, attached to 2004-06-25

Review by makisupaman

makisupaman A brief meditation on the ninth anniversary of my first show seems in order.

Being the youngest of four siblings, each separated by three years, I had heard rumblings of Phish early on in my childhood hey-days of the 1990s. Slip Stitch and Pass registers as the first album I remember really getting into as a middle schooler, and subsequently Hampton Comes Alive. I remember being at a hotel for an adult-supervised New Years Eve party in 8th grade, and seeing the Peter Jennings report about the traffic at Big Cypress. At sixteen, I read about THC-infused soy milk at a place called IT in Rolling Stone while supposedly working the cash register at Walgreens. Summer 2004, during an equally transcendent three-week high school trip to Spain, I received e-mailed confirmation that indeed, I had finally acquired a golden ticket to see a band for two nights somewhere in Wisconsin. Just shy of eighteen, along with good friends and a girlfriend of two months who I would ask to marry almost exactly eight years later at another Alpine Phish show, destiny appeared unbound.

Such brimming optimism about a first-time experience with a band of my childhood stood in stark contrast to the scene on the lot this night. The atmosphere was one of almost somber remembrance, likening a wake of old Irish tradition - festive, but with a heaviness. I can recall people asking for predictions about when the band would get back together - "Six years!" shouted a stranger; "Ten!" another. At the time, the two Alpine shows were the last to be played before Coventry, as the few August shows were announced in July. These shows marked what was then thought to be the end for a lot of Midwesterners.

Walking through security and over the hump at the top of Alpine was a revelation. The view struck me as dramatically out of proportion with the cornfields and more familiar landscape of southeastern WI. As I stood in contemplation, a voice jarred me. A college kid at a tented table was calling me over to sign up to vote. What a great gig, I thought, registering people to vote and seeing Phish all Summer. He was from Colby College in Maine if my memory serves me well, and I am a registered independent thanks to my first Phish show.

In terms of show details, I remember the ACDC Bag had a different sounding jam than I was used to, and Mike's stop-and-start solos during Wolfman's Brother made the place erupt. The Seven Below stretched on to the point that I had to ask if it was still the same song. A first epic jam experienced live will do that, I suppose. Upon a recent relisten, I would further highlight the staccato-esque, over-driven jamming in Weekapaug, as well as the highly agreeable composed section of YEM.

I more often than not choose the next show, my second, to listen to in order to relive the experience, but I will never forget this night, and the feelings it evoked still resonate deeply despite almost a decade having elapsed.

This night and this weekend sparked something in me I still cannot fully render in words, and I can only end by humbly expressing my continual gratitude to a band, an organization, and a community.


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