Fun In the Sun – Pt. 1

12.28.03 Miami (J.Pinsky)

12.28.03 - Miami (J.Pinsky)

Phish’s last visit to Miami came at the end of the triumphant year of 2003. Only two and a half years after their hiatus, Phish returned to the road teeming with wild creativity. Essentially jamming their faces off, over their extensive summer tour, every show became a blast into the unknown. Armed with new vehicles and destroying old ones, the band impressed many fans with their nightly explorations, while others seemed turned off by the wide open, risk-centric playing. Sometimes meandering, but always experimenting, the band reached yet another creative peak in 2003, pushing jams further and further to places they had never been before.

12.28.03 (J.Pinsky)

A new “ambient” sound emerged almost immediately in the winter of ’03, and developed throughout their extensive summer tour.  Their new direction featured spacier and more layered textures than characterized the amorphous “ambient” playing of ’98. More often than not, jams took a turn for the dark side, akin to four mad scientists inventing new formulas on the fly. With a clear focus on improvisational adventure,  Summer ’03 represented a super-fueled, ridiculously engaging period of the band’s career. After listening through these nights so many times over, I’ve, literally, never understood a Phish fan not liking this era. Bottom line, the band tried new things nightly, and next to Summer ’95, 2003 represents the most outwardly psychedelic period of the band’s career. The groove-based playing that had dominated the end of their first career was left behind while new songs, old and new, opened up in brand new directions.  And Phish jammed ferociously night after night.

12.28.03 (J.Pinsky)

If comparing the band’s improvisation in their comeback years alone, 2003 blows 2009 out of the water, reaching planes the band hasn’t approached this year. The key difference is that 2010 is looking a hell of a lot better than 2004! Having taken things slowly this time around, Phish will be arriving at the future very soon, while in 2003, the band dove deep immediately, eventually self-destructing. But I am a firm proponent of the opinion that the jams never suffered on the way down; they only got more creative.

With only four relatively lackluster “Turkey Run” shows separating Summer from Miami, the sun beckoned all as Phish announced the first-ever four-night  New Years Run outside the Northeast. Ever since the band started doing New Years Runs in the early-90’s, they were affairs renowned for bitter cold, huge snowfalls, and wintry conditions. But in 2003 everyone traded in their parkas for bathing suits, and scarfs for shorts, taking the party to the ideal destination of Miami, Florida. Pools, frozen drinks, beaches, and sun by day and Phish and Miami by night, there was no denying that the formula trumped driving around up and down the salted highways of I-95.


When entering American Airlines Arena on the 28th, everyone found the basketball-only arena more intimate than expected. With a shorter floor, and seats that went up more than out, everyone seemed to be on top of the stage. Notoriously laid back security ran the show for all four nights, as the community took reign over the south Florida venue.

12.28.98 (J.Pinsky)

12.28.03 (J.Pinsky)

Stepping into a new room for the first time, one figured Phish would acclimate themselves to their environment before digging deep, but not this time. Coming out for the first of eight sets, the band slowly built an eerie spacescape to open the entire run. So much for warming up! And after moving through this dark intro, the band dropped into “David Bowie.” At this point, everyone sensed something special in the air; as the  four nights unfolded, everyone’s senses would be confirmed. Unleashing their fury like Hurricane Andrew, Phish attacked Miami early and often. Separated by only “Sample,” the band let loose on a laid back, swanky “Tweezer” that continued the instantaneous full-band interplay. Jumping into a melodic corridor, Trey led the troops with well-phrased melodies out of the gate, as Page added spacey effects behind the bulbous backing. Within the first half an hour of the four-night run we taking full-on “Bowies” and “Tweezers” to the dome like Glass Joe. Taking no time to get into the thick of it, the band continued with some of the run’s most cohesive psychedelia out of the late-set “Frankie Sez.” Blowing out jams like there was no tomorrow, Phish created at atmosphere of excitement and unknown before anyone had a chance to realize what had hit them. Punctuating the first set of the run with “Tweezer Reprise,” people were a bit more wide-eyed than usual when the lights came on for setbreak.

