Phish Tour 2021 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny: Hershey

Phish Tour 2021 – Setlist, Recap & The Skinny: Hershey

On August 10, Phish pulled their buses up to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for a couple of breather tour dates in between two higher-profile three-night stands — their first Midwest shows in two years, during the previous weekend at Deer Creek, and their first New York Tri-state area shows in over 18 months at Atlantic City.

Summer Tour 2021 had thus far been a success, marked by lengthy improvisation and technological evolutions in keyboardist Page McConnell’s gadgetry, Trey Anastasio’s guitar tone, and Chris Kuroda’s lighting rig, and hopes were high that this would be a chance for the band to have some fun away from the pressure of the bigger dates.

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These hopes were bolstered by the good fortune of having a gnarly thunderstorm pass by in a hurry, leaving behind a rainbow that stretched across the stadium in a fashion not unlike the Fare Thee Well rainbow of 2015. Trey even noticed and pointed it out during the opening song, “First Tube.”

That song, and the “Axilla” that followed, revealed Trey’s hand from the start: he was here to get his rock star on. This ambition led to a feisty first set, which went on from “Axilla” to feature an inspired segue from “Fuego” into “Runaway Jim” before cooling off with “Gumbo.” A punchy “Sample In A Jar” gave way to an excellent “Steam,” in which Trey showed off his new Languedoc with fluid playing, effortless crescendos, and confident leadership.

Trey then continued his inspired guitar playing by nailing his elusive solo in a slowed-down “Sugar Shack,” performed in the shadow of a literal chocolate factory, and bringing the heat in an uncommonly (by recent standards) smoking “Llama.” Indeed, the “Llama” was so electric that Trey paused after it was over to reflect on how fun the song is and to wonder aloud why they don’t play it more often these days.

The delightful stage banter continued with drummer Jon Fishman pretending to read critical texts from fans, and in that playful spirit they hopped into a “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” that featured the usual soloing and minor antics, as well as an unusual ending that played up the malicious vibe for another minute or two. Finally, they closed the set with “Run Like an Antelope,” a song that will never melt your face as it did in 1994, but still let an assertive Trey hit all the glorious peaks and carve new currents in the composition’s established structure. For a first set in the summertime, there was nothing to complain about.

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

Hersheypark Stadium [See upcoming shows]

7286

3 shows — 08/14/1996, 09/15/2000, 6/13/2010

The Music

11 songs / 7:41 pm to 9:02 pm (81 minutes)

11 songs / 9:30 pm to 11:05 pm (95 minutes)

22 songs / 20 originals / 2 covers

2000

11.09 [Gap chart]

None

Axilla, Sugar Shack, Llama, Death Don’t Hurt Very Long, Soul Planet, Joy, Scent Of A Mule, The Lizards, Rock And Roll

Sugar Shack – LTP 07/10/2019 (31 Show Gap)

No Men In No Man’s Land – 16:21

Axilla – 3:38

Lawn Boy – 1, A Picture of Nectar – 1, Hoist – 2, Billy Breathes – 2, Farmhouse – 1, Joy – 3, Fuego – 1, Big Boat – 1, Kasvot Växt – 1, Sigma Oasis – 1, Misc. – 6, Covers – 2

The Rest

72° and Light Rain at Showtime

Koa 4

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More Skinny

The second set began promisingly, with a “No Men In No Man’s Land” that failed to cross the 20-minute mark but retained the summer 2021 tradition of second frame openers that show off the power of a fully operational Phish with democratic deep dives. The first “Soul Planet” of the year then boosted the energy even more — the band has wisely trimmed the “song” portion of it, and Hershey’s jam portion was full of open space and tension, primarily fueled by terrific interplay between Trey and Fishman and complemented by extraordinary lighting by Kuroda. Trey then shifted the jam into a nifty segue into “NICU,” with the band listening closely and keeping up.

“Joy” followed “NICU,” and it seemed straightaway that Trey mistimed the placement of the second-set ballad. “Joy” cut off the exploration part of the second set too early, and left too much time to run through the late-set “hits” afterward. “Scent Of A Mule” kicked off a string of curious song choices in a set devoid of coherent flow, in which “Golden Age” was ripcorded for “Prince Caspian,” and “Backwards Down the Number Line” was just … there. The stretch wasn’t entirely devoid of highlights — Fishman’s sampler lent the “Mule Duel” uncommon playfulness and dissonance, and nobody will deny the pure joy of “The Lizards” — but it still felt unfocused, as if too many songs with a similar function were trying to elbow each other out of the way.

Perhaps playing in front of an amusement park prompted Trey to play a Saturday show on Tuesday, but after the always-welcome “Rock and Roll” encore sent crowds off into the night, eyes and expectations are now turned to Wednesday.

Phish returns to Hersheypark Stadium for another show tongight. Livestreams are available via LivePhish.com.

First Tube

No Men In No Man’s Land

Phish From The Road Photos

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Poster

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSZhFNHLqD3/