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Alpharetta I Recap

Posted 1 year ago by Dog_Faced_Boy - 21 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/51e33a1b

Phish returned to Georgia last night for the band's 41st performance in the state, dating back to 2/1/90. For a band that traces its roots to the Green Mountains of Vermont, Phish has logged a healthy amount of its road time in the Peach State. In fact, while Georgia ranks ninth in terms of most visited states, Atlanta stands a proud third in terms of most frequented cities, trailing only Burlington, VT, and New York City. And Phish has returned to Georgia every full performing year since 1990 with only two exceptions, 2004 and 2009. Over these years, Atlantans and nearby Athenenians have witnessed some spectacular Phish shows. And amidst a long, long list of exceptional individual song performances, here's a quick year-by-year sampling of some especially noteworthy Georgian renditions:

6/1/90 - "Run Like An Antelope" (with the "Reverend" Jeff Mosier on banjo and Oteil Burbridge on a second bass); 11/12/91 - "Brother;" 3/28/92 - "Stash;" 2/20/93 - "Mike's Groove;" 10/25/94 - "Split Open And Melt;" 6/15/95 - "David Bowie;" 10/31/96 Set II - Talking Heads' Remain In Light performed in entirety; 7/23/97 - "Ghost;" 8/6/98 - "Wolfman's Brother;" 7/3/99 - "Taste;" 6/23/00 - "Bathtub Gin;" 7/26/03 - "Piper;" 7/4/10 - "Harpua" sandwiches "Killing In The Name" (Rage Against The Machine cover); 6/15/11 - "Julius;" 8/25/12 - "Chalk Dust Torture." And that list is literally just the tip of the peachberg.

Fresh on the heels of a very strong 2nd night performance at Merriweather Post Pavillion, it seems unrealistic to expect the band to exceed that temporary high water mark. But 2013 so far has been a good one for fans, who now have considerably more music to celebrate than criticize. Rather than speculating further, let's see what unfolded last night in Georgia. But first, a qualifier – I was not at the show. And since the show was not webcast, this recap is based solely on listening to the LivePhish download, once it became available. I hope to be able to add some color and perspective on the music, how it sounds compared to other Phish shows from 2013 and before. But don't mistake that analysis for a full blown review of the show itself - the lights, crowd, atmosphere, weather, venue, etc. That sort of review is best left for those there in person, and if you were there, I sincerely hope you'll post yours to this setlist. For a music only recap, here goes...

"Kill Devil Falls" leads off, aptly filling the "Let's get the show on the road" slot that "AC/DC Bag," "Chalk Dust Torture," and "Runaway Jim" have done on so many other occasions. Despite their jamming potential, these latter three songs have filled the lead off slot more often than they have been vehicles for improvisation, and in this context, "KDF" works well here. "Mound" is up next, a great Mike-penned song making its second appearance in 2013. I really enjoy the odd combination of a sort of western twang with a jazzy kind of little jam that this song brings together in an eclectic, Mike sort of way. I recall reading somewhere that this song is one of the band's most challenging to pull off successfully, with all four musicians at one point playing independently on different rhythyms, which then need to fuse back together, seemingly without effort. Last night's version successfully works through these rhythmic challenges without any major hiccups. "Bathtub Gin" follows "Mound" in a typical early Set I placement. In fact "Gin" has only made four Set II appearances in 3.0, so last night's early showing is nothing but normal. This rendering is well played, but without any sprinkles of improvisation. And while "Stash," "Split Open And Melt," and "Run Like An Antelope" all seem to be trending upwards recently in terms of improvisation, "Gin" seems like it's ripe for some renewed focus from the band. Following "Gin," Page briefly and courteously welcomes the audience, which he has now done a number of times in 2013.

"Army of One" comes next, a lovely Page composition from Undermind and relative rarity, but which, like "Mound," is the second 2013 offering. A quick glance at the threads in the forum reveals some angst at repeats. Recall that in 2012, the band seemed hell bent early on to perform at least 200 of its vast arsenal of original and cover songs, yielding such bustouts as "Skin It Back," "Sweet Jane" and "Emotional Rescue." But there are two sides to every coin, and while some fans may grouse at repeats, I for one would rather hear the band flawlessly execute a smaller array of these types of rarities than deliver wobbly renditions in pursuit of some magical number. Through last night, the band had performed each of "Mound," "Army Of One," "Rift," "It's Ice," and "The Wedge" two times. But I think the cool little jam that emerged in the midst of "It's Ice" on Sunday night at MPP2 validates the benefit of revisiting these great but infrequently played songs more than once a tour. And to underscore this point, the "Rift" that follows "Army Of One" last night is a cleaner if not quite perfect rendition of this challenging song, better than the version performed in Bangor on the tour opener.

