Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI
 Vocal jam only.
· Seven Below tease in Weekapaug Groove
Average Song Gap: 13.5
Notes: Page signed an autograph while out on the front of the stage during Lawn Boy. Weekapaug included a Seven Below tease. The portion of YEM following 2001 contained only the vocal jam.
Songs by Debut Year:
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.
traffic was a bitch so we missed the opener all together, and only heard the first set up to glide in the parking lot. julius may have been a little nod to the usually tough alpine security. roses are free was a nice treat, but even from the parking lot, some flubs were evident. ac/dc bag was pretty straight forward. i loved glide here, especially since we were just walking in the door, but anything but me after was somewhat of a let down. a relatively quick bowie picked things up before a nice bluesy/funky wolfman's. trey really started to pick up steam on the back section of this wolfman's jam. golgi was sort of a blah closer.
we left our friends in the lawn and moved down to our pavillion seats for the second set. i was not very excited for the seven below set opener, but they found a groove, and kept riding it and riding it and riding it. this is a very cool jam. there are no crazy peaks here, but there is some lovely exploration. it takes a quick dip into buffalo bill, which while a rarity, i had managed to catch in 2000, '03, and now '04. good stuff. page was very interactive during lawn boy, which got the crowd rolling. mike's was good, but the straight mike's groove is just not popping like it did in'95. they still heat the same peak, but there is very little going on aside from that. this is something that i miss badly. even in '09, mike's song has not been all that impressive. you enjoy myself was relatively flub free, but this yem>2001>yem is not really as cool as it looks on paper. where they would normally have the "improv" jam in yem, they just popped a mediocre version of 2001 in there. then they slipped right into the vocal jam. unusual but not all that great.
all in all, a mediocre, show. i liked the next night and the deer creek shows better, but the seven below is must hear.
i really liked the 2nd set and this is still one of my favorite 7Bs. Besides the Buffalo Bill being special, the lawn boy was a big moment. Page bent down and signed someone's ticket stub at the end part and the crowd reacted hugely. This was a very cool goodbye moment that wasn't caught up with the magnitude of the Aug '04 shows.
The Mike's kranks and is a very powerful version. The YEM was nothing special and once again Phish encore with a single ripping power house song to close 1st night of Alpine.