Phish Double Header in Eugene

Before the world went to shit this is how things should have worked out. Phish announced the release of their new album Sigma Oasis. A few months later Sigma Oasis would be released and then kick off summer tour 2020. This summer tour would open with two nights at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. I was stocked to have the tour opener in my back yard and for two nights no less. Not my first time seeing Phish here either so I was looking forward to getting back.

To the south was the Willamette valley farm area.

This was originally schedule for July 14th and 15th 2020 but due to covid-19 it was schedule for the following year on July 13th and 14th 2021. As the year went on and the new date came near, things didn’t improve with covid so it was reschedule a second time for fall tour 2021. This time the show proceed and I was grateful to have Phish touring again. With such a long gap between tours staying in town and making this a mini vacation was an easy choice.

Both nights were in the middle of the week which kinda sucks. On the positive side it would be a really short week at work sandwiching two Phish shows between Monday and Friday. Life was good. Lazy ass morning getting out of the house on Tuesday. I didn’t finalize my plans till that morning in fact. I decided to do a hike before the show and found Spencer Butte Park just outside town. The hike was about 3 miles one way and 1100’ elevation gain starting from the 52nd and Willamette parking lot. It was just the right length to reach the summit to relax for a while before checking into the hotel.

Started later than I wanted but I was making the climb up by mid afternoon. Even with Phish in town the lot was pretty empty so parking was easy. Soon I started my climbing through power company land and into the forest. The trail cuts back and forth up the mountain with many switchbacks. It’s actually very well maintained which was surprising. There are logs packed with gravel the entire way from the parking lot to the summit. It’s also rather wide for most of the hike, another surprise. This trail climbs over a thousand feet of forest till about 100′ from the summit the trees disappear to an exposed mountaintop.

Near the summit they cut steps into the stone which is cool.

Spencer Butte Park has a legit 360 degree view of the surrounding area. I don’t know why but there are no trees at the top of this mountain. Its just a bunch of rocks with a little grass totally exposed at the summit. You can walk all the way around the top and view everything. To the north is the city of Eugene. To the south was this large valley used for farming and agriculture. West was towards the mountain range and the ocean. The mountain isn’t high enough to see the ocean but you know it’s there.

I found a good rock to sit on and looked west towards the ocean for a while. I had a concert to get to but I wanted to sit and relax for a while. It was partly cloudy but perfect temps. The view was incredible from my perch. I read some letters and wrote some replies. Up here for over an hour before I started making my way back to the parking lot. This late in the afternoon on a nice day lots of locals where out on the trail. When I got back the guy next to me had his back passenger window smashed. We commiserated for a bit and I told him about my experience this past summer in the Tillamook forest.

Security was a bitch getting into the arena. It was a cluster fuck with checking vaccination cards and then metal detectors. Unfortunately they where banning all lighters in the venue so I had to ditch mine. That is a new one on me but I get it. For Wednesdays show I brought matches with me. They just seemed heavy handed but its a college town I guess. I couldn’t bring a lighter in but the nitrous vendors outside the venue were ok.

Tuesday my seat was all the way at the top dead center. For me this was a perfect seat. The light show would be in full view from here. I took my seat after some confusion finding it and settled in till the house lights went down. The floor this early was empty but the arena slowly filled in as the unofficial start time of 8pm got closer. Neither night was sold out and there appeared to be space between most people. I was lucky if 25% of the people wore masks either night which was disappointing.

night 1, set 2

The band walks out on stage and opens with Down with Disease. A great choice and a personal favorite of mine. That first song high up watching the light show I was awe struck for at least the first 20 minutes. Just watching the light bars moving around in time with the music. Really was some good stuff that melted my face. I really had the perfect seat to see the show. The audio up here wasn’t that bad either which was a relief.

First set was a really solid selection. Down with Disease was left unfinished and went into Runaway Jim another high energy classic. Middle set settled down from Ocelot to Rift to Horn. More energy with Ya Mar and then a sing along with Stash. After Stash Trey mentioned the tragedy that happened the previous show in San Fransisco. It was the first I heard of it and a sad situation. Not leaving the set on a downer the band finished out strong with a not often heard Walls of the Cave. When done well this is a great song and tonight was done well.

On queue the band emerges from the bowels of the arena to kick off the second set. It was a non-stop roller coaster ride of a set. Started with a lot of energy in Twist > Blaze On before thing started to take a slower turn. During this slower middle section they debuted the new song I Never Left Home which was good. Love the guitar rift and vocals over the music on this one. Slower tempo to it but I think it will do well in future sets depending on set position. They then kicked it into high gear with Sparkle > 2001 > Sigma Oasis which was a brilliant end of the show. Even the encore was a perfect send off to such an energetic night.

From my seat in the upper section and was blown away by the entire show. Not only was the song selection good but the light show was really entertaining. Only a few times was the light annoying having it directly in my face. All this and there was another show the following day.

