Alpine Adventures

Alpine Valley - 8.14.10 (Michael Stein)

After listening to Alpine’s two-night stand, there is no doubt that Phish left their mark in Wisconsin this past weekend. With four complete sets of music – a rarity in two-night stands these days – and some of the summer’s most impressive playing, the band heads into the final two shows of summer with a full head of steam creativity. Producing some interstellar jams and flowing, fantasy setlists, the Alpine shows delivered potent Phish within a classic Midwestern setting. After giving my thoughts through the headphones regarding the opening night in the Valley, I figured I’d chime in on the second night a little bit as well.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

Instead of dropping a highly-anticipated monster “Tweezer” at Alpine (especially after Telluride’s aborted fiasco) Phish decided to surprise everyone and open with the song for the first time since Hampton ’03. This early placement became as much of a shot of adrenaline as it was a slight disappointment; though “Tweezer” got the party started immediately, Phish was clearly not going to explore the ether with their show opener. An exciting ignition to the show nonetheless, the band built a slower-paced rhythmic sculpture that, I’m sure, engaged everyone from the get go.

8.13.10 (M.Stein)

Other than “On Your Way Down” and “Farmhouse,” well-played rotation songs comprised most of the first set. But the highlights of the first frame came in its bookends. To complement the “Tweezer” opener, Phish closed the set with an explosive “David Bowie,” upping the intensity of the entire show right before setbreak. The whole-band jamming showcased in “Bowie” is indicative of the increased level of subconscious communication we’ve seen throughout Leg Two. Responding to, echoing, and finishing each others’ musical ideas, one can hear this notably enhanced connection in “Bowie” and beyond. Throughout this summer and peaking in Alpine, Trey has continued to feel out jams, learning how to play around Mike’s lead parts without overtaking him. And as a result, Phish’s improvisation – as a whole – has progressed to a far more organic place than we have seen in this era. Putting an exclamation point on the first set in black indelible ink, this “Bowie” furthered the rejuvenated path of the song that started on the summer’s opening night in Chicago. But after setbreak is when Alpine’s finale blew up.

8.14.10 (M.Stein)

For the second straight night, Phish crafted a beautifully cohesive set comprised of many significant jam vehicles. While nothing approached the sheer brilliance of “Disease > What’s the Use?”, the band used a heated setlist and ferocious playing to conclude their Midwestern run. The opening combo of “Ghost > Theme” traveled an emotive journey from darkness to light. Though each jam remained anchored to its structure, they also featured incredibly locked in playing, providing a snapping and creative dynamic to their jamming. This “Ghost” is another example of Trey finding his spots perfectly while allowing Mike to lead the charge, and this new type of musical interaction is bringing a tighter feel to the band’s playing each subsequent night. A contributing factor to this interplay is the tone of Trey’s new guitar, more full-bodied and less treble, allowing him to shred while not dominating every eardrum in the venue. Reaching points of boisterous groove, Trey and Mike played symbiotically throughout the set opener.

The band let loose on “Theme,” infusing the piece with a palpable level of emotion, stemming from Phish feeling their music rather than over-thinking. A soul-wrenching piece bled into “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” completing the set’s opening sequence with the hardcore rarity. Following the dark-comedy, the band inserted “You Enjoy Myself” in an uncharacteristic slot in the middle of the second set. The old-school opus served as a rocking middle course before the band launched into their second multi-song sequence of the set; a string of songs that continued the glue-tight playing, and provided the improvisational highlight of the set.

Official Alpine Valley Poster

Phish started up one of their most consistent jam vehicles of this era, “Piper,” as Trey overlapped the opening chords with the tail end of “YEM’s” vocal jam. This version proved that the band’s relentless flow isn’t limited to one type of playing, as all four members came together to form a breakneck summer highlight without anyone stealing the thunder. Fishman absolutely shined as he has been doing all August, and someone lit a fire under Trey for this scorching excursion. An example of Phish channeling the music of the universe, “Piper” provided the soundtrack of a meteor careening through space with an unknown landing point. The band gradually deconstructed the dizzying textures into a ethereal realm on their way to a shimmering section of improv that delivered band and audience into the opening hits of “2001.”