Next we get "Horn" making its first appearance in 2013. I personally think this is a great little tune from Rift, and its mid set one placement serves as an effective bridge to the second half of the set. "Possum" follows, and no other song at this point seems like more of lightning rod for hate, played too often venting, love, etc. than the little marsupial does. I for one do not think "Possum" is a bad song; in fact, it can be a great song, and I suggest you listen to some of the songs on the Jamming Chart if you disagree. The real issue with "Possum" I think is not the frequency with which it is played, but because, since the end of 1998, it has largely been played in a straightforward, non-improvising manner. Consider this little tidbit of trivia: in 1990, "Possum" was played 85 times, and there are fourteen versions from that year represented on the jamming chart, or 16.5% of the 1990 versions. For 1994, 16 of 20 performances are on the chart (80.0%). In 3.0, "Possum" has been played 62 times, and after last night's performance, there are now eight 3.0 versions, or 12.9% of 3.0 performances on the chart. Said differently, "Possum" has always been played often, just look at 1990. When it was at its best (1992 - 1995), it was most often but not always "Type I," but had considerably more improvisational elements than what we have come to expect. As for last night, the jam section begins with a very nice Page piano solo, followed by Trey. They've done something similar to this a few other times in 3.0, and it's different enough to merit addition to the Jamming Chart, the first 2013 "Possum" to earn this distinction. So there.

"Pebbles And Marbles" from Round Room is the next to appear, and this is a genuine treat, only its 16th performance ever. People tend to view late 1.0, but 2.0 even more so, as a period when the band shied away from the more compositionally challenging pieces like "Fluffhead" or "Foam." But I find the composed section of "Pebbles" to be rich in musical content, especially given that it was composed by Trey in 2002, or thereabout. "Ocelot" and then "Cavern" follow "Pebbles," serving well to up the energy as set break approaches. "Run Like An Antelope" keeps the momentum building where "Cavern" left off. This is a straightforward, "average-great" "Antelope," not one for the Jamming Chart, but functionally serving to bring the set to a rev-it-up closing. Of the four "Antelopes" performed in 2013, the Bangor version is the only one so far on the chart. But considering that about 29% of all versions of "Antelope" ever performed are on the chart, 2013 so far is just slightly under par.

As whole, set one is a good set, but it's also typical of 2013. Nice to see the band fine tuning and improving some relative rarities like "Mound" and "Rift." And it's great that they dusted off "Horn" and "Pebbles" for the first time this year. But I don't think this set holds up to MPP2 and here's why: set one at MPP2 featured a stellar "Stash" and had brief but improvisational moments in "It's Ice" and "Scent of a Mule." With last night's set one, the opportunity for improvisation was opened up with "Gin" and "Antelope." But the opportunity was not taken. It's not a bad set though, and there was still a lot more music to be played.

Set two opens with "Rock And Roll," one of the band's go to jamming vehicles in 3.0. This version is a good one. It's not super long, but does break into a nice snappy "Type II" rhythmic groove that settles, gets a little funky, then segues (->) quite unexpectedly into only the second performance ever of Led Zeppelin's classic hit "Heartbreaker." Trey doesn't seem to have quite the same vocal range as Robert Plant, but who does? And Trey and Mike more than compensate for the vocals with a nice gooey and funky take on the song. This funk-infused "Heartbreaker" gives way suddenly to the second genuine segue (->) of the night, morphing into 2013's first "Makisupa Policeman." This fun version includes some hysterical Trey banter regarding an audience member near the front, some funky Page, and a little Fish drum solo. So far, we haven't had any super deep, mind-blowing improvisation like the "Carini" from SPAC, or the "Crosseyed and Painless" from PNC. But this is still good stuff, it's fun music, and I can imagine the crowd in Alpharetta was happily feasting on what Set II had offered thus far. As "Makisupa" comes to a close, Trey strums the opening chords to "Chalk Dust Torture," and the energy and anticipation just about blow through the roof (if there is one). And this is a very good "Chalk Dust," more than worthy of jamming chart inclusion. It's a shorter version, but loaded with great, improvisational music, and thus stands in good company with the versions from 6/20/95, 7/30/97, and 7/30/03. This "Chalk Dust" never returns home to close, transitioning instead to the ever popular, fist-pumping "Wilson," which includes a nice little "Heartbreaker" tease from Trey. From here, the band launches into another crowd pleaser, A Picture Of Nectar's monster jamming vehicle, "Tweezer." Both Page and Trey tease "Heartbreaker" early on, and at this point, I'm thinking back to Deer Creek's famed "Moby Dick"-fest on 7/11/00. At 9:55 in duration, this Tweezer is no 11/28/94 or 6/14/95 type behemoth, but it's a good compact version, like the "CDT" from earlier in the set, filled with more genuine music than you might expect given its brevity. And this seems to be a fun and flowing set, not one of deep, intergalactic improvisation. It's music that after one cursory listen yields the conclusion – this all makes sense. This is why I love this band. Even when they choose not to launch into 20+ minute extended versions of reliable jamming songs, there's still some real magic at play here.

