By SHAUN SMITH
ATLANTIC CITY – As they streamed out of Boardwalk Hall, concert-goers were high-fiving security and whooping it up into the night Saturday, Nov. 2 following the last night of a three-night stand. The historic convention center on the Boardwalk was submerged with strange sights and sounds as Phish closed out its fall 2013 tour beginning on Halloween.
“The ‘Jibboo’ last night was worth the price of admission,” one fan said leaving Saturday evening. The band last played “Gotta Jibboo,” 19 shows prior, on July 30, 2013 in Lake Tahoe, according to Phish.net.
“We are Phish from Burlington, Vermont,” lead singer Trey Anastasio told the sold-out audience on Halloween night.
Although the band was rumored to play one of its “costume” sets, covering another band’s entire album on Halloween; attendees were treated to the sneak preview of 12 tracks of an upcoming album, “Wingsuit,” which had yet to be recorded.
“This year we are breaking from tradition a bit and are thrilled to be playing an album from the future. One that doesn’t even exist yet,” the band wrote in a joint statement.
According to the Thursday, Oct. 31 “Phishbill,” the band began working on the album a year prior.
Phish fans were mixed on the choice and the tone of playing, “Wingsuit,” instead of the rumored covers of “Eat a Peach,” by the Allman Brothers and “Led Zeppelin III.”
The concert experience from the venue floor was exploding with the palpable energy of a school of costumed Phishheads surging with the tides.
Phish didn’t play a costume set but “Wingsuit” did come with a few tricks. The band debuted the acoustic “Monica” and followed up with “Wombat” featuring Abe Vigoda strutting his stuff in a wombat suit accompanied by the Abe Vigoda Dancers. The 92-year-old also joined the band in a “Godfather” spoof skit that screened in Boardwalk Hall after the second set. Trey ended “Wingsuit” by thanking for the fans for listening to the new album.
“This isn’t the time to market your new album, Phish,” said Captain Morgan in the men’s room. “I didn’t spend $2,000 to come here from Austin to come listen to this.”
If there was any disappointment by the crowd, Phish woke them out of their stoned stupor with a powerful third set that culminated with “Run Like an Antelope” and Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn) as an encore.
Once they slept off their hangovers, the Phishheads were much more receptive to the latest by their favorite band. Waiting in line to get in the second night’s show, most people were chatting about how much they enjoyed the show and just plainly ignored the occasional detractor. This was what they came to Atlantic City searching for: a sense of positive community and inebriation in a city that was built to let the Philadelphia workingman really whoop it up to such monumental proportions in an effort to discard the previous and next six working days.
Phish was loose and having fun with the Friday night sets. Opening up with “Cavern,” Phish played “Sand” and “Halley’s Comet” and finished with “David Bowie” to end the first set.
Blowing away the crowd with a worthy attempt to tease “Under Pressure” in “Twist” to open up the second set, Phish then played “Gotta Jibboo;” which was debatably being worth the price of admission, but was fun all the same.
The energetic second set included “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and an encore of “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” that teased “The Theme From Shaft,” for the second time that night.
After my conversion to Phishism at the end of 2009, I have been an infrequent listener and even more infrequent attendee to live shows. The only albums I own are the ones that I’ve been to and going into my seventh show I was starting to become part of the flock.
Phish closed out the last date of its fall tour with a funky first set including “Ocelot,” “Sample in a Jar” and “Weekapaug Grove.” “Down with the Disease” received a huge roar to begin the second set and Mike Gordon pulled a portable power drill across the bass strings during “Piper.”
The theme music from “The Odd Couple” was teased during “Tweezer” which was reprised after the “Sleeping Monkey” encore.
As Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and
Page McConnell enter into the studio to record “Wingsuit” on their 30th anniversary of performing as Phish, they do so leaving Atlantic City after its third, three-night run in as many years.
The city built around tourism was abuzz with another successful weekend thanks to a large crowd of Phishheads who rented hotel rooms, ate at area restaurants and drank local beer for three days. Even, the Tun Tavern, Atlantic City’s only brewpub, was giving a free beer to patrons who showed a ticket to any of the shows during the weekend. The libations and celebrations were appropriate for near the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in Atlantic City. This town known for rolling the dice seems to have found an unlikely match in the Vermont jam bands; but this is a gamble where the house and the players always win.