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. Mugician Says:

    Wooooooord. I love Runaway Jim. Listening to Alpine I.

  2. Mugician Says:

    Yup. You too.

  3. Kevin Says:

    Holy crap. Call me a noob, but I didn’t realize until this very moment that the next Phish shows are at Red Rocks. See you there, bitches!!!!

  4. halcyon Says:

    mike had a flaming bass ?!?!? it looks like they brought the heat.

  5. sumodie Says:

    page gave the flaming bass to mike for his b-day, which was in between the JB shows. mike played it that noght w/ b. kreutzmann & scott murawski i believe.

    but trey on a 5 necked guitar? for real?

  6. Phnom Pencil Says:

    OK direct from ZZYZX I have the stats from the 15 shows on this leg of the tour. For comparison, I have chosen 7/7/03 to 7/26/03 as that, if I’m not mistaken, was the last time 15 consecutive shows have been played to open a tour.

    Total songs played:

    09- 143
    03- 132

    Average number of songs per show:

    09- 21.4
    03- 17.3

    Average amount of times each song was played:

    09- 2.25
    03- 1.96

    Number of “onetimers”:

    09- 54
    03- 61

    Songs played more than three times:


    6 times: 3 songs
    5 times: 6 songs
    4 times: 15 songs


    6 times: 0 songs
    5 times: 4 songs *
    4 times: 13 songs

    *(the two Tweezers and the two Scents and Subtle Sounds)

    ZZYZX is my idol.

  7. Phnom Pencil Says:

    Can anyone, without looking at the answers, guess the three “six times played” this tour?

    I’m sure everyone knows one of them…

  8. rizla mon Says:

    just a guess:

    character zero

  9. ColonelJoy Says:

    Last night looks quite tasty.

    I spoke to a good old friend who attended the show….nice to be able to call cell-phones at venues for updates from Iraq!! Anyhow, the good hebrew has seen 100+ shows since 91′ or so. He said that set II was as good as anything he has seen.

    I asked him if he was in a space to be objective or if he was high.

    He said, “I’m highly objective.”

  10. hairy pood Says:

    possum, Character 0, TTE?

  11. Hunter Says:

    Trey’s voice sounds really good on Brother. Sounds like they brought the kids on stage at the end of the song for Father’s Day wishes. Aww!

    I wonder if Fishman’s kids noticed how their dad was the only one who didn’t lose his spot in the song. 😀

  12. Col4bin Says:

    Possum, Kill Devil Falls, Ocelot, Character Zero.
    I know thats 4 but those are the 4 I can think of right now hearing a lot of this tour.

  13. Marshall Says:

    Second set tonght was off the hook

  14. Phnom Pencil Says:

    Col4bin: Yep, it’s Possum Kill Devil Falls and Character Zero. Good guesses!

    I figured everyone would say Possum, of course… the theme song for the tour

  15. Hunter Says:

    Man, Trey is really out in la-la land during this Crosseyed jam. He blows his load early but keeps wanking away while being oblivious to the music around him, leaving nowhere for the jam to go. Even when the band dissolves into ambient bliss, he’s still wanking it just as hard. A very fatiguing attempt at a jam in my opinion. Sorry for the innuendos; it seemed too appropriate for a man making sound from a phallic object.

    And the Piper? His use of the wammy pedal is almost comical. The rest of the band is trying to churn up some speed fusion madness, almost a funkier 12/29/03 Piper, and Trey goes along with it at first with some reserved yet intense rhythm lines, but it isn’t long before he kills it with cheesy unison hits from that damned wammy pedal. Maybe it will magically disappear from the pedalboard before the 2nd leg starts up…

  16. ColonelJoy Says:


    I haven’t listened to the second set yet. Hopefully it will be better on my ears…my buddy at the show said Piper was an all time version, so I guess he likes the damn wammy pedal…

  17. ColonelJoy Says:


    I disagree with your assesment of the Crosseyed Jam. While by no means the greatest crosseyed jam ever, I think it is beautiful, albeit it could have lasted longer before the ambient space (we’ve seen this comment in many reviews this tour), but Trey isn’t so overwhelming.

    Page is really killing the synth sounds this tour

  18. themanatee Says:

    @ Hunter –
    um what? i guess you aren’t into connected speed funk phish fusion. Trey “blowing his load early” ?- this piper may have been the jam of the tour as part of the set of the tour (deer creek?)

    I think trey;s use of the whammy pedal during the Piper is a significant factor in making the jam a 3.0 classic. its stop/start delayed effect is sick. i am really not sure what you are looking for. but thats fine. it was wipe open…

  19. ColonelJoy Says:

    The all time whank fest was the Miami 03′ Suzy…

  20. Bapslap Says:

    I just have to express how cool this is…

    I’m in Tokyo on travel for work, and am still able to download the show hours after it ended. Thank you technology….and Mr. Miner!

  21. Brimley Says:

    Here are my thoughts on Saturday night Alpine…First, i don’t know if the state of Wisconsin has had to cut back on public services because of a budget crunch, but I neither felt nor saw any police presence whatsoever the whole day which was very nice…Classic raging Alpine lot and the crowd was fantastic [some really nice glowstick wars]…The Punch, Jim, Stash to open were fantastic to me…All were well played and the latter two had some nice jams…Bathtub was played great also and they slowly built a nice jam that had some great peaks also that had everyone dancing…Hearing Kill Devil live was great, with a really good upbeat Birds like jam…The Antelope to close the set was a pure rager that to me seemed to be the best of the tour thusfar…Waves to open the second had me happy because I love the tone that Trey uses during that nice solo…As for the rest of the set, I really enjoyed most everything as I thought the playing was tight and they were visibly enjoying themselves…I knew some people would hate on this set for the lack of pure continuity, but the playing was crisp, they were energetic and happy, and I couldn’t help but have a great time…I even thought the Zero closer had a more energetic closeout jam then most…In summation, I was very happy with the songs played, tightness of the band, and am very positive for the future…Sure I would have taken a 20 minute piece of group mastery, but i’ll still settle for the current state of PHISH!

  22. Stupendous Says:

    just wanted to comment on how heady this board is… Have yall seen what
    the discussions about on the live phish.com board….bunch of babies n noobs
    theyre still commenting on how bad the boards sound and pure hate… i mean that was 2nd day of tour discussion 3rd at the most….whith AUDs like these who needs a bad SBD get over it. Thanks Miner!

  23. Jason Waite Says:

    ^ discuss this:

    Ghost > Lizards

    Listening to it for the 4th time, I think this segment is the highlight of all this 2009 shows, really exploratory and, well, Lizards!!!

  24. Jason Waite Says:

    ^ Well, in my opinion, 🙂

  25. kb Says:

    i think we’re all in for a pleasant surprise late summer/fall. these guys are just starting to get in sync. i think a sober phish will be better than a spun phish in the long run. id like to see these guys carry on for another 10 years if possible. also, id love to see them play Bar 17. what a great jam trey lays down in this track. i cant imagine it live with all the boys.

Leave a Reply