Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Phish

Alpine Valley 2010 (JEMP Records)

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If you're tired of the cold, this warm and fuzzy two-DVD/two-CD box of Phish captured at Alpine Valley last summer will make you forget about winter. There are few crowd shots—don't look for yourself on camera if you were there—but watching this, it's easy enough to position yourself in the front row on Aug. 14, when this 24-song set was shot with seven cameras. A gentle late-summer breeze rustles keyboardist/vocalist Page McConnell's shirt and teases guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio's awesome hair, and the grass is green (and no doubt pungent). The massive 5.1 surround sound recorded on 57 channels of digital multi-tracks preserves the live vibe.

An elaborate light show provides an enchanting backdrop for Phish's distinct brand of noodling, which gets rather tiresome after nearly three hours. The highlights are those songs that sound like actual songs: "Suzy Greenberg," "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," "Bug." Anastasio, McConnell and bassist Mike Gordon trade lead-vocal duties, with Gordon performing "Fuck Your Face," which reportedly Phish had played live only one other time since 1987. The band closes with a rousing rendition of Bob Dylan's "Quinn the Eskimo." Bonus material includes 75 minutes of footage from the following night's Alpine Valley gig.
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