12.28.98 (J.Pinsky)

12.28.03 (J.Pinsky)

The non-stop explorations continued into the second frame, opening with the holiday-grooves of “Jibboo.” Exploding with crystalline dance patterns, Phish spun the room into a ball of bliss before dropping into a rather sinister piece of improv out of “Suzy Greenberg!?” Morphing from the song into a heavy metal journey into the eye of the monster, Phish unleashed their some of their most menacing music of the year. Exploiting his uncompressed tone, Trey growled with terror as the band sunk deep into a swamp of insanity. This type of jam is why 2003 Phish is fucking great, relentlessly pursuing the source with unending layers of psychedelic sorcery. Showcasing some of the most mind-bending guitar work you’ll ever hear from Trey, this was the man screaming from his soul; a rare guitar confessional. One of the defining moments of Miami, not to mention 2003, Trey rarely takes liberty to expose this side of himself  so deeply. It was a humbling privilege to be a part of – seriously. Leaving the audience in silence and absolute awe, Phish bled into an ambient soundscape. Continuing to choose each note passionately, Trey added subtle melody to the dissonance, and at the end of a  twenty-minute odyssey, the band splashed into the cool waters of “Theme.”

American Airlines Arena *(J.Pinsky)

AA Arena - Miami, FL (J.Pinsky)

Annihilating their landing point, Phish crushed anything in their path on this night, setting the tone for the following three. Culminating the set with “Harry Hood,” the band continued to take the typically happy jam outside the box. Entering some scorching places before rejoining the song’s theme, the whole band built to a dizzying peak. Climaxing a dream-like set, “Hood” put an exclamation point on a show that, contained two sets of full-on improv; in effect, two second sets.

Reveling in the neon glow outside the venue, an electricity pierced the warm winter air. Phish set the bar incredibly high, a bar they wouldn’t quite reach for the rest of the run. But if one thing seemed for sure, Phish would try their best to rip every pitch out of the park. And over the next three nights, they’d hit more than a few home runs.

To be continued…


Jam of the Day:

“Suzy Greenberg > Theme” 12.28.03 II




12.28.95 The Centrum Worcester, MA < Torrent

12.28.95 The Centrum Worcester, MA < Megaupload

With all the shows of fall having been posted, let’s turn our attention to New Years Runs of the past.

I: Split Open and Melt, Gumbo, The Curtain > Julius, Guyute, Horn, Rift, Fast Enough for You, Possum

II: Timber, Theme From the Bottom, Wilson, Buried Alive > Tweezer > I Didn’t Know, Uncle Pen, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Fee, Tweezer Reprise

Source: Schoeps CMC64 (split 10 ft, OTS) > Stewart BPS-1 power supplies > Sony TDC-D7

Tags: ,

730 Responses to “Fun In the Sun – Pt. 1”

  1. halcyon Says:

    stitch…if you download utorrent there are tutorials there on how to set it up for your computer and use, there is another site which has tutorials on how to open your ports.

  2. stitchstash Says:

    great! I need all the tutorials I can get when it comes to this stuff.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    nye 2003 more of the same – mikes’ ending about as rough as it could. Makes hampton 2009 sound note for note it’s so bad. Rough hydrogen. But paug just friggin goes off. The jungle boogie chorus is a little dubious but looking at the setlist I guess that comes back later.

    Moma starts out a little rough but is hitting a stride here.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    @kwl trey has always been one of the best at integrating effects into his playing. And it’s always obvious when he gets a new toy, but once he is able to get a handle on what it is and where he wants it, it becomes another weapon in his arsenal that he can then bust out whenever necessary.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    thanks @selector!

    @stitch – there was a time on this site when we were teaching someone how to use torrents about once or twice a week – don’t worry if it takes a little getting used to! You are welcome to ask questions here and people will help you, especially if you post (as you usually do) at the end of the day when things slow down a little.

    Torrents are the key to infinite free music – as long as you have good bandwidth at home.

    The first step is to download a “client” – an app for your computer.
    uTorrent for PC:
    Transmission for Mac:

    grab one of those to get started.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    uTorrent is awesome for a lot of reasons including the “setup wizard” or whatever it’s called – their little automated setup is great IMO – really makes getting started easy

  7. chefbradford Says:

    If/when I get a new computer next year, I will probably need some help figuring out torrents, sharing, etc

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    33min Ya Mar….wow

    I am streaming IT Festival via Phishows

    Enjoying it

  9. KWL Says:

    ^exactly c0w. The whammy is just the latest… I have also been impressed with the use Trey has made of delay loops this year.

  10. halcyon Says:

    Miner’s torrent tutorial.
    Start from Which client should I use?

  11. gus Says:

    @brandon – that ya mar is actually 17 minutes. for some reason phishows has the wrong lengths for a lot of shows. it has thrown me off countless times.

