Deer Creek 2, 6/29/12
Friday night at Deer Creek saw the band come out with a slew of rarities. The opening segment of Crowd Control and Dinner and a Movie gave way to the first cover of the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane since the 1998 Halloween cover set of the album “Loaded.”
More rarities came in the form of Mound, Life on Mars?, The Mango Song, Strange Design, and a personal favorite, Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars. A well-played cover of the Beatles While My Guitar Gently Weeps closed out a very diverse, and cover heavy set.
Set two saw another Down with Disease opener that was stretched out a bit more than Riverbend’s version, much to the crowds delight. This version saw many distinct sections of improvisation that lead into another very strong version of Sand.
From there things felt a little rushed to say the least. A goofy version of Twist that saw Trey pronouncing his bandmate’s names in several ways, “Shif.” Decent versions of Bathtub Gin, Fluffhead, Run Like an Antelope, closed the set, along with another rarity in Ride Captain Ride.
This set started out incredibly strong, and the show as a whole would end in a similar fashion with a three song encore of: Cavern, the rare Sanity, and First Tube. All in all, a great pair of shows back at the old home place.
Highlights from Deer Creek (Night 2): Dinner and a Movie, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Down with Disease > Sand, Bathtub Gin, Cavern, Sanity, First Tube
Alpine Valley 1, 6/30/12
Without a doubt, my all-time favorite run of shows from Phish is Deer Creek > Alpine Valley. After a short drive up, and a brutal stretch of traffic in Chicago, (lesson learned, again) Alpine Valley was in sight. Night one opened with a combo of songs I had been longing for in My Soul and Daniel Saw the Stone. This first set, while fun, seemed to be a bit all over the place and lacked a word many Phish nerds like to use, “flow.”
The set did contain the first Reba (with whistling!) of the Midwest run, this song is what made me fall in love with this band and I could hear it every show and be happy. The set closed with a nod to the amazing 2010 Alpine show on 8/14/10 with The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony and Suzy Greenberg. See you in 15.
Set two was another set that seemed to lack “flow,” whatever that means. The opening trio of Backwards Down the Number Line, Carini, and Wilson were all decent versions, but left the improvisation fan hungry for more. We finally saw some improvisation with another Golden Age and Rock and Roll, with a short but sweet 2001 sandwiched between them.
The highlight of the night came next in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite combos of songs to hear in Steam and Piper. The former is quickly becoming one of the most sought after songs and was surprisingly played only once in the first leg of shows. A strong version of Character Zero ended this up and down set. Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times closed out the first night back at Alpine Valley.
Highlights from Alpine (Night 1): The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Steam > Piper
Alpine 2, 7/1/2012
After one of the other delights of Alpine runs, a stay at a buddy’s lake house, we were geared up for a great closing show of a fantastic return to Deer Creek and Alpine.
When Phish opens any show with Bob Marley’s Soul Shakedown Party, you know you are in for a fantastic night (see 12/30/09, 7/3/11). This night was no different, first set especially. Another Velvet Underground cover came second in the Fishman sang Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Rare showings of Meat, Access Me, and A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing filled the middle of the set. Then we saw Page pick up his keytar, time to rage.
A mid first set Frankenstein ! I could get used to that. An exceptional version of Maze, an extended Fee, and a beautiful The Squirming Coil closed out what might be the best first set I’ve seen this band perform.
Set two picked up right where we left off. The powerhouse “jam vehicle” cover of the Talking Heads Crosseyed and Painless (which was called by yours truly) took off and got quite spacey. It made its way into one of the newer Phish covers every one appears to relish in, Zeppelin’s No Quarter. A stellar version of Light, that contained some of the best improvisation of the tour, gave way to a solid, but perhaps too short, version of Ghost.
As amazing as the first half of set two was, the latter half had its moments, but was somewhat inconsistent, (or maybe we were just spoiled from the stellar first set and start of set two). A somewhat perplexing spot for the segment of Back on the Train and Farmhouse somewhat drained the energy. The highly energetic 46 Days picked things right back up before settling down again for Heavy Things and Joy.
Another fan friendly Meatstick closed out a show that had some incredible highlights, with very little to really complain about, at least from this fan’s perspective. A fantastic showing of Midwest love from this band that brings nothing but good times, but that itch wasn’t quite scratched all the way, see you at the beach.
Highlights from Alpine (Night 2): Soul Shakedown Party, Meat, Fee, Maze, The Squirming Coil, Crosseyed and Painless > No Quarter > Light > Ghost, 46 Days
2012 Phish has been some of the best Phish I have ever witnessed. I am a very lucky nerd to be able to see as many shows as I have with such a great crew, I could not ask for anything more and after nine incredible shows in the months of June and July, that Phish show itch was finally scratched, for a month or so at least. See you all in St. Louis!
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