, attached to 2019-07-14

Review by EducateFright

EducateFright I'm finally back in Michigan after the long drive. Right, here we go...

The stars aligned for me and Phish last night.

My wife and I arrived at Alpine Valley fairly early for our third night of Phish. We found a spot on the lawn stage left, Page side/rage side. This was the first of many things to go right: the ground was quite level there, and we were very close to some restrooms. More importantly, the people around us were chill - there were at least two people who'd brought kids, and everyone turned out to be quiet and respectful as opposed to drunk and obnoxious.

We sat down and waited for the show to start. I was quite relaxed, maybe even a little on the tired side. I didn't have many expectations... I figured we'd get a YEM and a Tweeprise, but beyond that, who knows? I texted a friend who has been to many shows (he had pavilion tickets), and he expressed a strong feeling that there would be a bust out or two. I texted that I'd like to get a Shafty, and he agreed.

I purchased a $6 Red Bull. By the time the band came on, I'd finished it and was ready to go.

They started with Landlady. So I didn't get the Tweeprise opener I was hoping for, but this... this is interesting. "Hmm, how many times in 3.0 have they played this outside of PYITE?" I wondered. Immediately, I started to dance...

Then came Olivia's Pool. I looked around, wondering if the people surrounding me had any idea what this was. Was I the only one? I texted my friend. "Well, we kind of got Shafty after all. This is fucking Olivia's Pool!"

And so here already were the bust outs my friend predicted. I figured Olivia's Pool hadn't been played since the 90s, and it turned out I was correct. Grinning widely, I began to dance harder.

Oddly enough, although I recognized Olivia's Pool immediately, it wasn't until half way through Spock's Brain that I remembered the name of this particular song, which felt oddly familiar until I was finally able to place it. Naturally, Trey destroyed About To Run. Strange Design very nearly brought tears to my eyes.

The whole first set was composed of a fantastic selection of songs, perfectly ordered, and - most importantly - everything was very well played. "Damn, so that was an absolutely stellar first set," I thought to myself. "OK, well, you know, a stellar first set isn't always an indicator of what we'll experience in set two - and that might even be particularly true of 3.0," I cautioned myself. "However, if the second set does turn out to be as quality as that first set, then this will go down as a very memorable show."

Ha. I had no idea what was in store.

Set two. Ruby Waves delivered a very long jam, during which my wife turned to me and asked me how many songs they'd played so far. "Uh, I think this is still the second song of the set," I told her. The thing about my wife is, although she generally enjoys Phish, she's hardly a fan. She has trouble discerning to what degree the band is improvising at any given time. Still, she knew very well that THIS was jamming, and exceptional jamming at that. She knew very well that they hadn't jammed like this during the first two nights.

At one point the jam fizzled out and dissipated. I braced myself for the next song. Nope. The jam picked up again and headed into new territory. "Woah... They didn't want to get off the train!" I thought to myself.

Following the ensuing Twist, we got a very pretty Swept Away and Steep pairing, followed by a Death Don't Hurt Very Long played with much enthusiasm. The crowd ate it up.

And then it happened: Icculus. OH MY GOD. I cheered in a bizarre combination of WOOing and giddy laughing. "This is happening?!" I NEVER expected to catch this song live, ever. And yet here it was. I stood still and focused on the big screen above: there was Trey, absolutely reveling in the moment, working the crowd into a frenzy with his truly bizarre and increasingly hysterical narration about the benefits of reading. He couldn't stop smiling.

Following this there was a long pause. And then... Buffalo Bill. I lost again: more WOOing and giggling. I love this short and catchy song! Yet again, another tune I wouldn't have dared to expect.

And then we got the YEM I did predict, but even this was unusual: it was a Catapult / Contact sandwich!

At one point I glanced behind me at the young couple I'd briefly spoke to before the show started. Their eyes were heavily glazed over, and they were having trouble standing. Man, was I ever glad to be sober! If there was ever a show I'd like to be sober for, it's this: I want to remember every detail with crystal clarity, and not have anything slowing me down. I danced harder still. Some dude approached me and asked me if I had any doses. The thing is, sometimes the phans raging the hardest are the most sober.

Before the band left the stage prior to the encore, I carefully observed their faces on the big screen. Gosh, did they ever look happy. Of course they knew it: they knew they just played one for the ages. It was all the more exciting to see it expressed in their genuine, humble smiles.

My wife and headed out of the venue just as the band played the final notes of Tweeprise. We were out of there in no time.

This is precisely the show I've dreamed of catching since 2000: a show with both rare songs/bust outs AND outstanding jamming. The dream came true tonight. It's not like I make it to nearly as many shows as some of you, which makes it feel like an even greater blessing to have managed to catch this show. Thank you Phish.


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