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. Mr. Completely Says:


    if you’ve never seen that Heads live ’80 in Rome video, just stop what you’re doing and watch some of that shit now

    it’s some of the best stuff ever


  2. Robear Says:

    Yeah, Mr. C. Like you said, Phish gets a shot to re-write the great rock and roll tradgedy. A friend of mine came over today that’s going through a crazy situation, and wanted my advice. I played ‘Joy’ and ‘Light’ from the Gorge for him. It turned the whole conversation to this great place. Turns out he’s really trying to build for many of the things we talk about on this site. Community, strength through sharing love, the future.

    He’s an old ‘head too. Parents raised him on lot through parts of his youth. Never been into Phish.

    Iy. 😉

  3. chefbradford Says:

    Mr C– a “friend” burned me a copy of “Spaced Out”, the Shatner/Nimoy album, many years back. The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins sticks with you, trust me


    I have to say, Shatner’s recent album, produced by Ben Folds, with a number of guest performances, is pretty freaking good, considering

    beep- By Coventry I’d given up psychedelics for medical reasons, and in retrospect, I’m glad!

    Definitely great jams there. I think some of us discussed this very recently.

    Example: Diseasel–great jam; why didn’t we think of the glowstick-slide before?

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    follow the links at least til you get to Houses In Motion

    unreal, just unreal

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    don’t miss out on the HEads link on the prior page!

  6. voopa Says:

    “are you sure that is not your gift???”

    hahaha…well it will be, but she’s the #1 Coltrane fan in the Universe, so it’s hers.

    Oh, and that Cincy Antelope does kick ass…but like most ’09 Phish, the jam doesn’t breathe enough…I know they’re anxious and everything, but can we get a little more bulid up to the peaks…just a little more tension please?

  7. Robear Says:

    you’re killing me with these links. it’s a buffer fest on this backwoods internet connection.

    cow, enough with the ‘bruno dickie jams’ already 😉

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    Would somebody mind copy/pasting them onto this page? When I go back it doesn’t let me see all of the posts. Thank you

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    @stitch sounds like we’ve been moved to 4 seasons at same rate and get a night for free, so we’ll stick with it. Don’t worry about it. Thanks!

  10. beepaphone Says:

    I 2nd Mr. C on the ’80 stuff

  11. chefbradford Says:

    Mr C, please repost this link as often as you want, so that I can get as much in as possible. This CP is fucking unreal. I heard one or two other live versions that didn’t do much for me (I love the Remain In Light Album though), but this is ridiculously good, crazy funky

  12. chefbradford Says:

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    The MSG Mike’s is the best all year so far. Dirty, evil, nasty tension.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    sure. The whole show in order, a few links at a time so as not to set off the blog’s spam alarm:
    ^^^ Cities

  15. beepaphone Says:

    Love me some Girlfriend is Better and Slippery People too…great bridges in both of those songs

  16. chefbradford Says:

    Crap, how many people did they have onstage? 2 bassists, right? Tina and some dude? Drums, singers, percussionists, etc…this is DENSE

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    from what I’ve seen the heads in the early 80s were one of the best live acts ever.. Bernie Worrell was in the middle of turning synthesizer playing on its head, those grooves are amazing, and you have byrne’s antics.

    Ever heard that interview from (late 70s, early 80s?) where the reporters are asking jerry about the talking heads’ and their integration of african music into theirs, and jerry answers with a dismisive “we’ve been doing that stuff for years man – that’s what we’ve always done, we play everything from everywhere” or some such arrogant and flip thing. Our Uncle Dave Dead Air program wednesday nights on wncw plays it every so often. Pretty funny stuff.

  18. halcyon Says:

    The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins


  19. chefbradford Says:

    Holy shit, the music behind the lyrical rap is nuts! And Belew is a beast!

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    hm one post of mine is “moderated”

    from the same show:
    ^^^ Cities
    ^^^ I Zimbra – OMFG – WTF – so heavy

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    That Crosseyed is ridiculous….starts out slowed down and spacey, then kicks into the normal speed funky Crosseyed.

    Love it.

    Talking Heads kick ass

  22. chefbradford Says:

    Wait, that was Bernie Worrell? WTF? No wonder

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^ Take Me To the River – utterly pwns the Stop Making Sense version
    ^^ Houses in Motion – THIS IS IT RIGHT HERE BABY
    and by “it” I mean IT

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    This is insane

  25. stitchstash Says:

    @ cowfunk, Great I’m glad everything worked out for you!

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