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

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204 Responses to “A Saturday Night Special”

  1. Cactus Says:

    Boogie on Reggae Woman. Nice! It’s official, this show is a scorcher.

  2. Comrade Says:

    screw it – i think i have enough time to dl the sdbds before i get on the plane tomorrow – looks like a SMOKING show

  3. Bradley Says:

    Boogie!!!! there thats what i was lookin for

  4. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Still listening to Alpine I and that Bathtub Gin is really jamming

  5. Cactus Says:

    Looks like the sets coming to an end with Slave….four song encore like Camden?

  6. Mugician Says:

    Damn, I’ve got a playlist in itunes called “Phish 2009”, and I’m so far behind! I think I’m just gonna listen to Phish for the next 48 hours.

  7. Cactus Says:

    Not a bad way to spend two days.

  8. Phish...Yup Says:

    SLAVE! Let’s see if they can drastically improve on the trainwreck that was the last version.

  9. Bradley Says:

    what will they bring as an encore????? whatever it is its goin to be huge

  10. Mugician Says:

    Yep. Not bad at all.

  11. Mugician Says:

    Especially with my sound system….

  12. Mugician Says:

    I should just go borrow my friend’s pro PA and just blast this shit at concert level. Maybe get a strobe light. Almost there…. right?

  13. Cactus Says:

    I’ll be catching up too. I’m a bit behind. Lots of stuff going on. Caught them at the roo and three other shows early in the tour though, so I got the live shit still fresh in my head.

  14. Cactus Says:

    ^^ Hells yeah.

  15. halcyon Says:

    # The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday >
    # Avenu Malkanu >
    # The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday

    f*in awesome!

    I can’t wait to check this one out

  16. Mugician Says:

    Goddamn I can’t wait to see ’em at Shoreline!

    ….aaaaaaaand possibly RR, if I get lucky. I definitely need a miracle there.

  17. Mugician Says:

    OOOF! Grind? Damn, I wanna hear ’em do A Capella sooooo bad.

  18. Cactus Says:

    ^^ Definitely tremendous….and Brother opener taboot.

  19. Cactus Says:


    I’d love to see a show out west, just can’t happen though. You should hit rr.

    Grind is awesome…JB second night opener. Followed by Divided….got the place going right away.

  20. Mugician Says:

    Damnit. I was gonna GO TO THIS TONIGHT.

  21. Cactus Says:

    Franken-efffing stein…sweet finisher.

  22. Mugician Says:

    Yeah, I’m definitely gonna try my hardest to get in all 4 nights.

  23. Mugician Says:

    Yup yup. Does everyone watch twitter, or is there another way you guys get your updates?

  24. halcyon Says:

    frankenstein too….try on a 5 neck guitar…what?!?!?

  25. Cactus Says:


    You could get the link from Gadiels phish page.

    Enjoy your 48 hours catching up…peace out y’all.

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