Fun In the Sun – The Finale


12.31.03 - Miami (Unknown

New Years’ Eve – one of the most circled days of the Phish calendar. Throughout their career, the band has played several defining shows while sitting on the brink of January 1. New Year’s 1993, 1995, and 1998 jump right out as high points of the band’s year-end parties, leaving Big Cypress in a league of its own. Upping the stakes with three sets, a tradition started back in day, New Year’s Eve is the proverbial cherry on top; the icing of the four-night cake. While the first three nights usually provide the dark meat of the run, New Year’s Eve generally carries a more festive vibe. In Miami ’03, the excitement bubbled on December 31 just a bit more vigorously than usual, because other than 2002’s mediocre MSG comeback, the band prepared for their first full-scale New Year’s Eve since Big Cypress.

12.31.03 (Max Z.)

Phish responded right off the bat, starting off the last night of 2003 with the final minute of “Wilson” that they sidestepped with their opening transition into “Sand” the night before. Beginning the show with “Blap! Boom!…,” Phish tore into the final peak of “the song,” blending directly into the opening lick of “Mike’s.” Another bombastic opener, the band had now ignited the Miami shows with “Bowie,” “Piper,” “Wilson > Sand,” and “Wilson > Mike’s.” With a relatively standard run through the darkness, Phish got bodies moving immediately. Trey led with sustained melodies, warming up with a serious solo that drove this version. Struggling through several parts of “Hydrogen,” the band rejoined the same musical page as they dipped into a “Weekapaug,” fully loaded with traditional “Auld Lang Syne” teases that further amped the crowd for the midnight entrance into 2004. Though this “Weekapuag” went all over the place without any coherent structure, Trey provided a barely-audible vocal tease of “Jungle Boogie,” hinting at the cover that would open the third set.

12.31.03 (Ben)

"Jungle Boogie" - 12.31.03 (B.Linus)

With a whole lot of energy, but not much on-point improv, New Years’ Eve was underway. Stepping into a more simplistic piece, Phish followed up the opening suite with a safe journey through “The Moma Dance.” The momentum built over the first couple of nights had steadily worn off, as the band’s playing through the opening frame left something to be desired. Inexplicably, they selected one of their toughest compositions, “Guyute” to continue the set. As ESPN’s Chris Berman would say, they “Rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled” all the way through the piece, continuing the bumpy ride before completing the stanza with sub-standard fare in “YEM” and “First Tube.” Sprinkling in another dash of setlist creativity, the band moved from the peak of “First Tube” into the conclusion of the unfinished “Tube” from the night before. Stepping off stage after a lackluster set, Phish seemed to be losing the harness they had on their music for the first couple shows. But when they came back on for set two, the most awe-inspiring piece of the entire run would unfold.

12.31.03 (Unknown

The Miami “Stash.” If one was around in these days, the version needs no introduction. Retaking their firm hold over their improvisational chops, the band unleashed one of the defining jams of the post-hiatus era. Melting into the song’s canvas, the band settled into a near-silence to get started. The entire band illustrated a greater cohesiveness in the first few minutes of this piece than they did through the entire first set. Responding to each others’ subtleties, Phish invoked a precise musical interaction. Lifting off into an abstract excursion, the unique quality of this jam can not be overstated, and words would simply get in the way. Moving through darkness into sublime harmonies, Phish tapped into something greater on this occasion; one of those special times they channeled the outer universe. Getting into stunning ambient planes, Phish crafted a jam that will always bring chills with its memory. Language fails in instances of trying to convey the inexpressible, and this “Stash” was one of these deeply spiritual quests that people drive from sea to shining sea chasing down. Building out of heavenly textures, Trey brought the band back towards “Stash” with a prominent “Mind Left Body” tease that the band briefly latched onto before rejoining their original course, soaring into final peak to the actual “Stash” jam. Following this near-half-hour of soulful psychedelia, many looked up, aghast at the depths just reached. After a sloppy opening set, Phish came out and unveiled an other-worldly adventure that left people talking far after the show ended. Another example of the massive musical risks that defined this era, this “Stash” proved a spiritual cleansing that underlined the religious nature of the band’s most profound adventures.

Set III Theatrics - 12.31.03 (Unknown

This “Stash” brought the band’s crowning Miami moment, and though “Seven Below” continued with a strong follow-up jam, the show would musically fade from there. The set’s closing “Chalkdust > Slave > Chalkdust” felt completely forced for setlist entertainment, with two abrupt changes. And the third’s set marching band theatrics to ring in the New Year didn’t do much to salvage the music that came after. Though exploratory and moving through some unique segments, “Runaway Jim” meandered for a large part of the post-midnight jam. And to be honest, I don’t remember the “Reba” or the “Antelope” that came later in the set; and to me, that speaks volumes.

