Instagram via @soozygreenberg
Yesterday was the day that many-a-Phans have been waiting for since first rumors of the tour begin back in late winter/early spring. Atlantic City’s Bader Field would be playing host to Phish for three straight evenings which kicked off last night with an impressive two sets and plenty of fan accolades already. Their two night run in Worcester into Bonnaroo made for a hell of a way to kick off the summer. And if those three performances shed some light onto what we fans were coming to expect in AC, judging from last night’s setlist and energy, I’d say the band easily delivered something that fans planning way ahead would have hoped for.
I’m still reeling from the two shows I caught at Worcester. Evening two complimented evening one incredibly. Not only was there brand new energy in the arena, I could literally still taste the lingering vibes from the evening before. That night I was sans my camera and amid my friends and I couldn’t wait to see where the show was going to take us!
Here are some of my notes from the show:
The boys took stage and opened the set on a high note with “Free” followed by “Kill Devil Falls”–both of which included full five minute (or so) jams in usual Phish-fashion. They went on to play “Roses are Free”—a Ween original. Chris Kuroda never ceases to amaze me. As the band went into “Theme From the Bottom” it was as if we were all floating in the open ocean. Looking down from my seat into the GA area, the lights looked so pretty with blends of teal, yellow, green and blue.
The energy rose to a new level when they went into play “Axilla” > “Julius”. And as I saw many balloons and balls surfing through the arena, they slipped in an old little ditty, “Bouncing Around the Room.” To me, it is just one of the best songs and I am not sure that I give a rat’s ass if that is cliche of me to say. It brings me back to a time when I was first discovering who Phish was and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Next up was “Maze” which included bold flashes of lights and colored spotlights all over the stage and crowd AND an incredible solo by Page. It was an amazing first set thus far and I couldn’t even take a stab at what they were going to do next.
Now, if you remember reading my recap of evening one, I spoke about a young lady named Julia. The Worcester run was her first live Phish experience and all she wanted was “to take a bath” and well she GOT TO!! Phish closed the first set with an incredible “Bathtub Gin”. I could only imagine that wherever she was, she was on cloud nine that they were playing her request! I like to think that Trey actually read my recap on LMB and said “eh, we might as well play it for her!” Wishful thinking?
The second set started with a very standard version of “Down with Disease.” According to my personal Phish stats, it is the song I have seen performed live the most. They literally have played it every other time I have seen them. Does not make it any less awesome, though considering that fact I had decided it would be good time to stroll through the concourse and see what was happening at the merch table. Lots of Fishman flare around this year! Including this awesome Gelaskins hard case:
On my walk they transitioned from an unfinished DWD into “Sand.” I immediately stepped into the closest corridor towards the arena and danced. This song could have gone on for an hour, and I would not have minded it one bit. The segway into “Nellie Kane” (Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize original) came and that was about it for the dancing; kind of can’t groove to bluegrass in the same way.
“Mike’s Song” was quite possibly the best I have ever seen it performed live and going to back what I was saying in my evening one recap, I am famous for saying things like this. But visually and musically it was just amazing. Kurada went spastic with the lights and where our minds might have wanted to hear “Hydrogen > Weekapaug”, they band charmed us with “Makisupa Policeman” (keyword: SOUR DIESEL.) “Leo, leo, leo, leo,” Trey teased as Page took a moment under the spotlight. Between his tickling of the keys and Gordon on bass, the song shaped up quite nicely. And as one could have hoped for, they went onto play “Weekapaug Groove”. Gordon crushed the onset and the song, while a little shorter than I would have expected, brought the crowd to an all-time high for the evening.
Now either you like “Wading in the Velvet Sea” or you don’t. I feel like it all comes down to the mood one is in when it is heard. And no matter what mood you are in, you tend to think about shit during that song. It just gives off that feeling. I took a seat and thought about things: like how amazing this show was going. I also tried to think of a way that I could logistically pull off three days in Atlantic City if this is the kind of show that Phish is going to put on!
“2001” into an INCREDIBLE “Character Zero” concluded the second set. During “2001” they brought the funk and the fans drenched each other in glow sticks. And “Character Zero” was just on point. Trey crushed it and reminded all of us that he is still one of the best guitarists of our time despite all he has gone through and put us through (as fans.) Since 2009 I have been dying to hear an “Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” into “Suzy Greenberg”. And not that Phish hasn’t done that since their return, I have just never heard it in person before. So thank you VERY MUCH for that encore, guys. It was beyond delightful!
Over the course of both nights, the entire band sounded flawless and crisp. I have heard many say this is the tightest that they have sounded since before the hiatus. I read a review online somewhere that said “Didn’t matter what song the played. Setlists are not going to be as important if they keep this up.” Truer words have never been spoken…