As "Tweezer" winds downs into delicate space, we're treated to the 3rd genuine segue (->) of the set, as "Silent In the Morning" appears once again, as it did in Bangor, sans "The Horse," only the 7th time in 157 performances without the able bodied equine. "Silent" serves as a good and welcome breather after nearly 45 minutes of non-stop, high energy, fast moving music. A compact, straightforward "Birds of a Feather" brings the energy right back up, serving as notice that this concert is not over yet. "Joy" follows "BOAF." This is a heartfelt song written by Trey while his sister Kristy was fighting a losing battle with cancer, and serves as a fitting reminder that these four musicians who dazzle us so often are also real people, with families and real life, every day challenges, concerns, and yes, tragedy. But it's unlike this band to end a concert on a somber note, and this night is no exception, as "Joy" gives way to "Harry Hood," one of the band's most popular "feel-good" songs. Tonight's "Harry" is your typical 3.0 "average-great" type, no complaints, but also not one for the ages. Lastly comes "Character Zero." It sometimes strikes me as contradictory that Billy Breathes is considered the band's best complete studio album by many, yet the concert workhorses from this album, "Character Zero," "Free," "Prince Caspian," and "Theme From The Bottom" are all typically played in a "Type I" manner. There are exceptions of course, as the Jamming Charts document, but so far, there isn't one for "Zero." And I actually like the composed and lyrical part of "Zero," I just don't care for the predictable, noisy "Type I" jam. Oh well, it serves its purpose to send the fans home all pumped up.

For the encore, the band finally dusts off another classic, the Beatles' "A Day In The Life," followed logically by "Tweezer Reprise." How best to sum it all up? Well, this is very enjoyable, fun, and well played show. In that sense it's typical Phish and typical 2013 Phish. Set one is good, like the rest from this year except for MPP2 which stands above. But there were missed opportunities in "Gin" and "Antelope" that could have made a good set great. The run from "Rock And Roll" through to "Silent" is quality music. Even if the individual parts don't stand up to more formidable, historic comparisons, it is cohesive and somewhow greater than the sum of its parts. I'll end by reminding you, the reader, that I wasn't there, I've only listened to this quickly starting early this morning. I am sure the concert experience was different, and better in that regard. And I welcome your thoughts and comments, including critical ones. I'm not all knowing when it comes to this band, no one is. We all hear it slightly differently, and this is just one, long winded, reconstitution of what took place in Georgia last night. And if the past is any portent of the future, fans have a lot good reason to look forward to tonight's performance. Thanks,

DFB

Comments

beach Reply
beach Very nice write-up. I really appreciate the effort that into this. There is some very insightful views that should be taken into serious consideration by all the listeners out there.

Also, it bears repeating:

"Recall that in 2012, the band seemed hell bent early on to perform at least 200 of its vast arsenal of original and cover songs, yielding such bustouts as "Skin It Back," "Sweet Jane" and "Emotional Rescue." But there are two sides to every coin, and while some fans may grouse at repeats, I for one would rather hear the band flawlessly execute a smaller array of these types of rarities than deliver wobbly renditions in pursuit of some magical number."

I'm a quality over quantity man myself. There are so many potential songs. When you sit back and think about all of the songs that are in a "regular" rotation and the songs that are in a not-so-regular rotation but could be played and the relative complexity of a lot of those songs, it is absolutely astonishing what the band pulls off.
Score: 4
HenryHolland Reply
HenryHolland Thanks for your review.

I got in to Phish via their prog rock side, the complex, meticulously composed songs like The Divided Sky. I've never cared that Song X "OMG! It didn't stretch out for 20 minutes!!!", to be blunt, I find most of those 20 minutes + jams to be mostly noodling. At the Long Beach show last year, while everyone went nuts over the 25-minute Rock n' Roll, to me it never went anywhere, it just droned along for about 20 minutes, there was never any peak to it. I kept thinking "Oh god, end this, play another song".

