Phish Alpine Valley Night One – Setlist & The Skinny

By Andy Kahn Aug 8, 2015 9:25 pm PDT

Beginning in 1996 and continuing every summer tour through 2010, Alpine Valley Music Theatre was a staple stopover for Phish who on Saturday evening returned to the East Troy, Wisconsin large outdoor shed for the first time since 2012. By far the largest capacity venue the band has hit this summer, Saturday’s first concert of a two-night stand gave the Midwestern audience a well-balanced sampling of all that this band does best when the quartet is as locked-in as they presently are.

The night began with the first show-opening version of the recently debuted “No Men In No Man’s Land.” The brief fifth performance of the new number was followed by “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” which provided Trey Anastasio an early chance to energize the crowd with a scorching guitar solo. Bassist Mike Gordon led a romp through the band’s bluegrass original “Poor Heart” and the band kept rocking with “Julius” which last made a first set appearance on December 28, 2013 at Madison Square Garden. Page McConnell’s work on the organ and Anastasio’s relentless riffing deftly dominated the rousing “Julius.” The summer’s first “Frankie Says” calmed things down as McConnell sang lead. Once “Frankie” started to dissipate, drummer Jon Fishman began the familiar high-hat pattern that signaled the onset of “Maze.” McConnell jumped back on the organ to again trade licks with Anastasio on a fiery, tension- filled rendition of the song complete with a “Mission Impossible Theme” tease by Page.

The set continued with the second performance of “Mercury,” the new Anastasio original debuted at the second show of the summer. The straightforward sophomore performance of the newcomer was followed by the band’s staple, “Reba.” A well-executed example of one of Mike Gordon’s daughter Tessa’s favorite tunes, “Reba” was bolstered by the typically sublime jam portion of the Phish classic that culminated at a fevered peak, capped off with the (at times optional) whistling segment. Another Phish standard, the well-traveled “Possum” made its 500th known appearance and drew the all-originals first set to a rocking close.

Frequent second set opener “Down With Disease” launched the second half of Alpine night one, and as often is the case, the jam vehicle was taken on an exploratory journey. A short uplifting theme moved the song beyond its lyric segment, methodically shifting to a calm, darkly ambient tone in which Gordon pushed both the rhythm and melody with his assertive bass. After 14-minutes Gordon then stepped to the mic to start the a cappella lyrical opening to “Halley’s Comet.” The foursome got to the funk fast, breaking “Halley’s” out into serious head- bob-inducing territory, embellished by Anastasio’s use of the MuTron filter up against Gordon’s Lovetone Meatball effect, that segued with utter ease into “Twist.” Fishman set up a deep pocket for the other three to delve further into slow churning funkiness, driven by McConnell’s keyboard wizardry on the clavinet and electric piano. Anastasio asserted himself and picked up the pace of the “Twist” jam as it circled around to its vocal ending.

“Light” picked up the improvisation after a particularly lively vocal delivery by Trey, maintaining the serene and deliberate approach prevalent at other prior moments in the show. The “Light” jam built around a theme introduced by Anastasio and run with by McConnell and Gordon, but still staying restrained in executing the complex layers of spontaneous composition. The bust-out of the night, returning to the Alpine stage for the first time since 2010, “What’s The Use?” made its 2015 debut with a soaring, emotive and absolutely nailed dusting-off of the instrumental composition. “Fuego” next provided some nice Type I exploration ahead of the upbeat “Backwards Down The Number Line.” The bustling “Number Line” invigorated the set with rock solid interaction among all four performers. A poignant and gloriously captivating “Slave To The Traffic Light” again elevated the mood and ended the set at an emotional apex. Punctuating another all-originals show, the sixth this tour, “Meatstick” made for a fun start to the encore before Anastasio & Co. tried their best to rip the roof off the pavilion via the show closing “Character Zero.”



  • Venue Type: Outdoor Amphitheater / 37,000
  • Previous Shows at Venue: 15 Shows – 08/10/1996, 08/09/1997, 08/01/1998, 07/24/1999, 07/08/2000, 07/18/2003, 07/19/2003, 06/25/2004, 06/26/2004, 06/20/2009, 06/21/2009, 08/14/2010, 08/15/2010, 06/30/2012 and 07/01/2012
  • Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: 9 / 7:39 p.m. CT – 8:53 p.m. (74 Minutes)
  • Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set & Encore: 10 / 9:28 p.m. CT – 11:00 p.m. (92 Minutes)
  • Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 19 / 0 / 19
  • Biggest Bustout: What’s The Use? – 30 Shows (Last Time Played – 08/30/2014)
  • Average Song Vintage: 1998
  • Debuts: N/A
  • Tour Debuts: Frankie Says, What’s The Use?
  • Weather:69°F Mostly Cloudy at Showtime
  • Guitar Used By Trey Anastasio:: KOA #3, aka Ocedoc
  • Average Song Gap: 7.63
  • The Spread: Joy – 3, Hoist – 2, Fuego – 1, Farmhouse – 1, The Story Of The Ghost – 1, Rift – 1, A Picture of Nectar – 1, Lawn Boy – 1, Billy Breathes – 1, Misc. – 7
  • Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Reba – 14:32 / Poor Heart – 2:22
  • Audio: Live Phish

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