I like where this is going.
And I mean that in reference to both this weekend and the overall picture.
Phish, the greatest jam band on the planet, set up shop on Friday night at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. It was the start of a three-night stand at the venue, meaning that local "Phans" -- as well as a heavy contingent of "Phollowers," who came into town specifically for the shows -- will be in absolute nirvana through Sunday.
Yet, it was also the continuation of something. It's another sign of the special bond that is forming between Phish and the Bay Area.
Sure, the Bay Area has always been the stronghold of Phish interest for California -- far surpassing what's seen in Southern California. Longtime Phans will fondly remember the days when Phish played multiple nights at local theaters. (Indeed, some of the best Phish shows I've ever seen were at the Warfield in San Francisco in the early '90s.)
Still, few would've traditionally ranked Phish's relationship with the Bay Area at the same high level as the ones the group has long enjoyed with New York, Boston and some other spots on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
Since reforming in March 2009, after nearly five years apart, Phish has really seemed to make wooing Northern California one of its top priorities. It's ratcheted up the number of shows its playing annually in our area -- going from just one in 2009 (at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View) to three in 2010 (at the Greek in Berkeley). And, of course, we're getting three again this year.
The band is also playing smaller venues -- which is a treat for fans. Phish is certainly capable of playing a 20,000-capacity amphitheater or arena. In the Bay Area, however, it's been playing places in the 8,000 range -- such as the Greek, Bill Graham Civic and Harveys Outdoor Arena (which, I realize is actually in Tahoe, but it still draws mightily from the Bay Area).
Then, of course, is how Phish has been playing in the Bay Area -- like a band on a mission. Since reuniting in 2009, the group has delivered one epic show after another for local Phans.
That was certainly the case on Friday night.
The group -- which consists of vocalist-guitarist Trey Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman, keyboardist Page McConnell and bassist Mike Gordon -- delighted the rambunctious capacity crowd with two sets of absolute genius jamming and unbelievable musicianship.
Highlights included the always-fun "Halley's Comet," a rocking "Sample in a Jar," a blistering "Down With Disease" and a gorgeous "Wading in the Velvet Sea." I can't wait to hear what they'll do to try to top it on Saturday
Here's the complete setlist from Friday:
"The Moma Dance"
"Sample in a Jar"
"Roses are Free"
"My Friend, My Friend"
"Slave to the Traffic Light"
"Down with Disease
"Birds of a Feather"
"Wading in the Velvet Sea"
"Chalk Dust Torture"
"Run Like an Antelope"
"Shine a Light"
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.