The space-funk excursion concluded the virtuosic part of the evening, as the band followed their addictive grooves with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Character Zero.” Putting a rocking conclusion on a top-notch set of music, Phish rode off into the Midwestern sunset – triumphant once again. But not before dropping their second quadruple-encore of the weekend, with “Oh! Sweet Nuthin,” “Cavern,” “Joy,” and “Tweezer Reprise” serving as the cherry on the sundae.

As Phish prepares to conclude Summer 2010 – The Tour We Made Contact, only two more shows at Jones Beach remain. It will be interesting to see if Phish will push themselves and crush two more nights of music or if this stand will be a musical afterthought to the theatrics at Alpine Valley. At the end of tours, the band has always liked to showcase the most successful facets of their run, and with these being the only August shows on the east coast, odds are certainly on the former. In a long summer that seems to have passed in a flash, only two more nights of magic remain, and they start this evening on the southern shore of Long Island. See you in a few.

I: Tweezer, AC/DC Bag, On Your Way Down, The Divided Sky, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Water in the Sky, The Moma Dance, Farmhouse, David Bowie

II: Ghost > Theme from the Bottom > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, You Enjoy Myself > Piper > Also Sprach Zarathustra, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Character Zero

E: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, Cavern, Joy, Tweezer Reprise

"Fee" - 8.12.10 (Michael Stein)

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1,469 Responses to “Alpine Adventures”

  1. kayatosh Says:

    will do.

  2. Frycanthropist Says:

    repost for jtran:
    A Simple Review

    Starting at 4:07 you can tell that Trey is ready to jam this one has he begins the jam before the last word can even be sang.

    The beautiful thing about this jam and maybe something that might be missed is how incredible that actual “Simple” portion of the jam is.

    Almost immediately they sound like they have been building the jam for a good 4 minutes already. Trey and Page weave in and out of each other with lilting melodies that speak of simple pleasures that yield big revelations.

    Swirling around in one’s own delight and fascination.

    At about 6:30 Trey starts workin in some bluesy tenderness to his leads while Page starts moving towards a more introspective comping theme.

    Still with in the Simple construct, Page seems to signify the oncoming of arguably the best jam of the tour with a little door bell chime trill.

    by 8:15 the band has lost all ego and become moving as an amorphous unit. No one is leading, everyone is listening and Fishman locks everyone into the hypnosis with cymbal work.

    From the 9:30 mark the Siren of Improv has Phish fully in her net and they are helpless to resist the swirling patterns that beckon them.

    This is where Trey brings in strong strong Spirtualized undertones with his repeating bend loop. The band sounds like the most blissfully zen ping pong game ever played. Perhaps the Grand Universe Ping Pong Championships played underwater on a distant planet.

    Patience abounds as they toss the hot potato back and forth. Each time the potato is tossed it loses a bit of its flesh but gains a piece of the tosser.

    The level of zen starts to reach a near exploding piece of tension before Fishman drops in with a bit of Limb by Limb style pyrotechnics.

    As the moment of meditation starts to yield to the next step of enlightenment Trey lets ring big chords of affirmation. And the study in zen becomes a celebration of life.

    In short.

    Life is Simple.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Jtran. I always forget those shows exists b/c they sucked so bad. but duly noted and edited

  4. Henry Says:

    There are a few decent moments in those shows aren’t there? I thought the first night had a decent Gin…

  5. will-I-am Says:

    anybody hear the close encounter teases during piper?

