It’s early Monday morning. I’m sitting in a Bed & Breakfast in nearby Absecon, NJ, collecting my thoughts on the show that ended only a few hours ago, and on the greater tour at large. Feelings of gratitude, splendor, wonder etc. are all running amok through my head.
AC3 was my ninth show of this inspired tour. It’s no secret that the last two years have been an absolute joy for us Phish fans. Seemingly all the rules of set-listing are out the window, the band’s jamming is at an extremely high level, and everything just feels fresh. I’ve walked into every show I've seen this tour not knowing what to expect as the band has delivered twists and turns and major highlights nightly. After a revelatory, improvisation-laden Friday night and Saturday night party, the band was poised to deliver a top-to-bottom “complete” run in Atlantic City.
Did it finish in strong fashion? Were the Sunday Show™ vibes in full effect? Would we see Satan on the beach, trying to catch a ray?
Philly. Bethel. Hartford. Jones Beach. Raleigh. MPP. Blossom! AC night one! This tour has been incredibly consistent, with few dips and many many peaks. The tour is picking up steam, and AC1 showed that they have no intention of slowing down. Relentless is the one word that comes to mind. The ballads are few and far between, most perfectly placed, the jams continue to evolve and show no signs of stalling out. And on the jams—they've finally optimized the synthesizer toys between Trey, Mike and Page, and Trey has perfected his tone, which is pushing them to innovate. They're pushing each other, and instead of a basic pattern that relies on building bliss peaks, we're getting noise rock, ambient space jazz, a mix of good and evil—new, different sounds. What every Phish fan is looking for.
But it can't possibly last, can it? Fishman, fueled by an experimental jet propulsion technology, must need a tune up at some point. Trey's shoes must need to be replaced. Does Mike have enough neon outfits? Page's sandwich supply must be dwindling. Like helicopter parents, fans are constantly pushing Phish to do more, to keep it up, to continue to deliver. But like my colleague Megan wrote, "It’s their own fault though, they keep delivering so we keep expecting it."
Soundcheck: Clear Your Mind, Family On The Beach Song
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.
Soundcheck: Olivia's Pool, Beth, Knuckle Bone Broth Avenue
Soundcheck: Jam, The 9th Cube, Stash
[Phish.net thanks Chris Vetoulis for writing this recap. -Ed.]
Living in this tube, we are safe. We are free. Our escape begins before the first notes are played. From the time our last moment of responsibility ends, our eyes suddenly open and we gaze in a world of fantasy, where our imaginations expand beyond the constraints of our day-to-day. The feelings weren’t forgotten, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude flows in as we realize we have the chance to do this once again.
[We would like to thank Aaron Presuhn (@presuhn) for volunteering to recap last night's show and agreeing to recap it even though, last minute, he wasn't able to attend the show. -Ed.]
Cuya-WHOA-ga. Yeah, it’s cheesy. I don’t care. I like cheese and that title amuses me. Accept it and move on. I LOVE Blossom. It’s been one of my favorite venues since my first show there in 2010, and the only show I haven’t seen there since is 2015. It’s also the 19th anniversary of my first festival, IT.
But alas, I’m not there tonight. So this review is from the comfort of my couch. Lights off, volume loud, and (relatively. kinda. ehh maybe not) sober. The crowd energy, friend reactions, venue ambiance…none of those impressions are there. And I’m kinda pissed about it. But such is life. The perfect confluence of f**kery conspired to prevent my attendance tonight, and it sucks. Oh well. Here are my thoughts.
Soundcheck: Heavy Rotation (performed multiple times)
SET 1: I Never Needed You Like This Before, Everything's Right, Kill Devil Falls > Camel Walk, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, My Friend, My Friend > David Bowie, Carini > No Men In No Man's Land -> Twist, Drift While You're Sleeping
In celebration of Phish’s 34 shows this spring and summer, The Mockingbird Foundation has announced that it is sending an unsolicited $1,000 Tour Grant to a music program near each venue at which Phish performs. The grants are part of a long-standing effort to help bring music from the Phish community to the local communities that Phish touches.
These are the 21st round of unsolicited Tour Grants awarded, an effort that now totals over $200,000, which is 9.0% of all disbursements made by the Foundation. Continuing the celebration, additional Tour Grants will be announced through the end of the summer. The recipients announced thus far are:
Soundcheck: Funky Bitch, My Soul, Crowd Control (this soundcheck is possibly incomplete)
ENCORE: Bathtub Gin
TLDR: A rocking show with a party of a first set and great chops throughout. A perfect start with a 14 minute "A Wave of Hope." Fun but straightforward jams in "AC/DC Bag" and "Back on the Train". "Mull" gets very interesting, "Foam" is beautifully executed, and the "Ghost" really goes some spooky places and finally gives the first set the peak it's been asking for. Second set has all the meat in the third quarter's "Tweezer" > "Wingsuit" > "Tweezer" > "Birds of a Feather" segment which is well worth a good listen. "Joy" cools things down for a beautifully played "Taste" and a powerful "What's the Use?". "The Howling" > "Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S." are a nice combo to end the set. Fine but unremarkable 3-song encore.
