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I think I'll try, I think I'll try Alaska

Posted 3 years ago by tmwsiy - 70 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/4df6b9a8

Although Phish loves to surprise, and a song can pop up virtually anywhere ("Rocky Top" as an opener in Camden), songs do tend to gravitate towards a spot where they comfortable. Some seem to work better early on in the first set or mid-second set, or second set opener....whatever. While sometimes an unexpected placement can lead to pleasing results ("Makisupa Policeman" as an encore), other times, placements can be kind of jarring. Such as the case when "Alaska" dropped mid-second set in Merriweather on Sunday. Not a bad song but certainly one that is looking for the right spot. Performed 19 times since its debut on 2009-06-09 in Asheville, almost evenly split between first set and second set (9 times and 10 times respectively). It has never been an encore, a set opener, or a set closer nor has it followed or preceded another tune more than twice. So where's the best spot for "Alaska"? First set early? Show opener? After a ripping 20 minute "Type II" jam fest? As the lyrics say, "Digging down deep, I don't understand it, but I ain't losing sleep."

While the graphic is certainly tounge in cheek, what are your thoughts on "Alaska"?

EDIT: I suck at Venn Diagrams. Of course it makes no sense. Was trying to show slightly more Set II Alaskas and a very tiny proportion of totality that didn't ruin flow of set. I think this would have been easier to understand:

Comments

drgef Reply
drgef It goes exactly where it comes !
I don't ever hear 'set list killing" songs... songs that are slow give an old beat-up body like mine a chance to not stroke out...
Score: 6
finch460 Reply
finch460 I don't feel that Alaska killed the 2nd set at Merriweather at all. I was at the show and it was great. Could Alaska have found a better spot in the lineup? Sure. But it certainly did not kill the buzz. People were singing along and having a good time. Alaska is a nice, upbeat song that keeps the people moving around and dancing, which is Phish's goal. Keep the crowd involved!

Score: 3
parrott56 Reply
parrott56 How 'bout in the encore? I like the tune fairly well myself, but agree it hasn't yet found a comfortable place within the Phish oeuvre.
Score: 1
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
Score: 12
deBebbler Reply
deBebbler Great spot: 1st set opener. The first thing you should do is tell your audience to relax.

Worst spot: At a show I'm not at.
Score: 2
GnarnianRanger Reply
GnarnianRanger "Set killing" is overly harsh. It would make for a cool opener of either set, or as an encore. I'm always psyched to hear it though, so it's all good to me.
Score: 1
deBebbler Reply
deBebbler @bertoletdown said:
It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
Seconded! Lol.
Score: 2
Kurtzboy Reply
Kurtzboy It belongs in the first set. Ocelot can move to second, and Alaska can take it's place.
Score: 9
drgef Reply
drgef wtf... no song "belongs" anywhere... this will just become STALE and PREDICTABLE
The first set can be 90 min meatstick> YEM or something and set 2 ballads and 'songs'
come on, all deadheads know how predictable it all became.. oh drums space in the second set, the song outta space, the dylan spot... jezz
Score: 1
justinwendt Reply
justinwendt I feel it would work well as an encore, but would preferably like to see it kept with TAB. The horns add the depth it needs.
Score: 4
ledzepmaster Reply
ledzepmaster @finch460 said:
I don't feel that Alaska killed the 2nd set at Merriweather at all. I was at the show and it was great. Could Alaska have found a better spot in the lineup? Sure. But it certainly did not kill the buzz. People were singing along and having a good time. Alaska is a nice, upbeat song that keeps the people moving around and dancing, which is Phish's goal. Keep the crowd involved!
You do know 'killed' means a good thing right?
Score: 0
guelahkatie Reply
definitely didnt kill second set- i was there and loved it. its was a nice mix to throw into the set. triple encore, one hot hot hot night
Score: 1
SurpriseValley Reply
SurpriseValley how about on the shelf. song sucks.
Score: -1
joechip Reply
joechip Early first set is where it belongs. 2nd set Alaska is a drag, IMO.
Score: 1
sausagemahoney Phish.net Staff Reply
sausagemahoney You actually can see a moose when you're sitting on a plane. It's just smaller.
Score: 3
BonusCup99 Reply
I didn't think Alaska killed the set last night either, but there's a huge disparity in attitude toward the show between people who attended and people who did not. That's probably fairly normal, but I think those two camps might be more polarized than normal in this instance. I have a feeling this might just be one of those "you had to be there" shows. Personally, I've never enjoyed a show as much as I did last night!

