The second night of this year’s Alpine Valley run has been overshadowed quite a bit by the first night–the first night has, arguably, the best first set of recent memory coupled with, possibly, the best jam of 2010 (Down with Disease -> What’s the Use?). However, the second night has quite the epic second set as well. While it didn’t contain improv darted into the realm of the previous night, the straight forward jams we were treated to feature some stand outs that should not be forgotten.
I am writing this post to focus on the Ghost > Theme from the Bottom > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars; August 15th’s second set opening act was pure Phish with Trey playing as well has he has in the modern era. Knowing a Ghost story was going to grace our presence any night because it hadn’t been played since the Greek, we figured it would come out some time in this second set–we just didn’t expect it to open the set seeing as it has not opened a set in over seven years. When Trey started scratching out the beginning to the song, we knew that we would be getting our 4th pure party set in a row at this historic venue. While I am and always will be very critical of how Ghost starts now, with Trey scratching the beginning rather than the quiet drums and bass building up (see 7/4/99, 9/22/99), I got past it once the jam took off. Right after the jam’s peak, Trey started up Theme–a song that I often don’t care too much about, especially in recent years. While I was witnessing the song I knew that that would be a special version, however, I knew I had to listen to the tapes to be sure it wasn’t just a case of me being there and loving everything that was happening. This Theme holds up on the tapes just fine, it might have even sounded better upon listening again–and BBFCFM was about the most extreme exclamation point they could put on the second set opener. There was so much entertainment in those three songs, I was surprised when I realized the set wasn’t even half over yet.
This Ghost is a straight rager–if Phish is only going to play Ghosts as type I rockers I’m fine with that if this is the standard they use when they play. While many hail last year’s Albany Ghost as the best of 3.0, I would prefer listening to this one. The Albany Ghost certainly has a lot of energy and different segments of improv, however, often times in that jam Trey either gets ahead of himself and stumbles while the rest of the band rages on or Trey misses Fish’s cue to peak the jam (like 5 times). With out discussing that controversial version any further (just wait for the comments about the Albany Ghost under this post) let’s discuss how the Alpine Ghost and how it blew doors down.
Trey takes the jam by the short hairs right out of the gates–whenever this happens I listen closely to see what he does with the music (no, not when I’m there–I only enjoy myself at concerts). Too often in 2010 Trey gets too ambitious and ends up getting ahead of himself and stumbling, relying on the rest of the band to carry on–almost like someone who turns on the treadmill too fast only to fall on their face (listen to clip of Piper from the same night, fun Piper nonetheless).
AV2 Piper by ragingmobofjoggers
Alpines Ghost build and builds, Trey not missing a note, culminating in the most clean and gorgeous peak Trey has reached since I can remember. Trey nails it–although it’s short lived, we got it loud and clear–this is why I see Phish. After the peak, Trey exhibits a perfect mix of leadership and patience when he segues into Theme. It’s not forced or awkward, but he also doesn’t waste time when he realizes the Ghost had just reached it’s potential.
AV2 Ghost Peak by ragingmobofjoggers
AV2 Theme jam by ragingmobofjoggers
Alpine’s Theme is magnificent–I lost my marbles in bliss when I was at the concert and I went nuts upon relistening for this post. I can’t think of the last time Trey showed so much passion in that song. He used his chops, he held notes, he peaked, he did it all–gorgeous. Trey was harnessing a newfound patience and energy that he seems to find no problem honing at the epic venue that is Alpine Valley. They couldn’t just end a double headed monster of an opener without something big–so they went into BBFCFM. After the creature came out, Alpine just about blew it’s lid. We started with a Ghost and we ended with a Creature–it doesn’t get any more serious than that!
Now that I think of it–this would have been much more appropriate a couple nights earlier at Deer Creek for Friday the 13th.
8/15/2010 Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, WI