Welcome to the 195th edition of Phish.Net's Mystery Jam Monday. The winner will receive an MP3 download courtesy of our friends at LivePhish.com / Nugs.Net. To win, be the first person to identify the song and date of the mystery jam clip. Each person gets one guess per day, with the second “day” starting after I post the hint. A hint will be posted on Tuesday if necessary, with the answer to follow on Wednesday. Good luck!
Hint (Posted 2015-08-11 12:05 pm): Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Phish’s summer 2015 tour wrapped-up a two-night stand on Sunday at Wisconsin’s massive, sprawling venue on the steepest hill in all of rock and roll, the Alpine Valley Music Theatre. My friend and colleague Parker Harrington did a spectacular job setting the Alpine Valley scene in his recap of Saturday’s show, and there is a lot to cover from this edition of “never miss a Sunday show” so let’s cut right to the action from the bunny hill in the corn fields.
The band kicked off the gig at 7:45 with “The Very Long Fuse” from Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House, the first performance of the song since the 10/31/14 debut in Las Vegas. This was one of the tunes from that set that was seemingly a long-shot to appear again in the repertoire, given the centrality of the theatrics in the first performance with the laser “cutting” a hole in the haunted house set, ultimately revealing the band. Surprising though this may have been, it was but a hint of what was to come. Instead of exposing the haunted house, “The Very Long Fuse” would instead create a huge explosion to reveal… Colonel Forbin!
Photo © @tweeprise
The first “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” since the MSG “Truck Your Face” set from 12/31/13 (57 shows), this edition would offer one of the more hysterical chapters in the ongoing Gamehendge saga: The Bird Shit Narration. We here at phish.net are rather fond of “Fly Famous Mockingbird” – in addition to it being a delightfully weird and simultaneously beautiful song, it’s eponymous character is the namesake of the non-profit foundation that sponsors this site. The narration is simply too good not to include in its entirety.
Trey: “Thanks everybody. I’m not much of a talker these days, but I used to be when I wouldn’t shut up for fifteen minutes at a time. I will say this, when we stay at Alpine Valley here, some of us, sometimes all four of us, we sleep in the parking lot right back there, I sleep in the parking lot when we play here. I woke up there this morning, it was pretty cool, I got up and put my headphones on, I was listening to a mix tape, and I got to walk around the venue out there. I walked around all morning, we never, the four of us had never really been out there. We always see you guys from this perspective and you always see us from this perspective. It was really fun this morning to walk around, and I walked around and I walked all the way up there, and up where that guy who is waving his arms is, which is like on the peak of that hill, and it is so beautiful from up there, you can see over the top of the venue, and I was also really loving that tree right there, so this is a special shout to the people by the tree, you guys are all waving, thanks, man! The tree is really cool, and then my other favorite spot was that tree, over there, right on the corner is really beautiful. And then the last place I was standing, there was like a piece of wooden platform, that if you’re on the hill, there’s a flat area, you guys right there are on it, and that was one of my favorite spots. And it was there where I was standing when I felt a drop of rain dropping on my head. And I looked up and saw no clouds, and I realized that it was bird shit! And then I thought, maybe tonight is the night to do “Famous Mockingbird!” It’s a sign from the heavens! So I’d like to thank that bird. And then, when I got back, after my little stroll, I started looking up some little factoids that I want to share with you. So thanks to the shitting bird, and by the way, for those of you on the grassy knoll, if you feel bird shit, and you feel a second bird shit, there is obviously a second shitter, on the grassy knoll. Anyway, ba-da-bump! So when I started looking up some facts, I wanted to say that apparently we’ve played here seventeen times, which is pretty cool, man. And tomorrow is apparently the nineteenth anniversary of us first coming to Alpine Valley. So I just want to say, we love it here, and we’ve had such great times, that’s pretty amazing, nineteen years, and we get to share all that with you at this beautiful venue. I’d like to thank the shitting bird, and I’d like to shut up now and play a song, about another bird, the famous mockingbird… as we carry you to Gamehendge.”
Photo © @tweeprise
The set then proceeded to include seven more songs – every single one – that was a tour debut, fourteen shows deep into the run. “Brian and Robert” was played for the first time since 10/27/14 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (BGCA). “Saw It Again” was played for the first time since 10/31/14 Vegas featuring another episode of Mike and Trey coordinated dancing, and not one but two false endings. “Esther” saw its first live action since 8/30/13 at Dick’s (77 shows), and was notable – given often sloppy performances, especially after sitting on the shelf – for being well-executed, despite the break.
Mike’s lovingly bizarre “Weigh” (first since 8/3/13 BGCA, 80 shows) was a welcome treat, though marred by crowd “woos.” “The Sloth” emerged for the first time since 7/12/13 Jones Beach (94 shows), and “Sanity” took a hard look in the mirror for the first time since 10/28/14 BGCA. While this diverse and surprising set was a treat by any reasonable measure, it was still absent any real jamming; enter “Split Open and Melt,” the first since 1/3/15 Miami. “Melt” has, ironically, been in a bit of a closed shell of late in terms of expansive and exploratory jamming; this edition isn’t going to recall the song’s glory days, but it was certainly more than serviceable and really rather excellent for the era, especially Trey’s machine-gun routine at the end, and ended the set on a high note.
When first sets suck, relative to Phish's ridiculously high standards – and I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes they do – we note that. This set, to be sure, did not suck! And to be fair, there have been a bunch of first sets this tour that have been pretty awesome, Nashville and Atlanta1 in particular. There was clearly a conscious force at work here to mix up the routine, and it is an effort that fans appreciate in the extreme. The repertoire built over the course of three decades is teeming with riches, so, sometimes go ahead and dig deep, right? They did exactly that, to the fan’s delight. Bravo!
