26 in 26 of 2019: #23 07/14/2019 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI (Jason Notareschi, @jnoid23)
Your Song Too
Friends. Experiences. Jams. Escape. Travel. Memories. Music.
Walking out of Apine Valley that evening there was above average chance you left the venue more than satisfied with what you had just experienced.
There are three types of show reviews: a review by someone who was at the show, a review by someone who has a vast knowledge of music theory, and a review by someone who was not at the show.
I like a lot of Phish songs played the last night in Alpine. But a huge part of my enjoyment that night was derived from the joy the people around me experienced in the first set, how that carried over into the second set, and how it culminated with (at least, in my mind) and acknowledgement from the band.
Oh yeah, and “Ruby Waves”.
But that has already been reviewed, in many ways and by people much smarter than me.
It was awesome. It was not normal. It was one song but a bunch of songs in one. And if it wasn’t for you, that’s ok.
Because this is your song too.
Heading to the last show of a three day run our bus was full of new and old friends who were all excited for a litany of reasons. Most of our group was a close knit crew that had traveled together to see shows before, but for a few of us the trip to Alpine Valley was our initiation into the sacred bond of tour friends.
By the third day it was clear that all of us felt like we were in a good place. After the George Michael-fueled bus ride home on Saturday night we tossed around the idea of selling all of our tickets to the Sunday show and renting a party deck so we could all be together for the tour closer. The next morning we gathered for breakfast and watched a super nasty Wimbledon final between Djokovic and Federer, then we moved the scene to the party barn and set our plan in motion. Thanks to our fearless leader we acquired the deck, and a few short hours later we were on the bus ride to the show.
At some point during that ride Memo (the only person I knew going into the weekend) began asking everyone what one song they were hoping to hear that night. Some of the responses? “Meatstick”, “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday”, “Timber”, “Strange Design”, “Icculus”.
After selling our individual tickets we lined up like kindergartners to file through the entrance while all getting scanned through from one phone. Walking to our spot the first notes of “The Landlady” hit and I turned to Memo and asked, “They don’t play this very much, do they?” To which he responded with an inquisitive “No,” followed by “let’s go!”
We arrived just in time, because this is your song too.
Someone very wise told me once that one reason she likes to go see Phish is to see and be around me personally when I am there. That has stuck with me since that day and has even helped me enjoy my time at shows in a way I previously did not. Her saying that is also one of the many reasons why I asked her long ago to marry me, and maybe even one of the reasons she said yes.
I am not 100 percent certain if my buddy Pete responded with “Olivia’s Pool” when Memo asked the question on the bus, but his reaction once we all realized that was the second song it was clear that it should have been. I am 100 percent certain none of us had ever seen “Olivia’s Pool” before but experiencing the bustout with someone so excited was a great addition to the night and would have been memorable in itself, but that was just the beginning for us.
“The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday” followed, another pick from the bus. High fives and hugs ensued not only because “TMWSIY” is nasty but also because another member of our crew (who was only there for this night) got his wish.
Next? “Meatstick”. Another pick from one of our own @Dianna_2Ns. More high fives, hugs and smiles for all as we all start to realize what is shaking out for us just four songs in.
The next run of songs gave us some time to reflect and catch our breath. “Vultures”, “Spock’s Brain”, “Pebbles and Marbles” and “Glide” were all special treats that absolutely could have been picked as “hope to hear” but weren’t. After “Born to Run” we got right back on track.
“Strange Design” and “Timber”, two more picks from the bus. By this point we may have been expecting to hear all the songs we picked, and despite my own choice of “The Lizards” not making the setlist it was an incredible experience. Surrounded by people that I didn’t know four days ago, I was now taking in these songs in a way that my wife had years ago. It wasn’t my memories or experiences that were triggering a reaction, it was the memories and experiences of other people who I hardly knew that were providing me with these emotions.
Set break provided us all with another brief moment for a breather, and the final set break of a three-day run, and especially the final set break of a tour, gives us all a chance to reflect and look ahead. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet and hang out with so many amazing people the past four day, while simultaneously looking forward to getting home to see my wife and kids. After three days of face melting there can be a lot to process at set break but living in the moment is something I think is very important to enjoying Phish and we had one more set to surrender to the flow.
“Mercury”, “Ruby Waves” and “Twist” collectively provided everyone with exactly that opportunity. Our high fives and hugs gave way to open jaws and looks of near disbelief as “Ruby Waves” made its way into Phish history. “Swept Away>Steep” snapped many back to reality, bringing our thoughts and minds back to the present after drifting to who knows where while left to our own devices for the past hour.
When “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” gave way to “Icculus” we got our final request of the night. I can’t tell you a specific reason for any of the picks made on our bus on the way to the show that day, but we probably all wanted “Icculus”. Read the fucking book.
I will never forget Memo’s face when he turned to me and drooled, and after about 5,000 “nasties” (yes, “nasty” is good) we got the song we didn’t know we needed. “Buffalo Bill”. Because the Buffalo Bills are nasty.
“YEM>Catapult>Contact>YEM” wrapped up the show as well as the yet to be identified theme of my night… that this is your song too. Trey’s story about meeting the couple at the hotel lobby makes “Contact” their song forever. It might already be someone else’s song, for some other reason, but that is what music is all about… it can be whatever you want and sometimes what you need.
Every Phish song means something to someone. Not every song may mean something to you, but it very likely does to someone else just a few seats away. So next time you hear the notes to a song that may not be your favorite, maybe take a moment to pause and try to lock into that thought and think about what that song might mean to someone else.
Respecting others is another important part of Phish for me, as well as feeling like a part of a group that shares some similar ideals and beliefs. Until the last night of Alpine Valley I didn’t have a personal experience or memory to relate to some songs like others I was with. Sharing those moments provided me with a reminder that there is so much Phish and the community have to offer. Introduced to me by my wife and reinforced through new experiences and with friends and family, whatever song is playing is your song too.