Clouds fill the sky and turn down the heat in Columbia, MD as expectations for typical Sunday show greatness at Merriweather Post Pavillion fill the parking garages and the largest shakedown I've ever seen at this venue. No one is going to let a little rain dampen this day! It comes and goes lightly all afternoon and throughout the show (lawn girl here) but never gets too much to handle. A welcome change from the sweltering heat of weekend shows prior. I have brought my 16 month old on this weekend ride (don't judge me, she did great!), and this kept me bound to the top of the hill with all the other little ragers for the first set. Sight lines are a little better up there now with the newly raised roof, and the sound is definitely at a lower volume but still nice and clear. Little B enjoyed a few songs and then fell asleep somewhere in the middle of first set, leaving me a little more free for note taking and absorbing the music.
[We would like thank Michael Ayers, user @yhgtbfkm, for recapping last night's show. -Ed.]
I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite aspects of Phish shows (aside from the music) is the people watching. Outside of the usual cast of characters you might happen to run into, one thing that’s always interested me is the groups of friends that attend shows together. I can’t recall which year at Dick’s it was, but one year in front of me were a group of 8-10 folks all wearing matching t-shirts with their names and the number of shows they had attended (I assumed) on the back. I remember thinking how cool that was, to have a group of friends like that. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, so I didn’t know anyone who liked Phish as much as I did. I knew people who knew who they were, but most everyone else was into either nu metal or country. That is, until I met [Redacted] (who asked to not be named as he’s embarrassed to be my friend and, quite frankly, I can’t blame him).
We met back when I was in college. We were both members of a peer-to-peer music sharing service called Soulseek where you could share your music collection with others and download what they had. After downloading the Phish shows that he had that I didn’t and vice versa, we exchanged messages and the rest, as they say, is history.
We arrived together, friends since we were six, 28 years since our first show at Walnut Creek.
The moist heat smacked us in the face like a used spa towel, but once we strolled through the dusty lot to arrive at the venue, we were home. Even the stairs to the lawn provoked memories that we endeavored to locate throughout the years.
This was a show that required some recognition. Suzy’s 225th show, Kersten’s kids’ first show, our fifth Walnut Creek show together, friends and family scattered across the audience---hard to find on the packed lawn)---running into random people and finding out they're from our tiny home town in rural North Carolina. Of course, conversation quickly drifted to the memorable 1997 show, when the deluge turned the lawn into a mudpit, Kersten’s parents were at their first show, and her brother was featured prominently on the jumbotron as he danced, shirtless and wild.
We live in a world where I have seen/heard easily 100 shows live from home and this was another. I personally have never been to Jones Beach, so this review will not be about the vibes or the lovely breezes, or any interstellar interactions. I’m sure the (insert classic Long Island food item) tasted extra sweet/savory and the beverages were flowing like the nearby Carmen’s River.
We start the night with "Mike’s Song," which is noteworthy mostly because what follows is the longest jam of the night instead of opting for a more traditional "Mike’s Groove" segment. Wolfie finds a chill funk groove with a bit of swing from Fishman as Trey starts to layer some effects into his tone. He pulls back to a cleaner tone and Page finds some energy on the baby grand, extra mustard seemingly emanating from his shirt. When Page switches to the organ, the band turns a corner through a heavier, more evil zone. The jam heads into a "Sigma Oasis" feel and then continues evolving. Page begins to add some sonic textures that hint at a spacey take-off point but instead we find ourselves in "Ya Mar."
Phish debuted “The Final Hurrah” on Halloween, as the sixth song on a made-up album by an invented Scandinavian rock band, with glowing squares dangling over the audience while Page sang "I am in a square, dangling in mid-air." That could be the setup for something awesome, terrible, or just weird - and "The Final Hurrah" has some of each....
The all-volunteer Mockingbird Foundation has announced fourteen (14) new grants totaling $109,850. They were selected from among 883 initial applicants, and winnowed through a highly competitive, two-tiered review process, Mockingbird's 27th round of competitive grantmaking since 1996.
The winning grants include schools, community centers, and nonprofits in ten states, providing a diverse range of support to a variety of programs serving a number of different target populations. These grants were made possible by generous giving from Phish, WaterWheel, and thousands of Phish fans like yourself, and bring the fan-run nonprofit's historical giving to 549 grants totaling $2,093,507.40.
Registration is now open for the Seventh Annual Runaway Open charity golf tournament for Phish fans, to be held in Denver 9/3/22 (the morning between the first 2 and second 2 shows of the upcoming Labor Day's run at Dick's.) We'll have to up 120 players this time, with a shotgun start at 8:30, coffee and a group photo to get you started, on-course contests, raffles at the clubhouse, lunch and gift bags included, and more TBA.
Every previous year has sold out, and built a waiting list that we couldn't satisfy, so please register early. To encourage that, we're honoring our past pricing of a $150 donation per player until Memorial Day. From May 30 to August 20, the donatoin request jumps a bit to $165; and for the final two weeks before the event, late registration will be $180.
We're also inviting a range of sponsorship opportunities, including item donations for the gift bags, sponsored team names, sponsored hole signs, sponsored foursomes, and if anyone knows a business interested in the visibility, event sponsorship ("Presented by..." on all collateral and future promo.)
The Mockingbird Foundation has announced an unsolicited $1,000 tour grant to Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn, in celebration of Phish's ongoing four-show run at Madison Square Garden. This is the only NYU Partnership high school in Brooklyn. Of the students, 92% are minority and 85% are economically disadvantaged. It's also right down the street from a mass shooting that happened less than two weeks ago.
Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.
This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $2 million to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.