,” a Middle-Eastern-influenced jam that hadn’t seen the light of day since 2003.

In a fitting Father’s Day tribute that borrowed a joke from a 1992 version where family, friends, and crew members jumped around in a giant bathtub during the performance, the Vermont foursome’s children sat center-stage in a miniature tub for the song’s nonsensical lyric chant, “Somebody’s jumping in the tub with your brother!”

The rest of the lengthy, fourteen-song set included a cover of Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch,” a new ballad, “Joy,” that will probably appear on the band’s upcoming (and still-untitled) album set for release on July 28th, and the return of “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” an late-Eighties composition by guitarist Trey Anastasio. Since its first live performance in 1987, “TMWSIY” has always sandwiched the traditional Jewish prayer, “Avenu Malkenu,” before a reprise of the Phish original. The set closed with a 17-minute version of Anastasio’s newest composition, “Time Turns Elastic,” building to an intense crescendo that left fans awestruck by a band that appears to be firing on all cylinders after the embarrassment of an acrimonious “final tour” in 2004.

Not to be outdone, the second set opened with a rare cover of Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless,” a tune the band famously covered, along with the rest of Talking Heads’ iconic 1980 album, Remain in Light, for a Halloween performance in 1996. Although rampant rumors of a much-anticipated onstage collaboration with David Byrne at Bonnaroo didn’t come to fruition, “phans” in Wisconsin were treated to a funky, 15-minute version that drifted into a spacey ambient jam before segueing nicely into the band’s own “Down With Disease.” Later in the set, another cover, Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On, Reggae Woman,” brought a thick, danceable groove before a triumphant version of “Slave to the Traffic Light” closed the set.

Saving the best surprise for last, the band returned for an encore that featured a smoking cover of the Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein,” featuring Anastasio on a five-necked guitar, bassist Mike Gordon on a flame-bedecked bass, and keyboardist Page McConnell on a huge keytar that had previously belonged to James Brown.

Phish return to the stage for a sold-out four night run at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, beginning July 30th. The second leg will run through mid-August.

Set List:

Set One:
“Wolfman’s Brother”
“Funky Bitch”
“The Divided Sky”
“Back On The Train”
“Poor Heart”
“The Horse”
“Silent In The Morning”
“The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday”
“Avenu Malkenu”
“The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday”
“Time Turns Elastic”

Set Two:
“Crosseyed & Painless”
“Down With Disease”
“Wading In The Velvet Sea”
“Boogie On Reggae Woman”
“Slave To The Traffic Light


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