Photo © @tweeprise
Although obviously not a bust-out, “Run Like an Antelope” opened the second set for the first time since 8/11/04 Great Woods (245 shows). While nothing extraordinary took place in the ten-plus minute run time, “Antelope” had the crowd going wild in excitement, as is its role. “Carini” found itself in the two-hole and was a curious bird: there wasn’t a lot happening here early in the jam. Trey went for the Mu-Tron but backed off quickly, and the jam was picking up steam until about six minutes in, when they shifted to a pretty, light, bright jam that was rather delightful, if brief, setting the stage for “Waves.” Or another way to look at it, the “Waves” jam started even before the song proper, in place of a “Carini” jam. The first few minutes of the “Waves” jam were carried by a brisk current, before dissolving to calm, almost flat waters. Trey signals “Tweezer” with about half a minute left in “Waves,” and the segue to “Tweezer” is really odd (and great), with what comes tantalizingly close to but not quite a tease of the signature descending riff of “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.”
Photo © @tweeprise
The second “Tweezer” of the weekend following Blossom’s excellent “Cheezer” (“Chalk Dust” -> “Tweezer”) from Friday, Trey launches from the “Memphis Blues” riff into the “Tweezer” theme with the Mu-Tron leading the way, crunching through the corn fields. Early on in the jam it almost seemed like they were going to bail out, with light hints of “Back On the Train” a la 7/27/14 Merriweather, but they hung in with Trey leading brilliantly, chunka, chunka, chunka. Page led the flight to lightness and Mike and Trey followed with Fish calmly driving the tempo. A tap of Mike’s fight bell, a few comet shots from Page, and we’re back into delightfully familiar territory from this tour with bright, sunny, open major key spaces. This segment evoked the lightest hints of “Dear Prudence” and “Franklin’s Tower” while never wavering from the core Phish essence. What an awesome jam!
“Dirt” offered a brief contemplative interlude, offering one a moment to perhaps reflect on the 20th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing. In the humble opinion of this observer, “Dirt” is no less than one of Phish’s best songs, with haunting lyrics tenderly delivered alongside passionate solos from Trey. “Mike’s Song” sure left a mark in Nashville with the long-awaited return of the second jam, and its first appearance since then had fans again on the edge of their seats. Trey and Page rode the thick groove to Funky Town in the first jam – first jams matter – and then at decision time, nobody was throwing up a stop sign, so we’re on to the second jam! Since a number of observers – rightly, if snarkily – noted that the second jam in Nashville wasn’t the second jam, The Right Way, we’ll just call this one “Drew’s Jam,” if that’s OK with you. Page was on fire and let the charge that broke out into some start-stop jamming. And the "woos." Come on, people, what are you, twelve? Shut the fuck up! Seriously. You're at a performance of music, you are not the musician, so your job is to, wait for it... shut up and listen. Killer jam, though.
Photo © @tweeprise
This tour’s anthemic “Blaze On” rained chemtrails on the assembled masses, laying the seeds for the next generation of yearbook quotes. You’ve got one life, Blaze On, it’s kinda like a Dead song! A compact “Weekapaug Groove” (“woo”) sent us around the homestretch, though in one of the only questionable decisions of the entire night, “Weekapaug” actually came to a dead stop rather than offering a launch-pad to bang straight into “Tweezer Reprise.” A mere nit-picky footnote, however, to the best four minutes in rock and roll. While “Tweeprise” has closed sets rather than encored throughout the song’s history, it is notable (and awesome) that it has closed the second set in each of the four instances where “Tweezer” was played on this tour.
The tour debuts kept rolling through the double encore with Mike’s ode to love, “Contact” (first since 10/29/14), and the barn-burning “Frankenstein” (first since 10/31/14) put a wrap on this thrilling performance by The Phish From Vermont. This show had it all, it was the whole Phish package. Get some!
Photo © @tweeprise
Phish Summer 2015 – Setlists & Recaps
07/21/15 Setlist – Recap – Bend 1
07/22/15 Setlist – Recap – Bend 2
07/24/15 Setlist – Recap, Recap2 – Shoreline
07/25/15 Setlist – Recap – LA Forum
07/28/15 Setlist – Recap – Austin
07/29/15 Setlist – Recap – Grand Prarie
07/31/15 Setlist – Recap – Atlanta 1
08/01/15 Setlist – Recap – Atlanta 2
08/02/15 Setlist – Recap – Tuscaloosa
08/04/15 Setlist – Recap – Nashville
08/05/15 Setlist – Recap – Kansas City
08/07/15 Setlist – Recap – Blossom
08/08/15 Setlist – Recap – Alpine 1
08/09/15 Setlist – Recap – Apline 2
08/11/15 Setlist – Recap – Mann 1
08/12/15 Setlist – Recap – Mann 2
08/14/15 Setlist – Recap – Raleigh
08/15/15 Setlist – Recap – Merriweather 1
08/16/15 Setlist – Recap – Merriweather 2
08/21/15 Setlist – Recap – Magnaball 1
08/22/15 Setlist – Recap – Magnaball 2
08/23/15 Setlist – Recap – Magnaball 3
09/04/15 Setlist – Recap – Dick's 1
09/05/15 Setlist – Recap – Dick's 2
09/06/15 Setlist – Recap – Dick's 3
Alpine Valley posters by Brad Klausen.
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