Phish Offers Big “Chalk Dust”, Stellar “2001” > “Sneakin’ Sally” At Hollywood Bowl Night 2 [Photos/Videos]

Phish returned to the stage at the historic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Saturday for the penultimate night of the band’s brief West Coast 2023 spring tour. The setlist for the group’s ssecond of three nights at the hundred-year-old amphitheater was loaded with early-years favorites—the average debut year for the show’s song selections was 1994 when all was said and done—giving the show a classic feel even as new sounds and visuals affirmed its place in Phish’s contemporary creative lane.

The “Ghost” opener covered a fair amount of ground, moving from pretty, quivering ambiance into an energetic ascent. Classic Trey Anastasio sustain over Page McConnell keys coaxed this “Ghost” toward the Heavens as Chris KurodaAndrew Giffin, and the rest of the lighting team blazed trails of gobo light through the cascading arches of the bandshell.

Phish – “Ghost” [Pro-Shot] – 4/22/23


A sea of sirens finally gave way to “David Bowie”, which went spooky and spacey early as Jon Fishman, sporting a purple frock with rave-ready neon donuts, sprinkled a few “troll button” samples into the solution. Quickly dispensing with the song’s jam section, Trey Anastasio hit the after-burners and powered the band through “Bowie’s” explosive composed conclusion and into “Esther”, the creepy carnival bedtime story from the band’s earliest days that has gone from rarity to regular of late (its four 2022 appearances were tied the most in a year since 1996).

Related: Phish Tour Blazes On To Hollywood Bowl For First Of Three Shows [Photos/Videos]

An atypically placed early-set “Harry Hood” arrived next to the audible approval of the Phish Bowl, and Anastasio quickly got to work with emotive staccato patterns as CK5 and Gif blended thematic blues and greens behind him. While “Hood” often plays like a slow burn, building gradually to a cathartic climax, this one seemed to jump from playful improv into the closing refrain just as it was leaving the station. Even if its unique nature may have slightly dampened the patented flow of the composition, this exit strategy was unique enough to beg revisiting—a testament to this 40-year-old band’s aptitude for continually taking what’s old and making it new again.

“Split Open and Melt” came next as the band continued to pull mid-set selections from the set-closer playbook (see: the last seven renditions of the Lawn Boy staple). Always a conduit for the darker side of Phish’s sonic palette, this “Split Open and Melt” dove straight into the shadows for a few maddening minutes of frantic dissonance and combative Trey wails. While the array of oscillating effects utilized surely fulfilled the song’s age-old “time to make the spunions lose their minds” obligation, this “Melt” ultimately offered more bark than bite before slipping into a regal “Leaves” breather. A well-executed “The Squirming Coil” finally set up an always-enthralling Page McConnell walk-off piano solo to bring set one to a close.

Set two began with yet another time-tested Phish classic, “Chalk Dust Torture”. A clear highlight of the performance, this extended rendition flitted between major-key motifs with a sense of wide-eyed wonder, passing through pools of twinkling tones, tiptoeing across staccato lily pads, and speeding down cathartic rock speedway straightaways before slipping into a brief, brooding “Twist” just past the 23-minute mark.

Phish – “Chalk Dust Torture” [Pro-Shot] – 4/22/23


While the “Chalk Dust” may be the shiny object on Saturday’s setlist, its was the ensuing “2001” > “Sneaking Sally Through The Alley” that offered up the show’s most thrilling moments. Any “2001” is a notable moment for the Phish lighting crew, and the spaceship-like arc of the storied bandshell combined with the exponentially expanded capabilities of this latest rig unsurprisingly made this one an eye-opening spectacle, but it was the new toys on Trey, Mike, and Page’s rigs that stole the show here. Much of this tour’s improv has been focused on tone and texture rather than melodic expression, but Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio threaded the needle here, lacing tight, focused licks with low-end synth sounds and bouncing them off of each other with second-nature ease. Unusual, creative, and engaging, this “2001” was as good as or better than any rendition in recent memory. After landing the space-funk ship back on Hollywood soil, Phish rolled into a “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”, Mike Gordon leading the way as the band percolated with purpose. Before long, the quartet began to tear toward a free-wheeling tension-and-release takeoff that could make a “Tweezer Reprise” blush.

The band pushed down the track from there with a steam-powered “Back On The Train”, an emotive “A Life Beyond The Dream”, and a Languedoc aloft for a set-closing “First Tube”. For the encore, Phish dipped once again into its back of blue chip reliables with “Run Like An Antelope”. Was it a little rocky as it got going? Sure, but when the soul gear shift is set to high during the encore of a setlist that featured [*checks notes*] “Ghost”, “Bowie”, “Esther”, “Hood”, “Melt”, “Coil”, “CDT”, “Twist”, “2001”, and “First Tube”, any late flubbery seems like an afterthought. The main thought? This was a great show.

Phish – “Run Like An Antelope” – 4/22/23

[Video: cdViking]

Phish wraps both its three-night Hollywood Run and its 2023 spring tour tonight with one more Los Angeles outing—the only Sunday show of this brief West Coast trip. We heard you’re not supposed to miss those.

Below, check out a gallery of photos from the first of three Phish shows this weekend at Hollywood Bowl via Peter Wallace. For a complete list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. Watch the remaining dates on the West Coast run live or on-demand, in HD or 4K, and get 48 hours of unlimited playback via LivePhish.

Setlist [via Phish.net]: Phish | Hollywood Bowl | Los Angeles, CA | 4/22/23

Set One: Ghost > David Bowie, Esther > Harry Hood > Meat > Split Open and Melt, Leaves > The Squirming Coil

Set Two: Chalk Dust Torture[1] > Twist > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Back on the Train, A Life Beyond The Dream, First Tube

Encore: Run Like an Antelope

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