Page and The Bunnies (J.Pinsky)

New Year’s third sets are rarely musically astounding. Representing the down-swing for the band, these final frames always seem like party time more than any earnest endeavor. By the time their ninth set in four days has come, more often than not the band’s focus has checked out. Though often filled with feel-good Phish, not since 1995 has Phish done something both creative and astounding in a New Year’s set; not that there’s anything wrong with that. The entire New Year’s show is generally an anti-climax, with the best music of the run almost exclusively coming over the previous nights. But who can beat a three set Phish party for New Year’s Eve? There’s no place I’d rather be.

Nobody knew it, but Phish would be gone only two seasons after Miami, disappearing into the mid-summer night. What seemed to be the re-ignition of a hallowed tradition became a one-and-done affair. But what a difference six years makes. Now, one day from our return to American Airlines Arena, the community is laced with a sense of joy and confidence in the future. With a vastly brighter landscape, Miami circa 2009 seems to be something that 2003 turned out not to be – a bold step into a limitless future. Gather your personal belongings, the ride is about to begin.


Jams of the Day:

Stash” 12.31.03 II



Tweezer > Cities ” 12.31.98 II




12.31.96 Fleet Center, Boston, MA SBD < Torrent

12.31.96 Fleet Center, Boston, Ma SBD < Megaupload

12.31.96 - Boston (Doug)

I: Axilla, Peaches en Regalia, Punch You In the Eye, Cars Trucks Buses, Stash, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar, Tweezer Reprise

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Wilson, Sparkle, Simple > Swept Away > Steep > Harry Hood > Prince Caspian, Character Zero

III: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease, Suzy Greenberg, Run Like an Antelope, Bohemian Rhapsody*, Julius**

E: Amazing Grace**

*Phish debut; w/ Boston Community Choir
**w/ Boston Community Choir

Source : FM SBD

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870 Responses to “Fun In the Sun – The Finale”

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  1. William H. Bonney Says:

    Liquid Time!

  2. sumodie Says:

    finally on the plane in hartford -M-I-A-M-I !

    nice fair n balanced reporting today, miner. i can already feel the 2009 heat approaching. im ready for lift-off.

    happy phish new years y’all 8)

  3. Mitch Says:

    Just for the sake of accuracy in the book (not to be an ass and point to a mistake)

    “In Miami ‘03, the excitement bubbled on December 31 just a bit more vigorously than usual, as the band’s prepared for their first New Year’s Eve since Big Cypress.”

    either first since the previous year 2.0 comeback show or first in florida since big cypress.

    Otherwise nice writup. Glad to read the last piece of the puzzle. I really dig the second pic of the post today. Craazy lights.

    Have fun in miami sumodie and everyone else!!! Wish I were there with you all having a meet and greet. Keep us homebound peeps up to speed on how things go.

  4. Mitch Says:

    I meant the 4th pic has the crazy lights.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    I can’t make it to Miami, but I can feel the excitement emanating from Florida warming the country.

    Good morning all, and anyone who is on their way down today (or over I guess if you already live in the south, or up I guess if youre from Key West) have a safe trip!

    Phish will solidify their 3.0 presence this week….and Im afraid for my face!

  6. Panda Says:

    Skip this run Miner, sound like you need a break from Phish!

  7. Corey Says:

    Good morning all. Hope your travels to Mee-ami are safe and efficient.
    We’ll be listening and smiling from afar.
    Make sure they play Manteca for my birthday.
    Ya’ll can make that happen, right? 🙂

    Listening to the Antelope from AZ 97. That was a fun show and a hot hot HOT drive from Austin (Atlanta, really…after the rain in Raleigh, it was hot all the way to Ventura) without air conditioning. Anyway, great extended version…some rambling and some searching in that one too.

    And NYE 96! Woohoo, my only New Year’s trek…in the cold cold COLD!
    Just speaking about this show on the black board the other day. There are some great musical peaks in this one. Always thought the Julius fini and Grace encore were such classy choices…they had the choir and all, made sense to play with them to the end. I didn’t need another “rock em sock em” encore to cap the 4 nights. As Mr. Miner mentioned above, with regard to Miami — by night four, it’s all gravy. Fine fine vegetarian chunky gravy. The last night is icing and whatever food topping you can muster up for the occasion. So everyone in my party had a blast. I’m sure you did too, if you were there.

