In celebration of Phish’s upcoming release of the Alpine Valley box set (you can see my pictures of the box set here; official review on Monday morning), I decided to briefly discuss their rendezvous with the venue in 2000. Because of the venue’s solid history of stand-out, party shows, many people were determined to make it to this out-of-the-way tour stop (a day after Star Lake in PA and 2 days before Deer Creek in IN). The venue’s history also overshadows this particular show.
The day started overcast and rainy, something that would be quite unpleasant on that massive and steep lawn section. Fortunately, the sun broke through the clouds just after the lots opened and the day couldn’t be more gorgeous. As most people know, Alpine is known for hot and sticky summer shows; this one was no different–probably stickier than usual due to the rain that had just passed through. This would be the last year Phish would play only one night at the venue (I don’t understand why it took them until 2003 to play this venue multiple nights).
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > NICU, My Soul, Poor Heart, Wolfman’s Brother, First Tube, Llama, Guyute, Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: Heavy Things, Piper -> Rock and Roll, Tweezer -> Walk Away, Twist, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Possum
Encore: Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise
If anyone reading this has experienced a show at Alpine, you are aware of the true party atmosphere that surrounds the venue when Phish is there. The energy is so high when the band takes the stage, set in at the bottom of rolling ski hills, it is impressive that PYITE could turn it up any higher. While the first set doesn’t turn heads on paper, the energy behind PYITE, My Soul, Poor Heart (which was played at Alpine every year, through this show), Wolfman’s, a mid-set First Tube, Llama, and Antelope jumps right out of the speakers. It’s one party song after another. According to Mike Gordon in an 2004 interview, Alpine is his “favorite” venue to play.
Looking back, Heavy Things is an odd second set opener. But, you have to remember the song was brand new at the time and heavy in rotation. Piper immediately followed. Relistening to this Piper to write this really got me down on current versions. This Piper is about as solid as they come. Why don’t they do the delicate start with the song anymore? Trey just awkwardly jams it down our throats now. The jam begins with dissonant and slightly distorted noodling from Trey, then the glow sticks kick in. For people that have not seen any pre-hiatus shows, people used to save their glow sticks for serious second set hosing (originally, Hood was the key song). People seem to throw glow sticks all show long now–making it harder to have actual glow stick wars. When the sticks kick in, Fish throws his sticks down into a tight-beat throw down for the entire band to lock on to. Boy, do I was awesome non-cookie cutter Pipers came back. It segues into Rock and Roll, a song that used to be a real treat to get–not expected in a second set like it is now.
The mid-set Tweezer is the highlight of the show. It follows a unique bluesy sounding jam, but with Trey more becoming more intense as the jam grows. Trey comes to a searing and beautiful peak, but in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s not a tension/release peak, or a hose peak–something completely original. The jam then perfectly segues into Walk Away to end the double-songed highlight.
After a dark Twist (but not as dark as 2003’s), came The Horse > Silent to light up the mood before closing with a gut-busting Possum. I cannot remember perfectly, but I feel like there was a guy that ran on stage during this Possum–possibly naked. It’s not noted anywhere, though. Can someone help me with this? Was I just imagining this?
Suzy Greenberg, minus the second verse, bled into the expected Tweeprise show-closer.
This is a fun show–enjoy it this weekend!