That being said, in my opinion, Alaska, like Ocelot kinda falls into the general type of Grateful Dead feel that the band openly acknowledged avoiding prior to 3.0. That plodding song form that both carry is a relatively new element of Phish's sound and I just don't think they get that while Ocelot is a pretty great song, Alaska just isn't interchangeable.
Score: 0
_rrot_ Reply
Wtf is that graph telling me?

There have been more SetI II Alaskas than Set I Alaskas because the green circle is bigger... And... Some Alaskas, the good Alaskas, are the ones that are at once in set I AND in set II??

I missed those ones, which I'm a bit bummed about. Are AUDs to be found?
Score: 4
PhishRichardson Reply
tmwsiy wasn't even at 6/12/11. everyone was lovin it.. the set wasn't killed and it was hardly "jarring", nuff said.
Score: 1
weekapaugrooven Reply
weekapaugrooven Both nights at merriweather were definitely unique shows. More or less for the advanced palate I would say. If these two shows were your first show you probably are either absolutely in love with the PHiSH now or think they're just plain weird. People usually fall into one of those two categories anyway. Some, like myself, think they're weird, absolutely love them, and wouldn't have it any other way! Ahh loved night two!
Score: 1
weekapaugrooven Reply
weekapaugrooven Was hoping for a forbin> mock but got Jesus left chicago and a makisupa encore instead. Ah can't wait for superballl...

'[||]^[||]'
%
\___/
Score: 0
newoldfiddle Reply
newoldfiddle these comments make me nuts....alaska (the song right) (see the thread I tried to write NOT about the song that got screwed) does not touch Tennessee Jed. Sorry, but it does NOT TOUCH Tennessee Jed, not even close. Also saying 3.o Phish is touching on dead (not avoiding it) for the first time is just silly. Phish started by being a quasi-dead cover band...And you can't see that a song like Meatstick has a dead type feel?
Score: 0
J_D_G Phish.net Staff Reply
J_D_G Alaska is a perfectly pleasant song, best suited as a warm up (for band and fans). It has "first set" written in its DNA, and works perfectly well in the midst of a first set. It has no business in the heart of the second set, when the warmup should be complete and the band should be peaking, hitting the highlight of the show and, in the best case scenario, being innovative and interesting. If you get Alaska smack dab in the heart of the second set, not even as a cool-down from an intense jam but a the main course itself, you didn't get your money's worth. It is low-grade material at the time of the show that calls for the top shelf stuff.

BTW, a "had to be there show" is a show that someone is overrating because they had a really great time at it, and doesn't understand that personal enjoyment of a show is not incompatible with reasoned perspective that puts that show in the context of literally a thousand-plus other shows, and concludes that the show in question is, say, average or below average. The recognition that a show is not as good as others that week or that tour or that year does not need to threaten your memories of the great time you had. Your personal experience is not cheapened or assaulted by the historical reality of that particular show being weak in comparison to great shows. In order to recognize a show's relative merits, it is not necessary for you to somehow reject or revise your personal experience of a great time--so just relax. If someone offers a critical assessment of a show that concludes it is below average, and you were there and had a great time and don't understand how anyone could view it as anything but the greatest thing that's ever happened, the chances are quite likely that you, in fact, are the one who "doesn't get it," not the critic. And that's perfectly fine--there's room for a wide range of experiences. It's just interesting that the ones who get the most inflamed about "haters" are actually the only ones going around telling other people what to think and rejecting others' experience of a show. Think about it.
Score: 13
dpwilljr Reply
dpwilljr Second sets are defined by flow and jamming. Case in point 6/3/11.
Merriweather's second set looked odd on paper. Only those who were there can really say if everything went together, or it was a hodge-podge of songs bunched together.
I really don't care when they play Alaska, as long as it fits in. The jamming potential is what's great about the song.
Score: 0
forbin1 Reply
forbin1 I've grown to like this tune...to me depending on how's it's played ie jammed, it could fall into either set, depending what's played around it...it's got potential
Score: 0
Lemuria Phish.net Staff Reply
Lemuria as a PITA methodologist, and while admitting that i LOVE the graphic (and encouraged that it be blogged here), i do have one quibble: While the sets overlap, there's never been a version of Alaska that has appeared in both sets at once. Though that, for certain, would not be set-killing (and perhaps even fabulous), it hasn't happened yet - which, perhaps, is the point.
Score: 0
ADAWGWYO Reply
ADAWGWYO @bertoletdown said:
It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
Those are both 1st set songs. Maybe a 2nd set Jed in the 70's. And QJA in the 2nd set??? ever??
Score: 2
Lemuria Phish.net Staff Reply
Lemuria had to...

