A Saturday Night Special

6.20.09 Alpine Valley (Lanser)

6.20.09 Alpine Valley (Lanser)

One night after Phish played their most adventurous show since their return, the band reeled it in a bit with a well played, yet safe, show for 40,000 deep at Alpine last night.  With copious structured (type I) improv, Phish used a long list of songs to create an entertaining kick-off to Alpine’s two-night stand. When all was said and done, the first set musically outshone the second. With an old-school setlist played triumphantly, Phish nailed a series of classics; while set two featured a few hot spots with some definite musical lulls.

6.20.09  (Lanser)

6.20.09 (Lanser)

Popping off in style, Phish opened the show with “Punch” before launching into a four-song improvisational run of “Runaway,” “Stash,” “Yamar,” and “Bathtub Gin.”  Without much adventure, Phish nonetheless shredded their classics much to everyone’s delight.  Each song brought a quality version, but none pushed the confines of exploration.  In a celebration of Phish songs, the entire show carried a upbeat, happy vibe all the way through- a real Saturday night special.  The highlight of the set came in the set-ending “Antelope.”  With some heavy-handed guitar work, Trey built this jam to a dizzying peak while the band fomented a series of shredding grooves along the way.  The bookends of “Punch” and “Antelope” framed a high-paced set of Phish rock that enraptured the massive Chicago-metro audience, each song bringing thunderous applause.

6.20.09 (Lanser)

6.20.09 (Lanser)

The groundwork was laid for a big second half, but Phish came out with a set which lacked any real continuity, and featuring only a couple of jams.  Each time the band played a piece that contained any improv, they followed it up with a straight composition, creating a choppy, flow-less feel.  The band- no doubt- played well, but their creativity didn’t necessarily shine in last night’s final frame.  The highlight of set came in the highly-anticipated follow-up “Ghost” to Asheville’s standout version. While this “Ghost” didn’t reach the places of it’s predecessor, it still featured an interesting, oddly-cadenced jam that built and peaked with out ever earnestly hitting any deep grooves.  Fishman creating a divergent feel to the jam, playing a more varied beat and not sitting in the pocket with Mike.  This was a controversial version at my post-show soiree last night, and I’m interested to hear the reactions of readers.

Other engaging parts of the set came with a reggae-laced “YEM” jam that segued, unfinished, into “NICU,” and a hot “Maze” that was placed in the spotlight as the number three batter in the lineup. Otherwise, while certainly a great time, the second set didn’t reach into any other improvisational places.  A surprise “Fire” capped the set before the band encored with the Hendrix-esque “Character Zero.”

Alpine Valley (Lanser)

Alpine Valley Last Night (Lanser)

Greeting the weekend crowd with a playful, song-based show, one would guess tonight’s Sunday tour closer will bring some far deeper moments.  Phish has been known to pull out top-notch shows to punctuate their tours, and I have a hunch that tonight may be one to remember.  As we wind down the first leg of Summer Tour ’09, it has been an interesting road with definite peaks and valleys.  Playing live consistently for the first time in five years, the band has been moving though a process of honing their nightly consistency and regaining their improvisational moxie. Certainly moving in the right direction, Phish will make their final step of June tonight, capping their return to the road in what could turnout to be a real throwdown at Alpine Valley. I’ll see you there!

I: Punch You in the Eye, Runaway Jim, Stash, Yamar, Bathtub Gin, Kill Devil Falls, Train Song, Farmhouse, Sparkle, Run Like An Antelope

II: Waves > Sample In A Jar, Maze, Makisupa Policeman, Ghost > The Lizards, You Enjoy Myself > NICU, Prince Caspian > Waste, Fire

E: Character Zero

Tags: ,

204 Responses to “A Saturday Night Special”

  1. Cactus Says:

    I guess we had to figure tonight being the last night shit was going to on no?

  2. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Shit looks like its on like donkey kong. I think they still get a Mike’s Groove in the next 2 or 3 songs, big, epic midset stuff.

  3. Cactus Says:

    I agree…. Mikes’ > Simple though, no Hydrogen>Weekapaug

  4. Leo Weaver Says:


  5. nonoyolker Says:

    I sent my buddy the same thing about mike’s groove in a text, w/ simple, w/out h20. Nice call

  6. Twiggy Says:

    Can’t wait to hear the East Troy Jam.

