Saturday 07/15/2023 by phishnet


[Thank you to user LizardwithaZ, for recapping last night's show. -Ed.]

Some people have all the luck.

In my case, attending a Phish show in Alpharetta, which just happens to be my 13th show, might have given me pause. After all, 13 is not exactly known for being a lucky number. The number 13 for me, however, has always been just fine, and in many cases, the opposite of unlucky.

I was hoping that this would prove true for this weekend’s shows as well. After all, this is the spot where I ended my extended Phish drought (from 6/24/2000 until 8/3/2018) and where the band blew my mind all over again two years ago. This venue has gained the reputation of being a “can’t miss” stop, earning that reputation especially with the last 2 runs in 2018 and 2021. Is it “MSG South?” I might not go that far, but only because Alpharetta is its own thing entirely.

So that brings us to last night, and the first 3-night run of Summer 2023. Looking at the weather, 91 degrees seemed like it would be manageable, but as is often the case in the South, the real story is the humidity. As the venue slowly filled in leading up to start time, we found ourselves dripping in sweat, with nary a breeze in sight. If luck were on our side, the band would give us a scorcher of a show to thank us for putting up with the heat.

© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)
© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)

With show nerves raging and the band taking the stage shortly after 8:00 EST, I was ready to push my luck. “Kill Devil Falls” opened up the action in the first frame, and as luck would have it, this is one of the newer songs that brought me back to the fold when I started listening to Phish again. Some might be upset over an 8 minute “KDF,” but I find myself firmly in the camp of believing that an 8 minute type 1 rager is just fine to open a show.

Pass the mustard, please.

Theme from the Bottom” happened to be my first unheard song of the show, another stroke of luck! This was a lovely version, well played, and was a good way to get the crowd feeling some love. Already, things were going great!

The first real jam of the night appeared next in the form of “No Men in No Man’s Land.” This version, while nothing overly special, got the crowd moving (and sweating, and sweating, and sweating), as we all had a rollicking fun time. In this same venue, “NMINML” proved to be a harbinger of the show to come for 2018’s Friday show. Would we be lucky enough to have the same thing happen 5 years later? The cheers following this certainly thought that might be the case.

I’ve been lucky enough to see multiple variations and iterations of “Axilla” over the years, having seen “Axilla,” “Axilla” with the “Axilla (Part II)” outro, and “Axila (Part II),” or what I like to call “The Axilla Trifecta.” This “Axilla (Part II)” was fairly standard and included the outro, bringing us close to halfway through the set.

But as is often the case with Phish, the best was yet to come. Any time “Tube” hits, I feel lucky to be in the building, and this may be the best “Tube” I’ve seen. An absolute masterclass and the standout of the set, any fears that they would flub the re-entry to the song evaporated when Trey and Fish perfectly nailed the landing. I found myself jumping up and down and high-fiving friends, celebrating an awesome night.

Did they jam “Tube?”

Damn right they did.

A perfectly placed “Roggae” provided the comedown that we all needed, and while some in the crowd chose this spot to chat with their neighbors, I let the beauty of the song wash over me.

A standard “Undermind” followed, and I felt certain we were headed for a “Bathtub Gin” set closer, but instead we were lucky enough to get “Prince Caspian,” a song that usually wouldn’t be considered lucky in this spot by a lot of fans.

If you’re Phish and you're going to close a set with “Caspian,” it had better be good, and this version did not disappoint, ending an extremely enjoyable set.

And yet, we were just getting started.

You never know when Phish is going to drop a set that feels perfect. It might feel perfect for the first 45 minutes and then fall off a cliff at the end, or they might throw a song that brings down the energy right in the middle, or any number of unlucky possibilities.

The set 2 that followed felt perfect.

With reminders of 2018, the set opened with “Ghost.” I personally am not as in love with the 2018 “Alpharetta Ghost” as some others are, so even though the 2023 edition is “only” a 16-minute version, I liked it even more. Big props to a friend who sent the message “I hope they play Alpharetta Ghost” when they started playing it, which got a huge laugh out of me.

And this brings us to the next part of this show.

Before we get to that, let’s remind ourselves of some history. Four years ago, to the day, something special happened in the Phish world, as “Ruby Waves” held its coronation as the next great jam vehicle in the Phish arsenal. This followed a “Mercury” that Trey and Co reportedly planned to jam big, but didn’t go anywhere. So there we were, four years later, with a “Ghost” that DID go places, but perhaps could have gone farther spilling into a “Ruby Waves” that immediately took a place in the top 2 versions ever played (Non Alpine Division). This version was relentless in its 26 minute run time, seamlessly covering a world of ground. Why do we go to shows? We go because if we’re lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, we might get to witness a jam like this, while feeling collectively linked to the thousands of other people we happen to be sharing space with.

© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)
© 2023 PHISH (Rene Huemer)

After a blazing jam like that, the band could have done anything and I would have been happy. What they did was play the Phish debut of “...And Flew Away,” a Trey original that most of the venue didn’t seem to recognize. Despite that, the potential of this song shined through in a way that the debut of “Ether Edge” a couple of nights earlier clearly did not.

A lucky debut for sure.

At this point, we were about 52 minutes into the set, and starting to think that a 4 or 5-song set might be in the cards. That thought was put on hold when “My Friend My Friend” started up, a seemingly odd place to throw that particular song.

But wait! The luck continued!

Just as the standard (but well-played) portion of the song ended, they continued to play during what would normally be the wind-down to “Myfe.” What followed was a jam that can hold its own among unexpected jams like the 10/29/21 “Axilla II,” 10/16/21 “Frankie Says,” or any other number of jams that make you go, “wait, are they really jamming THIS?”

And yes, I did say that out loud a number of times, in pure disbelief of what was happening right in front of me.

The only possible way to close out a set like this had to be “First Tube.” Jedi Trey in full effect, everyone dancing, everyone sweating, and everyone just happy to be there.

They could have encored with Jon Fishman farting on his snare drum for 10 minutes and I still would have been happy, but instead we got another first for me, and one of my favorite ballads, with “If I Could,” followed by an absolutely raging “Possum,” that sent us all off into the night, sweaty, stinky, and happy.

Like I said, some people have all the luck.

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, comment by Slewfoot
Slewfoot Great review! Sums up what I observed from the couch very nicely. Glad it was a blast being there!
, comment by ArkPhan
ArkPhan Very nice review! They definitely brought the heat to match the humidity!
, comment by mgolia6
mgolia6 Appreciate the review, I didn’t really get too much of a sense of the show from it though, more of a weather report. Would have loved to know less about all the songs and more about how some of the songs made you feel. Felt like this was a comparison to the Alpharetta’s of the past and would have liked less of that. That’s my personal opinion and I don’t discount the difficulty of reviewing a show. Example: The tube was good cause they nailed the re-entry?! Was the jam funky, was it slow build, did it get dirty? So they jammed it, doesn’t mean anything if the jam sucked. Not that it did or it didn’t but I can’t tell from this review, just that it was extended. Just saying.

Take my thoughts for what they are worth, probably nothing. Preparing for the negative thumbs. Lol.
, comment by TahoeDawg
TahoeDawg 2nd ripping show in a row from my couch, can’t wait for tonight! Thanks for the perspective from the floor, didn’t look to be as sweaty as you describe.
FACTSAREUSELESS Thanks for the heartfelt recap! I can only afford to see one night of the run, so I chose the Sunday show. Never miss a Sunday show! The band is hot as a pistol to start this tour.
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