Image
Score: 4
joeyjojojr Reply
Wow...Set killers? I think some of you need to go to less shows. There is so much criticism lately. I was actually reading bad reviews of Camden.. That first set was incredible and one of the best I've gotten to see live (and the last show i was at was the entire AC run) Yeah, maybe there was a flub here and a flub there. Who cares? The energy was unbelievable. If Alaska (or any song) killed the set for someone at merriweather, I'd say you have to take a break from shows for a while so you can appreciate them a little more.
Score: 5
barter Reply
Decent song.....It will find its legs (eventually) in the early to mid first set. Trey seems to really dig it, so it is going to stick around. Ocelot seems to have a better chance in the middle of a second set.
Score: 0
jsriegler Reply
I am just happy they are playing shows. I do not feel it is a set killer. Just keeps it real.
Score: 1
_rrot_ Reply
Now, what is that?? -- A citrus-stuffed olive, I think. Yum!
Score: 0
DBNick Reply
I think ANY song can be a set II song as long as it's either: a) opened up and explored, or b) placed well. So if Alaska pops up in a set II and fits either of those, I'm more than satisfied.

I echo the calls for Ocelot, though. I LOVE that song. I'd much rather see Ocelot opened up than Alaska.
Score: 1
Possum Reply
I have loved the song ever since they played it first night in cinci 11/21/09 (my first alaska) and really don't care where they play it again its a great song! side note: never liked chalkdust heard it played so much and just never liked it...my wife loves the song always has since than it has grown on me and now I do enjoy it makes me happy
Score: 0
hlsidlephan Reply
hlsidlephan I think it belongs in the middle of the first set. I think it is a very good song, but it may not make people happy if they put it after a DWD or a Ghost in the second set. Keep it in the first set for now.
Score: 0
RunawayJim Reply
RunawayJim I love Alaska. I don't care where it's placed. I also think it could lead to a nice grooving, perhaps slow-funk jam if they really cared to jam it out.

In response to DBNick, I also like Ocelot, but not as much. I LOVED the TAB arrangement of Ocelot on his most recent tour. If Phish could do that, I think it would be an amazing song, jammed out or not. But I think Trey will likely keep that arrangement for TAB (though maybe we'll see some horns with Phish and they will pull that off).
Score: 0
Sanudila Reply
Sanudila @_rrot_ said:
Wtf is that graph telling me?

There have been more SetI II Alaskas than Set I Alaskas because the green circle is bigger... And... Some Alaskas, the good Alaskas, are the ones that are at once in set I AND in set II??

I missed those ones, which I'm a bit bummed about. Are AUDs to be found?
I had trouble with this graph as well. Without thinking about it at all and without having any knowledge of how these types of graphs work I suppose it does a decent job of making fun of the song.

The size of the circles are irrelevant, as is the size of the overlap. I suppose what the graph is saying is that no version of the song would not be a set-killer as it is impossible for a song to exist in both sets. Unless they start it at the end of the first set and stop it halfway thru and then complete it when they come back out for set 2?

