Since coming together in 1983, Phish have logged plenty of time on stage. And those incendiary live shows have provided plenty of fodder for live releases; whether a part of the Live Phish series, or the band’s ever-growing catalogue of DVDs, documentation of Phish in their element on the stage is plentiful.
Alpine Valley is the first DVD release that captures Phish 3.0. The band, which reformed in 2008 after a four year hiatus, has come on strong, showing a maturity and a microscopic focus on detail that is apparent on the two DVD, two CD set that documents the band’s triumphant return to Alpine Valley Amphitheatre on April 14 and 15, 2010. Captured with immaculate precision using 57 channels of digital multi-track and 7-cameras, the release features the entire show on the 14th and bonus footage from the band’s second performance. The CDs mirror the DVDs, sans the bonus material.
Beginning with the spry “Tube,” the quartet locks in and delivers a stunning first set, highlighted in the run through “Alaska,” “Back on the Train,” “Taste,” and “When the Circus Comes.” The heart of the show is in the second set, though. Beginning with an exploratory “Down with Disease” that segues effortlessly into “What’s the Use?,” the flames are stoked by the band’s unmatched technicality. A run from “Mike’s Song” through “Dirt,” Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” and finally into “Weekapaug Groove” caps the performance, spotlighting the quartet’s innate ability to stretch the bounds of their compositions through telepathic communication and brilliant musicality.
Phish certainly aren’t for everyone. They haven’t ever been darlings of music critics, and despite a cult following that has grown over their nearly three decade career, they are too-often overlooked by the mainstream. Alpine Valley proves that the recognition they receive is warranted. Phish are back, and they are arguably better than ever.
Alpine Valley is out now on JEMP Records.