Summer’s Sleeper Set

6.30.12 – Alpine Valley (Michael Stein)

Living the shadows of the elite sets of summer is an outstanding frame of Phish hasn’t gotten its due respect. With momentum like a freight train and speckled with several ten minute gems, what this set lacks in a true centerpiece jam, it more than makes up for in relentless flow. Composed of “all killer and no filler,” and with plenty to write home about, the first night of Alpine, unquestionably, comtains the dark horse set of leg one.

Alpine Valley Print

The lack of a timeless improvisational passage in a run of shows that was loaded with them, has been the primary reason this set hasn’t garnered the attention of its night two counterpart. But ask anyone who was at the two performances, and I’ll bet most would say that the opening night was the better show. When thinking of Alpine 2012, fans will immediately remember “Fee” and the crème de la crème sequence of “Light > Ghost,” but at the show—other than a couple classic covers to kick off the second set, those three jams carried the show. And because they were of such high quality, they could absolutely do that. But the first night’s second set had one dancing from start—well, at least second song—through the very last note of the set, a rare quality in Phish sets these days. Instead of focusing all of their energies in a front loaded frame and coasting to the end, the band kept the pedal to the medal throughout this main event.

After the show I called it a “perfect set,” and while. in retrospect, I might nitpick for a more significant closer, the flow of the set and jams within are nothing short of ideal. Once the chords of “Carini” followed a “Number Line” set-opener, the band didn’t come up for air until “Quinn the Eskimo” late in the show. Stringing together a series of high-energy jams—first groovy and then exploratory—the guys crushed this set from start to finish in a way they did very few this summer. There were no lulls, no fizzling, no bullshit—just pure musical fire. Phish has always had a way of filling Alpine’s vast pavilion with monstrous music to match, and on this night, there was plenty to go around.

6.22.12 (M.Stein)

“Carini” exploded out of form into heavy dance rhythms that resembled “Tweezer” far more than the jam it stemmed from. Though the band used the combo of “Golden Age > 2001” three times this summer, none popped like the pairing at Alpine. Transcending standard “Golden Age” rhythms and building into a more dynamic funk exchange, the band threw down an extended and intricate jam session that sits amongst the top dance floor bangers of tour. And when Trey hit a chordal tease of “2001” the band hopped right on the hint, seamless moving into the funk anthem.

Following the peak of “2001,” the vibe of the set changed, though its momentum didn’t waver a bit, with the start of “Rock and Roll.” Shifting gears from rhythmic conversations to exploratory rock, the guys carved out a stellar, guitar-led jaunt from the Velvet Underground cover, and surpassed it later in the set with a “Piper” that has gone under-appreciated amongst so many colossal versions of summer. In fact, “Piper,” in my opinion, is the improvisational highpoint of the set, though it almost seems like an afterthought on such an eye-popping setlist. The whole band converged on this jam unlike any other of the night, and when Trey hit a shredding, multi-note pattern, the jam elevates to another level. Firing as one, the guys got into a chugging, uptempo jam that found more than a few sweet spots and a surreal come down. Oh, and between “Rock and Roll” and “Piper,” the band unveiled the only “Steam” of 2012. Yeah, this set had it all.

6.30.12 (K.Harris)

Although “Hood > Zero” isn’t exactly a show-stopping closer, the band played solid versions of both. If Phish, instead, finished the show with “You Enjoy Myself” or “David Bowie,” this set would have that final touch and would draw far more attention. But in the end, would five minutes of standard “YEM” funk made that much difference? The lack of a big-time closer, however, is the only possible knock on this second half.

Very few set second sets these days contain both tour-highlight jams and non-stop flow. And while nothing in this set will make Leg One’s greatest hits, in terms of the live experience, few sets kept the party going from beginning to end like the first night of Alpine. A sparkling setlist, non-stop musical motion and plenty of jamming made this one of the most complete frames of tour. If you don’t agree, hit play on your iPod and see how many tomes you hit skip…See?

Number Line, Carini > Wilson > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Rock and Roll > Steam > Piper > Quinn the Eskimo, Harry Hood > Character Zero

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Jam of the Day:

Golden Age -> 2001 > Rock > Steam > Piper” 6.30 II

Quite a diverse chunk of jamming!

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218 Responses to “Summer’s Sleeper Set”

  1. RedRedWorm Says:

    ^^Agreed. And also pretty ironic of light of some Phelps’ off-season activities.

  2. bobby weird Says:

    Twiprise music to nbc replay of phelps’ 19th Olympic medal. Just now. Crazy!

  3. phlorida phan Says:

    My neighbors must think i fucking love the olympics, cranked the amp with a side of dino stomp

  4. phlorida phan Says:

    Tweeprise montage is definitely my favorite olympic moment …..ever

  5. Dr Pronoia Says:

    His lung capacity much be crazy wrt his off pool hobbies

  6. Joshua Says:

    Yes I just heard tweezer on NBC . Glad others are also watching. Wanted to recode it on iPad but not fast enough. Phat bong hits Michael phelps.

  7. Timber22 Says:

    Did anybody just hear Tweezer Reprise on the Olympics promo for Phelps winning all those medals. “Ph”

    Is phish sponsoring the olympics? What’s happening. I’m nervous NBC will start playing Weekapaugh Groove for their news intro….

  8. phlorida phan Says:

    Its the man telling you to buy more tix, deep subliminal shiz

  9. Joshua Says:

    It’s not the man. Goodness from the inside!!

  10. [not tom] Says:

    Besn watching the recording of tonight’s NBC broadcast and just saw the Phelps 19 medal recap video – freaked out when I heard Tweeprise. Had to jump on here and of course those of you who were watching live had already caught it. Awesome!

  11. [not tom] Says:

    Very appropriate that it started for the beijing segment (Phelps Encore after Athens).

  12. Robear Says:

    Post link if anyone finds one for Phelps replay.

  13. voopa Says:

    I’ll grab the WC feed here in about 100 min.

    Started Jerry week early w/9-2-74…crazy, disjointed SBD, but nice to revisit.

  14. viola Says:

    phelps is a phanner

    he probably told nbc that if they wanted the interview then use reprise in the montage.

  15. viola Says:

    phelps is a phanner

    he probably told nbc that if they wanted the interview then use reprise in the montage.

  16. viola Says:

    p.s. phelps looks like walter white jr

    for real, when i see phelps, i hear walter white jr in my head

  17. voopa Says:

    Got it…on my DVR. If I can figure out how to record it to my PC I’ll post it, or I’ll shoot video of the recording with my phone. But I suspect someone’s already done both.

  18. Cookiepuss Says:

    This is the only time in nearly 12 years of reading reviews by Mr. Miner that I COMPLETELY disagreed with him. This night was only interesting in watching the band struggle to do what they ordinarily accomplish effortlessly and with aplomb. They are still a great, professional band even on an off night and this was one of ‘em. I had exactly the same excellent seats for both nights in Alpine and I can’t imagine how MUSICALLY they could even be compared. This first night, they looked tired, distracted and just couldn’t “hook up.” The next night during the opening “Soul Shakedown Party” that they were already clicking and things were gonna fly. 12 years is long time, old buddy. This radical of a departure in agreement is more interesting than anything. Moral of the story: Get the 2nd night. I was sober for both and they don’t compare.

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