Saturday 08/06/2022 by phishnet

AC1 RECAP: SHELL-EBRATING ON THE SAND

[Phish.net thanks user Jeremy Willinger (.net @Jeremy8698) for this recap. -Ed.]

A warm breeze blew down the famed Atlantic City boardwalk (did you know? It was first opened in 1870, and is the oldest boardwalk in America and is the longest boardwalk in the world), pushing salty air into the faces of thousands of phans as they waited to enter the sand to hear Phish for the first of three shows on the beach. *As the esteemed reviewer of last year’s AC night 1 show, I will refer you to that entry for more AC trivia.

Now in its second year, Phish’s three-night stand in Atlantic City is the only option for folks unable or unwilling to go to Riviera Maya (Mexico) to dip their toes into the ocean while jamming to our favorite foursome. The hotels have, unfortunately, caught on to the cash cow that the phandom brings to local communities, and prices for rooms now reflect that suckling of the teat. Does that deter us? Of course not - in the same way that accepting gifts from strangers at Phish is welcomed but actively rebuked when back in reality.


© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer
© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer

Normally, at this point in tour, Phish has already dazzled us with standout jams, a return to classic venues, and new musical high watermarks. In 2022, coming off a series of great shows and maintaining the ability to reinvent their sound, feed off the community, and surprise and delight their aging audience, Phish is both expected and subversive, able to occupy different planes of existence, simultaneously.

I occupied the same place as last year for last night’s extravaganza: Page side, near pole 2. At 8:07, they take the stage and we have liftoff.

A peppy “Chalk Dust Torture” opens the show, but at seven minutes this lively version is only a lip-licker, as the smell of the main course wafts in from the kitchen. A quick shift that takes the crowd a second to catch on, but emphasized by Trey, as he gives some extra oomph on the DUH-DUH, and leads us into a fun “Wilson” that lasts for four minutes. My notes point out that Trey is asking someone (Wilson?) the same question in both songs, “Can’t I live while I’m young?” and “Can you still have fun?” With this band, I think we know the answers.

© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer
© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer

Next up is the first of many references to the seashore as they break into “Sand” - which also contains the third appearance of the word “can” in as many songs… a very important stat you needed to know. “Sand” stays in a midrange, upbeat space and transitions to an approachable and uplifting jam segment with great work by Page that seamlessly flows back into the composed section and concludes with that grindy, metallic 4.0 sound. “Sand” is also the first song of three played during night 1 AC 2021, another important fact for the obsessive record-keepers.

A crisp “Plasma” is welcomed here as Trey takes the lead on the jam, adding a flourish of notes over the top of the guitar line and builds out a nice 1-2-3 segment that should be heard. This was an especially funny placement for me, because on the drive out to the show with a good buddy with last name Wilson, we discussed his upcoming bloodwork which requires a reintroduction of plasma to alleviate a tendon-related injury. Despite this irritation, like all good phans, he numbed it and didn’t let it slow him down.

Trey moves the band into “Theme From the Bottom,” and while this version isn’t necessarily a standout, it remains a gorgeous song that has the magical ability to transport listeners. As a Phish trendspotter, I will also point out that we get to check off both another nautical reference and pleading question, “Can I ask you why, as I’m swimming by?” Hmm, you might say Phish is continuing a theme (hyuk yuk…see me at The Showboat on Tuesday nights…try the prime rib, but not the veal).

If we were water-bound before, we travel back to the terrestrial as Phish jumps onto “Back on the Train,” a version which maintains the sprightly overall feel of the set. This 8-minute version shines within a triumphant and fun space, and has a fantastic flow that includes great harmonies by Trey. The song ends quickly, as have most in this set so far.

All that changes with “Sigma Oasis." At 22 minutes, it gives us our first peek into what Phish can do when they take to the sky. To clarify, this is no Hartford 2022 “Sigma” which stretched the song to new places in less time, but this version is a nice place to live for awhile. The jam Voltrons itself together as segments, with the first being a note-filled, middle range section that transitioned into a 4.0 industrial, metal shredder envelope-heavy mini-section. This moved into an up-tempo place with layered in organ work by Page that recalled The Funky Meters, to my ears. If the first part of this jam felt a bit plodding, the back half was looser, with space around the notes.

A butter smooth transition into “Cities” brings smiles to faces. The smiles remain when Trey misses the first cue for, “Help me, I forget to mention Memphis?” At only five minutes, this ended just as quickly as it begun.

And then we get “More.” Sigh. The second song played again from N1 2021 AC. Oh, also, Page did some nice work here. Did you think there should be something more than this?

