[We would like to thank Reed Meschefske, @DaleCooper, for recapping last night's show. -Ed.]
As mentioned by Dr Stephanie Jenkins during the Thursday review, Dicks is bordeline ritual for people. The same hotel, the same lot, the same seats. Each year adds a new ring of emotions and stories, like a tree growing upward and outward.
With 2022 being announced as a four show run, these patterns were uprooted somewhat. Travel plans, vacation days, long-made hotel reservations all had minor to major adjustements made. With these changes, the weekend looked different. There was more time by the pool, or having brunch, or hiking in the mountains. This extra day allowed people to look at their traditions in a new and expanded way.
Dicks 2022, to my ears, had been a consistently solid, entertaining, and at times, sublime run. Compositionally the band has been on fire. And while the jams are why we keep coming back, hearing a note for note "Reba" makes me as happy as some Type II explorations. Tonight was no different in that fact. While some of the song selections may not be to everyone's liking, the show was beautifully played, with a huge payoff/tease, highlighting the emotional elements that this weekend means to so many people.
Settling into my same seats as at every Dicks show (congrats Anthony on your impending nuptials), the crowd was both hopeful and fatigued. Four nights at Dicks is not for the faint of heart.
The music got underway at 8:02 with an unexpected "First Tube" opener. The usual show closer was welcomed by all and seemed to bode well for a potentially smoking final show. Trey pushed it as far he could and the crowd was with him every step of the way.
The short but fiery opener gave way to a second slot "Bathtub Gin." The crowd immediately knew the potential this had, but hopes were somewhat dashed by the lack of atonal intro and the headlong dive intro the composed section. Some samples notwithstanding, the composed portion was well-played and straightforward. Trey took his time letting the jam come to him and eventually found a nice groove with the Chairman, and the two of them went into a sweeping micro jam that was heavy on reverb and synth. The reentry back into the composed portion was smooth as silk.
"Undermind" came in third and with the history this song has at Dicks, it's impossible to not remember the glory this song has had at this venue. With hopes both simultaneously high and tempered, this version was easy fun and highlighted Page's ability to lead the funk for 20000 people.
"Drift While You're Sleeping" came in next. Oftentimes described as a set-killer, I really enjoyed the placement here. Trey obviously adores these songs and playing them brings him great joy. In this early Set 1 spot, the on-the-nose emotional elements really landed, and allowed many friends and lovers to share some softer moments to embrace each other and relish in the weekend that was. Again, beautifully played, this was one of the more enjoyable outings I have had with this tune.
"Halley's Comet" came in next and aside from some very nice vocal harmonies, this was a pretty standard version.
Short on many of the "Love and Light" tunes throughout the weekend, "Everything's Right" came in with a pleasant, albeit short, midsection jam that had people moving, but ended quickly.
This was followed by "More," which prompted more than one person in our section to wonder if "Is this a spirit family night?" Barely scratching five minutes, peoples' hopes for a set-stretching jam were dashed.
Any disappointment in some of song selections were quickly dashed with the opening notes of "Fluffhead." With the recent 1999 throwback at Alpine Valley, many didn't expect this song to be in play. A superbly played version, the crowd was with this set-one closer every note along the way. It was a fantastic way to end a decent set, and got the hopes high for the last set of the summer.
Returning from setbreak, Trey launched into "Set Your Soul Free." Overiding my disappointment that it wasn't "Simple," I settled into the groove. Although there were some dark stretches where they tried locking into a groove, punctuated by exploration highlighted by Page's boards, the jam petered out before they really locked-onto much.
A song I will never complain about hearing, "Fuego" came in next. All four were absolutely locked-in with every note blaring through. A difficult song to jam out of sometimes, all four landed in a nice cohesive groove that was both aggresive and subtle at the same time. It really accented how well these guys are playing together. This was one of the highlights of the night for me.
In one of the only real questionable set calls all weekend, "A Life Beyond a Dream" really killed the momentum of this set up to that point. The whole weekend was filled with interesting song placements, but to my ears this one was a miss.
"Crosseyed and Painless" was the perfect remedy. This was doubly special, as I had spent the afternoon at the brand new David Byrne production at the Denver Center Theater Company. With a beautiful tempo, and Fish really putting some mustard on the drums (also, how can he nail these lyrics, but not remember "Bike"?), this brief CxP was a welcome song choice and got everyone back into the swing of things.
Cruising on that momentum, "David Bowie" was welcomed by all. Although standard in its construction, it was rousing and beautifully played (seeing a pattern here?), and a welcome relief to some who may have been dissatified by the song selections throughout the night.
Continuing with the positive and loving theme of the night, "Loving Cup" rounded out Set 2. A rousing solo closed out the set, and the audience was left with the question, "Is this gonna be a THANK YOU encore, or a WALLS OF THE CAVE?" Turns out it would be a bit of both. Coming back with "Divided Sky," the joy factor was off the charts as everyone reflected on both this weekend, and all the ones before.
Again, this is a special place, and whether you've been here once, or every time, "Divided Sky" is the perfect song to contemplate the beauty and wonder that is Dicks weekend.
Trey followed this with acknowledging the incredible efforts and work that the production staff and road crew puts in to make these shows possible. He wanted to acknowledge everyone by name, but the list would've be over 60 people. One person he thanked by name was Paul Ingwersen, stage manager, who has been with the band since 1996. As Trey thanked him, the chords of the elusive "Icculus" began. Anytime this rare gem makes an appearance (only the 9th time going back to 1995) you know you've seen something special. A white whale for many in that room, many a person's night was made.
As "Character Zero" began, people started speculating "Are they spelling Dicks?" What would be next? "Kung"? "Sneaking Sally"? These hopes would be dashed as "Zero" ended somewhat abruptly compared to show-closers in the past. Was the gag that they DIDN'T spell it? Only they know.
A solid, if uneven, show, Sunday Dicks was a capper to a fantastic run of Phish 2022. Creative setlists, occasional bustouts, and some really inspired playing are what this weekend will be remembered for. That and all of the new traditions the fourth day gave birth to. See you all next year. It can't come soon enough.
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