Tuesday, October 19th 2021
Matthew Knight Arena
1776 E 13th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401

Set 1 starts at 8:04pm

  1. Down with Disease [1]>
  2. Runaway Jim
  3. Ocelot
  4. Rift
  5. Horn >
  6. Ya Mar
  7. Stash
  8. Walls of the Cave
    Set over at 9:35pm

Set 2 starts at 10:08pm

  1. Twist >
  2. Blaze On >
  3. Plasma >
  4. Leaves >
  5. I Never Left Home [2] >
  6. Sparkle >
  7. 2001 >
  8. Sigma Oasis
    Set over at 11:19pm

Encore starts at 11:22pm

  1. Drift While You’re Sleeping
    House lights at 11:35pm

[1 ] Unfinished
[2] Phish debut

I love getting up in the same city for another night of Phish. When they stated doing these longer stints in the same city I welcomed the change. I get the majority of the day to explore before coming back for more Phish. In Eugene I decided to go to the coast. Recently I read an article on how therapeutic water is and I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t going to rain so I figured today was a good time to head to the beach. I’m glad I went.

When I first got to the beach the weather wasn’t to bad.

Just south of Florence, OR I found the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area and spend the afternoon at the beach. It is a long beach with a single access road. I took it almost to the end where a boat launch is. From the lot it is a short walk through the dunes to the ocean. Today it was mostly cloudy and windy as hell. There were no storms coming in but it sure was miserable.

I spent several hours at the beach. I enjoyed a cigar with some coffee and got a little writing done. The sound of the ocean waves was amazing for the scenes. Peace and calm. Birds where flying around searching for food while other where running along the oceans edges running from the waves as they came in. As I was about to leave two gentlemen popped out from the trail. They where surfers and I heard one say “I don’t see a spot to go in.” It was a wise decision not to surf that day as the sea was not going to be forgiving.

I got back to Eugene in time for food and shopping. Claim 52 Brewery was really good. A nice place with a good selection of beers. The food was really good as well. After that I went to House of Records. For a while I had been searching for Nina Simone The Montreux Years. I had no luck at any of the local shops in Portland. To my surprise they had it and I was so excited. With that in hand I headed back to the hotel and the mile walk to the venue for the second night of Phish.

night 2, set 1

My seat for tonight was closer. On the lower level to the left of the stage. It was still not very crowded down here which was nice. Tonight’s performance started with Mr. Completely. Not a bad version but not a good as the one from night three of The Gorge Amphiteatre this year. Both nights the crowd and band had this loop of energy between us. During Divided Sky Trey really played with the crowd and it was great.

Second set was shorter in length but also more compact if that makes sense. Some good energy levels among the songs and seq ways as they played through the set. The two song encore was a nice touch to end the two nights in Eugene. I left that night on a high from the performance. The walk back to the hotel was to short as I was having a great time reliving the show. As many times as I have seen Phish it never gets old and I always walk away satisfied.

Tuesday, October 20th 2021
Matthew Knight Arena
1776 E 13th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401

Set 1 starts at 8:03pm

  1. Mr. Completely
  2. Energy >
  3. Timber
  4. Casual Enlightenment >
  5. Divided Sky
  6. Farmhouse
  7. Split Open and Melt >
  8. End of Season >
  9. Split Open and Melt
    Set over at 9:25pm

Set 2 starts at 9:59pm

  1. AC/DC Bag >
  2. Ruby Waves >
  3. Lonely Trip >
  4. Golden Age >
  5. Backwards Down the Number Line
    Set over at 11:09pm

Encore starts at 11:12pm

  1. Wilson >
  2. Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.
    House lights at 11:22pm

I could have driven home that night but there was no reason so I spent another night in Eugene. This afforded me the opportunity to take a leisurely drive home through the countryside. With the changing season all the trees where in peak bloom and they were beautiful. I stopped at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge for a hike around the marsh. It is a bird migratory area but when I was there nothing was flooded. I think it was just to early in the season to see many birds.

I walked for miles around the marsh and forest. I parked at the southern end of the park in a small lot with only one other person. I passed them headed back to his car when I started my hike. I had the entire park to myself and it was pretty cool. Trails go around what will be flooded marshes and its pretty flat land which is nice after hiking Spencer Butte Park.

I ran across a lot of wild life. I saw some flocks of ducks flying around, the early birds wanted to get a head start on holiday travels. The trees where alive with birds as I could hear them in the forest as I walked around. Snakes were something else I ran into a lot. Its getting cold so maybe they are headed to dens to hibernate but not sure.

I needed this trip. The Eugene shows got postponed twice before the final dates of mid-October. It was so great getting out middle of the week into central Oregon for some concerts and a lot of outdoor activities. Usually I spend my off time in the city bumming around but this time I was very happy getting out into nature. Both nights where amazing with a lot of energy from the band and the crowd. Touring is back baby!