Phish Tour 2021 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny: Atlantic City Night 2

Phish Tour 2021 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny: Atlantic City Night 2

Entering the venue for Phish‘s tour stop in Atlantic City is quite literally to step onto the beach, which means walking on the sand. And walking on the sand, let alone dancing on it, is generally a slow-going affair. It’s just flat out difficult to move with any speed on the loose footing, which is fine, because it’s the beach, so what’s your hurry?

Taking the sandy concert setting to heart, “what’s your hurry?” was the theme of Phish’s Saturday night second-of-three show on the Jersey Shore. What better way to start off a slow-paced show than with a rare appearance of the “Slow Llama.” Trey Anastasio, wearing a sweatshirt with a picture of a cat, ceded the opening jam to Page McConnell‘s crackling synth and the beach dance party was afoot.

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Now slow here doesn’t mean bad, by any stretch, and the “Llama” gave way to a bunch of deliberately-paced groovers: “Tube” and “Destiny Unbound” and a rather botchy “Ya Mar,” all tortoise-beating-the-hare style to turn the start of the first set into a laid-back, boogie-in-the-sand affair. Jon Fishman was popping with creative funk fills throughout and small details, like Trey’s kaleidoscopic fills over Page’s organ in “Ya Mar” punctuated the first half of the set.

The set ended strong with a very welcome “Reba” that had a portion of the crowd blissing-out splashing in the Atlantic Ocean, a “Soul Shakedown Party” featuring Page’s deep reggae’ing of the waterfront, and an exemplar “Split Open and Melt.” Certain songs are going to thrive in a slow-down show like Saturday, and “Melt” certainly did. Here slower and slower meant darker and darker, the four players locking into Fish’s groove, Trey bubbling drawn-out space chords, a creeping molasses with a complex flavor palette, alternating between ambient and evil.

The set-closing “Melt” > “The Squirming Coil” also highlighted a recurring “ocean” theme for the night, the lyrics “among the seaweed and the slime” and “Satan by the beach” standing out, as if both were written to describe Atlantic City itself. The between-set soundtrack was appropriately the Meters, whose slow funk would have fit right into the first set ethos.

Read on after The Skinny for the rest of the recap and more.

The Skinny

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The Setlist

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The Venue

Atlantic City Beach [See upcoming shows]

1 shows — 08/13/2021

The Music

9 songs / 8:00 pm to 9:20 pm (80 minutes)

10 songs / 10:03 pm to 11:28 pm (85 minutes)

19 songs / 15 originals / 4 covers


12.05 [Gap chart]


Soul Shakedown Party, Drowned, No Quarter

Soul Shakedown Party – LTP 07/28/2018 (87 Show Gap)

Drowned – 15:54

Tweezer Reprise – 3:38

Lawn Boy – 3, A Picture of Nectar – 3, The Story of the Ghost – 1, Round Room – 1, Undermind – 1, Sigma Oasis – 1 Misc. – 5, Covers – 4

The Rest

83° and Sunny at Showtime

Koa 4

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Given the set-up, an early appearance of Phish’s cover of The Who’s “Drowned” felt appropriate. As Chris Kuroda’s light rig went angular, the music followed, both obtuse and acute, slow now feeling patient, as matching themes and matching tones bounced around the four bandmates at their own pace. That pace continued through a string of segues, with “Ghost” feeling like each member had their own rate of play, the tempo mismatch feeling almost psychotropic, Trey stretching chords and extended notes in lieu of any rapid-fire build, the band finding other interesting ways to peak. “Scents and Subtle Sounds” was an inverted climb, dissipating to almost nothing by the end. It can take effort to make “Chalk Dust Torture” feel sluggish, but it was that kind of show. That thing where a slowing top starts to get wobbly and chaotic, the “Chalk Dust” jam got weird in that way, never returning to the theme, but rather toppling altogether into a sweet transition to Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter.” Given the themes and setting perhaps “The Ocean” would’ve been a better fit, but given the speed, “No Quarter” was an excellent choice. It also served to fully hand the reins over to Page and Fishman at last and they gathered up whatever dark insanity was left and showered it into the sand-covered audience.

If you’re going to slow, you have to make sure you eventually go slow-build, and there’s few better slow-builds than a late set “Slave To The Traffic Light.” “Slave” provided a rare opportunity for the band to go bright on an otherwise evil-murky night, and they did not disappoint, Trey providing one of the more ecstatic peaks of the show. They didn’t forgo too many opportunities to lyrically reference the ocean to their right, and lamenting that little “Suzy Greenberg” soon would let them drown beneath the undertow to finish the set was a subtle, maybe intentional bookend to the “Drowned” from earlier on.

The encore opened with “A Life Beyond The Dream,” which I don’t think has any seaside references and ended with a somewhat surprising “Tweezer Reprise” which I know doesn’t have any. But there were no complaints from the audience who did their best to navigate the sand at the appropriate speed for a raging “Tweprise,” the baddest three minutes in rock and roll, and perhaps the correct answer to the question “what’s your hurry?”

Phish concludes their visit to Atlantic City on Sunday night. A livestream is available via with audio simulcast on SiriusXM’s Phish Radio.


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