What I *do* care about is something you touched on, pulling out songs that have been on the shelf for a while and then they play them poorly. One of my very favorite Phish songs is Pebbles & Marbles and the one time I heard it live, it was kind of a mess. See also: Scents & Subtle Sounds on 9/2/11, it was sloppy.
Score: 1
ElCaballo Reply
Good review, but why can’t they find anyone that actually went to the show? Though I do think it is and interesting perspective to review it completely from audio. I was there last night and all the segues were GREAT! The Mound had the best “come together” from the independent playing I’ve heard. The jams were really entertaining, and I believe the word dense would fit well here, because I was REALLY loving all these jams and how deep they sort of got, but when I checked my phone I couldn’t believe such a short time had passed. On to night 2!!
Score: 1
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod FWIW, if we were presented with a choice of no repeats but sometimes played sloppily and more repeats, but minimal sloppiness and more innovative interpretations of a smaller repertoire, I'd be inclined to take the latter. But, in the first sets anyway (MPP2 being the notable exception), we've been getting a lot of the same songs taken to many of the same places and no shortage of flubs. Given that, I vote for more Skin it Back, Sweet Jane and Dog Log, thanks.
Score: 2
jakechyllenhaal Reply
jakechyllenhaal For Father's Day, we got my dad an ersatz "Little Green Egg" from a big-box hardware store. He wasn't totally sold on the gift but he had heard it doubles as a pizza-cooker that comes close to replicating a wood-fired pizza oven like at fancy pizzerias.

He had us all over the other night to break it in. The first pizza was barely passable. The ones that followed improved and by pizza number seven at the end of the night, we realized that we had something great on our hands with the grill/cooking device. Even though none of the pizzas were truly stellar, we got close and we knew that with a little patience and tweaking and time, the thing would be cranking out gems that would rival the pizzas we grew up eating at Grimaldi's back in Dumbo when my dad was a hungry young prize-fighter and my mom a Russian immigrant and known Communist hiding from McCarthy's hunters.

It may be a few weeks, it may take a year, it may be the next time we use the thing; but we knew we had the hardware and a breakthrough was imminent.

That's kind of how I feel about Phish right now. We're eating good pizza, definitely the best we've ever made at home, but not as good as in NYC. They've got the chops, momentum and energy but they haven't reached the potential that their chops, momentum and energy are hinting at. This isn't a bad thing, it's rather exciting and hearing well-played and energetic shows last night makes me hopeful for the future and the shows are interesting and enjoyable for marking the way on the trip up the mountain.

Oh and tl;dr sorry.
Score: 0
jakechyllenhaal Reply
jakechyllenhaal Just kidding with the tl;dr, btw, nice review fwiw.
Score: 0
n00b100 Reply
n00b100 @Dog_Faced_Boy got to why I liked (and like) last night's Set II so much - that baby just flows so well. I wrote about how those are the types of sets I gravitate to in one rant or another, and this set satisfied my preferences to a T. Yeah, none of the jams are all-timers, but they're all worth hearing for sure. And the segues are *dirty*.
Score: 2
jwp86 Reply
Great review, and just my $0.02, one can definitely write an effective review without being at the show. For me, while there were some great segues and great musical moments, there were also some jarring ones (e.g. Chalkdust being abruptly yanked from a great jam into Wilson). Trey seemed a bit ADD at times. But, still, on the whole, a great show nonetheless.

And, put me in with lumpblockclod...I'll take Skin it Back, Sweet Jane, and Dog Log over flawless repeats. But, to each his (or her) own.
Score: 1
deceasedlavy Reply
Putting any 3.0 Possum on the jamming chart other than Blossom's is just silly. That's why it evokes so much ire--it just trots out there and taunts us. Hey, remember when Phish used to strip the paint off the walls with Possum? But nope, here's another mind-numbing version identical to all the others since 2009. If they played it like they did in '95 I would gladly have one at every show.

And why bitch about people reviewing the show not being there? I don't get that. If anything, a review of the pure listening experience is more valid than one that's "enhanced" by the distractions of being there. The point is to help you decide if 'ooooo, I need to hear this'; you can't say 'ooooo, I need to go to this show that already happened'.
Score: 2
FACTSAREUSELESS Reply
@beach said:
Very nice write-up. I really appreciate the effort that into this. There is some very insightful views that should be taken into serious consideration by all the listeners out there.

