Fun In the Sun – Part Deux

12.29.03 (M.Collins)

12.29.03 (M.Collins)


The night turned to day and then back to night, and before we knew it, we were back inside American Airlines Arena for night two. Phish wasted no time, starting right where they left off after the scintillating show the previous night. Much like “Bowie’s” beginning to the 28th, the band kicked off the 29th already in high gear, opening with a wide open jam in “Piper.” Starting off shows with colossal jams is one thing, but opening with this level of unbridled fury was straight up mind-bending. As if the guys never left the stage, Phish tore into a passionate piece, likening its own force of nature; a proverbial sixth element. In a summation of the countless cosmic chases that “Piper” provided throughout 2003, this opener had people holding onto their seats (think Maxell-XL II cases) trying to not get bowled over by the overwhelming intensity that shot from the stage in a sonic laser beam. Holding nothing back, Trey wailed like this was his last chance to ever play guitar, pouring every drop of emotion through his instrument, while delving deep into his arsenal of trickery. With knee-buckling lead lines, creative phrasing, and fierce rhythm chops, Trey put on a clinic for twenty straight minutes; not to mention his band mates, who were right there with him. Crafting diverse patterns and backdrops for Red to color with his aggressive work, Phish built one of the indelible jams of the weekend. With a menacing musical hose, the band washed down the audience with sheets of psychedelia, and the show had barely begun. Without concern for anything outside of the moment, the band grew this “Piper” into an improvisational trapeze act before dismounting with both feet firmly on the ground.

12.29.03 (Unk)

12.29.03 (Unk)

After such a celestial initiation, the band toned things down for the rest of the set. But when the second half got underway, Phish began a musical stanza including five songs strung together coherently, all with natural transitions: “Rock and Roll > Twist > Boogie On > Ghost > Free.” This fifty-minute curve of creativity carried a more upbeat vibe than the 28th’s plunge into the abyss, providing more than enough dance music along the way. Though none of the first three jams developed into individual monsters, the on-point communication and their fluid musical connection made up for any lack of depth. Many cite this segment as the highlight of the entire run, and while that is certainly debatable, it is an unquestionable Miami highlight, and a more-than-engaging passage of music.

12.29.03 - Miami (Unk)

12.29.03 (Unk)

The essential part of this sequence came with its finale, “Ghost > Free.” A popular combination ever since “Ghost’s” inception, this incarnation of the well-documented pairing brought the show to an undeniable peak.  Launching into a careful exploration, the band left their all-out aggression for a more intricate version that featured full-band interplay throughout. Gradually building into more searing offerings rather than any funk-based licks, Trey, with Fishman, pushed this “Ghost” from its mellow incarnation into a surreal groove. As Mike and Page locked into the pattern, the band hit a galloping stride, gaining momentum for an explosive second half of the jam.  Sustaining a more aggressive palette for the duration, the band slowly upped the cosmic residue, giving way to “Free.”

12.29.03 (Unk)

A syrupy version of the song plodded at a methodical pace, while Trey toyed with the top half of the groove. As the piece progressed, Trey and Mike engaged in a duel, trading licks back and forth, and weaving their lines around each others, before crashing back into bombastic textures. The audience appreciated this unique take on “Free,” responding with enthusiasm. Getting somewhat crossed up during their final interchange, the band, nonetheless, continued pushing the envelope, coming up with new angles on old songs. And once “Free” growled to a halt, concluding the near-hour long adventure, the band heard it from the crowd in droves, appreciating the twisting nature of the trek.

12.29.03 (M.Collins)

The crowd energy remained high through the end of the show, beckoning the band to come out for two separate encores of “Waste” and “Coil.” Having crafted two heavy hitters in a row, Phish sat halfway through an enticing New Years Run that had begun to shape up significantly. The next two nights would provide some eternal highlights, but neither show, in their entirety, would hold up to the first four sets of Florida Phish.



12.30.03 (Unk)

With energy as high as possible following two top-notch evenings, the sky seemed to be the limit as Phish stepped onto stage on December 30th. The first set carried the same intensity and imagination as the previous two nights, but in the second frame Phish finally lost their snowballing momentum, inviting George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic to join them in what turned into a musical fiasco.

But the first set kept the Phish train rolling with a raucous opening of  “Wilson,” which slid, unfinished, into the only “Sand” of the post-hiatus era. Taking the rhythmic vehicle for an urgent mission, the band moved through the dance textures with focus. An ideal selection for the free-flowing nature of  their exploration of the era, Phish matched song and style impeccably, breaking out a piece that once seemed omnipresent. Coyly introducing the “Shafty” melody right into the full-on groove, Trey led the band in a patient and tasteful transition of the sorts that have been so elusive these days. Chugging into the bass-driven groove, for the  third night in a row, the band locked their seat belts and jumped into the fray mere minutes after the opening bell. Blending right into “NICU,” the band sported a playful attitude from the very start of the evening, a vibe that would permeate the entire show.

