Phish at Alpine Valley Night Two. 7/1/12

I try not to get greedy going to Phish shows.  I can’t see my personal favorites every time out.  I need to be open to the whims and wishes of the band and the energy of the show.  When the lights go down, I’m just along for the ride.  If I had to pick my favorite jam vehicles they are Mike’s Song and Tweezer, especially when played in the second set.  I’ve seen both in the first set and they can be great, but it is pretty much a guarantee that the songs won’t go off into a transcendent direction.  It’s great when I’m on a Phish run and I catch both, but now that I tend to see two shows a year (maybe a third if I’m lucky) I can get zeroed out.  Usually I get one or the other at a very least.  Having said all of that as preface, I REALLY wanted to see a Tweezer on the second night of Alpine.  I believe I tweeted before the show, “would it be too much to ask for a Tweezer that melts my face off?” or words to that effect.  Alas, I didn’t get my Tweezer.  I didn’t get a Mike’s Song.  I hate to say it, but I was kind of disappointed.

It just wasn’t the strongest show, especially the second set.  What made the second set even more disappointing was the way the first set finished.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The show started with a nice, easy Soul Shakedown Party, but then in a sign of things to come they went straight into Lonesome Cowboy Bill.  If you’ve been following along, the band has been resurrecting the songs from Loaded.  This is easily one of the weakest songs from the album and it had the feel of, “well we need to get this out of the way.”  The next four songs were good choices, including two personal favorites Gotta Jibboo and Dirt.  I like Jibboo in the second set, but it is still a fun song nonetheless.  I also like A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing and then we hit a bit of a lull.  Access Me/Meat/Frankenstein are about as far out of my favorite zone as you can get.  I tend to find Mike’s songs (not Mike’s Song, confusing I know) to be just…meh.  Well meh and weird.  Frankenstein is about the dullest cover the band does and Page coming out with a key-tar isn’t enough to make me want to hear it.  Then the set wrapped up with three just fantastic songs, Fee/Maze/Squirming Coil.  The Fee was particularly good.  It is a fun song when just played straight including perhaps my favorite Phish lyric, “have a cup of coffee and catch your breath.”  But after the song proper, a really melodic and spacy jam took place for about five minutes, just heavenly.  A nice tight Maze followed and then Squirming Coil.  Coil is about the perfect set closer.  I got to skip out during the lyrical part of the song and was back in plenty of time for Page’s outro solo.  As much as I like listening to Trey, over the last couple of years Page really seems to have settled in, taking ownership of certain songs and really bring more to the mix than he had previously.  After his wonderful solo to end set one I was ready for the second set to be magical. Not so much.

I think part of what got me a bit cranky about this show was my surroundings, namely the people surrounding me.  First there was a guy in front of me who would not shut up.  He talked pretty much throughout the show to anyone who made eye contact.  Unfortunately, I have an annoying habit of looking people in the eye.  He told me all about his job, places he lived and why Wisconsin, his home state is the best.  What was worse though was the constant talk about the set list, especially in the second set and how many songs he had predicted.  I’m not the biggest fan of Ghost but I knew if they played it, this guy was going to try and tell everyone he predicted it.  The minute the intro of the song started, I seriously considered leaving for the lawn.  The other folks that bugged me were the basic, faux hippie-type that give real hippies a bad name.  Really they weren’t even that hippie-ish except they were quite stoned.  Basically they mooched off of everyone in their immediate radius.  They bummed cigarettes from the guy (the talky guy, no less) in front; they took hits off the bowl from the people behind us and they asked me for sips of water throughout the second set.  The high point of my second set was when they decided to go chill on the lawn.

Besides the unwelcomed Ghost, I did like the selection we got for the most part, especially the beginning of the set.  The Crosseyed -> No Quarter pairing is excellent and I’ve really liked what the band has been doing with Light.  After Ghost, things pretty just petered out, really.  BOTT to Farmhouse to 46 Days didn’t really bring the energy up and the combination of Heavy Things and Joy pretty much killed any enthusiasm the crowd had.  I started making my way to the car during Julius and was glad to be driving before Meatstick finished.  Sorry, I just always saw that song as a gimmick and nothing has really dissuaded me from that idea.

As much as I hate to say it, Alpine Night Two for 2012 felt like the throw away of the 2012 tour.  It feels like we get a lot of those shows here in the Midwest, which is unfortunate.  Not always mind, but this show reminded me a lot of Toyota Park in 2009, another ok show, but it just didn’t have much going for it.  Unless you’re a completest you can skip this show.

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