Phish Loves Wisconsin

Keeping to their tradition of playing stand out shows (that started well before Alpine Valley), Phish left Wisconsin Sunday night with all that were part of this two night stand dazed and looking for their underwear next to the night stand.  “um, what just happened?”  Easily the best two shows of the second leg, and possibly of summer (so far), Phish used song placement, execution and improvisation as their weapons of choice to hose down this sweat drenched crowd.

The temperature was pushing into the 90s and had Wisconsin’s patented humidity in the air on lot, no clouds to be seen to cover the weak from the beating sun.  The lots, however, remained bumping–Alpine is made up of 4 enormous lots (Blue, Yellow, Red and Green).  Security is at full force here, they have their own police processing center, and at least one eagles nest stand with cameras in each lot.  The only vending you will find in these lots are rolling coolers of water and maybe some posters which is unfortunate for both business volume and product selection.  However, the lots are really not that bad unless you are doing something completely illegal out in the open.  Inside it’s far more chill–even if it wasn’t, the place is so massive it would be hard for them to really crack down on anything.
Coming off the heels of a two night stand at Deer Creek that made the shows in Telluride look like child’s play, the crowd rumbled under the massive pavilion (size of the crowd at Telluride alone) cheering and discussing if they were going to up the ante yet again–why not, there has NEVER been a bad show at Alpine Valley.  Tube opener? Ok, it’s on!

Despite Tube’s 3 minute life a la early 90’s versions, the selection of that to open the show showed that they were ready to party (no, Party Time is not the only opener that means they are looking for a party).  Tube led into the only Oh Kee Pa Ceremony since this year’s Blossom, and only the third of 3.0–I’m not sure why they don’t use this to lead into Suzy more often, or even other songs for that matter.  Suzy naturally followed which was short but featured an explosive Page on the baby grand.  The Suzy ignited the band for a blazing hot rendition of Funky Bitch.  After hearing this, it’s apparent that Trey is ready to play today.  
The Reba that was on of many 1st set highlights might be the most delicate and beautiful versions of 3.0 Phish.  Sparing little time, oh really Phish, FUCK YOUR FACE again?  Wow–after having my face fucked ever so violently, I felt Alaska would be a good chance to just mellow out and catch my breath.  Oh dear Lord, Alaska is blazing hot too!  When the band sank into Back on the Train, we knew anything was fair game–the cheering from the crowd echoed off of the massive over-hanging roof.  GBOTT provided great contrast to the usual 2010 Trey–he stepped on no one’s toes, just laid back and meshed with everyone, contributing nicely to the 10 minute dance interlude.

The band lightened things up with a beautiful combo of Taste > Circus–Trey on point in both.  This gave people the light of day before diving into the old school darkness with a Gumbo > Antelope closer.  Gumbo, a classic version again, is always welcome in my book.  It meanders into one of 3.0’s most energetic Antelopes.  Keeping with the pattern Trey started last leg, he changes the lyrics in this version–“Marco Benevento”.

Setbreak was poppin’.  While the lights high overhead in the pavilion and the huge flood lights light up the massive lawn, you could tell people were abuzz.  People lining the sides, urinating where they could to avoid the massive lines so they wouldn’t miss the beginning of the second set.  $13 Bud Lights were being slung at every tent as fast as they could be–second set was going to be hot.

In a rare fashion, The Sloth opened up the second set.  A fan named Colin Foster was holding up a “Sloth” sign close to Mike’s part of the stage.  However, the next day when Mike was rolling in lot, Colin asked him if The Sloth opener was for the sign–Mike looked at him, raised his finger as if thinking and said “aaaaaaaaah, NO” and then pointed at him with the finger he was holding up.  Colin claims Mike was lying.

Down with Disease, the real opener was rumbled out next–the JAM of the second leg.  This feverish oddesy clocks in at about 18 minutes and features some serious Phish 3.0 jamming.  It even branches well into some type-II jamming, something I know we have all been craving.  Beautifully and seamlessly Phish stretches this piece of improvisation into a glorious version of What’s the Use?  It was only the second time it has been played in 3.0 and 4th time in post-hiatus Phish.  Alpine Valley’s Down with Disease -> What’s the Use? double headed monster will be listened to for a long time to come, and that’s hard to say about most post-hiatus Phish.  

Without stopping the magic, Trey slowly started up an interestingly and well placed Scent of a Mule–the “Mule Duel” was short but furious on both Page’s and Trey’s parts.  Mike’s Song lit up the whole damn place for the second and last string of songs in the night.  It was dark and standard before sinking into Dirt–this set’s first and only time to catch your breath.  Figuring Weekapaug wasn’t going to come out of dirt, what was next was a mystery to all.

Sneakin’ Sally?  Ok, I’ll take that in a Mike’s Groove!  The Sally is short but sweet, complete with vocal jamming.  Out of the end slowly rose the drum beat to Weekapaug Groove, lighting a match under the ass of everyone in attendance.  Some people figured a YEM closer, but Phish had something a bit more mellow in mind, Bug.  I love Bug, and this version was both gorgeous and hot–yes, usually both adjectives work well while describing a girl, but it’s not often that a song is both.  What a great way to end a wonderful show.  A show that finally used all the band members to make something special–rather than a show that only had Trey stepping on everyone’s toes.  Thanks Phish!

Second show review coming up.

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Set 1: Tube > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Funky Bitch, Reba[1], Fuck Your Face, Alaska, Back on the Train, Taste > When the Circus Comes, Lawn Boy, Sparkle, Gumbo > Run Like an Antelope[2]
Set 2: The Sloth, Down with Disease -> What’s the Use? > Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Dirt > Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Weekapaug Groove, Bug
Encore: Quinn the Eskimo