Or maybe it is like Schrödinger's song? It exists in both sets at all times until you actually hear the show?
Score: 0
tubedss Reply
tubedss there was nothing wrong with that alaska. i've been home online & ph have played AK and i've thought that it was bad placement but actually living through one, it was not. very nice breather song with a nice jam.
Score: 1
757phan Reply
757phan It sucked the energy right out of MPP I can tell you that. I didn't mind the break to pee and wander the lawn though.
Score: 1
tboz84 Reply
@bertoletdown said:
It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
I like where you're going with this - but my take is it's Phish's Ramble on Rose. Seriously, listen to the two tunes back to back - it's uncanny.
Score: 0
HarryHerring Reply
HarryHerring As its played now, it's a surefire 1st set song, either opening or closing preferably. But maybe after a while they figure out how to turn that bitch inside out and jam it to death. Maybe they keep hoping thats whats gonna happen, sometimes it takes years, look at how long it to Sugaree to find its legs. But yea, the singing parts are sorta annoying and it ass rapes 2nd sets with a big black furry.......
Score: 0
april81972 Reply
You should be talking about the Velvet Sea from MPP1...talk about poor placement!

Alaska is a great song. Worcester2 with the Palin voicebox is the version to get.
Score: 0
FjStix Reply
No! alaska is poorly placed and boring. if your ganna love every gay song they play then go to a britney spears concert. throwing three cool down songs in after that crosseyed ,which was undoubtily out of control awesome, was silly. luckily for me Makisupa brought that show right back. everyone has there favorite cool down songs and that definatly did not make many lists. not just personal opinions when an entire section ,ie mine, sits down and doesnt get up for three songs. everyone is entitled to there opinions so theres mine. Love Phish but sometimes they confuse the shit out of me!!!!
Score: 0
FjStix Reply
@joeyjojojr said:
Wow...Set killers? I think some of you need to go to less shows. There is so much criticism lately. I was actually reading bad reviews of Camden.. That first set was incredible and one of the best I've gotten to see live (and the last show i was at was the entire AC run) Yeah, maybe there was a flub here and a flub there. Who cares? The energy was unbelievable. If Alaska (or any song) killed the set for someone at merriweather, I'd say you have to take a break from shows for a while so you can appreciate them a little more.
Dude , Really?
Score: 0
Phishlips Reply
song is great when played in an open field like @ bonnaroo.
Score: 1
Alumni Reply
Someone (I'm looking at you, Mike) needs to take Alaska out behind Trey's barn and shoot it. The only decent placement for this song is beneath the dirt.
Score: 1
tmwsiy Phish.net Staff Reply
tmwsiy Yeah, the original graph was no good mathematically. Not sure how to Venn Diagram what I was trying to say. I took another stab at what I was trying to say in an edit to original post.

Phish is great. Love most everything they do. And I think I could even grow to like Alaska given the right time and placement, which very well may be different given circumstances of show. Just my opinion so far that that it hasn't worked for me. It doesn't mean I need to take time off from Phish. Nor does it mean that I am not allowed an opinion on a show I was not at. I have listened to every minute of every show since Hampton and think I trust my ear to know what I like. And again, that's the great thing about Phish. I absolutely love Halfway to the Moon and think it's going to be a huge fan favorite and an important component in many second sets in the future. Many don't like it. That's fine. I still hope they play it at the next show I'm at. That's simply my opinion.
Score: 0
phisherman Reply
hopefully i never have to stand next to you at a phish show. i bet that would be "set killing". how about we all write the setlists prior to the show, wouldn't that be the best?
Score: 1
jwelsh8 Phish.net Staff Reply
jwelsh8 Certainly did not help PNC1.
Score: 1
BConns Reply
Ugh. Alaska is far from a great song. I agree with tmwsiy, alaska totally kills a second set. It should be early to mid first set (or shelved.)
Score: 1
SneakySally Reply
SneakySally It should only be played with the Sarah Paylin (probably spelled wrong) quotes in the background, lol. Anyone who's been to a bad Phish show knows that "set killers" do exist. The worst is after a new albam has been released and they play/ force songs on the audiance. (Alaska is kinda one of those song) Alaska is kinda a nolvity song - only "good" when played early or used to break up/ calm the crowd on heavy sets.
Score: 1
OnlinePhishTour Reply
OnlinePhishTour i like the song, when i feel like listening to the song--i don't mind it during daylight in a first set, but it has no place in set 2.
Score: 1
DollarBill Reply
DollarBill I like this song wherever it comes. I don't agree with you at all. Do like everyone else and go to the bathroom if you hate it that much.

