“Tweezerfest” Returns As Phish Embraces The Heat, Explores Outer Space At The Mann [Photos/Videos]

With rising heat indexes forcing the venue to loosen water policies pre-show, phish returned to Philadelphia, PA’s beloved Mann Center for the Performing Artsnow known as the TD Pavilion at The Mann, on Tuesday for the first night of a two-show stand. it took Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishmanand Page McConnell a bit to find their footing in the first set, but the second set channeled the swampy heat – continuing this tour’s MO of no breathers in the second act. This time, that trend played out in the form of a Tweezer-fest, a formula that’s becoming frequently more common in Phish shows and that absolutely nobody is complaining about.

The first “Space Oddity” in five years opened the show, and the quartet nailed its a cappella, air-guitar-barbershop version of the David Bowie classic. It was an auspicious sign of things to come, even though there would be more than a few stumbles along the way to get there.

“Martian Monster” kept the intergalactic vibes going and was solid despite staying close to home. When “Halley’s Comet” followed, all space-related songs were suddenly on the table. This “Halley’s” saw some initial key and vocal confusion, which led to Trey jumping into a vengeful jam right out of the post-verse gates. Whenever there’s a full-on “Haley’s” jam, all prior flubs are forgiven, and this one clocked in long enough (17 minutes) to make them all forgotten as well.

Packing a lot of punches in a small window, the “Halley’s” jam was the first time I could virtually hear the humidity in the air from the comfort of my air-conditioned couch. Things were loose and swinging, and Fishman was drowning in all competition on his journey to tour MVP. The jam eventually descended into a dark cavern that I could have lived in quite a bit longer, but instead it stumbled into the opening of “Stash”.

Trey had a touch of cheesesteak fingers for chunks of the composed section of “Stash”, briefly bringing the energy down for the initial drop into the jam. Flowing with more of a revved groove then normal, the jam took another turn when Page McConnell brought the band into a half-step “Spanish Jam” feel.

“Moma Dance” popped up next in its standard mid-first set position. A few wires were crossed at the onset here, too, but it came back with just as much strength as it used to have when half of this Philly crowd was still wearing JNCOs.

“Gotta Jiboo”, another one that felt a little more inspired after Trey played it with Billy Strings a month prior, moved directly into the least “Jiboo”-ish jam in the history of “Jiboos.” Opting for an open float rather than a pocketed groove, this felt like Mike Gordon was finally awarded all the explorative freedom he’s always wanted on the song.

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“Shade”, one of the best ballads Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall have written in the past decade, filled the slow-down slot next, and the vibe of back-porch stillness kept rolling into “The Old Home Place”, perhaps a nod to Trey growing up in nearby Princeton. “Walls of the Cave” closed the set, once again starting off a little rocky but exploding with as much force as ever as it reached its climax.

Four shows into tour, “Tweezer” was looming large in many a fan’s mind, but the shamelessly optimistic “More” took on the opening role instead. Interestingly enough, the only other time “More” has opened a set was on 8/1/21 in Alpharetta, GA, when it was followed by “Tweezer”. It’s safe to say the crowd roar for the opening riff of “Tweezer” was a hair stronger than for the set opener.

Page and Gordo were dropping “Manteca” teases right from the get-go, so this one emitted a splattered glow early on. There was a time when “Tweezerfest” referred to one and only one Phish show: the Dallas Bomb Factory show in May of 1994. For most of 1.0, the novel idea of ​​weaving back in and out of “Tweezer” for a whole set was something that had only really happened once. but then Merriweather 2014 happened, and then it kept happening, and now we’re at a point where of the last dozen “Tweezers” performed, half of them have re-emerged at least once later on in the set.

The first “Tweezer” segment of the night featured restrained playing from Trey, leaving tons of space for his bandmates until he could no longer resist the urge to mimic Page’s synth filters. Then the jam flowed like melting butter into talking heads‘s “Cities”, a transition that fits so naturally that it was surprising to learn this is only the third time it’s ever happened.

“Cities” moved back into “Tweezer” with the same fluidity, this time with the jam finding its way to more chipper waters before flowing into “Passing Through”, the Kasvot Växt tune that had only been played three other times since its debut in Las Vegas on 10/31/2018. This version never quite hit the driving pulse that typically runs through it, leading to a “Passing Through” jam that never quite left the realm of “Tweezer”.

At some point as the groove continued, Trey started up some violent riffage, acting as if his guitar owed him money and stopping the rest of the band in their tracks. Once they caught his drift from him, fans were treated to the second “Izabella” of the year—a high enough frequency for this Jimi Hendrix rarity to question whether it might be entering an actual rotational stage in setlists. And yes, this was a “Tweezabella”, but it wasn’t the “Tweezabella”—that’s still 6/12/97 Auburn Hills.

The subsequent return to the Tweez featured Page touching on as many jazz-funk riffs as he could remember: a quick play through “Manteca”, maybe a hint of “Watermelon Man” (MANN), and a full romp through the theme to The Meters‘s “Cissy Strut” on which the whole band joined in. “Cissy” worked back to “Tweezer” before hitting the most seamless segue into “Mercury” the band has ever landed—another nod to the early-show “outer space” theme. In a somewhat disheartening move, “Mercury” came and went in full FM-radio style, sans any attempt at a jam, and instead dropped right into the build into “Piper”.

On a night with five different “Tweezers” to choose from, this “Piper” laid them all to waste. The jam was fairly pedestrian at first, but Trey soon locked into one repeating riff that brought all four players into alignment. That lock grew into a pulse, which kept throbbing and expanding into a huge, sustained apex—nothing short of majestic.

A quick tiptoe back through “Tweezer” brought us into “2001”, which featured Trey quoting “Space Oddity”—just in case you forgot that we’re doing “space” stuff at this show. “Character Zero” then found its traditional closer role as Trey tipped his astronaut helmet to the evening’s locale, over-emphasizing, “See the MANN Mulcahey”. Mann. Get it? Running with that tangent, he suddenly sang a full verse of The Velvet Underground‘s “Waiting For My MANN”. Mann. Get it?

The Philly crowd was fired up going into the encore, and “Drift While You’re Sleeping” wasn’t necessarily what they were all looking for. No matter—“Tweeprise” never disappoints, but this was one, which loomed large throughout the set, was as rowdy as you’ll ever find on a Tuesday night. There was a lot of crackling in the Philly shed on Tuesday night. We’ll see how that carries into night two.

Click below to view a selection of fan-shot videos from the first of two summer 2022 Phish shows at the Mann and scroll down check out photos from the performance below via Andrew Blackstein and Dylan Eddinger.

For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. To order your LivePhish webcast for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here. To sign up for a free trial membership to LivePhish+ and listen to the whole summer 2022 tour and more, head here.

set list [via phish.net]: Phishing | TD Pavilion at The Mann | Philadelphia, PA | 7/19/22

Set One: Space Oddity, Martian Monster, Halley’s Comet > Stash, The Moma Dance > Gotta Jibboo, Shade, The Old Home Place, Walls of the Cave

Set Two: More > Tweezer -> Cities -> Tweezer -> Passing Through > Izabella > Tweezer > Mercury > Piper > Tweezer> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Character Zero

Encore: Drift While You’re Sleeping > Tweezer Reprise

Notes: Space Oddity was played for the first time since July 28, 2017 (154 shows). The third Tweezer contained teases of Izabella and Cissy Strut. Trey teased Dave’s Energy Guide in Piper. Also Sprach Zarathustra included Space Oddity quotes from Trey and Martian Monster quotes from Trey and Page. Trey quoted I’m Waiting for the Man in Character Zero.

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