And We’re Free of Time: Phish Complete a Run for the Ages on the beach in Atlantic City

Phish began its three-night siege of Atlantic City last night with a concert on the beach that was a year in the making. Like most of this summer tour, this was the rescheduled date after being postponed last year due to the pandemic. With plenty of fans still masked up and partying safely, Phish more than made up for lost time with a show that surely stood out among the other customary bright lights along the iconic Jersey boardwalk.

photo: Dave DeCrescente

In a fitting nod to the locale, “Cars, Trucks, Buses,” the notable New Jersey Turnpike driving lane designation, was tapped to open the show. This gave way to an “AC/DC Bag” that followed, with Trey Anastasio ad-libbing a “put ’em on the beach” lyric much to the crowd’s delight. The ensuing jam bled nicely into “Blaze On” and Phish was off and running. The first set later featured an appearance from drummer Jon Fishman and his trusty vacuum for “I Didn’t Know” and an explosive “Funky Bitch” contained the first of two distinct “Fire” (Ohio Players) teases from Anastasio this evening. In an all too fitting selection, an exploratory “Sand” later closed out the opening set in grandiose fashion as fans danced and kicked it around on the beach.

Phish Atlantic city
poster by Maria DiChiappari

In a move that surprised no one, the second set continues to be a warehouse of monstrous, type-II jamming from Phish and the first night of Atlantic City would prove no different. The intensity on the beach reached a new level once the opening notes of “Tweezer” rang loud and true. True to form, “Tweezer” could have been jammed out for the entire second set and there would have been few complaints. Instead, after an extended visit, the music slowly veered into the opening notes of another classic jam vehicle “Bathtub Gin.”

At one point, it seemed like the set could very well be just a few songs, all jammed extensively. Instead, Phish threw in a couple more songs, starting with the upbeat and uplifting “Everything’s Right.” A rambunctious “Possum” popped up later in the set, only to be steered directly into an intense “2001” that set off the entire beach into a synchronized frenzy. The late second set “Harry Hood” was perfectly placed and performed to perfection. However, fans will have to wait (at least) one more night for the anticipated “Tweezer Reprise” as the lone encore this evening was a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup,” leaving plenty on the table for nights two and three to follow.

Phish Atlantic city
photo: Dave DeCrescente

Setlists via

Friday, August 13, 2021

Soundcheck: Theme From the Bottom, My Soul, We Are Come To Outlive Our Brains, Lonely Trip

Set 1: Cars Trucks Buses, AC/DC Bag > Blaze On, Wolfman’s Brother, I Didn’t Know, Funky Bitch, Rift, Sand

Set 2: Tweezer > Bathtub Gin > Everything’s Right > Possum > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Rise/Come Together > Harry Hood > More

Encore: Loving Cup

On Saturday, slow Llamas got Drowned as Phish took stage for night two of their three night run in Atlantic City. The Vermont quartet immediately set the tone with a slow “Llama” to get the funk going. Page McConnell immediately got scratching on his clavinet and stayed atop of the clav for more funk on “Tube” with Trey’s Wah pedal still in effect.

Any first set “Reba” that unfolds naturally like it did on Saturday immediately set the crowd off into a frenzy. A nod to beach side reggae ensues with Bob Marley’s “Soul Shakedown Party” The first set ended with Page’s solo over the quiet ocean for “Squirming Coil.”

Phish Atlantic city
photo: Dave DeCrescente

“I Never Needed You Like This Before” a new tune that breathes rock and roll while including Phishy tension. Roger Daltery’s words “Let me get back to the ocean, let me get back to the sea” carried across the Atlantic on a raucous cover of The Who’s “Drowned.” Trey and Page reunited on the wah funk pedals and clavinet during a second set “Ghost” that came full circle with Chris Kuroda’s lights and”No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin brought in another chilling cover for the night. 

During the encore Phish sublimated the crowd with the “Life Beyond a Dream” before revisiting the “Tweezer” that started Set 2 Friday night, with “Tweezer Reprise” certainly sending everyone back to the dunes with a smile.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Set 1: Llama[1], Tube, Destiny Unbound > Ya Mar, 46 Days, Reba[2], Soul Shakedown Party, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil

Set 2: I Never Needed You Like This Before, Drowned > Ghost -> Scents and Subtle Sounds[3] > Chalk Dust Torture[4] > No Quarter > Slave to the Traffic Light > Suzy Greenberg

Encore: A Life Beyond The Dream, Tweezer Reprise

[1] Performed in slow, funk style

[2] No whistling

[3] Did not contain the intro

[4] Unfinished

Never miss a Sunday show. It’s been a mantra for Phish fans since the 1990s, and once again the band delivered an excellent closing to what could easily become a regular stop for the band.

Opening up with the rare “The Landlady” caught everyone’s attention shortly before 8pm. The band dipped into the intro section of “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” which clocks in at under two minutes, but the final line “the moment never ends” segued perfectly, and lyrically, into “The Moma Dance.” Fans who caught this subtle connection were elated, but who couldn’t be when a 16 minute “Moma” was in store for the beach. A well placed “Mike’s Groove” filled the middle of the set, while an energetic 20-minute “You Enjoy Myself” closed the set. 

cory rowe atlantic city
Poster by Cory Rowe

A fiery “Carini” lit up the beach to start the final hurrah of the weekend, leading into “Set Your Soul Free,” giving a release of energy for the thousands elated to be dancing to live music once again. The most perfect placement for the weekend goes to “Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 1” which followed. The timing of this serene and at times ambient number from Ghosts of the Forest has found a home in the exhaust of jams, breathing new life for the crowd here together.

A top notch “Piper” followed, a highlight of the weekend for some, with the requisite “Waves” following and sending fans into the ocean, if they hadn’t been already. The set closed with “First Tube,” as energetic as ever, and setting the stage for a double encore of “Fluffhead” and “Backwards Down the Number Line.” 

For a weekend on the shore, amid concerns of large gatherings, Phish pulled off a memorable as ever run of shows in Atlantic City, ones that stand free of time as their best in America’s Playground.

Setlist via 

Set 1: The Landlady, Scents and Subtle Sounds[1] > The Moma Dance[2] > The Final Hurrah > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, The Sloth, Roggae > Back on the Train, You Enjoy Myself 

Set 2: Carini > Set Your Soul Free > Beneath a Sea of Stars Part 1 > Piper -> Carini > Waves > Simple > About to Run, First Tube 

Encore: Fluffhead > Backwards Down the Number Line 

[1] Intro only[2] Unfinished Scents and Subtle Sounds was only the intro. The Moma Dance had a Scents and Subtle Sounds tease and was unfinished. Mike’s Song had a Strawberry Letter 23 tease from Trey. Set Your Soul Free had teases of I’m a Man, Carini, and Linus and Lucy. The soundcheck’s jam contained Soul Planet quotes from Trey.

Comments are closed.