Phun-Philled Weekend With Phish In AC

The sun sets behind the stage while Phish plays on Friday. (Photo by John Russo)

Band: Phish
Date: June 15-17, 2012
Venue: Bader Field in Atlantic City, NJ
Setlists: Night 1/Night 2/Night 3
Rating (5-star rating): 5

Atlantic City knew what was in store for them this past weekend when Phish made it’s triumphant return.

After Halloween 2010 with Phish took the city by storm and the Dave Matthews Band Caravan festival last summer to re-Christen the abandoned airport called Bader Field, the city had itself prepared to combine both elements from their previous two experiences and created a memorable weekend for locals and tourists.

Local businesses boomed once again as a touring act with the following such as Phish’s came into town. But also, the Phish fans were treated to three absolutely spectacular shows.

Friday’s show featured a very hot opening set for Phish. They nailed a pair of three-song runs of My Sweet One > 46 Days > Camel Walk and Tube > Cities > It’s Ice early in the set. A fantastic Stash also helped highlight the first half.

They closed the first set with a gorgeous Squirming Coil. As pianist Page McConnell closed out the song with a piano solo, the other three members stepped off the stage to let him finish out the set by himself.

The second set didn’t disappoint. During a huge six-song stretch, the highlight was Twist > Piper > Billy Breathes.

They closed the second set with the song of the night, David Bowie. Bowie featured Stash, It’s Ice, Birds of a Feather, Simple, and Ginseng Sullivan teases that was well-received by the crowd.

A wild First Tube was played in the encore and that capped off a great night one and set the band up for higher expectations the next two nights.

Beach balls fly while Phish plays “Brother” on Sunday. (Photo by John Russo)

The second show was even better. The show opened up with a bit of a sloppy Mike’s Song but the band tightened back up to deliver excellent versions of Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo, Hailey’s Comet, Lawn Boy and a boisterous and awesome jam in Ocelot.

But the number one highlight of the first set, and possibly for the whole show hadn’t the second set been ridiculous was Wolfman’s Brother. The band took that song to a whole new level, setting up the rest of the first set’s energy.

The band came out for the second set firing away. Crosseyed and Painless was incredible as well as being teased throughout the second set during Light, Sand and the Manteca jam during Light.

Run Like An Antelope finished the second set with an incredible jam and the ever popular Good Times, Bad Times cover of Led Zeppelin’s was played in the encore slot to end a wild second night.

With expectations running high for the Sunday show, Phish delivered the best show of the early summer tour.

Because it was Father’s Day, for the fourth time in a row the band opened the show with Brother while having all of their kids sitting up on the stage in a bathtub. From that moment on, the band was going to have fun the entire night with the third show.

All of Phish’s children sitting in a metal bathtub while the band plays on Sunday. (Photo by John Russo)

The highlights from the first set included a very funky cover of Stevie Wonder’s Boogie On Reggae Woman, Fluffhead, Dogs Stole Things as well as an energetic run of Foam > Wilson > Timber.

The second set, though a bit strange with a lack of “flow” (opinion of a handful of fans), was still an incredible way to finish off the weekend. They opened it up with a cover of The Who’s Drowned, which they led into the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of the best versions of Reba anyone will ever hear.

Chalkdust Torture was incredible and Silent In the Morning was gorgeous and fun. But the way they closed the second set was pure genius starting with a version of Bug that was out of this world. McConnell then led the band into a fantastic cover of the Beatles’ A Day In the Life before they brought the house down with Down With Disease.

They played a two-song encore for the fans, surprising everyone with Gotta Jibboo before ending on a great rendition of Quinn the Eskimo with featured some intense fire from guitarist Trey Anastasio.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend in AC for Phish, its fans and myself. Got to meet some people from AntsMarching.org, the DMB forum I’ve been a member of since 2007 as well as some amazingly nice people on Friday and Sunday.

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