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Review by NICU4LIFE
1) Finely-tuned Jams: It amazing to think that it has been ten years since I saw my first Phish show at Alpine (yes, I am post-hiatus phan) and I when listen to the 09 Alpine shows compared to the shows of 19 there is a noticeable difference. The dynamism, the synchronicity and the fluidness of the jamming has grown to an unbelievable quality over the past ten years. The spirit and love of the band can still be heard in those first post-hiatus shows but that the boys have spent 10 years relentlessly practicing their craft of playing together and you can easily hear the fruits of their labor. Although the jams in this show are not long, each one is fine-tuned and smooth. Strong segueing in the second set and you could hear how well everyone is playing off each other. Again, nothing ventures into major exploratory or crazy levels but the execution and improvisation was first rate. I would recommend the Blaze On jam from the first set and the Runnway Jim -> Undermind jam in the second.
2) The Battle Over Ballads: Every year I have to hear complaints, grumblings or even down right hatred of Trey’s ballads. Those “feel good”, “lovey dovey”, “everyone hold hands” songs. The critiques mostly center around the reality that those songs lower the energy and so instead of everyone getting into the groove they instead go to the bathroom. Now I like Trey’s ballads. His soft and thoughtful songs pull at my heart strings. And I also understand how the soft Trey songs can change the energy of a show and sometimes not for the better. Sometimes I like that energy change. Sometimes it works perfectly, a well needed/executed shift after a crazy jamming period. And the performance of Trey’s softer songs provides the full expression of Phish, both the crazy and soft/thoughtful manifestations of this amazing band that I love. Now sometimes the change of pace and energy does not go that well. In my opinion, that was in the first set with the playing of Frost. I did not care for Frost being played after Ya Mar and then have the next song after Frost be The Sloth. Now I have seen shows were Frost is used very well in a set (Allstate 18 Night 1 second set Frost comes to mind), but I did not care for the selection of Frost that night and its positioning next to The Sloth. Again, that is my humble opinion and I know others enjoyed Frost that night. Actually, I was not anti-Shade person and enjoyed hearing Shade in the first set. But of course, Phish can play whatever they want and I will still honor that decision.
3) Long Live Kasvot Vaxt: Now I have heard that there has been another complaint (and I don’t know how much this complaint is true) that Kasvot Vaxt songs are not a welcome addition to Phish jam repertoire. And that is so far from the truth. Kasvot Vaxt songs are the perfect addition to Phish and hearing Kasvot Vaxt songs player throughout this tour have been a jubilant experience. Night 2 at Alpine definitely offered an excellent performance of The Final Hurrah and Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S. I particularly hope that SANTOS has a regular position as an encore song as it works flawlessly into a show. Also, it allows the encore regular Character Zero to be played in other parts of the show. Actually, the Character Zero this night was one of the best versions I have ever heard!
In total, Alpine Night 2 was a high-quality show which showcases how the depth and growth of Phish shows has evolved. But this show was preparing us for an ultimate gem which was Alpine Night 3.