, attached to 2021-08-01

Review by js300

js300 After a heady opening trifecta of Arkansas, Alabama, and Alpharetta 1, with each showing more and more promise, this is the night that let us know that 2021 Phish takes no prisoners.

First set is solid, though not as stacked at night one's opening frame. We got a solid Set Your Soul Free and Reba, plus a Jibboo that gets a little weird for a minute there. The highlight of the set, though, is the blistering Antelope closer. I remember at Alpharetta 2011 the band playing one of the limpest 'Lopes I'd ever heard (from a pretty unremarkable two nighter); this one certainly made up for it ten years later. The composed sections were definitely not 100%--I seem to recall Mike and Page getting a little off at times, but Trey decimated the jam section. Hot shit. As good of a peak as I've heard post-2009.

Set Two is where the money is. More was a strange start. I was a little worried we were gonna get treated to a little more love and light than I could handle, but it was just a chance for the band to get a new song out of their system so they could treat the crowd to something ~else~ entirely. Nothing wrong with a little give and take.

The Tweezer is a legitimate experiment. This is them finding the "4.0 sound." There are times when it feels like they're pushing it and everything could fall apart, but it's all done in the spirit of true exploration. Lots of people are saying it takes about 20 minutes to really start cooking, but I'd say it takes more like 10. While the bliss jam isn't exactly unprecedented, there's a real density to this one--likely due to Page's excellent synth work--that gives you something to sink your teeth into. It eventually leads to a close-to-Tweezer section that has swag to spare and an excellent peak. And this is where the fun begins. Trey starts experimenting with his delay and a digitized tone; Fish is utilizing break beat-like rhythms. This gives space for Page to create a heavy atmosphere. An incredible meshing of ideas that creates a truly alien section of music. Yet. It's still pretty damn groovy...Instead of petering out at the end, we get a real deal funk jam, pauses and all. Trey even gets on the wah. It's joyous and fun and leads to a rousing peak. You've never seen a large audience so focused, so stoked.

As much as we didn't want it to end, they had been playing the damn thing for a half hour, and Twist>Piper is no slouch. The Twist has an extremely gradual build that is only fully understood when they reenter the song section, and Piper has some excellent staccato-delay precision from Trey (and I swear I heard a Mind Left Body tease at some point). Overall a very energetic and focused section that should be viewed as one with the Tweezer, instead of an afterthought.

If the band ever deserved to play two ballads it was tonight, and unlike many, I loved the Farmhouse/Waste cool down. I have a soft spot for both, and they were played with such tenderness and (dare I say) soul. My brother turned to me and said it was like a Jerry moment. Well happy birthday, Big Guy.

First Tube was a choice closer, and there was nothing left to do other than a classic Sleeping Monkey>Tweeprise encore. A new classic set, a band playing with purpose after all this time, a catharsis we all deserved after such a shit year, an inspiring evening overall. Long live Alph2.


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