Phish’s Halloween Weekend in AC Surprises, Amazes

Anticipation mounted on the day of Halloween. As thousands of people stood in line to get into historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, people took to Twitter to see if there was a leak for what Phish would play as its musical costume on Halloween.

Around 6:38, just eight minutes after the doors opened, pictures and reports of Phish’s second set were officially made known, and it was a curveball. Since Phish never really promised a costume of some over-played classic rock album, they decided to take the ballsier route and debut a set’s worth of new music – an album called “Wingsuit.”

Phish hasn’t even tested the new material in the studio yet but they wanted to do something special for the fans who have followed them loyally for 30 years. The new music was fun, and a lot of respect has to be given to the band for doing something so risky. Some are still disappointed – many who didn’t even go to the show and have no right to complain – but the consensus in that arena that night was love for the new material.

The first set was fast and a little rushed, which was obvious with the band nervous heading into their second set. “Heavy Things,” the band’s only radio hit, “Moma Dance” and a rushed “Poor Heart” started things off. They were followed by “Back on the Train” and a “Horse”-less “Silent In the Morning.

The band finally fired up when they went into “Kill Devils Falls,” which brought some serious heat. They rode that into a good “Mound” and “Camel Walk” before a very neat “Stash.” “Golgi Apparatus” was destined to close the first set but the band ripped into a “Bathtub Gin” that was absolutely incredible and one of the show’s highlights.

The new album was next, and it did not disappoint. “Wingsuit,” the title track, kicked off with an airy Pink Floyd-like sound. That was followed by the album’s best song, “Fuego,” which is going to be a show highlight every time it’s played. It’s that darn good. That was followed by a solid song dedicated to Memphis basketball alum Darius Washington Jr. (story) called “The Line.”

The first of three acoustic songs made it’s debut in “Monica,” which sounded like a 60’s single. “Waiting All Night” and “Snow” sandwiched the other show highlight, “Wombat,” which hilariously featured Abe Vigoda dressed as a wombat and the Abe Vigoda Dancers. (The dancing wombat was not Vigoda, who came out after the song in the same costume as a joke.)

The rest of the album was “Devoted to a Dream,” “555,” “Winterqueen,” “Amidst the Peals of Laughter,” and “You Never Know.” 555 was a funky jam that will turn into another album highlight, and Amidst… will turn into a gorgeous acoustic duet between Trey Anastasio and Paige McConnell.

The band, finally free of the jitters it had going into the second set, exploded during a fire-heavy third set. They kicked off with a 35-minute combo of “Ghost” and “Carini,” which brought some serious energy to the crowd. “Birds of a Feather” kept the crowd rocking before another show highlight, “Harry Hood,” soared with McConnell’s fantastic keyboard work.

A fantastic “Bug” followed before the band ended the third set with a high-octane “Antelope.” Then encore was short and sweet with the Bob Dylan-penned “Mighty Quinn,” a fun song that needs to be paired with another song.

I did not attend Friday’s show, which was the consensus best show of the weekend. The setlist can be seen here. The show featured a fantastic second set with a soaring “Chalk Dust Torture” and excellent encore of a jammed-out “Sneakin’ Sally.”

Saturday’s show didn’t disappoint either. “Wilson”-int0-“Rift” kicked off the show. A standard but nice “Ocelot” followed with a fantastic “Water In the Sky.” “Sample In A Jar,” “Funky Bitch,” and “46 Days” kept the energy up before the highlight of the night, a “Theme From the Bottom” that oddly turned funky as ever.

“Yarmuth Road” and “Limb” were nice set additions before the triplets of “Mike’s Song,” an airy “I Am Hydrogen” and “Weekapaug Groove” ended the first set.

The second set continued to keep the crowd happy with a nice, long “Down With Disease.” That carried into a beautiful “Piper,” excellent “Roggae,” and “Waves,” before getting the crowd ramped back up with a fantastic “Tweezer.” As Tweezer concluded, “Julius” got the crowd back into a dancing mood before “Backwards Down the Number Line” soared with Anastasio’s solo. Backwards was oddly placed at the back-end of the second set, but it’s a great song and people enjoy it.

