Phish Performs Animal Show In Las Vegas: Setlist, Recap & The Skinny

The show featured the first “Shaggy Dog” in nearly a decade and the returns of “I Am The Walrus” and “Harpua” for the first time since 2017.

By Aaron Stein Oct 31, 2021 4:55 am PDT

Phish returned to the MGM Grand Arena Saturday night for the show-before-the-show hit of the Vegas Halloween run. Two nights after the quartet was back to their setlist shenanigans, delivering their second themed show of the weekend. October 30th, 2021 will forever be known as the “Animal Show,” featuring two sets composed completely of songs about animals. As most in the room came quickly to realize, man, does Phish have a lot of songs about creatures great and small.

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There had been rumors and discussion online that an animal set might be a possibility, so by the second or third song in — not to mention Trey Anastasio‘s sweatshirt featuring a picture of a pig — it started to become clear what was going down. The show opened with a nod to Halloweens past, “The Dogs” from the Chilling, Thrilling set, Jon Fishman continuing to impress with an out-of-mind stretch. Followed by “Ocelot” and “Turtle In The Clouds,” it could have been any first set, but the audience seemed to know. An early first set “Run Like An Antelope,” changed the temperature quite a bit, the jam alternating through passages dark and light, the band flexing their muscles early.

The imagery and feeling evoked by animals cover a wide range, from cute to silly to lovable, majestic and downright frightening. What became clear over the course of the night was how Phish’s songs about animals cover an equally wide stylistic range. The majesty of “Antelope,” the down-funk of “Camel Walk,” the prog-stateliness of “Guyute,” the straight blues-rock of “Dogs Stole Things,” the scary punk of “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars,” the playful viciousness of “The Dogs” and the quiet romance of “Dog Faced Boy.” While the night gave the quartet a chance to show off their dynamic range, the jump from style to style created a flow that didn’t quite match the countdown-to-zero show on Thursday.

Still, the band is in a serious zone these days and it showed over the course of many Saturday night highlights. Beyond the ripping “Antelope,” the first set exploration was largely contained in an expansive version of another throwback to Phish Halloween’s past, “Wombat.” Anastasio showered the Arena with funked-out elegant lines of guitar as the jam turned “Type II,” the band turning into an ambient mass. Phish’s ability to cram a few minutes of highlight-reel improvisation into the middle of a song as silly as “Wombat” gets at the appeal of all these songs about animals. As with Thursday night’s show, they also took advantage of a themed night to dust off some repertoire rarities, like the first “Shaggy Dog” in 331 shows (last time played – June 22, 2012). The first set ended with a rare take on the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus,” the sold-out crowd singing the woo’s and goo-goo-g’joob’s with relish. The ending coda was a wall-of-sound marvel, sheets of sonic rain soaking the room as Anastasio and Page McConnell layered more and more on top to a rather thrilling conclusion.

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

The Skinny

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The Setlist

Set 1: The Dogs > Ocelot, Turtle in the Clouds, Run Like an Antelope, Camel Walk, Wombat > Guyute, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Shaggy Dog, Dog Faced Boy, The Sloth, Llama, I Am the Walrus

Set 2: Dogs Stole Things, Your Pet Cat > Runaway Jim [1] > Piper -> Birds of a Feather, Harpua [2] > Bug > The Lizards, Farmhouse

Encore: Vultures, Sleeping Monkey > Possum

The songs in this show were based on animals. Big Black Furry Creature From Mars and Harpua contained Little Squirrel quotes. Shaggy Dog was played for the first time since June 22, 2012 (332 shows). I Am The Walrus was played for the first time since July 29, 2017 (131 shows). and featured Little Squirrel and Shipwreck quotes. Runaway Jim was unfinished and included a Hey, Ho, Nobody Home tease from Trey. Harpua was performed for the first time since July 30, 2017 (130 shows) and featured Carini, Your Pet Cat, and If 6 Was 9 quotes as well as This Jesus Must Die scatting from Trey. Part of Harpua was spoken in French by Page and Mike.

The Venue

MGM Grand Garden Arena [See upcoming shows]


13 shows
10/31/2014, 11/01/2014, 11/02/2014, 10/28/2016, 10/29/2016, 10/30/2016, 10/31/2016, 10/31/2018, 11/01/2018, 11/02/2018, 11/03/2018, 10/28/2021, 10/29/2021

The Music

13 songs / 8:09 pm to 9:37 pm (88 minutes)

12 songs / 10:12 pm to 11:44 pm (92 minutes)

25 songs
23 originals / 2 covers


40.64 [Gap chart]


The Dogs, Turtle In The Clouds, Camel Walk, Wombat, Guyute, BBFCFM, Shaggy Dog, Dog Faced Boy, The Sloth, I Am The Walrus, Dogs Stole Things, Your Pet Cat, Harpua, Vultures, Sleeping Monkey

Shaggy Dog LTP 06/22/2012 (331 Show Gap)

Harpua 20:11

Dog Faced Boy 2:18

Lawn Boy - 1, A Picture of Nectar - 1, Hoist - 1, The Story of the Ghost - 2, Farmhouse - 3, Joy - 1, Fuego - 1, Chilling Thrilling Sounds - 2, Kasvot Växt - 1, Misc. - 10, Covers - 2

The Rest

77° and Overcast at Showtime

Koa 4

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The second set was home to more excellent jamming from the band. “Your Pet Cat,” “Runaway Jim” and “Piper” all finding their mountain-goat footing in their gravity-defying climbs. “Cat” was a full band ordeal showcasing everyone’s ability to lose themselves in each other’s playing, a superlative version of a song that doesn’t get too much action in the repertoire. The “Jim” jam got going with muddy digital effects from Trey as the band locked into a melodic zig-zag. “Piper’s” tale of the red, red worm went through multiple phases, the band slowing and stretching as it went along.

When the theme of the night became clear, there’s no doubt that everyone in the venue and following along at home had some thoughts on what Phish could and what they should play. Ask anyone and they would give you their opinions and their hopes. In this way, the show was equally notable for songs left in the proverbial doghouse that didn’t get an appearance. Which isn’t to say that some hopes weren’t realized. For example, it’s likely that many were looking for a “Harpua” bust out and they were rewarded with the first one in four years. And for anyone looking to get clues to the upcoming Halloween show during the “Harpua,” well, Trey had other ideas.


The narration went completely meta, Anastasio playfully and subtly acknowledging all the annual tea leaf reading and guessing with an extended monologue referencing the numbers from Thursday as well as bits about certain lyrics and other rabid-fan minutiae. The narration came to a head with Trey announcing an actual Instagram account where protagonist Jimmy would be announcing the Halloween album, but ultimately didn’t when he got interrupted (his cat died!). The whole thing is worth a listen and dissection, although it seems highly, highly unlikely that any real clues or breadcrumbs can be found in it.

The end of the night had the band getting a case of the creepy-crawlies, playing “Bug,” “The Lizards” and “Farmhouse” — which is eligible for an animal set owing to its references to cluster flies. With plenty, plenty more options left in the stable, they squeezed three more into the extended encore of “Vultures,” “Sleeping Monkey” and “Possum.” This also afforded them the chance to hit a few more genres and styles before calling it a night, a rather long and raucous night at that. While the clues for tonight’s show remain mostly non-existent, the expectations for the Halloween show are as high as ever and the band seems poised to deliver another all-timer.

Phish’s Las Vegas Halloween run and Fall Tour 2021 ends tonight. A livestream is available with SiriusXM airing the show on Phish Radio.

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