  7. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I just through in the 4 channel source of Alpine night one, and immediately, I notice that the bass is washed out again. I don’t know if its the ccm4’s that do that? I have a couple of ccm4 sources from this tour and have that problem on all of them. Conversely, I noticed at the Roo that when I was further back, the bass was much, much less distinct, so I figured the taper wasn’t up close. Now, I don’t know. Other than Deer Creek, the only show I’ve seen other than the Roo, how did the bass sound in the room? I haven’t heard any of the soundboards because I have heard nothing but complaints about the quality, mostly in relation to the bass. I’m just wondering what other people’s thoughts are. Is it the various sources, is it the soundsystem playing it back, is it the sound coming from the speakers? To me, Mike sounded outstanding at Deer Creek from the speakers, he sounded great first night at the Roo, when I was up close, and he was muddy second night at the Roo when I was back a bit.

  8. Phish...Yup Says:

    Fom the looks of crosseyed and DWD, I think we’re in for an epic 2nd set and closing to the june tour. Can’t wait for the no spoilers tomorrow at work to make Monday morning infinitely better.

  9. Cactus Says:


    I was at the roo too and I thought Mike’s bass sounded muddy second night, but then again, I’ve think he’s sounded muddy at all the shows I’ve been at and the stuff I’ve listened to as well. Could it be the different effects he’s using. I mean, I’m all for a louder Cactus.

  10. theblimpalot Says:

    @Mr Minor…
    I was pretty cranky earlier and I may have sounded a bit holier than thou…I’ll give you that.

    And I do understand how/why you associate the type II realm with the magic…..I’ve been there, I hear ya.

    HOWEVER, (without trying to sound holier than thou), I do think the following:
    a) you have a tendency (not all the time) to “write off” shows/tunes that don’t have a lot/any type II jamming
    b) you seem to sometimes overlook the beauty/awesomeness of wonderful solos/jams that stay within the confines of the song. not only is it not easy, they are still IMPROVISING, even if they are thematically staying within the song. Many musicians would, in fact, say doing this type of improv effectively/creatively is more difficult than type II jamming. I for one enjoy it as much as Type II…can’t have II without I, ya know?
    c) It is easy to forget that the band has been away for 5 years and that the kinds of jams you long for come from trust/communication amongst the boys that needs to re-build slowly over time. The AUDIENCE also plays a HUGE part in the energy required to take the Type II dive. We’re a little older and out of practice too you know? Is everyone bringing IT like they used to? Maybe so, maybe not, but I think this first leg was about everyone involved…band and audience…getting their feet wet again and remembering what it was all about and more importantly, HOW to make IT happen. Now that everyone has a taste of Phish again, we can move forward.

    That being said, I do think you will get quite a bit more of your Type II magic in leg II of the summer.

    (hope i did a better job at not offending this time)

  11. Cactus Says:

    @ nonoyolker

    Let’s see if our calls come to fruition. I say yes….we shall see.

  12. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Listening to the Jim from last night, they are getting down pretty good.

  13. Dub Says:

    28 minutes of Crosseyed and DWD. wow! cant wait to hear it

  14. Cactus Says:

    Seriously…I may not get any work done tomorrow listening to this show. Although, maybe I get all my work done for the week grooving out to the show.

  15. Cactus Says:

    Bug…just cooling things down a bit without losing steam.

  16. Phish...Yup Says:

    For sure. I’ll take Bug for a slow song anytime. Liked the version I got at Great Woods.

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    piper time, set could be HUGE when the smoke clears

  18. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Definitely looking mui calliente

  19. Cactus Says:

    On paper, as of right now, this set is clearly an Atomic Bomb. Just need to confirm with the ears tomorrow.

  20. Walfredo Says:

    theblimpalpt- I agree on the type II jam obsession. It’s not the end all and a show can be great with all type I and weak and sloppy with lots of type ii. To me it’s the quality of the jams, the energy, and call me a loser but I really like some the actual songs. All that impacts a show for me.

    Man on paper this show is a freaking monster so far.

  21. Cactus Says:

    They’re warming up the momentum bus with Piper, getting ready to kick it into high gear.

  22. Walfredo Says:

    Another bustout coming? Crosseyed, brother, bitch, tmwsiy>avenu all tour firsts tonight.

  23. Cactus Says:

    Dinner and a movie??

  24. Kevin Says:

    Man, I’m listening to last night. No comments on Trey’s SET THE GEARSHIFT screaming?! Man that gave me chills. SO much energy…

  25. Bradley Says:

    something big must come from this wading in the velvet sea

Leave a Reply