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    if anyone has an extra Wednesday ticket, I’ve yet to secure one for myself (For reals)

    shoot me an email if you can help…

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Goodnight BB

  8. Matso Says:

    Miner said: “A contributing factor to this interplay is the tone of Trey’s new guitar, more full-bodied and less treble, allowing him to shred while not dominating every eardrum in the venue. ”

    Great insight Miner! Not only does this create space at the top end (especially for Page but also for some of Fish’s more subtle work), it puts Mike on a more equal footing with Trey and makes their interplay sound fluid and natural.

    On the sound mix generally, I agree that the current live mix is possibly the best ever, although that is partly because it suits the Trey/Mike trading-leads style of playing. I’m not sure we would have appreciated having Mike so far forward and distinct in the mix in, say, 94 or 95, when he wasn’t necessarily capable of carrying the band the way he does now.

    I would also suggest that the small amounts of “slop” (as aw refers to it) might be a function of a less forgiving mix. In the past, some of the indistinctness arguably smoothed over moments where Page or Mike didn’t quite synch up with Trey and Fish on a particular break or transition (Trey and Fish always had less room to hide).

    A final unrelated thought: the DWD->WTU has a few moments, like the Albany -7, where the boys are working out what direction to go in. I mention this not as a criticism, but as praise: Phish is at their best, imho, when they are exploratory. It was a lack of patience to work through a pedestrian sequence which prompted them to abort a lot of promising jams, or decide a jam was exhausted, earlier in the summer. It’s clear to me that they wouldn’t have found their way to some of those goose-bump inducing passages in the DWD nor the sublime transition to WTU if they hadn’t left open the door for a little while to give someone (often Mike) the chance to introduce a new idea. That sequence stands out for me as the best of 2010 so far and possibly of the 3.0 era. I love the Greek Light, but it’s a more delicate and cerebral affair and there are great jams from all of the tours thus far. But the DWD->WTU was, imho again, the first time we got some real 1.0-level Hose in 3.0.

  9. willowed Says:

    Summer 2010 – The Tour We Made Contact
    Very Nice
    Liquid Time opener tonight

    It’s 6:20 a.m. Too excited to sleep. Leaving for NY around 12:00 p.m.
    Why am I awake???

  10. willowed Says:

    I second the Harpua thoughts.
    Please keep that on the shelf. I have no need to hear that in these next 2 days!!
    If you do play it, keep the story short and play a ripping cover of Ramble On in the middle!!

  11. Matso Says:

    @ willowed –

    There are endless possibilities for what they could play in the middle of Harpua that would make you eat your words! 😉 Eddie Money’s Two Tickets to Paradise, for example.

  12. Matso Says:

    I’m feeling like JB might get a Peaches…

  13. willowed Says:

    Eddy Money….OK, you’re right…I could deal with that!

  14. willowed Says:

    I used to love watching Eddy Money video’s. He always looked like he was either all coked up or drunk off a fifth of scoth.

    He was all man though!

  15. KimchiMcGee Says:

    Check out the “Fee” picture of Trey with the megaphone. Is that an ocelot on the headstock of his new guitar or what?

  16. willowed Says:

    It sure is Kimchi

  17. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Do us proud tonight @willowed!

  18. KWL Says:

    in NY

    breakfast then mitch’s couch awaits

    freakin screaming kid in my row the whole way

  19. ThePigSong Says:

    Great review from the headphones! Sounds like this blogger has seen a show or two.

  20. Matso Says:

    Given the proximity to the water, Waves and ASIHTOS feel like obvious choices for JB. But then the boys haven’t given too many of those sorts of nods this tour (nothing on Friday 13th, for example, although I suppose the Cities at the Greek and Mountains in the Mist in Telly should count).

  21. Matso Says:

    For the second set cool down tune or pre-Antelope/Bowie first set closer tune, I nominate “All of these Dreams” or “Anything but Me”. Both are unfairly maligned.

  22. willowed Says:

    We will throw down and represent. Can’t wait to see all you fine people!!

  23. Jtran Says:

    Leaving in 30 minutes 🙂

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    see you fools between 5 and 6.

  25. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Quit yo gibba jabba and get on the road to JB fools!

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