Photos by Rod Snyder | Words by Patrick Lacey
Twenty years ago, Phish played their first shows in Camden, NJ. And on Friday, they played night one of their first ever three-night stand in the city. Maybe it’s being across the river from the Philadelphia skyline, or half the band being from the Garden State, but whatever it is, Phish always throws down when they visit south Jersey.
Torrential downpours (what a surprise) and heavy winds delayed the show by about an hour, and the band finally took the stage just before 9pm. After an opening “Set Your Soul Free”, the soaking wet crowd erupted with the first notes of “Strawberry Letter 23”. It was safe to say the guys on stage weren’t about to let the rain ruin anyone’s night. The first set was filled with phan favorites like “My Friend, My Friend” and “Wombat”, and songs like “Birds of a Feather” and “Wolfman’s Brother” contained some very nice improvisation. One of the highlights of the set had to be the set closing, “Drift While You’re Sleeping”. The song from Ghosts of the Forest, guitarist Trey Anastasio’s side project, was well-received by the crowd with its multiple composed sections and reggae-like breakdown. When the lights came on at set-break, the crowd was buzzing with the feeling that this weekend could be something special.
Anyone that has been to a Phish show knows, the magic really happens in the second set. Things got pretty magical to say the least. “Mercury” would open this set that would only consist of six songs. Clocking in at just under 21 minutes, Phish would take “Mercury” for a ride that had this phan in particular in awe. “No Men in No Man’s Land” made its Camden appearance next, as it has been played at every stop on this tour so far. The energy never let up as they made their way into “We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains”. As with many other Kasvot Vaxt tunes, they are really finding their way into setlists very nicely.
After a quick breather, Trey launched into the second Ghosts of the Forest song of the night, “About to Run”. This song really stood out as Anastasio tore through it with a ferociousness that was reminiscent of his playing back in ‘93. You can really see how much the GOTF songs mean to Trey, singing and playing each of them with great emotion. The energy never let up the whole set.
To close it out, the band then knocked it out of the park with a combo of “Light>Run Like an Antelope”. The peak of “Antelope” was so crazy, I don’t think much of the crowd noticed drummer Jon Fishman miss his cue at the end, or would complain about it.
An encore of “Sleeping Monkey” and “Quinn the Eskimo” sent the euphoric crowd into the shady streets of Camden, NJ, chomping at the bit for more. For the first time, the Camden faithful got to look forward to TWO more shows coming to them this weekend. They will likely not disappoint, whatever the reason may be…
The band will be heading out to Saratoga Springs, NY this week…
Set Your Soul Free
Strawberry Letter 23
My Friend, My Friend
Halway To The Moon
The Old Home Place
Birds of A Feather
Drift While you’re Sleeping
No Men In No Man’s Land
We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains
About To Run
Run Like An Antelope
Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
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