Last night, Phish performed their first of three shows at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, WI. The three-night stand will serve as the final run of their summer tour before they encore with four shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in September.
Opening a show for only the second time in its almost nine-year history was “Fuego”. The Type I jam that followed the composition was breezy, relaxed, and patient throughout, but it kept climbing until Trey Anastasio brought the band back into the coda to wrap up the confident 11-minute version. Although an uncommon spot for “Fuego”, it felt like a great way to start.
Next, making its second appearance since its debut on 10/31/21 was the Sci-Fi Soldier original “Clear Your Mind”. There was some nice soloing from Trey during the body of the song, with some tasty riffs from keyboardist Page McConnell. The irreverent, jazzy funk of the tune spilled into a short, murky jam on the back half. After a call back to the “clear your mind” lyrics of the chorus, the band pulled off a clean segue into “Twist”. Drummer Jon Fishman was so pleased he threw in a few “clear your mind” lyrics over the intro. “Twist” meandered a bit and never really developed into anything substantial.
“Halley’s Comet” followed, and this version had a little more juice behind it than usual. The band blazed through it with some extra oomph from Trey, but before they could jump into a jam, they turned on a dime and kicked into “Destiny Unbound”. A very solid pass through the once coveted bust-out made its first appearance since 10/17/21.
“The Moma Dance” has always begged for the treatment that Phish is finally giving it. As they continue to experiment with its placement, the more recent versions feel energized, and the band is unafraid to truly stretch on the back half. This one was upbeat and joyful, and after some inspired, straight-ahead improv, the band pivoted and took the jam into a Type II section that eventually locked into the motif they were searching for. Trey did some really creative guitar work as the jam built, using his reverse effect in some interesting ways. Once he sufficiently set the table, the band brought it to a raging conclusion. They had trouble deciding on a key for the coda, but eventually put a bow on what will certainly go down as one of the most exciting versions of the song.
Phish – “The Moma Dance” [Pro-Shot] – 8/12/22
It seemed like a good time for a ballad that would set up a huge set closer, but instead they decided to wrap up the frame with “Drift While You’re Sleeping”. It was a little clunky and felt like it hurt the momentum of the set a bit, but the outro is truly wonderful, patented Phish rock. The real star of this set closer was Trey’s guitar tone, which has been sounding particularly great on this tour.
Trey really had his good stuff in the first set. There was a little extra heat on his fastball. With barely any let-up, it was just confident, strong Phish to warm up the weekend.
After returning to the stage, bassist Mike Gordon teased a little “Aqualung” before Fishman introduced the 2nd set opener, “Ass Handed”. Just as they did during its last appearance on 10/29/21 in Las Vegas, NV, Phish jammed this one for a bit. After about five minutes, Trey pulled the ripcord and transitioned into “Set Your Soul Free”.
Love it or hate it, “Set Your Soul Free” has been one of Phish’s premier jam vehicles since its inception. It often becomes the central set piece of whatever show it appears in, but last night that wasn’t the case. The jam had some nice moments and eventually slid into a pleasant, ambient space but didn’t do much before “Golden Age”. The band never really broke free from the central theme of the TV On The Radio song, and the jam stayed light and airy.
Phish – “Golden Age” (TV On The Radio) – Alpine Valley Music Theatre – 8/12/22
[Video: Brett Bergen]
Giving the audience its first real musical break of the night was “Lonely Trip”, but that break was short-lived. Regaining some of the magic from the first set was “Ghost”. Trey was steering the ship for most of the night, but Mike really stepped up and drove this version. The song started hot and stayed that way throughout, and when things couldn’t get any better, Trey started playing the “Ass Handed” riff and the band sang a chorus of the song, which propelled them to another, even more exciting and aggressive section that finally settled down into “The Howling”. It was a fantastic placement for the second Sci-Fi Soldier tune of the night. It grooves a little like “2001” and bounces enough to get everyone dancing.
Phish – “Ghost” Jam – Alpine Valley Music Theatre – 8/12/22
[Video: Gregory Marcus]
An upbeat but on-the-shorter-side “Simple” followed before a blistering, fantastic, set-closing “David Bowie” that screamed all the way to the end.
Finishing with “The Lizards” made perfect sense because when the Gamehendge tune pops up in the encore, it’s usually to cap off a terrific night of music. While that would have sufficed, the band had another one in them and sent everyone home after the Big Boat rocker “More”.
The “Moma Dance” and “Ghost” alone would’ve made it a fantastic start to the weekend, but Phish had a relaxed confidence on Friday night that could be felt from the first note. Most everything flowed seamlessly. Nothing felt forced, rushed, or out of place. It was a really well paced show with almost no holes.
Check out a gallery of photos from Phish’s first night at Alpine Valley Music Theatre via Ojeda Photography below. The band’s summer tour continues with two more nights at the Wisconsin venue.
For a full list of upcoming Phish tour dates, head here. To order your LivePhish webcast for any of the band’s upcoming summer shows, head here. To sign up for a free trial membership to LivePhish+ and listen to the whole summer 2022 tour and more, head here.
For a complete directory of Live For Live Music‘s Phish summer tour 2022 coverage, head here.
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Alpine Valley Music Theatre | East Troy, WI | 8/12/22
Set One: Fuego, Clear Your Mind > Twist, Halley’s Comet > Destiny Unbound, The Moma Dance, Drift While You’re Sleeping
Set Two: Ass Handed > Set Your Soul Free > Golden Age > Lonely Trip, Ghost > The Howling, Simple, David Bowie
Encore: The Lizards, More