Another year at Dick's, another wild setlist "stunt" for Phish. Here are ten reasons why I think spelling F-U-C-K--Y-O-U-R--F-A-C-E with the first letter of each song was so inspired.
1. It is an acknowledgement what happened "just last year". Nearly one year ago to the day, in the exact same location, Phish trotted out the "S" show. Phish fans are not shy about their love of commemorating anniversaries of significant events in the band's timeline. Live Music Blog even put together a cheeky post for their Phish Friday series earlier that day to put the idea of a repeat performance at front of many people's mind. Bravo to the band for giving us something to remember and a great way to celebrate.
2. If Phish shows suffer from anything lately, it is from a lack of planning. At their most mundane, Phish will play a song, it'll get ripcorded and move on to the next song -- like a constant search for something that never comes. Going in with a plan -- as what clearly happens here -- gives the guys a chance to plot out the architecture of the set, deliberately focus on setlist flow and song choices and even plan for a jam or two (or three...).
3. Six and seven song sets. No, we're not quite to the thrilling four and five song sets that dazzled so many times in the 90s, but picking "Fuck Your Face" as the key phrase (instead of say..."Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars") certainly didn't allow for a lot of setlist filler. Hence, five songs clocking in at over 13 minutes, a nearly 20 minute "Jim" and "Chalkdust" and plenty of improv to round out the difference.
4. Not only is this concept so uniquely Phish, they are one of the only bands on the planet with a repertoire large enough to execute it and make it interesting.
5. Once it became clear what was happening, twitter feeds exploded and (I'm presuming) a buzz filled the arena. Then the guessing games began. What's a good U song? What will A be? Lots of bets for "Esther" were coming in for the elusive E. Kind of added a little bit of a gambler's high to the proceedings.
6. Umm.. the first set just spelled Fuck You. That's just plain hilarious. It's even funnier that they continued mid-word in the second set, though I saw a couple people posit online that second set would spell R-O-M-N-E-Y after "Runaway Jim" led off the first set.
7 First Tube is an awesome opener. I don't care what the hell your set is spelling, this is the way to kick off a show.
8. A mid-first set YEM. "You Enjoy Myself" has been hiding out this summer so any appearance these days is a little more special. However, plopping it right in the middle of a set that was already building up a nice head of steam, and capping it with a "We Love Dicks" vocal jam was particularly sweet.
9. Emotional Goddamn Rescue. It's only been a few days since the Stones announced a fiftieth anniversary celebration, so who knows -- maybe the guys were thinking about them lately? In any case, this one was at top of the bust-out wishlist for a long time and for it to finally get play under these circumstances makes it even more memorable. Given how short the set was until the E was finally revealed, it seemed natural that this would yield a huge jam. Not this time, but I have high hopes for the future.
1o. This is the first of three nights! Last year, the Dicks run produced three distinctly different, yet interesting shows. They've set the bar high for the remainder of Labor Day Weekend.