“Character Zero” ended the second set. “Sleeping Monkey” kicked off the encore with drummer Jon Fishman leading the crowd during the chorus. After a misfire on the home stretch, the band fired off the ending solo before ending the show with a “Tweezer Reprise.” The placed absolutely exploded when the band kicked into the main jam of the song, leaving everyone sweaty, tired and happy with how the mini Fall Tour ended.

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The Who Reign O’er Atlantic City With Quadrophenia

Who front man Roger Daltrey famously swings his microphone chord. (Photo by Ben Fogletto/Press of Atlantic City)

The Who front man Roger Daltrey famously swings his microphone chord. (Photo by Ben Fogletto/Press of Atlantic City)

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their 1973 rock opera “Quadrophenia,” The Who brought their album around the world with them.

On February 22, they stopped in Atlantic City to play the historic Boardwalk Hall, a very appropriate venue for the beach scenery of the second half of the album.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, the two surviving members of one of Britain’s greatest rock acts of all time, took old Who fans on a trip down memory lane while bring one of their greatest albums to life for a newer generation of Who fans.

The show started off with the classic crashing of the waves and little teases from the rest of the album. It then spun into a bit of a Who highlight reel with “My Generation” and a couple other 60’s Who songs playing in the background before Daltrey screamed, “Can you see the real me, can you? Can you?!”

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2012 Concerts In Review

March 29 – Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

My first Bruce show. Such a life-altering evening seeing the legendary E Street Band and one of the greatest song writers in rock n’ roll history. Bruce rocked the house, and the E Street Band gave me an experience I will never forget.

June 15 – Phish
Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ

My second Phish show (Camden 2010 was my first). It was a very groovy night. Atmosphere was so fun, and the amount of good beer consumed by me was great. The first set was very spontaneous and weird, but the second set was possibly the highlight of the weekend. A sick Twist > Piper as well as a memorable David Bowie with all the teases made the second set one of the best 90 minutes of music I ever witnessed.

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DMB’s Last Stop in Philly Should Be Their Norm

DMB in Philly on December 22, 2012 (Photo via deandmb.phanfare.com)

DMB in Philly on December 22, 2012 (Photo via deandmb.phanfare.com)

After over two decades of touring, a certain standard is held in the eyes of the Dave Matthews Band fanbase in regards to their beloved band.

Philadelphia’s show was that standard.

On December 22, DMB finished their mini 15-show tour in the City of Brotherly Love, finding a perfect combination of new and old songs that fans hope would be the norm heading into 2013.

The tour was in support to their eighth studio album, Away From the World, which came out in the fall. Six songs from the new album were a part of the 20-song set list.

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DMB Plays Weakest Two Nights At Camden in Four Years

Camden has been a strong destination for Dave Matthews Band the past few years.

2009 and 2010 concert goers at the Susquehanna Bank Center were treated to four fantastic shows in one of the most underrated concert venues on the east coast.

But after a year off from the venue, it seemed that the band lost some of the magic it was creating in the city of New Jersey closest to Philadelphia.

The band played well at both shows, and maybe it’s just the fact both shows were my 17th and 18th career DMB concerts that create these feelings. But either way I will try my best to look at this objectively.

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Metallica’s Orion Festival Sets AC on Fire

Metallica plays at Atlantic City’s Bader Field on June 24, 2012. (Photo by John Russo)

Back-to-back festivals in Atlantic City’s Bader Field has been all the buzz in South Jersey.

After Phish rocked the shore spot for a three-night weekend on June 15-17, Metallica brought their pyro and fireworks to the abandoned air field Saturday June 23 and 24.

The plan was to hold a festival, similar to the size that Dave Matthews Band brought in last summer, and feature 35 other acts that included the Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse and New Jersey’s own Gaslight Anthem. Metallica headlined both nights, featuring a whole album each night.

On Saturday, they played their 1984 album “Ride the Lightning” and on Sunday they played their 1993 self-titled album to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary. After opening each show with a few hits, they played their respective albums in full from finish to start, and then concluded the show with a few more hits and playing about two hours each night.

Both shows included hit songs “Hit the Lights,” “Master of Puppets,” and “One” as well as seeing “Battery” and “Four Horseman” played on Saturday and “Blackened,” “Fuel” and “Shortest Straw” on Sunday.

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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.