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[We'd like to thank Michael Ayers for recapping last night's show. -Ed]

I have a love/hate relationship with Dicks. I think it has become the quintessential Phish experience. Even after the loss of camping in 2019, it’s hard to top the Dicks experience. The city is fantastic, the venue is fantastic, hell, even the cops are chill. It’s always a great way to end summer tour.

Dicks, however, does not reciprocate that affection. In 2016, a minor medical issue ruined what was otherwise a perfect show on N1. In 2019, a minor medical emergency was narrowly averted as I was able to get some rest and water before anything serious happened. Which brings us to N1 2022. Were any of you leaving the Thursday show Mike’s side and saw a dude sitting on the ground, surrounded by EMTs because he faceplanted into concrete? If you did, hey, that was me! Two broken teeth, a $1200 ambulance ride, a lost Montreal Expos hat (one of those really nice fitted ones, too) and Dicks 2022 was over before it really got started.

(c) 2023 Phish (Jesse Faatz)

This year, though, I was determined to make it through the trip medical bill free. Got into town on Wednesday so I could get a good night’s sleep. Thursday: No red meat, no alcohol, no(t as many) drugs, two pairs of underwear, quality walking shoes, a half gallon of water. If this weekend was gonna go downhill, it wasn’t gonna be due to some self-inflicted bullshit.

I am pleased to report that Thursday went off without a hitch, and so, with my newfound foolproof plan in place, I set off for Dicks Friday afternoon.

After perusing Shakedown and nabbing a few grilled cheeses for dinner, I headed into the venue and sat super-far Page side. So much so that, at times, I couldn’t even see him during the show. It looked like a trio up there performing.

(Sidebar: Maybe it’s just me, but I had a hell of a time hearing Page when he would play. About the only time I could really hear him was when it was just him, otherwise it was Fish/Mike super prominent in the mix. Maybe it’s just because of where I was sitting.)

The band came on just shy of 8pm (fun fact, sitting that far left you can see the band come down to the stage. It was amusing hearing people in my section cheering that the show was about to start when 95% of the rest of the crowd was completely oblivious), everyone takes their respective spots and the band jumps into…"Wolfman’s Brother"! Always a crowd pleaser, the band settled into a nice little groove and brings it all back before starting up "Sparkle." After "Sparkle" comes "Bathtub Gin," "Back on the Train," "Halfway to the Moon," "Bouncing Around the Room" and "Stash." "Bathtub Gin" was great as always, but "Back to the Train," "Halfway to the Moon," "Bouncing Around the Room," do I really need to describe these? If you’ve heard one, you’ve (most likely) heard them all. As I have mentioned in the past, I am in the minority who thinks "Stash" is boring. Was it a good version? Probably. Am I gonna get grief for glossing over it? Definitely.

The first set picked back up at the end with "Esther" and "David Bowie." Neither were played flawlessly (they so rarely are anyway), but even the most jaded vet has to appreciate when these are busted out.

After the world’s longest 15 minute set break, the band is back at it and "Sand" starts the second set. Normally, I don’t care for "Sand." When I was walking into the venue a gentleman in front of me had a shirt on that said “Do not talk during Sand,” and I remember thinking, are people really that into Sand? If there is one worth checking out, though…this isn’t a bad one. Clocked in at just under 25 minutes. From there we jumped into a 3.0 jam staple, "No Men In No Man’s Land." This one won’t blow you away like the one from N1 2016 or some other versions out there, but it’ll get you off your feet and grooving, which is why we all come to these shows in the first place.

From "NMINML" we go into…"Llama"? Kind of a rough segue there, but I spent almost 50 shows chasing "Llama" before getting it, so any "Llama" (even that lame slow one) is worth it.

(c) 2023 Phish (Jesse Faatz)

Now comes the dreaded part of the set…the cool down. There’s only a handful of songs in this spot that I think are worth listening to, and lo and behold they played one, "Mountains in the Mist"! Following that fun surprise was an even bigger one, "Scents and Subtle Sounds" (complete with intro!) The band decides to end the night with their other (and in my opinion, better) Rolling Stones cover, "Shine A Light."

This is not something that is said very often, but the highlight of the show might have been the encore? "Wilson" is "Wilson," that’s not breaking any new ground, but "Split Open and Melt"…got dark. I’m not good at describing what happens as I’m not that musically inclined, but just check it out for yourself.

With the final notes of "SOAM" over and the house lights up, I quickly made my way out of the venue and over to Shakedown. Two shows in the books this weekend and the only medical bill so far is a prescription refill, so we are doing solid! Hopefully the good Lord will continue to shine down on me, and hopefully he shines down on all of you. See y’all tomorrow.

PS: Thursday and Friday night I saw the paramedics helping multiple people with issues during the show. Please stay safe y’all, and if you see someone struggling, find an usher or at the very least, make sure they’re ok. I can promise you the ambulance ride from Stadium Medical is not worth the cost.

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