The set ends and the lights go up, glinting off crushed Miller Lite cans and illuminating the crowd moving en masse towards the ocean for water playtime and bladder relief, not in the same area, thankfully.

© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer
© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer

At 10:07, the go lights off and the band returns to cheers heard all the way in Margate. “Axilla II” gets the crowd going, especially during the next meta reference of “Summer, sitting out by the pool.” This version felt a little reserved, though there is a nice 4-minute delving-into-the-darkside, midway through.

Not content with just a pool, Trey opens up the floodgates to a bigger body of water as they break into “Soul Planet,” a song I always like after the composed section is finished. Yes, “the ocean is love.” Sigh.

This "Planet" floats in a gritty galaxy but doesn’t get too complex as they rein in anything that gets too far out. Fishman offers a signature "yeah" midway through - it garners a laugh. At fifteen minutes the band gets to stretch a bit and, after the "yeah," Trey moves into a call and response section that bottoms out as a guttural section that skims the surface of sinister.

The show starts to take on some distinction as the opening sounds to “Down With Disease” boil up. Trey looks so adorably happy, he is positively beaming. A thousand barefoot children outside, dancing on the beach, smile back at him. This is a great “Disease,” with another instance of more “sectioned” jamming in distinct parts. While it begins with a nice back and forth between Trey and Page in a jazzy, prog-rockish way, they jam moves into a plinky, metallic, almost digital sounding second stage, where it becomes more laser-focused as Trey gets momentarily aggressive and then abandons the line for a drifty, mellow take, accompanied by nice piano work by Page.

© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer
© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer

DWD moves into “Ruby Waves,” which, with the reference to an “ocean of love” is a fun lyrical callback to the “ocean is love” of “Soul Planet.” This is no Alpine “Ruby,” so let’s get that out of the way, and perhaps it serves as a model for the overall show; this was a simple and sustaining version that didn’t break any new ground but felt great. There is a nice midway shift to a two-note riff by Trey that they grow into a three-note foundation that Trey loops and shreds over in the back part of the jam. A fun, one-minute return into "DWD" felt positively Phishy.

Phish gives us more love as they treat us to a second set “Ghost” which settles into a murky, underwater vibe that bubbles with globby, heavy tones. Again, no new ground broken but it is a solid entry and, at twelve minutes, gives enough space to get a little out there before coming back around. I should mention that Trey’s transition back into the formal part of "Ghost" was glass smooth… like a Slip-N-Slide of musical talent.

To close, Phish offers up “Harry Hood,” the third repeat from N1 2021 and, despite a false start that was ‘corrected’ with a Mike Bomb, they created a jam that sounded almost computerized in its origins and draped in warmth from Page. The section that climbs into ‘You Can Feel Good…’ is simply gorgeous. The show closes and everyone exchanges big high-fives.

The encore is a bit surprising and Phish-ily predictable at the same time. They start with “Sleeping Monkey,” which gets a big cheer at the, “and take it on down to the shore” line, with a backing, 4.0 metallic simian sound. And another question is asked, “Why’d you send my monkey on the train?”

With a little stumble before the intro, the band launches into “Free,” which is indeed unexpected as it was played just two days prior at Blossom. Unexpected? Yes. Welcomed? Absolutely. Is this played because of the “…splashing in the sea” line? Probably. Am I asking too many questions here? You know it.

Tonight, we got a show that fell decidedly into the B+ category of phun Phish, highlighted by velvety transitions and a series of lyrical questions that let us ponder a variety of answers. What a band.

Be safe out there and pick up your balloons.

© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer
© 2022 PHISH - Rene Huemer

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Comments

, comment by itsice88
itsice88 Feels like you significantly undersold the jams last night, and probably the show overall as well but hey...opinions are opinions. Enjoyed the read!
, comment by mgolia6
mgolia6 Great write up. I think the show glow got to me last night (even in virtual form) cause I had an initial high water mark feel for set one and a truly destroy reality set two mentality when the final notes of Free left the speakers of my phone. I think this write up brought me back to reality a little bit by being very objective about the music. Wonder use of imagery by the way, Ala “lip licker” and “ smell of the main course” to name just a few. Data analysis being a core component of my professional career, stats and themes speak loudly to me. Love where you went with the themes beyond the obvious beachey ones. Stay safe Y’all. AC is a taker not a giver.
, comment by eggsalad
eggsalad Narrator: they did not, in fact, pick up their balloons… big *SIGH*. Think it’s past time we as a community start directly calling that s*** out in the moment. Or the band should. It’s disgraceful. Especially on a beach… or a national park (blossom)… or literally anywhere that pockets or trashcans exist. I digress.

