UPDATE 7/12/20: On Tuesday, July 14th, 2020—exactly one year after the performance—Phish will air their 7/14/19 performance at Elkhorn, WI’s Alpine Valley Music Theatre as episode 16 of their ongoing archival webcast/cooking series, Dinner and a Movie. Ahead of the stream, revisit this piece on some of the quintessentially Phish-y weirdness that took place during set two on that night. You can also read along with our complete 7/14/19 Stream Companion.
On Sunday, 7/14/19, Phish closed the main leg of their 2019 summer tour with a standout show at Elkhorn, WI’s Alpine Valley Music Theatre. An easy frontrunner for “show of the summer,” Alpine N3 truly had something for everybody (Fill us in, Stefon):
[Via Reddit user TwentySeventh]
There are plenty of aspects of the rarity-filled show that we could nerd out on in its aftermath (hell, “Olivia’s Pool” even briefly faked out the Phish From The Road setlist team). Today, however, we’re looking at just one of the many “holy shit” moments from Sunday’s show: the return of “Icculus”, the band’s appeal to study the tome of the “great and knowledgeable” Gamehendge prophet, for the first time since New Year’s Eve 2013. In customary fashion, the Alpine “Icculus” reared its head amidst a particularly fantastic performance.
It’s a fool’s errand to try to explain an “Icculus”. More than it’s a song in the traditional sense, it’s an outlet for aggression, an unruly display of tension and release, a chance for Trey Anastasio to yell and curse and, you know, just fuck around. You’ll have to check it out for yourself. You’ll either 1) hate it and toil over how people can possibly be so obsessed with this (actually) insane band screaming about a book you’re pretty sure doesn’t even really exist; or 2) love it, and turn your entire life over to the Phish. “Icculus” doesn’t leave a whole lot of middle-ground.
The “Alpine” Icculus—strange as it ever was—focused predominantly on “drooling” after Jon Fishman called Trey out for doing just that at the end of the deranged “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” that preceded it (“You know it’s good when Trey starts drooling”).
Phish – “Death Don’t Hurt Very Long” – 7/14/19
“It’s not every show that you start drooling,” Trey began as the familiar piano accompaniment faded in late in the second set. “I’m sure that some of you have drooled. I certainly hope so. Fish, have you drooled?” “The family drools,” Fishman quipped back, never one to pass up the opportunity for a good dick-and-balls joke.
“Well, it’s been a fun summer. Thank you all. The four of us now will go back to our rooms and sit at home in the dark,” Trey went on. “…Drooling,” Fish interjected.
Trey continued, “But the difference between what you’re gonna do between now and Dick’s … is that as we sit in our dark, lonely rooms, the three [sic] of us will be reading.” After beckoning Fishman to kick into his “oohs,” Trey continued, “Feel free to ‘ooh.’ Feel free to drool! Do whatever the hell you want, I don’t give a fuck! Turn to the person next to you and drool! We hope that you, too, on your break… will get a chance to do a little reading and thinking on some of the more important things in life. It’s not really about the note that you play, but it’s the attitude you put behind it [bends string]. And that’s just one note. You know where I learned that? I learned it from a very special book. And you, too, can learn to drool and play a guitar note like this [bends string] if you seek out the book that I am talking about. … Anyway, let’s get to the fuckin’ point. Trey, what the hell are you talkin’ about anyway? You people don’t wanna know what the book’s about. You just wanna know who wrote the damn thing!” And so on…
Phish – “Icculus” – 7/14/19
While the whole “drooling” tangent could easily have been written off as your run-of-the-mill Phish silliness, an anecdote from Trey’s December 2018 solo acoustic show in Mesa, AZ gave us insight into the guitarist’s long history of drooling onstage—and his band’s track record of teasing him about it.
“Storytime with Trey” is always one of the most entertaining aspects of Anastasio’s solo acoustic shows, and on 12/3/18 in Arizona, Trey regaled the crowd about the story of, you guessed it, the “drool.” Following a rendition of “Wolfman’s Brother”, Trey divulged,
You just saw that at the end of that jam, I drooled… [laughs]. The guys in the band said that they were gonna get me a drool cup, because when the jams would get really deep, I’d, like, lose control of my bodily functions…They’d be like ‘man, we gotta get you a drool cup one of these days…’ Also, in the 90s, in that era, there were a couple years where we would warm up for Santana. It was so cool, everyone in the band was so nice, especially Carlos. To this day, I’m astounded. Because we were so young, and we played in so many countries—and areas of this country—where nobody had any idea who we were. We were just starting out. And he would always invite everybody to come up and jam. And I always thought, he had nothing to gain from this. He was putting on a show. It was an incredibly nice gesture, the older I get the more I think about what a nice thing that was because we all learned so much from that. … And the reason I just thought of that was, he also pointed out once to me that I drooled [laughs]. He thought it was really cool, like ‘hey, that’s great, man,’ doing that Carlos thing that he does [laughs]. … You guys ever drool during the jams? Somebody must. That’s the whole intention, you know! The whole idea behind the whole thing. That’s what we say before we come onstage. ‘You think we can make them drool?’
Trey Anastasio – Drooling Story – 12/3/18
[Audio via JamBuzz]
Back to Sunday at Alpine—If Trey’s story still holds true and really “feeling it” leads to drooling, we’re sure he was drooling plenty at this show. If it’s any consolation, Trey, everyone in attendance—and everyone following along from home—surely was, too.