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

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

  1. voopa Says:

    About the Ross being dialed back…

    Trey really struggled with some of the notes that depend on that overcompressed sound earlier this year…in Coil, and others. But I think he found a happy medium this Fall.

    My buds & I all really dug the uncompressed 2.0 sound, but at the time, forgot how much we missed it, especially in the older songs…so glad he’s dialed it all in now!

  2. voopa Says:

    *missed the compressor, that is…

  3. stitchstash Says:

    AW, Congratulations by the way! It will be a great story that she will only be able to share with a few people. The wedding that I went to yesterday had a similar proposal. She had a bad day at work so he decided to get her a nugget. He decided last minute to throw the ring he already had for her in there. Good stuff! (the nugget and the story)

    I’m trying to catch up. I feel like I missed a lot. I can’t believe I missed the NKOTB discussion. They opened for Tiffany at my first concert.

  4. ohhphee Says:


    If you’re still around, I’m dling and listening to your reggae selection. It’s so nice to have something different to listen to for xmas. We have cycled through much of our collection here at the homestead… and in the car… and, well you get the Thanks for the upload!

  5. ohhphee Says:


    I think you just dated yourself lol. Coming from someone who grew up in that era.

  6. albert walker Says:

    thanks Stitch

    selector J

    droppin the festive irie cuts

    nothing says Merry Christmas
    like some deep island tracks

    give thanks

  7. KWL Says:

    @aw missed the big news, saw someone mention it earlier today. congrats.

  8. stitchstash Says:

    I’m not worrying about being dated with a 9 year old daughter and a son who will be 8 in two weeks ohhphee. You are always as old as you feel!

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    wow just found out the epic hotel is still not taking guests and they’re putting us up at the 4 seasons and paying for the first night


  10. stitchstash Says:

    I think it is hilarious that I saw New Kids before they were famous. They were the opening act!

  11. stitchstash Says:

    Oops, that reminds me that we need to cancel our hotel reservations in Miami. So sad!

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    stich where are your reservations we may need a plan b?

  13. chefbradford Says:

    I have friends whose first concert was TMNT

    It wasn’t a concert, exactly, but when I was 10 my older sister and her best friend took me to a Pink Floyd laser show at Mud Island amphitheater. It was awesome! Only later did I figure out much of what was going on around me at the time…

  14. stitchstash Says:

    Let me ask my husband cowfunk. I know it is within walking distance and has a balcony.

  15. ohhphee Says:


    I agree with you on the “old as you feel” comment 100%. I’m really glad I don’t feel my age. I’d probably have given up this Phish thing long ago.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @brother, interesting perspective on my perspective, if you know what i mean, often wonder how that stuff comes across

    i do see a lot of similarities between the two bands, at the highest level and in the details – but even more differences, on all the levels in between, if that makes any sense

    which is great ’cause the Dead already did what they did, so why do that again? why bother if you can’t take it further?

    the thing I’m happiest about for Phish is that it seems like they have a chance to not follow the Dead’s example in the area it matters most…

  17. stitchstash Says:

    That is awesome chef. My 2nd concert was Aerosmith. Steven Tyler did flips on stage. He was old back then, I wonder if he still does them now. I have to try and remember how old I was. I have a terrible memory. Dates and ages never stick. But I do remember that back in 1992 I owned colored jeans.

  18. Selector J Says:

    You’re welcome all.

    I changed the link on my name so that it goes to the MediaFire site. (My avatar should be the ‘Natty Christmas’ album cover soon enough, too.)

    One more thing, I’m pretty sure if you import them to iTunes, they have all the correct metadata (album, artist, song, etc.) associated with them. (There are one or two ripped from vinyl. They’ve got weirdness in their titles.)

    Good night all. I might be back. Gotta try to put the likkle pickneys to bed.

  19. stitchstash Says:

    Cowfunk, The hotel is the Marriott Biscayne Bay on 1633 N. Bayshore Drv. I do not know how far it is from the venue so I can’t confirm if is within walking distance but it definitely has a balcony.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    first concert = styx
    second = iron maiden with metallica
    third = van halen
    fourth = grateful dead

    a steep curve to be sure

  21. stitchstash Says:

    Great concert experiences Mr. C.

  22. chefbradford Says:

    Mr C, that’s a pretty fun series of ‘first’ concerts! I don’t remember what my first few concerts were, really. I saw LeAnn Rhimes sing the national anthem at…at…at a…at a rodeo. Don’t hate. I went with a friend and his family! I was young!

    hmm, first concert…I really can’t remember. I remember my first two HUGE concerts
    Fleetwood Mac, on one of their umpteenth reunion tours, in 97
    Clapton, in 98, a graduation present from the same sister that took me to the Floyd laser show.

    She kind of set me along the musical path I would eventually take, when I was 8 or 10 years old. Got me on Zep, Floyd, the Dead, the Doors (I like ’em, I understand why many don’t), all kinds of stuff

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    so yem, first tube (w/ auld lang syne) teases -> tube ending is sicko++

    first concert: bobby brown
    second: the easter jam (heavy d, big daddy kane, 3rd bass, queen latifah and a host of others)
    third: grateful dead

    stitch I’ll have to look into it – do you have any idea what the nightly rate is?

    drop me an email @ c0wfunk at yahoo dot com if you have any interest in possibly swapping that reservation over to us. If you don’t want to no sweat at all.. I need to check a few things before I’m sure anyway..

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    styx was hilarious even at like 12 or whatever i was

    maiden was the greatest thing a 13 year old boy could ever hope to see, and metallica was something to behold in those days

    van halen was a hoot, very fun even if they did play some of those stupid synth songs…

    I saw Ozzy right after my first dead shows but it wasn’t as fun as it should have been…after a taste of the real thing, prepackaged concerts didn’t seem fun anymore, it seemed silly…now I could appreciate it for what it is, but not at the time…

  25. halcyon Says:

    First 4 official “rock” concerts.

    1. Samantha Fox
    2. Beach Boys
    3. Billy Joel
    4. U2

    First festival Lollapalooza 1991

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