With better weather than the night before, Phish returned to Camden, NJ for their second of two nights at BB&T Pavilion (formerly known as the Susquehanna Bank Center, the E Centre, and and the Tweeter Center), following up a Tuesday night show that included some very high points, and some that were rather average. However, the only Northeast shows of the summer (excluding Curveball) shook out to showcase some top-notch Phish, as the band continues soaring through their final week of tour before their heavily anticipated 11th festival.
“Moma Dance” got the party started, as Trey Anastasio made no hesitation early on to use his washy-Leslie effect that he’s been loving and leaning on so much this tour. Trey and Page McConnell have been locking in with precision and tenacity since Phish’s tour opener in Lake Tahoe, and the pair found each other out of the gates before Anastasio soared into a short but very ambitious solo. “Free” followed, with a smooth intro leading up to the band’s opening lyrics. The four-piece looked as calm and comfortable as ever, as “Free” transitioned into Jon Fishman’s signature opening break down to “Undermind”.
Leading out of the lyrical portion of “Undermind”, McConnell and Anastasio quickly found each other again, as Page splashed away on his grand piano, with Trey replicating a splashy rhythmic-riff through his Leslie speaker. Initially, “Undermind” had some legs and potential, but was short lived before the band continued pushing on, diving into “Theme From The Bottom”. With age and 35+ years on the road together comes experience and telepathic connections, and the band seems to be communicating with each other as well as ever. Phish’s were infectious, all of BB&T Pavilion beaming as “Theme” took off into Trey’s hard-hitting solo, with Mike Gordon and McConnell following closely along. Anastasio continued to peak, with a roaring crowd cheering him on, encouraging him to take things further.
Picking up the pace, Phish hopped into “My Sweet One”, as Page dazzled the crowd with quick work on the keys. The uptempo ditty led into the ambient, trickling opening sounds of “Steam”, with Anastasio and Gordon locking into the main theme of the heavy-hitter debuted during Phish’s 2011 summer tour. With Fishman and Gordon providing a steady backbeat, Anastasio let it all hang out, bouncing around his extraordinary pedal board before a heavy-sustained power chord led back into the song’s final verse. “Train Song” made its first appearance of 2018 before the slightest pause led to Gordon’s comical opening lyrical work to “Halley’s Comet”. Gordon’s sticky bass bombs got the crowd grooving, moving to a spirited run of delicate improvisation before building to a rocking climax.
“Everything’s Right” had a delayed and distorted intro, but the regular newcomer to Phish’s catalog continued to be an impressive exploratory vehicle for Type 2 improvisation. Last night’s nearly 17-minute, set-closing rendition was nothing short of amazing. More delicate interplay from Anastasio and McConnell led to a monstrous build-up, as Anastasio hammered away up the fretboard. With Gordon holding it down on the low end, Anastasio continued pushing on til’ the day, before Phish sent it to the moon before finally landing back in “Everything’s Right’s” closing refrain.
Following set break, Phish returned to the stage with “Julius”, getting things going with their jazzy two-step groove. Fishman and Gordon laid down a driving force no man wants to mess with, allowing Anastasio and McConnell to play off of each other before Trey took the reigns and delivered a gritty solo, continuing momentum as the jam reached its peak. Although not extremely lengthy, the upbeat “Julius” started the set off on the right foot, serving as a counterpoint for Phish to take things down a darker path with the “Carini” that followed. Expectations for the song were high after the band obliterated “Carini” 20+ minutes-deep in Alpharetta last weekend. While this “Carini” didn’t fly as far as the prior rendition, Phish still delivered with some precisely contemplated improvisation between all four members. Patience seems to be the name of the game this summer, and Fishman, Gordon, and McConnell’s patience surrounding Anastasio’s intricate work with his pedals took “Carini” on a fluffy, exploratory journey. Generally, Phish has one specific jam each summer, that they toy with and pick and pull in every direction, and “Carini” seems to be THAT jam this tour.
“Set Your Soul Free”—the recently debuted Anastasio number that got the treatment of its life on the west coast—was up next. As Anastasio toyed with his delay loop pedal, McConnell set the tempo, charging into a blissful improvisational segment before Trey unleashed a colossal solo, unchaining Camden’s proverbial collective soul. After returning to the chorus of “Set Your Soul Free”, Phish took a long pause to catch their breath, and coasted into a lofty “Wingsuit”. The delicate tune off 2014’s Fuego got some special treatment, as the band stepped slightly out of the box and let the jam settle into a perfected Trey solo.
For the second time this summer, Phish unleashed “Scents and Subtle Sounds”, this time with the full intro. Leading out of “Scent’s” beloved and sometimes hard to catch intro, Fishman and Gordon took the rhythmic charge, marching into the main theme of Undermind gem. The band swiftly took off into a breezy, melodic jam, with Gordon shining bright and powering Phish into uncharted territory, with Trey layering remarkable loops over Page’s untouchable work on the keys.
With another brief pause, Anastasio initiated slacker ballad “Waste”, as the band joined in following Trey’s opening lyrics. With the Wednesday night crowd hanging on their every note, Phish settled into a mellow and delicate mood before kicking things up a few notches and keeping it that way for the remainder of the show. With some time left, Fishman hinted at “Split Open and Melt”, and the rest of his bandmates quickly latched on and dove head-first into more dark, ominous Phish. Trey propelled the jam into intergalactic space territory, as Gordon threw down some hard-hitting bombs that could be heard from across the water in Philly. A ripping “Character Zero” brought the set to a close, with Trey and Mike smashing it out of the park with a funky improv breakdown, allowing brief breaks in his solo for the crowd to give a solid “woo.” Recently, when asked by a fan on Phish’s new SiriusXM radio channel, Trey was given the ultimatum of, “to woo or not to woo?” His response… “To woo!”
The band returned to the stage for a “Suzy Greenberg” encore, as McConnell had an opportunity to set the venue ablaze one last time. Before taking a bow, Anastasio acknowledged that the band had a ton of fun in Camden, and thanked the crowd so much for coming out.
The band heads to Raleigh Friday, followed by a two-night stand at Merriweather Post Pavilion and, finally, the highly anticipated Curveball festival in Watkins Glen, NY. For a list of upcoming Phish dates, head to the band’s website.
You can view photos from Phish’s second night in Camden below via photographer Matthew Lang.
Setlist: Phish | BB&T Pavilion | Camden, NJ | 8/8/18
Set One: The Moma Dance > Free > Undermind, Theme From The Bottom > My Sweet One, Steam, Train Song, Halley’s Comet > Everything’s Right
Set Two: Julius, Carini > Set Your Soul Free, Wingsuit, Scents and Subtle Sounds > Waste, Split Open and Melt > Character Zero
Encore: Suzy Greenberg
A full soundboard recording of the performance is available to stream via LivePhish.