Phish Tour 2022 – Atlantic City Night 2: Setlist, Recap & The Skinny

The first set included rarity "Heavy Rotation" and the second set featured well-jammed versions of "No Men In No Man's Land" and "Tweezer."

By Aaron Stein Aug 7, 2022 7:42 am PDT

There’s a reason why they make you read the classics when you’re a kid in middle and high school. It’s so you’re well prepared to recap a Phish show in your middle age, of course. Last night’s middle show of 2022’s Atlantic City by-the-beach run had me thinking of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, particularly its famous opening line:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

Yeah.

The first half of the first set had the quartet sounding like the world’s greatest bar band, with a bunch of short hit-it-and-quit-it blasts of rock and groove across first set staples like the opening “46 Days,” the appropriately at-the-shore-referencing “Moma Dance” and “NICU” and the organ-driven “My Soul.” This get-it-going section was rounded out by the first “Olivia’s Pool” of the year and a “555” that hinted at something with a nice Trey Anastasio guitar solo that flirted with “Eleanor Rigby” themes before returning to standard form. Not quite the “winter of despair” on an agreeable August night, but most would probably agree not quite the “best of times” either.

The “epoch of belief” didn’t really get started until about 8:45 Saturday night, as a mid-set “Bathtub Gin” opened up into the first real improvisation of the show, Mike Gordon coiling some springy bass lines that the rest of the band built a theme around, Page McConnell adding electric piano and drummer Jon Fishman providing loose, helter-skelter drums. A few minutes in and Trey fixated on a major key noodle leading to some excellent guitar-and-keyboards cat-and-mouse before things turned momentarily dark, Page’s organ turned angry. A bouncy finish in the return to the “Bathtub” theme to tie up a pretty tidy first set jam.

Next up was “Heavy Rotation,” for only the second time ever, the debut occurring over seven years and 250 shows ago. So yes, just a clever name, then. The Page-sung rocker opened into a cool repeated riff from Trey that sucked in a moody response from McConnell and Gordon, showing some promise before another quick jump into “Character Zero.” The “Zero” felt relatively short and, to be honest, lackluster, but then, post-coda, opened into a “we were all going direct the other way” evil thing that felt a bit like an exclamation point on a rather straightforward sentence (“We got beets!”) With a dramatic gibbous waxing overhead, the first “Moonage Daydream” in almost a year, Fishman guiding a sharp solo from Trey, was the ending the set needed to enter the break.

“We had everything before us…”

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

The Skinny

The Setlist

The Venue

Atlantic City Beach [See upcoming shows]

4 shows
8/13/2021, 8/14/2021, 8/15/2021, 8/05/2022

The Music

10 songs / 8:08 pm to 9:01 pm (53 minutes)

9 songs / 10:04 pm to 11:35 pm (91 minutes)

19 songs
17 originals / 2 covers

2001

23.58 [Gap chart]

None

Olivia's Pool, Heavy Rotation, Moonage Daydream

Heavy Rotation LTP 07/22/2015 (253 Show Gap)

Bathtub Gin 17:24

Tweezer Reprise 3:37

Junta - 1, Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 2, Billy Breathes - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 1, Round Room - 1, Joy - 1, Fuego - 1, Big Boat - 1, Sigma Oasis - 1, Misc. - 6, Covers - 2

The Rest

77° and Partly Cloudy at Showtime

Koa 1

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More Skinny

After the trio of bustouts in the first set, the closing set opened with the second “No Men In No Man’s Land” of the week. At 10 pm on Saturdays, there are fireworks in Atlantic City, and so just before the band retook the stage, the sky behind them was already in the “season of Light.” Chris Kuroda masterfully echoed the color, geometry and spirit of the fireworks with his dynamic rig, setting the tone for the rest of the set. The “No Man’s” jam started spry, a band poised to do something. Trey’s morphing melody getting nudged and then pushed by Mike, the jam shifting darker and faster, “season of Light” giving way to “season of Darkness” with a capital D. This was gritty, sand-in-your-shorts jamming, Trey continuing to employ echo effects to fill the space even more, the sound reaching a point where, from back where I was standing on the beach, it wasn’t clear who was making what noises. Fishman echoed Trey’s echoes, sly real-time meta commentary on the band’s psychedelic meanderings.

With the band feeling it like that, few riffs can excite a crowd quite like the opening chords of “Tweezer.” This one got into some cool spaces quickly, Gordon continuing to assert himself as the guide through the evening’s improv, Trey again on the sparse echo, leaving the other three to set tone and tempo before hopping back in to fill the gaps. As the four reached mindmeld over multiple sections, the “Tweezer” felt like a great Dickens novel, ideas and characters and chapters weaving multiple narratives into a single brilliant piece of literature. The “Tweezer” jam stayed focused and eventually Trey returned the main theme, but in a completely distorted, dissonant form, as if “Tweezer” had been beaten up by the ocean waves, eroded and gnarly, but still recognizable, flashes of mid-’90s Phish oddity in the here and now.

At barely 10 minutes, the “Set Your Soul Free” that followed felt short and contained compared to some recent versions, but the set’s “epoch of incredulity” continued apace, many ideas crammed into the short jam before a short-stop segue into “Simple.” Post-verse, the jam here got to its typical blissed “direct to Heaven” direction, but the quiet interlude lilted into a more aggressive space, Trey’s guitar plinking an inventive theme and for a short while, Phish sounded like a completely different band, somehow, once again!, finding new sonic space to explore, decades into their career. Then they were Phish again, a cool seabreeze section with Fishman playing an almost spiritual jam rhythm, Page’s organ and Mike’s warm fuzzy bass going full inspirational before everything scrambled into scary “we are all going the other way” digital weirdness. The shift into “Backwards Down the Number Line” felt a touch awkward, but when the short happyjam instrumental coda hit, sounding like the faster, younger cousin to “Simple” it made more sense (to me at least!). The start of “Golgi” felt even stranger, not quite an “age of foolishness” move, but the crowd-pleaser pleased the crowd and then during the final guitar build, Trey took things out for a short, but interesting detour, sort of Middle Eastern themed playing before bringing it back home. I, for one, have never heard “Golgi Apparatus” do such. Cool!

The “age of wisdom” crowd would be looking for a strong finish to cement the second set as a keeper, and the band obliged with a truly wise “Slave to the Traffic Light.” Jon Fishman has been unofficially declared the “MVP” of many shows over the past year or two, typically garnering praise for his tempos, dynamics and complexity. Fishman controlled Saturday night’s play through pure less-is-more restraint, and the quintessential build of “Slave” rode on some masterful play from the drummer. There’s your “age of wisdom.” On theme, the encore was a tale of two song choices, the “spring of hope” Treylove of “A Life Beyond A Dream” making way for the “nothing before us” in-the-moment rage of “Tweezer Reprise.” With the third night in Atlantic City cued up in don’t-miss-a-Sunday-show fashion, perhaps the next book to come off the shelf is “Great Expectations.” Watch a livestream via LivePhish.com.

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