Read about the night guitarist Trey Anastasio broke Twitter.
Phish made their debut at the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville on this date in 2015 a memorable one. The quartet revived the beloved second jam in “Mike’s Song” for the first time in over 15 years as part of a stellar performance at the 6,800-capacity venue which had just opened a few days prior. The Ascend Amphitheater was supposed to host Phish tonight for the first of two shows before the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic led the band to reschedule their summer tour to 2021.
The return to the second jam in “Mike’s” came through the efforts of Phish fan and musician Drew Hitz. Drew told the story of how he convinced guitarist Trey Anastasio to “break Twitter” backstage at the venue in an essay published by Phish.net.
Hitz, who had performed with Anastasio and the National Symphony Orchestra Pops at an orchestral show two years prior, attended Phish’s Nashville show as a guest of longtime Trey collaborator Don Hart. Drew had planned to ask Trey about the missing second jam from “Mike’s Song” after soundcheck and made his move:
I finally had my opening and asked him if I could be “a pushy Phish fan for one minute.” He nodded so I asked him “Would you like to break Twitter tonight?” He smiled and said “I’d love to.”
I then asked him if he remembered our conversation immediately after the Kennedy Center gig about the second jam in “Mike’s Song.” He said he vaguely remembered it, and that he didn’t remember them ever doing it. I told him that if they played it again, he might bring down the whole internet.
It was then that he asked how it used to go. That is when I whipped out my phone and hit play. It was already cued to about five seconds before the chords that lead into the second jam of the 7/14/00 “Mike’s.” I explained that they now played those three chords four times that lead to the composed ending which resolved to “I Am Hydrogen,” or whatever else they were going to play. He nodded along while listening.
The four-piece opened their Ascend Amphitheater debut with “Free” before ripping through the recently premiered “No Men In No Man’s Land.” A particularly funky “Wolfman’s Brother” followed ahead of staples “Birds Of A Feather” and “Funky Bitch.” The poignant Los Lobos cover “When The Circus Comes” was up next and then Phish closed out the frame with a run of “Stash,” “Lawn Boy” and “Walls Of A Cave.”
Phish’s second set from this date in 2015 was a monster. On “Golden Age,” Anastasio showed off the MuTron effect he had perfected during the Fare Thee Well. The quartet then took “Light” deep before presenting just the third ever rendition of ballad “Shade.” From there, Anastasio began the riff that starts “Mike’s Song” and Phish Twitter held its collective breath thanks to Drew’s tweet about his conversation with Trey earlier that day.
Trey and Phish came through and embarked on the second jam. The band explored both dark and pretty motifs over the remainder of the 14-minute “Mike’s Song” to the delight of the fanbase. While the next version of the song five nights later at Alpine Valley also featured a second jam, Phish would again stop performing the section for the six years that followed with the exception of a rendition of “Mike’s Song” during the Baker’s Dozen residency at Madison Square Garden in 2017.
“Mike’s Song” in Nashville dissolved into a short-but-sweet “Piper,” which in turn gave way to a quick romp through “Crosseyed & Painless.” A majestic 15-minute version of “Weekapaug Groove” with more exquisite improvisation ended the second set. Phish said farewell with a “Slave To The Traffic Light” encore.
Watch fan-shot video featuring Phish’s “Mike’s Song” from this date in 2015 captured by LazyLightning55 below:
[Originally Published: August 4, 2020]