There’s two things we reaffirmed about the band Phish last night: they love Alpine Valley, and never miss a Sunday show. Never ever. Just don’t do it.

The first set contained ten songs, all of which were tour debuts. Are there any other bands with the depth of catalog and performing talent to play ten songs that haven’t been played in months, if not years? Probably, yes, there are some, but Phish persistently brings an elevated sense of surprise and passion to every performance, and it shined brightly in Alpine last night.

Opening with a Halloween 2014 cut that hasn’t been played since Halloween 2014, “The Very Long Fuse” served a similar purpose in last night’s set and the Chilling, Thrilling set from whence it came. Once the song ended, things just exploded.

The band broke into “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird”, two songs that hadn’t been played since NYE 2013. In the narration, Trey Anastasio spoke about roaming the grounds before the show, and even getting crapped on by a bird… thus inspiring the song selection.

The slower, yet soulful song “Brian and Robert” came next, before Phish got crazy with “Saw It Again”. The driving riff of that powerful song will forever be lodged in the mind of anyone who heard it; it’s a real head banger. “Esther” came next, the fanciful Gamehendge tune that has been ever-so-elusive in the 3.0 era. After a 75 show gap, the tale about a little girl and her teddy bear finally resurfaced in this incredible first set.

“Weigh” was up next, giving Mike Gordon a chance to bring some vocals to Wisconsin. The eerie lyrics with an upbeat melody were performed expertly, creating an always-surprising sing-a-long moment. This song hadn’t been performed in 78 shows, another highlight of the bust out first set.

The bust outs continued with “The Sloth”, another Gamehendge track that hadn’t been played in a long time (92 shows, to be precise). The rocker was a rousing one, bringing to crowd to new heights as the first set started winding down. “Sanity” was up next, with bits of “The Very Long Fuse” teased into the mix. Finally, a glorious version of “Split Open And Melt” closed out the first set. The song somehow has been skipped in setlists on this summer tour, but SOAM delivered one whopping punch to close out the first set. Complete with some extended jamming into unknown places, this was an awesome way to end an incredible set.

Meanwhile, set two was a bit more traditional, in that all of the songs had been played on this tour before. Still, opening a set with “Run Like An Antelope” is anything but traditional, as this was the first time the song was in that spot since the 2012 Dick’s run. That segued into “Carini”, which in turn segued into “Waves”. The lofty jam in “Waves” somehow found its way into the grooving riff of “Tweezer”, and all hell broke loose in Alpine. Serious funk.

“Dirt” provided a mellow moment of the set, but the energy picked right back up again for a “Mike’s Song > Blaze On > Weekeapaug Groove” combo that kept the place flying. Seriously incredible energy, including the return of the 2nd “Mike’s Song” jam in fine form. To top it all off, “Tweezer Reprise”. Nothing more needs to be said.

They closed out the show with an unusual encore pairing, “Contact” and “Frankenstein”. Bringing it all home with a Junta original and Edgar Winter cover seemed like an interesting choice, but as always the band delivered to perfection. “Contact” even had a nice jamming section thrown in there, just for good measure.

This was really a fabulous performance, one that will surely go down as a highlight along a smoking hot summer 2015 tour. Phish resumes touring tomorrow night, August 11th, with a two-night stand at The Mann in Philadelphia. If you’re heading to that show, don’t miss the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Stratosphere All-Stars after party immediately after Phish’s set. It’s going to be a night of great music, so be there! Click here for details.

Setlist: Phish at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, WI – 8/9/15

Set 1: The Very Long Fuse, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Brian and Robert, Saw It Again, Esther, Weigh, The Sloth, Sanity > Split Open and Melt

Set 2: Run Like an Antelope > Carini > Waves -> Tweezer > Dirt > Mike’s Song > Blaze On > Weekapaug Groove > Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Contact, Frankenstein

Notes: Mockingbird featured narration about Trey walking around Alpine Valley and having a bird shit on him, inspiring him to play the song that night. He also acknowledged that this was the band’s 17th show at Alpine and that the following day would be the 19th anniversary of their first appearance (August 10, 1996). The Very Long Fuse was quoted in Sanity.

[Set list via via Daniel Ojeda]