    So, if ya’ll are in the south, enjoy and celebrate. With luck 2010 will be better then 2009. PHiSH. World. People. All of it.

  8. marcoesq Says:

    great writeup Miner, I can’t believe I’m not headed down there!

    Have fun to all that are

    Stash was the Miami Heat

  9. marcoesq Says:

    Is the Sand>Quad JOTD from this weekend really SBD or is it those remastered AUD’s that they released a little while back? B/c it sounds a lot better, just wondering where I can get some of those after 10yrs of looking


  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    morning everyone!

    excellent write ups Miner. I have really enjoyed these reflections on Miami 03. What better way to get geared up for this NYE. I do feel like while there may not be as many excursions to the outlands this year, the overall level of celebration and joy will far exceed 2003. This is a chance for Phish and phans alike to exalt the amazing return that was 2009. All the while, setting down some ground work for the next phase, 2010.

    Have fun and safe travels to all those making the journey down to the tip of Flordia, and for all those following on the board, I’ll see you here.

  11. albert walker Says:

    ahh new years 96
    not the bets of the 12/31 shows
    but the last one I attended

    packing all day and leaving first thing in the morning

    bring on Miami baby
    had enough of this Chicago snow for a while
    maybe just not come back

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    today I sing tomorrow’s song-

    need to get some work done before hitting the road tomorrow but how can I possibly focus?

    making my way through the phish bio – fascinating new early info and stories there I hadn’t heard before.

    Gonna give this stash another spin.

    Tomorrow!!!!! We leave in the morning w/ a 4 hour drive!

  13. Robear Says:

    To the tune of ‘Sand’, conjuring one up for New Year’s

    If you can read the Phishthoughts
    But not support the cause
    It’s quite a bit like trying to pay
    A server fee with gauze

    If you instead attempt to click
    The link it doesn’t hurt
    Then I would sure be able to
    Send you a Phishthoughts shirt

    Flowing through the internet
    Pushing through a card
    Grab a sweatshirt while you’re there
    A onsie for you dog

    Slide and let the cotton
    Clothe you as you walk
    Then bounce and land you let
    Your shirt not your lips talk

    I would choose my own style
    And worship my own spirit
    If you stop to talk to me
    You know I’d want to hear it

    I’d find them, the blackboard kids
    Languishing in fame
    And then if I hit Miami seas
    I’ll be right in the game

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    one of the coolest things about phish 2 is trey reinventing some of these licks – the way he ends the stash out with some novel, but familiar stash licks makes me smile.. The way he can’t sing in time doesn’t make me smile that much 😉

  15. chefbradford Says:

    Nice, Robear, very nice. Put a smile on my face. And reminds me that I’ve got a ringer-T on the way

  16. chefbradford Says:

    cowfunk- yep. Hearing some nice piano flourishes from Page early on, as well. Have never heard this Stash before (I think)

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    Skip this run Miner, sound like you need a break from Phish!

    ^^ ???

  18. empire01 Says:

    I hoping for a return of cross eyed and painless during the run!
    by the way the weather here in miami has been great the past couple of
    days, in the 60-70’s which is a treat for and a change for us locals, no insane humidity-heat makes me happy!!!
    everyone make sure you take some time and hit the beach and enjoy what miami has to offer, hit lincoln road get some good food, grab a micro brew at zekes or there is a german place that serves pints if you want to get bombed.
    be safe and rage it!!!

  19. Robear Says:

    Why did I move to Cali from Michigan? Oh yeah, ‘It’s cold, cold, cold, holY CoW!’

    Dang, and football doesn’t start until 1 p.m.

  20. Robear Says:

    Miner, you there yet?

    Yeah don’t skip this run, llfa.

    The peeps at home need your play by play!

  21. albert walker Says:

    you are becoming jaded Miner

    everyone thinks you need a break
    seeing every shows is clouding you perspective

    the minions are getting worried

    funny shit

    back in the day seeing every show was whole point
    fun times
    now I guess it is frowned upon

    love when people give Miner
    weird shit

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    really takes a full 15 minutes for this stash to “get there” but once it does, very nice little ambient peak.

  23. chefbradford Says:

    hmm, ringer hasn’t shipped yet. But it’s like, on the way to being on the way

    Stash is getting nice and spooky 10 or 11 minutes in

    Really, really looking forward to your write-ups of the coming Run, Mr Miner!

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m thinking its a stretch to call that a ‘prominent mlbj tease’ .. I hear what you mean but it’s more just a rising theme in the vein of mlbj than a tease to me..

    (nitpicking on a sunday morning)

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    pretty smooth transport back to stash

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