  12. KWL Says:

    as I said this morning, IT is the peak of 03 (and 2.0) imo. But generally there was some really good stuff in Feb and July 03. Fall run not so much (a couple gems) and some good points, some bad points in Miami 03.

    Then 04 pretty much SPAC…

  13. albert walker Says:


    the Ross is a heavy device
    it creates that ringing clean sustain while cleaning up (compressing) the tube screamers
    but it also has a sound to it
    it is not a completely clean pedal
    def alters the sound of the amp and guitar from a tonal perspective

    it becomes too prominent to your tone when jacked up like he had it back in the day.

    he does not really dig it much either I imagine cuz it really is dialed back to about half the level he used to rage it at

  14. stitchstash Says:

    Thanks Mr. C, I got lost in this show I’m listening to that I got from the archives. Now that I know how to download music, my days and nights are now filled with song. I appreciate all the help from everyone! I’m sure I will have a lot of questions.

  15. albert walker Says:

    I’ve been really digging his tone in general these days
    has a few different vibes going

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    funny my brother in law was walking by whistling along to this guyute, they get to the peak and he’s all “hey that’s not right” .. indeed. That is not right.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thanks Gus – It is still a great jam regardless though, very spacious. Pretty dark though, especially considering its the first day first set.

    6 DAYS UNTIL MIAMI!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Phish has been creeping in all this time. They are going to blow the roof off of Miami. <—- Lame cliche shit, I know.

    Really looking forward to these shows

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    Dark funk in the IT Ya Mar.

    And all this time I thought 03-04′ was just a bunch of ambient jams…

  19. KWL Says:

    @aw, yeah I know he’s got it way dialed back, and I agree that the tone is way better. Listen to, say, the NY philharmonic show, and the tone is just beautiful–light years better than anything in 1.0 imo. I’m just glad the ross is back, b/c to my ears trey’s tone today is way better than 2.0 also.

    And selectively turning it off during certain jams to get that dirty, gritty (uncompressed) sound is best of both worlds. Like other effects (whammy, delay) I think trey is learning to deploy the compressor selectively in ways that really work well.

    I don’t have a ross though and have never seen it used up close so I don’t know firsthand what it does. I def take your word for it that it is heavy & does more than just clamp down other sounds (e.g. the screamers), that it changes the sound. All I know is that one thing that is better in 3.0 than all other eras/years of phish is trey’s tone (and I think the same holds for Mike, but that is a whole other discussion).

  20. stitchstash Says:

    halcyon, I just discovered the torrent tutorial the other day. I’m going to wait until tomorrow to start all of this though. Since my semester has been over, I’ve been to Illinois and back again and went to a wedding yesterday so I need a break from anything that requires me to think at the moment. I’m going to start with the torrent tutorial, it looks extremely helpful.

  21. chefbradford Says:

    Brandon, check out the IT Ghost. It’ll make your toes curl

  22. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:


    I’ve been re-listening to all of 1995 and I’m on the June SPAC show…

    Disease > Free from 6.26.95 is the best combo of that nature I’ve heard. Comes right out of left field…

    If you thought pre-96 Free was boring… give this one a listen. Wonderful peak.

  23. KWL Says:

    I think it was Miner who said something the other day like:

    1.0 compressed
    2.0 uncompressed
    3.0 compressed and uncompressed

    to me Trey is taking the best of each in his mix. A consummate professional in the way he works with his rig (to go back to Derek Trucks, they do totally different things, DT might get more of the ‘purist’ tone, but Trey is equally impressive in his assimilation of different effects in ways that work to his advantage, often in very subtle ways).

  24. KWL Says:

    a little late but thanks Selector for those tunes.

  25. brother Says:

    I just smoked a spliff and listened to the 03 “Suzie>Theme” and 98 “Carini>Wolfman’s” while reading thru the comments. First let me say, my ears are bleading for christ sakes. Wow. Big Jams! I think it pretty much boils down to this. All points of view are correct and depend on mostly what/how perspectives have been shaped based on your own experiences thru-out your Phish-going life (actual shows and shows listened to). It’s funny to see Mr. C’s and other Dead afficionados comment as to the Phish discussions on era’s, being as they went thru all the ups n downs and roller coaster rides of musical styles that were the GD tours. They have a very open mind and can really see the merit of all opinions. I only know one thing, I got as excited and blissed out by the cincy shows as I did for the dayton 95 show….

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