"2001" 12.30.03 (Unk)

After a string of bust-outs, including the liquid funk of “Cities” and the crazed bluegrass of “Scent of a Mule,” Phish capped the set in the same energetic fashion that it began. The opening notes of “Bathtub Gin” fired up the arena, but after some rocky parts through the composition and beginning of the jam, it took an awkwardly patient build to arrive at a real pocket. But when the band finally got there, they took off into some unique collaborative playing. Certainly not the highlight of the show, Phish salvaged the piece, moving to darker and groovier places, eventually setting the table for an ambient entrance into “2001.”

Able to let precision fall by the wayside and just groove, Phish closed the set with a series of looser funk patterns. Trey teased “Bathtub Gin” throughout the first musical verse, while foreshadowing the upcoming set with fully-quoted P. Funk melodies throughout the second. A solid frame that didn’t boast the tightness of the first two nights came to an exciting close, and regardless of the small step back, spirits remained high.

Phish and P. Funk - 12.30.03 (Unk)

The Parliament sit-in could be described in only two ways – “You had to be there,” or “an absolute debacle.” Whichever description one chooses to use, the guest spot stole a crucial twenty minutes from the middle of the second set, and absolutely derailed the band’s momentum they had built over the first two nights. When Clinton’s crew finally left the stage, more than a few fans were left scratching their heads. What could have been fun and quick, turned out to be boring and drawn out, as Phish took a backseat to the Funkadelic entourage.

12.30.03 - Miami (Unk)

Nonetheless, the band book-ended the second set with two fierce pieces of improv – “Tube” and “Down With Disease.” Opening any second set with “Tube” is like an adrenaline shot directly to the heart, and this extended version provided just that. With melodic guitar leads over an infectious groove, Trey brought a different feel to this jam. Coming out of a rhythmic breakdown where the band re-built the layers of the song, Trey came screaming in like a joker, cackling with menacing laughter, leading a section of candy groove. Phish soon infused their style of the time into the funk vehicle, moving into more dissonant psychedelia. Pushing into a dirtier place, Trey busted out his best Jim Morrison in a creative, but not-so-successful take on “LA Woman.” Stretching out the messy cover, the band made a necessary and abrupt change into “Birds.” Only halfway through, this set already seemed a bit off. Trey and George’s setbreak party probably didn’t help the situation either.

12.30.03 (J.Dorans)

But before the set came to a disastrous close, the band pulled it together, playing a powerfully emotive “Down With Disease.” Seemingly sensing their lackluster frame, the band made sure to slay their last jam of the night, taking the high-speed rock and roll piece on a cathartic jaunt. Out of the structured jam, Phish stepped into a segment of darker, gnarling interplay, but the piece’s defining moments soon began when the band pushed into dark ambient space. Trey used soulful melodies to gently caress the soundscape, and before long, the band converged in one of those moments of palpable magic. An amorphous jam united all members in a fragile musical glow, and they emerged with a segment of music that whispered directly to our souls. With utmost delicacy, Trey layered the “Disease” melody into the mix, bringing the band on a thematic climb through some of the most precious moments of the weekend; a triumph of the highest degree. Often overlooked at the end of this set, this one is a genuine diamond in the rough.

A set that represented both the successes and pitfalls on on-stage risk-taking, the 30th didn’t hold up to the previous two nights; but such is the nature of improvisational music. And despite some on-stage antics, there were more than a few high points that carried the show. It was back to the beach for one more day before New Year’s Eve’s three-set extravaganza; and the best jam of the weekend had yet to unfold.

To Be Continued…


Jam of the Day:

“Down With Disease” 12.30.03 II




11.21.09 The Crown, Cincinatti, OH < Torrent

11.21.09 The Crown, Cincinatti, OH < Megaupload

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

Oops! Forgot one of the best from the Fall.  “Rock and Roll > Ghost > If I Could” and “Split” are all keepers. And the “Antelope” is short, but smoking. All of fall will be in the archive soon after the new year.

I: Wilson, NICU, Wolfman’s Brother, Ocelot, Torn and Frayed, Strange Design, Ginseng Sullivan, Albuquerque, Split Open and Melt, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Run Like an Antelope

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > If I Could, Backwards Down the Number Line, Prince Caspian, Suzy Greenberg, 2001 >The Squirming Coil

E: Sleeping Monkey, Axilla

Source: Schoeps mk22 > KCY> Schoeps VMS02IB > Apogee Mini-Me > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)

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701 Responses to “Fun In the Sun – Part Deux”

  1. chefbradford Says:

    No kidding. Suzy not only growls, she howls and bites. Going after the ’98 Carini>Wolfman next

  2. chefbradford Says:

    I’m going to have to go back check out the huge Suzy from Brooklyn ’04 soon, it’s been awhile. And the Darien ’00 monster. There really just isn’t time enough for Phish

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Taking on the 25 min Halley’s from 11/22/97. when its done, the chicken is done. Who needs a timer when you have Phish!

  4. stitchstash Says:

    I should have read more than the last page before I posted. Everybody has been wishing AW a Happy Birthday all morning. But still, good job cal for keeping it up-dated.

