Aug 8, 2018 • 6:30 am PDT
Photographer Andrew Blackstein captured the action in Camden on Tuesday night. Check out a gallery of his work below The Skinny.
Camden, New Jersey’s BB&T Pavilion sits on the banks of the Delaware River featuring a scenic view of Philadelphia. The waterfront venue was the site of many stellar Phish shows between 1999 – 2011 and then suddenly the band stopped coming back. Phish finally returned to the BB&T Pavilion on Tuesday night following a seven-year hiatus from the shed. Last night’s concert contained a handful of moments on par with past performances at the venue including must-hear versions of “Down With Disease” and “Light” filled with experimental jamming.
After three first sets filled with unusual song choices and deep improv in Alpharetta, Phish took a more conventional approach to start the evening in Camden. “Crowd Control” returned to its normal position as opener after appearing in the two-slot on Maple Night last summer. The Undermind rocker would be the only tour debut of the night until the encore. Next came a double dose of songs debuted on July 21, 2015: “No Men In No Man’s Land” and “Blaze On.” While the band stayed between the lines on the former, they dug in a bit on the latter. Keyboardist Page McConnell led the first part of the “Blaze On” jam on electric piano and passed the baton to guitarist Trey Anastasio for a build to a strong and frenetic climax. “The Chairman Of The Boards” then stepped to the front of the stage to sing “Lawn Boy” as rain started to fall on those on the lawn. McConnell called out bassist Mike Gordon for his typical “Lawn Boy” solo which on this night included the use of a drill.
“Infinite,” one of three new originals added to the repertoire so far this summer, saw action for the second time on Tuesday. Page shined during the jam of the Mike Gordon/Scott Murawski-penned song with layered synth leads. Anastasio started “Wilson” just when it seemed “Infinite” was ready for lift off. The “Roggae” that followed was gorgeous as usual, while Trey struggled at points with “Rift.” A dense “46 Days” came next and was the highlight of the set. The jam started at an unusually slow pace as the foursome took their time working up to a rolling boil. Anastasio utilized his wompy, Leslie speaker-driven tone throughout a solo that included “Theme From S.W.A.T.” teases. Phish ended the set with a pairing of “Sparkle” and “David Bowie.” Last night’s “Bowie” was powered by drummer Jon Fishman expertly picking up speed as Trey furiously untangled a flood of dark and evil riffs.
After intermission, Phish began the second set with a 24-minute “Down With Disease.” The “Camden Disease” was a tour de force with multiple key changes, one huge out-of-nowhere peak and otherworldly contributions from all four members. Mike, Page, Trey and Fish were connected in an unreal way throughout, as they followed each other down multiple wormholes into experimental territory. Every few minutes the quartet would break through to successfully explore a different jam space. A high-energy “Backwards Down The Number Line” emerged out of “Down With Disease” and led into a quick romp through McConnell’s electro-tinged “I Always Wanted It This Way.”
The focus on 3.0 material continued with the Trey ballad “Miss You” and an adventurous, top-shelf “Light.” Phish picked up where they left off in “Down With Disease” as “Light” contained more unprecedented key changes and refined instrumental interaction. However, this time around, after exploring a few jam spaces, the band settled in on an upbeat calypso-tinged groove they took their time working over to the delight of the crowd. Fishman was a whirl of motion as McConnell and Gordon egged Anastasio on to multiple guitar-driven peaks. Once Trey was done milking the climax for all it was worth, he initiated a whiplash-inducing drop into “Mike’s Song.”
Tuesday’s “Mike’s” featured a few complete stops as the quartet honed in on a “Fuck Your Face” feel. Anastasio threw in “You Sexy Thing” teases for good measure just one show after the return of the Hot Chocolate cover. The classic set-closing “Mike’s Groove” suite rolled on with the beautiful instrumental “I Am Hydrogen” and a jubilant, balls-to-the-wall “Weekapaug Groove.” Phish ended the night by dusting off the ballad “Show Of Life” for the first time since October 25, 2016 – a span of 50 shows.
The wait for the next show in Camden won’t quite be seven years, as Phish returns to the BB&T Pavilion on Wednesday.
BB&T Pavilion [See upcoming shows]
10 shows — 07/10/1999, 07/03/2000, 07/04/2000, 07/30/2003, 07/31/2003, 08/12/2004, 06/07/2009, 06/24/2010, 06/25/2010, 06/10/2011
11 songs / 8:11 pm to 9:33 pm (82 minutes)
9 songs / 10:12 pm to 11:42 pm (90 minutes)
20 songs / 20 originals / 0 covers
Crowd Control, Show Of Life
Show Of Life - 50 Shows (LTP - 10/25/2016)
Down With Disease - 24:28
I Am Hydrogen - 3:08
Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, Rift - 2, Hoist - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Round Room - 1, Undermind - 1, Joy - 2, Big Boat - 4, Misc. - 6,
87° and partly cloudy at showtime