Nice review, from what I heard on the couch I thought they were in A- to A+ territory from the 2nd quarter on. Cheers to all (except the lightheaded litterers)
, comment by GarajMahalic
GarajMahalic I listened last night on SiriusXM as I pulled, cleaned, and re-installed the carb in my 1970 bus so I wasn’t locked in, but did hear the whole show. I felt it was a solid show but not much stood out, other than that they played 8 of the “big” 1.0 songs and didn’t do much with most of them. No big deal, they have a hell of a lot more big jam vehicles in their repertoire for the next two nights, but CDT, Wilson, Sand, and Cities didn’t really go anywhere. Just started re-listening to the 2nd set so I’m hoping DWD, Ghost, Hood, and Free change my opinion.

Did really dig some of Mike’s work in SP though! N2 should be a blast.

Dicks will be here before we know it and I can’t wait! Those will be my only shows this tour.
, comment by PhillyPhilly
PhillyPhilly B+ “phun phish” … I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. I enjoyed the write up but I’m not sure what “new ground” you were hoping the would break… I heard a massive Type II jam in S1 and an all time all killer S2 with deep improv and huge peaks. Easy A-level 5-star stuff IMHO. I hope you get what you are looking for tonight and tomorrow.
, comment by CarrotEyes
CarrotEyes Nice review of an excellent show. However, I think the B-plus rating is a bit harsh, even if intended merely as a deflationary gesture. Having watched the live stream, I think last night was solidly in A-minus territory, but only because I also believe the band has all the creativity, tools, and techniques at their disposal to deliver a true A or even A-plus show in the near future. Phish may yet destroy America again.
, comment by Person1
Person1 My post show high was ruined - once again - by the sight and sound of Phish fans huffing balloons and throwing them on the boardwalk. Its just really bad behavior, selfish and entitled, and it reinforces every negative stereotype about the band and their fans.

