Despite an evening full of weather events, Phish delivered almond joy at HersheyPark Stadium last night in steamy Hershey, Pennsylvania, as the smell of chocolate filled the air. Fresh off a stellar run at Deer Creek in Indiana, the band continued crushing jams and playing sweet songs that reminded fans why they love this band so much.
The afternoon began as a typical August afternoon in central Pennsylvania: humid and hot. Clouds and thunderstorms sporadically popped up, but seemed to be at bay. The sky decided to open up around 5:30pm, soaking everyone in line who patiently waited to enter the venue. The rain was so intense, that the first set was delayed about 40 minutes.
The band took the stage around 7:40pm, while a full rainbow appeared behind the Hershey Park roller coaster background, prompting the band to play an inspired “First Tube.” Guitarist Trey Anastasio held the guitar over his head with a huge grin on his face. The rain picked up again, though not nearly as intensely as before. This only added fuel to Phish’s fire as they played the electrified “Axilla I” and “Fuego.” The improvisation started early tonight in “Fuego,” and included a smooth transition into the classic “Runaway Jim.” “Gumbo” and “Sample in a Jar” followed with great execution. The rain had stopped by this point, and the air was heating up, but not as quickly as Phish’s Lighting Director, Chris Kuroda, who unleashed rainbow LED light bars in the backdrop behind the band during the next song, “Steam.” “Sugar Shack” and a high powered “Llama” continued to show the band’s incredible focus and attention to details. Anastasio enjoyed playing the song so much that he uttered “How come we never play that song? That’s a fun song” at the conclusion. The banter continued with Anastasio poking a little fun at drummer Jon Fishman, with “Fish is checkin’ his emails before this next one. See if anybody out there texted him. You guys are like, ‘Too much floor tom, man! Slow down!'” Fishman wittily replied “That’s just how you’re gonna get more!” The band then dove into Kasvot Vaxt's “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” which segued into the quintessential “Run Like an Antelope,” closing out this monster set.
The second set brought more surprising jams and tasty setlist treats. Big Boat’s “No Men in No Man’s Land” opened the set, and clocked in around sixteen minutes. This transitioned into the funky “Soul Planet.” Both were great jams, and an indication that Phish was in the groove. The jam sandwich continued with a flawless transition into “NICU” followed by “Joy.” The bluegrass flavored “Scent of a Mule” was up next, and Keyboardist Page McConnell brought some great synth notes to the table. Jam vehicle and TV On The Radio cover, “Golden Age” began the final non-stop song sequence of the set. McConnell continued bringing more synth driven heat while Kuroda coated the audience in golden lights. “Prince Caspian” was up next, and segued into "Backwards Down the Number Line.” The band then dropped into the first “Lizards” of 2021 and closed out the set with a fist pump inducing “Character Zero.” The band returned to play “Rock and Roll” for the encore, with only a few minutes left on the clock. This Velvet Underground cover brought smiles to many faces, as the first night in this two night stand came to a close.
Phish continues to bring their delicious improvisation and signature jams as the summer 2021 tour rolls on. They are back again tonight at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pa. Tickets are still available via their website.
First Tube, Axilla I, Fuego1 > Runaway Jim, Gumbo, Sample In A Jar, Steam, Sugar Shack, Llama, Banter, Death Don’t Hurt Very Long > Antelope
No Men In No Man’s Land > Soul Planet -> NICU > Joy, Scent of a Mule, Golden Age2 > Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line > The Lizards > Character Zero
Rock and Roll3
2. TV On The Radio Cover
3. Velvet Underground Cover