The Daily Ghost

33 in 33 #15 07/01/2012 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI (Tim Fitch, @artiefitchie)

Selection: “Crosseyed and Painless>No Quarter>Light>Ghost”

Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: An incredible unique “Fee”, “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing”

From Tim Fitch:

“Wisconsin’s a special place.” – Brett Favre

I couldn’t agree more Brett. Okay, I didn’t choose to write about that spectacular “Fee” from the first set, so you can stop the hating now. Instead, I selected this amazing quartet of tunes that kicked off the second set on night two at Alpine. For those in attendance that run of songs was surely a highlight of the Summer ‘12 tour.

I had just spent an idyllic summer day on Lake Geneva with some friends and one of my best pals had just gotten engaged to his girl. Little did we know the treats that this second day of an early summer double-header had in store for us.

Starting off the late set with a beautifully tight “Crosseyed and Painless,” the boys were after it right from the downbeat. What began as a fairly standard run-through of this Talking Heads favorite, soon took flight with some flawlessly fluid and patient soloing from Trey kicking in at 4:30. Fishman is holding down the beat like a human metronome. Page, Mike, and Trey are at liberty to go all out, and do they ever. At 8:30, the frenetic pace starts to wind down with Fish whispering ‘Still Waiting’ quotes. You can hear the Chairman switch to the Rhodes piano shortly after, foreshadowing what’s on deck as early as 9:15.

In a summer chock-full of bust outs, this was the first nod of the tour to this Led Zeppelin classic. What strikes me every time I hear Phish cover Zeppelin is that this is as close as any of us will probably ever come to witnessing the legendary power of that band in the live setting. Yes, this band that we all love so much is just that good!


“No Quarter” was a perfect choice in this slot, as it cast a hypnotizing calm over the crowd like fog rolling into the hills of the surrounding farm country. That was until the first chorus hits at 12:29 when I looked around the pavilion. It seemed as if the crowd was banging its collective head in unison, to one of the best guitar riffs in all of Rock n’ Roll. Trey’s soaring solo digs in at the 15:00 minute mark and takes us on a dreamy jaunt until 17:02 when Page delivers us the last verse.


And here’s why I decided on this jam over that spectacular “Fee” that dropped late in the first. Even though “Light” is one of the newer and more explored jams in 3.0, I think it was on this first night of July that the song turned a corner towards becoming the spectacle that was witnessed on Saturday night in Denver last Labor Day weekend.

Check out the passage that starts at 22:08 — simply superb interplay between Leo, Cactus, and Fish, leaving Trey wide open to take us out to the edge. Around 25:00, Trey and Mike have a great little back and forth that leads to my favorite section of this “Light” jam. Drop in some extended “Frankie Says” teases from Mike that start around 27:35, and I think you’ve got one of the best improvisational pieces of the night. And if that wasn’t enough, they still had everyone’s favorite song left to cap off this centerpiece of the show – “GHOST!!!”

Who doesn’t love this song? It’s like mac & cheese or a PB&J sandwich, a sort of comfort food if you will. Even this rather short rendition is satiating. Starting off with some sparse riffing from Trey at 33:25 and the rest of the band fading in gradually, this had the funk written all over it from the onset. There was Gordo, lobbing low end off the stage and hugging each and every one of us with every note.

With each swell that came from Page’s clav, you were spun around the room. Descending into a dark and nasty groove just before 37:00, Trey builds this section into a controlled frenzy with some help from Page and Mike. Henrietta adds some nice snare and hi-hat work. At 41:35, “Crosseyed” teases start bursting from Trey with ‘Still Waiting’ quotes appearing half a minute later before the band fades, and you start to hear the opening chugging of “Back on the Train.”

Sitting and recollecting after the show, all we could think was how fitting it was that we were in America’s Dairyland, because these were two nights of pure butter that Phish churned out.

Enjoy the summer people, it’s going to be a splendid rest of the year!!!


From Tim Fitch:
A Minnesota native, Tim Fitch lives in Memphis, TN with his two dogs, Jed and Hotdog (aka Meatstick). Working for one of the last of just a handful of independent promoters left in the country, he produces concerts in arenas and theaters all over the country. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys going camping with his dogs, seeing Phish whenever possible, and vacationing with his crew at the Morrison Hotel.

Favorite Ghost: 12/31/2010 MSG, despite the anvil drop.

Twitter: @artiefitchie