This was not helpful at all as Phish news goes.
Score: 1
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown @bertoletdown said:
It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
Those are both 1st set songs. Maybe a 2nd set Jed in the 70's. And QJA in the 2nd set??? ever??"

Oh God dammit. Typo.
Score: 0
meekda Reply
i enjoy alaska but why do good songs that some people dont like or dont like the placement have such a steady spot in the rotation when there are so many great songs that arent? lizards, forbin, guelah (getting back in there!),dinner and a movie(IMO), guyute, glide, curtain with, etc harpua is obviously an exception. and great covers like frankenstein, peaches, i kissed a girl.. etc. i know they can 'make' a show believe me guelah at deer creek (and blossom) and lizards at blossom i lost my shit. btw i checked my stats and it says ive never heard the lizards? how dare you! idk if the band doesnt like to play these songs as much but why do they choose to put some epic songs on the shelf and some in rotation. forbins would be fun to hear in a 5,6 show rotation then they bust out the first divided sky in 143 shows?!?!? what!? haha how do they make these decision? someone please read this and let me know your thoughts
Score: 0
tmwsiy Phish.net Staff Reply
tmwsiy @DollarBill said:
I like this song wherever it comes. I don't agree with you at all. Do like everyone else and go to the bathroom if you hate it that much.

This was not helpful at all as Phish news goes.
I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the bathroom during a Phish show, maybe a club show it the early 90's when you could hear the music fine from the shitter. I don't even go to the concession stands. I'm there for the music. And to boot, I have never skipped out early on an encore to beat traffic. Not once.

And that was certainly not news. As written, it was just a tongue in cheek graphic to spur conversation about a song from Phish, because as you know, this is a Phish site. That's what we do here. Lot's of people seem to love it anywhere, many hate it anywhere, many think it would be best early in a first set, or outdoors, or as an encore. All valid opinions and I've enjoyed hearing different people's takes on it (especially the interesting Tennesse Jed comparison).

Funny thing, you could take literally ANY Phish tune, and write a couple paragraphs about it, and get wildly different responses: love it, hate it, best ever, worst ever, etc.

Score: 2
walstib Reply
walstib I think if your an older GD or ABB fan you probably like this song more than others (just a guess). It's basically straight blues. I love the tune but I also don't get bored by the blues....ever. I think the song really cranks and gives Trey an opportunity to rip some straight stuff. Many people are bored by simple blues, this song is not for them.

As far as what set, I could really care less where a song is played. If Phish played my 15 favorite songs one night I wouldn't give a flying fluck what order they came in. Greatest night ever no matter what. I like a set to flow as much as anyone but never felt the band blew this so badly I needed to complain about it.
Score: 0
BajaPhish Reply
BajaPhish @tboz84 said:
@bertoletdown said:
It's Phish's Tennesee Jed. It belongs in the middle of the second set, right after Queen Jane Approximately.
I like where you're going with this - but my take is it's Phish's Ramble on Rose. Seriously, listen to the two tunes back to back - it's uncanny.
I agree somewhat except all those songs by GD are first set songs no matter what, Alaska was insane at MPP in my opinion- I couldn't get enough and Ocelot is maybe in my top 5 songs overall so I may differ than a lot of you. But using a term like set killing? If you mean it almost made me explode and thus killing me you are right. And walstib is probably right with the generation comment. I have never had a better time! Lovin the new songs! They have the lyrics and groove to continue to grow, put em wherever boys! and let em fight it out.
Score: 1
arlo77 Reply
arlo77 I lucked out and got Alaska my second show at U.S. Dank Arena, Cinci 09' first night. My favorite tune of the night (wait, that was my first fluff as well). Point is, Alaska is a call for celebration when you hear it. Music-wise it reminds me of The Band. Word-wise it reminds me of Tennessee Jed. And Trey (I think just for me) teased Rainy Day Woman #12&35 in his solo of that song that night…to quote Chris Fairly…IT WAS AWESOME!!! It did not kill the set, it birthed a Phish memory that will always come running into my head every time i hear this song!
-You cant see a moose when your settin on a plane-