Also, it bears repeating:

"Recall that in 2012, the band seemed hell bent early on to perform at least 200 of its vast arsenal of original and cover songs, yielding such bustouts as "Skin It Back," "Sweet Jane" and "Emotional Rescue." But there are two sides to every coin, and while some fans may grouse at repeats, I for one would rather hear the band flawlessly execute a smaller array of these types of rarities than deliver wobbly renditions in pursuit of some magical number."

I'm a quality over quantity man myself. There are so many potential songs. When you sit back and think about all of the songs that are in a "regular" rotation and the songs that are in a not-so-regular rotation but could be played and the relative complexity of a lot of those songs, it is absolutely astonishing what the band pulls off.
I made the same point during the thread on repeats. Agree totally. Playing a song just to say you played doesn't accomplish much.

Outstanding review. Really gave some excellent history and perspective on the entire show. Fantastic job.
Score: 0
nichobert Reply
nichobert Lisa needs braces!
Jamming chart!
Lisa needs braces!
Jamming chart!

There is no Mound that is even allowed in the same country with the Superball Mound.
Score: 2
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 @nichobert said:
Lisa needs braces!
Jamming chart!
Lisa needs braces!
Jamming chart!

There is no Mound that is even allowed in the same country with the Superball Mound.
Word!
Score: 1
Uakari Reply
Uakari .net I know your stance but...
post reviews from kids at the show please.

Score: 0
tmwsiy Phish.net Staff Reply
tmwsiy @Uakari said:
.net I know your stance but...
post reviews from kids at the show please.
I know your stance Uakari- looking at your past .net participation. Easy to leave random and often bizarre comments on other people's reviews, columns, interviews, and content. Feel free NOT to actually review a show or leave any meaningful content yourself. It is much easier to sit back and bash other people than actually contribute. Carry on kid.

Nice job DFB.
Score: 2
plICCULUS Reply
plICCULUS Great review....well written and spot on.
Especially liked your insight/explanation bout the jamming chart and quality over quantity....I agree 100%. Good work dfb

Keep em comin
Score: 0
Dozntom Reply
i was at the show as well as night 2 and add meriweather to that last weekend. i am also no rookie to the live phish show...Night 1 second set was as funky and and as fun as i have ever seen. The Mike Gordon bomb dropping during Heartbreaker was dirty. like real dirty. the heartbreaker teases between 4 or 5 songs bridged the funky bomb dropping from between songs 4 or 5 times. take off the headphones, get out your flip flops, tell mommy to pack your lunchbox... and go to the show... the fact a post or any article written for the matter makes you and this website makes roger clemens look credible. the shit was good. real good. the set was on another level. brah. and i drove from bama to meriweather by myself and then to Atl. my point on that is...nothing. i saw 4 phish shows in 5 days. and based on your posts...you didnt. hehe
Score: -1
Sivad Reply
I guess the question is this.

Can somebody review the objective/subjective experience of a being at a show without being there? Obviously, no.
Can someone review the quality of the music played there?(filtered through ones subjective preferences). Yes.

Why do we go see phish?
Probably several reasons but I think the main one would be the music(at least in theory)
Logic in this case indicates that a review by a non attendee can still be a valid review of the quality of the MUSIC! In fact I will echo deceasedlavy's sentiments here and say that person( non attendee) may indeed be more qualified to review the MUSIC!

In no way do I mean to nullify the myriad manifestations of wonder that being smack dab in the middle of a undulating crowd of phish fans manifests!
Score: 0
VanNicky75 Reply
VanNicky75 A Phish show is much more than the music. It's how many hours you spent driving there, it's getting drenched in the rain on lawn but not caring because you're still seeing your favorite band, it's making friends on the lot and seeing them show to show, and it's the exhausted feeling you get when the show comes to a close after dancing your ass off to Tweezer Reprise. These things can't be experienced when someone just listens to the livephish release and scrutinizes every detail that some may not be able to hear when present. What I'm saying is get official reviewers to actually be there and leave the rest of us to listen online.
Score: -2
Sivad Reply
Hey VanNicky
I am with ya all the way to the last sentence. This is where partially disagree. Lots of us can't be there. Reviews help those less fortunate decide what to listen to. (I don't have time to take in the entirety of each show)to this end I admire an individual who can separate there personal experience from the actuall notes being played, even though they are undoubtedly intertwined.

I guess it boils down to whether we consider a review about the music foremost, or about the complete experience. And that I believe comes down to personal preference.

Score: 1
Frankster Reply
Frankster Spot on review dfb! I was there in the pit and you nailed the show. Fun is the word with some outstanding jamming throughout the 2nd set. Wilson was a crushing blow but overall a great show!
Score: 0

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