    Our friend made us a CD for Christmas. He gave it to my husband and told him to tell me that these were songs that they should play instead of Prince Caspien. My husband said, “I can’t tell her that it’s kind of our song. We had our first kiss to that song.” He just rolled his eyes. I thought it was funny. The CD has a song on it that I really liked called Spices. I would love to see it live.

  5. chefbradford Says:

    That’s one of my all-time favorites, that Halley’s. I mean of any song. I like to play that one at work early on Saturday mornings.

    Killer Zappa jam, and I can’t think of the song right now, but I’m convinced there’s a jam of an 80’s song tucked in as well, maybe something by Tears for Fears

    But I’m prolly wrong


  6. chefbradford Says:

    I had a bad recording of Spices, so I can’t even really remember it. I’d put it on a CD of 2.0 songs/jams. It was only played a few times, no?

  7. stitchstash Says:

    I would cook more if I used your method Mr. Palmer. Thanks!

  8. stitchstash Says:

    I guess Spices was only played a few times in ’03. I wonder what show this version is from.

  9. chefbradford Says:

    I think “Discern” is kind of in the same boat as “Spices”. It’s kind of crazy how many songs these guys have played, some of them only a few times.

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    “be prepared that if you walk back to your hotel from the arena, you will be walking through a ROUGH stretch of town…”

    was a little worried about this .. maybe we’ll be cabbin it after all? Anyone know what parking fees are like @ arena?

    hampton halleys is the all time jam for me. Never been topped.

    The 12/28/03 suzie really didn’t do it for me. Kinda monotonous, and ends with a letdown.. ymmv as always.

    discern is a tune I always really liked, kind of caged the beast of 99 and threw it into a song.

    It is insane how many songs these guys have played. Listening to “one man’s trash” yesterday makes me realize how prolific trey has been, when that is his waste bin. What has always amazed me is how they bring a tune back after years and years, and then leave it alone for another few years.

  11. Robear Says:

    chef, send me your address, I’ll send you a copy of 7/9/03 Shoreline

    humboldt rob at g mail dot com

  12. cal Says:

    I saw Trey do “Spices” in ’03, but never Phish. I can’t say I’d prefer it to “Caspian”.

    I am thinking my birthday wishes came too late, but what can ya do? Impossible to keep up with everything here…as with Phish itself…

  13. Robear Says:

    Leo and Cub, so glad I was hanging with you cats for ‘Light’ at MSG. In the wrong part of the world, we could have been ticketed for excessive grinning. What a blast!

    thx. Miner.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    But fortunately I have the key to escape reality
    And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
    It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while
    Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone
    No I’m just tryin’ to have me some fun


  15. stitchstash Says:

    Miner has a great New Years mix posted. I’m about to listen as I finish what I have to do for the day. Then from here on out it is family time! Good cheer to all of you!!!!

  16. chefbradford Says:

    Robear, will do, thanks. Snail-mail addy?

  17. Robear Says:

    si’@ chef

  18. chefbradford Says:

    Cowfunk- One Man’s Trash is an interesting collection. Some tunes were obviously fully developed later on, but I’d like to see some of the others explored. The jungle rhythms of, I think, one of the Jump Ropes (Fast Version?) are pretty sweet

  19. c0wfunk Says:


    yeah – some of them are more noise tracks than songs I guess. The “here’s mud in your eyes” about drove me nuts w/ the headphones on.

    Am I correct in that “the real taste of licorice” is the song that we once called “acoustic army” ?

  20. stitchstash Says:

    @ cal, So Spices was a Trey song first? I’ve never heard it before this CD so I don’t know much about it. I like Spices and Caspien, so I’m good either way.

  21. chefbradford Says:

    Cow- You are correct, sir. And I love that song, gorgeous.

    Robear- you should have mail

  22. chefbradford Says:

    I guess I’m going to migrate to the new post, see you guys there

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    ah! new post .. see ya’ll there 🙂

  24. SZaleski1133 Says:

    I just want to first start off by saying….I love Phish…1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. Love all of it. I had the pleasure of hitting the Miami run in 03. From my perspective…Miami was a twisted dirty stussie wearing drug mall…I can’t tell you how many times I heard coke and heroin down the dirtiest shakedown from my experience. Anyway, we all know it was leading that way during the 2.0 phase. All of the shows had their moments…Jibbo was hot the first night, the second set segue was killer in 12/29…the Wilson dropping in Sand was bliss…actually I loved the whole first set of 12/30…the energy was out of control….then P-Funk came out….and it was a fucking disaster. I won’t get into my heavy opinions on what I think of cracked out P-dipshit…but needless to say…ok I am done. NYE’s stash and chalkdust–>slave were stellar.

    I hope everyone has an absolutely blast during this year’s Miami run. Merry Xmas….I will pray that P-Funk stays out of Florida next week.

  25. leemor Says:

    This si the post of my alter ego, working from mom’s computer, where I slept over the eve>morning thing.
    Deal with it.

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