Score: 0
sbragg29 Reply
I don't think of Alaska or anything else as a set killer, I am not a big Alaska fan. It could be tolerated if they combined Alaska w/ the Light jam and get rid of the rest. Plus that will cut down on the overplaying of Light. Also anything is better than hearing Possum every other night it used to be my favorite tune but now I am on a 10 for 17 run. How many times in Phishtory do you think they have played Moma, Possum, Cities as the 2nd,3rd,and 4th song in the first set and also how many times have they done it in the last 5 shows. We need creativity. Still the best band ever though
Score: 0
alpernda Reply
alpernda @Sanudila said:
@_rrot_ said:
Wtf is that graph telling me?

There have been more SetI II Alaskas than Set I Alaskas because the green circle is bigger... And... Some Alaskas, the good Alaskas, are the ones that are at once in set I AND in set II??

I missed those ones, which I'm a bit bummed about. Are AUDs to be found?
I had trouble with this graph as well. Without thinking about it at all and without having any knowledge of how these types of graphs work I suppose it does a decent job of making fun of the song.

The size of the circles are irrelevant, as is the size of the overlap. I suppose what the graph is saying is that no version of the song would not be a set-killer as it is impossible for a song to exist in both sets. Unless they start it at the end of the first set and stop it halfway thru and then complete it when they come back out for set 2?

Or maybe it is like Schr�dinger's song? It exists in both sets at all times until you actually hear the show?
What about a Mike's Groove that spans two years, let alone just a set? How does that factor in? I suppose it needs no graph: Mike's Song, Gamehendge Time Phactory> Auld Lang Syne> Weekapaug Groove.
Score: 0
the_Crested_Hogchoker Reply
the_Crested_Hogchoker BDTNL is a much bigger kick in the flow-balls than Alaska IMO
Score: 0
wasabuddhistprodigy Reply
wasabuddhistprodigy I've been seeing and lovin' this band for quite some time now. They can fuck up the energy to a show as fast as they can light it up.
Score: 0
phisherman Reply
is it phish's greatest song? probably not. is it a terrible song that should ruin your night? only if you are a depressed human who is in-capable of having fun in any setting. i suggest if a song disturbs you to the point of "killing" a set or you are not having a good experience, find a new band. don't harsh my mellow bra.
Score: 0
Live_Eels Reply
For those of you who have a problem with Alaska, does anyone else have a similar problem with GBOTT? I've always found the songs somewhat similar - nice groove but boring jam. Might as well ad Roggae to that list as well IMO...
Score: 0
Phriendly_Phil Reply
@weekapaugrooven said: [quote]Was hoping for a forbin> mock but got Jesus left chicago and a makisupa encore instead. Ah can't wait for superballl...

Probably going to get our forbin> mockingbird at superball. SInce I've been chasing it I hope it's tasty with some narration...
Score: 0
tmwsiy Phish.net Staff Reply
tmwsiy @phisherman said:
i suggest if a song disturbs you to the point of "killing" a set or you are not having a good experience, find a new band. don't harsh my mellow bra.
First of all, you wear a mellow bra? Sounds attractive?

Second, yeah, I don't think I'm going to find a new band if I haven't enjoyed the placement of one of their songs but still think it has potential. Shit, if that was the case, I would have bailed after my first Guelah Papyrus.

You have your bra in a bunch, no need to get your panties there too.
Score: 0
kipmat Reply
kipmat @april81972 said:
Worcester2 with the Palin voicebox is the version to get.
I'm late to the party, but I want to recommend the version from 6/25/10 Camden. A little drawn out, but a nice change of pace, especially when followed up with the "Billie Jean 2001" from that set.
Score: 0

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