I took a day off work Friday to drive up to Alpine Valley, Wisconsin to see my last Phish concert. Since 1994, I’ve been lucky to see eleven shows, and this one show would be my last before the band breaks up. It was a great show.
- Roses Are Free ->
- AC/DC Bag
- Anything But Me
- David Bowie
- Wolfman’s Brother
- Golgi Apparatus
- Seven Below ->
- Buffalo Bill ->
- Lawn Boy ->
- Mike’s Song ->
- I am Hydrogen ->
- Weekapaug Groove
- You Enjoy Myself ->
- 2001 ->
- You Enjoy Myself (vocal jam)
- Sample In a Jar
The first set was good, but not spectacular. I cried a bit during Roses are Free, not only in joy at hearing a great song they hadn’t played since 2000, but also out of the realization that this would be my last chance ever to hear this band. Glide was fun to hear, as I’d never seen it live, and they hadn’t played it since 2000, either. The true highlight of the first set, though, was Wolfman’s Brother. I had never seen it performed live, and this version was amazing. The jam was long and complicated, with each member of the band taking the lead at some point to lead the song into an entirely new direction. Very nice.
The second set opener, Seven Below, had a nice rocking jam, but the jam didn’t change that much. I didn’t hear much besides Trey and Page riffing over a constant line from Mike and Fishman. It rocked a lot, but it didn’t go anywhere. I’m not surprised I didn’t really get into it – I’ve never really gotten into Round Room songs.
The set then went into insanity. Buffalo Bill isn’t a great song, but it was a lot of fun, and everyone was surprised. Lawn Boy was hilarious, with Page doing his best lounge act, even signing a ticket stub for a girl in the front row. It’s kinda funny that it was my first time seeing the song, since LawnBoy is my handle on Watchblog and a few other places.
Mike’s Groove was good, although relatively short. I’d seen Mike’s Song and Weekapaug a couple times before, but this was the first time I’d seen them do the traditional Hydrogen in the middle. Very nice.
After talking for a bit to decide what to do next, the band unleashed YEM. Fantastic. Even better, after the Buy-Man-God-Shit section, Trey started collaborating with Mike and Page, so I new something was coming: Also Sprach Zarathustra! Yet another song not played since 2000! It was a beautiful transition quick, which I don’t think they’ve ever done before. Then, Trey led the band into a vocal jam. I was beside myself. The first time I saw Phish in 1994, they did a YEM vocal jam. At the time, I really only knew Rift, so I had no idea what was happening when they started improvising acapella at the end of a long song. This time, I appreciated it. I’m very grateful that the band returned to the YEM vocal jam on my last show. I can’t thank Trey enough for the symmetry, a gift he’ll never know he gave me.
After that, the encore of Sample was too short and a bit of a disappointment, but the overall show was too good for me to complain. It was amazing. I’ll be buying the show from Live Phish this week.
Unfortunately, I can complain about Alpine Valley. The venue was fine, but parking was a mess. I thought at worst we’d be in the lot for an hour, but it was an hour before we could even leave our parking spot, and three hours total to get out of the lot. Since the lot was just grass, everyone created his own line, so there were twenty-some lines of cars trying to merge down to one. Nasty. It took so long we decided just to drive back to St. Louis that night instead of finding a hotel room. After all, it was only a couple hours from dawn by then.
I wish I could have stayed in Wisconsin to see last night’s show. The setlist looks great, and I would have loved to have seen Stash, Piper, Divided Sky, and Harry Hood again, but that show would have been a bit annoying for me from another perspective. Ghost, Wilson, Character Zero, Divided Sky, and Funky Bitch are on my overplayed list, so it was better to have seen the show I saw. Besides, I have to catch a flight to San Francisco in three hours for JavaOne, so I couldn’t have done it. That’s the problem with getting a straight job 🙂
I wouldn’t have gone to Alpine Valley if Phish weren’t breaking up, but I had to see them one last time, and I was rewarded with a great show. I’m glad I went.