If you MUST stuff your face with one of those ludicrous balloons, at least pick it up afterwards, or somebody else will have to.
, comment by LookAtTheEyesMurray
LookAtTheEyesMurray That was a good show. Perhaps they will keep the momentum going? One can hope.
, comment by nesta
nesta Unfortunately, you just glazed over Ruby waves... the thing had at least 3 all whites in it, the hose was open at this point and BigRed was dousing us baptizing us. The DWD finally finished after decades of not finishing it?, idk, I'm asking, for a phriend...lol.
Imma have to give this show 4.5 easy.
, comment by majikpresto
majikpresto Ghost saved this show. The jam was totally unique. The first set was more or less botched. The Wilson intro was interpreted by the crowd as a WOO moment and was kind of flubbed and re-started (one guy Woo’d again. That was funny). Cities was horrible and also botched. And a CDT without a jam is like mashed potatoes without potatoes, not to mention gravy. I’m giving this show a C-. Soul Planet was the other highlight. Hood was Good. (Nesta, btw a 4.5 would be amongst the greatest shows of all time.) No disrespect. I worship Phish. But there must be shows that fall in the C/D category. They can’t all be A’s and B’s. Blossom was an A, obviously.
, comment by Jlieberman2004
Jlieberman2004 Really fair assessment, especially when compared with the N2 heater. Well written article. Thank you for your service! Had fun with you after the show.
, comment by Jeremy8698
Jeremy8698 @Jlieberman2004 likewise and thanks amigo. Hope to cross paths again soon.
, comment by spac_melt
spac_melt Very much appreciate the write up, but I agree that you maybe undersold the jams last night - particularly that second set. Just a question: does everything have to “break new ground?” Isn’t that notion just exhausting and unrealistic? What’s wrong with Phish doing what they do - perfectly. How could one possibly maintain something so demanding? Isn’t that the kind of thing that led to Trey’s fucking breakdown during the Coventry Melt? Anyway, I’m glad we are where we are in the Phish universe. With all else going straight to hell - I’m glad Phish is doing what they do night in and night out.
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect @PhillyPhilly said:
B+ “phun phish” … I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. I enjoyed the write up but I’m not sure what “new ground” you were hoping the would break… I heard a massive Type II jam in S1 and an all time all killer S2 with deep improv and huge peaks. Easy A-level 5-star stuff IMHO. I hope you get what you are looking for tonight and tomorrow.
My thoughts exactly. Otherwise thank you for the solid recap, especially this: "...as they break into 'Soul Planet,' a song I always like after the composed section is finished. Yes, 'the ocean is love.' Sigh."
, comment by nesta
nesta @majikpresto said:
Ghost saved this show. The jam was totally unique. The first set was more or less botched. The Wilson intro was interpreted by the crowd as a WOO moment and was kind of flubbed and re-started (one guy Woo’d again. That was funny). Cities was horrible and also botched. And a CDT without a jam is like mashed potatoes without potatoes, not to mention gravy. I’m giving this show a C-. Soul Planet was the other highlight. Hood was Good. (Nesta, btw a 4.5 would be amongst the greatest shows of all time.) No disrespect. I worship Phish. But there must be shows that fall in the C/D category. They can’t all be A’s and B’s. Blossom was an A, obviously.
Exactly , my phriend
, comment by pittphanAJD
pittphanAJD @majikpresto said:
Ghost saved this show. The jam was totally unique. The first set was more or less botched. The Wilson intro was interpreted by the crowd as a WOO moment and was kind of flubbed and re-started (one guy Woo’d again. That was funny). Cities was horrible and also botched. And a CDT without a jam is like mashed potatoes without potatoes, not to mention gravy. I’m giving this show a C-. Soul Planet was the other highlight. Hood was Good. (Nesta, btw a 4.5 would be amongst the greatest shows of all time.) No disrespect. I worship Phish. But there must be shows that fall in the C/D category. They can’t all be A’s and B’s. Blossom was an A, obviously.
hahaha pretty funny bro
, comment by pittphanAJD
pittphanAJD @Jlieberman2004 said:
Really fair assessment, especially when compared with the N2 heater. Well written article. Thank you for your service! Had fun with you after the show.
okay now I am convinced there is all kinds of jokers here or else people are just genuinely clueless. Did you just unironically call night 2 a heater? Compared with night 1? I mean come does anyone have a clue?
, comment by Phishphanphreak
Phishphanphreak My son and I started this Phish summer tour in Philly at the Mann, both shows, off to Bethel, both shows, shuffled to Md., both shows, then sailed to A.C. for all 3 shows. Every show was unique and of the highest quality in its own regard and respect. Sun. Night in A.C. marked 20 shows for me in 3 years. My son topped 51 on Sun.
In A.C.! Only since 2019! As I focused, listened, watched, and flowed with each note in complete sobriety, thanks to Trey and my cool ass son, and my own willingness, each night night penetrated me as better than the last. The breakouts really were special, spectacular, and fully sealed the venue with a cosmic aura. Here's what I find even more spectacular with Phish, they can repeat the same song in a consecutive show and completely re-orchestrate the song, sound and effect of it and stun 20,000 humans who listen in awe...THAT IS THE NATURE, STREAM AND PHRESHNESS OF PHISH! This band far exceeds any other band of the same or similar genre of music today. The only other popular modern multi-faceted, dynamic, full spectrum and poly-instrumental band I can even dare evaluate Phish with isThe Beatles. This band is on fire and engulfing its multi musical directional peak! I can't wait toget to the next show!! Congratulations Trey,Mike, John and Paige!!! As I see it, you have transcended In cosmic angelic form, the ordinary, common mainstream music of this millennium !!
, comment by Phishphanphreak
Phishphanphreak @Phishphanphreak said:
My son and I started this Phish summer tour in Philly at the Mann, both shows, off to Bethel, both shows, shuffled to Md., both shows, then sailed to A.C. for all 3 shows. Every show was unique and of the highest quality in its own regard and respect. Sun. Night in A.C. marked 20 shows for me in 3 years. My son topped 51 on Sun.
In A.C.! Only since 2019! As I focused, listened, watched, and flowed with each note in complete sobriety, thanks to Trey and my cool ass son, and my own willingness, each night night penetrated me as better than the last. The breakouts really were special, spectacular, and fully sealed the venue with a cosmic aura. Here's what I find even more spectacular with Phish, they can repeat the same song in a consecutive show and completely re-orchestrate the song, sound and effect of it and stun 20,000 humans who listen in awe...THAT IS THE NATURE, STREAM AND PHRESHNESS OF PHISH! This band far exceeds any other band of the same or similar genre of music today. The only other popular modern multi-faceted, dynamic, full spectrum and poly-instrumental band I can even dare evaluate Phish with isThe Beatles. This band is on fire and engulfing its multi musical directional peak! I can't wait toget to the next show!! Congratulations Trey,Mike, John and Paige!!! As I see it, you have transcended In cosmic angelic form, the ordinary, common mainstream music of this millennium !!
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