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”

  1. SillyWilly Says:

    I love to hear the stories from past shows. It adds to the legend in my mind.

    I can’t wait until Friday morning and afternoon when everyone who is there will be adding their stories to the board.

    I wonder what the bands gonna do this week?

  2. chefbradford Says:

    Robear is right. If you’ve seen Bittersweet Motel, Trey does the same thing during, I think, the Tweezer on NYE 97, and you can tell what an interruption it ends up being. Knocks over mike stands, etc

  3. SillyWilly Says:


    the flow, too!

    hoodstream’s usually got a live feed. not the best quality but you can always make out the songs

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    Ive gotta start packing for tomorrow. (not for Miami, but for cleveland to visit my girl)

    I hope everyone is safe if youre travelling tomorrow and I hope youre safe if youre not.

    have a great night….phish is playing in less than 24 hrs!

  5. Robear Says:

    hey void, yeah, robear of the northern woods. in michigan, visiting the fam. it’s cold. i remember one of many reasons why i moved.

  6. chefbradford Says:

    I stopped by Hoodstream today to see what old Phish they were playing, and apparently there will be at least 4 or 5 folks streaming the shows there

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    I quite enjoyed watching trey play w/ the balloons on nye 98 .. in my mind we were all like a bunch of kittens watching him hit the thing up and down – balloon goes up – heads go up — balloon goes down – heads go down.

    There are moments and shows where the antics are just as, or even more, important than the “jam” .. if you can’t have fun watching trey play on his stage I think you’ve entered wilson territory.

    Also remember from that show the glow strings that were passed out and the spontaneous glow chains that circled all around msg? iirc one of them spanned 2 or 3 decks. It was like this thing where they were liike “if you’re gonna throw somehting kids, throw these soft ones” and then they became these huge chains in one of those moments that can never be predicted but makes everything seem so one of a kind and special

  8. VoidBoy Says:

    @ SW

    The Hood… I love this song… can’t wait to hear it.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    also – I like to listen to electronic music when I’m programming and tonight I spun through the crystal method album “legion of boom” .. highly recommended if you like trancey synthness

  10. VoidBoy Says:

    I used to live up by “RoBear” years ago… you can “google” my old address… Awesome, really.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Wait…live feeds, you say?

    I’m in.

    With Red Rocks 2009, it was Drowned->Crosseyed (true segue) not Tweezer->Crosseyed

  12. Robear Says:

    cow, the glowstring was an all-time epic moment at a Phish show. It gave me this great hope for ‘spontaneous co-operation’ heading into the new year. I was on the walkway between the lower and upper deck and passed the string several times. me and my friend are both about 6’4″ and the string kept finding us to change levels. Trey followed that thing around.

    So kids, literally hundreds of glowsticks were connected end to end. The old glow sticks could do that. It started in smaller sections, then all the sections connected. The strand went from the floor, up Fishman’s side, around the top of MSG, then back down. Un friggin’ real.

    I too enjoyed the kitty balloon popping session.

    Trey truly was the captain of that ship.

  13. chefbradford Says:

    I’m not a huge trance/techno lover, but Chrystal Method’s ‘Trip Like I Do’ still fucks with my head. Also love that they did the music for the PS1 game Nitrous Oxide, which is a trippy blast. Found a borrowed copy of it a couple months back…borrowed 5 years ago 🙂 and 🙁

  14. Robear Says:

    void, interest piqued. how to ‘google’ your old address?

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    that was my first / last non big cypress new years until this week.

    I can’t put into words how thrilled I am about tomorrow. Let alone tuesday. Can’t even imagine wednesday. Thursday? No way!

    I’m glad ya’ll are being so positive and don’t mind us show goers coming in here and dumping a bunch of excitedness on ya..

  16. VoidBoy Says:

    My mind is just expanding… Love to think of a bunch of us just checking out the “feeds”…

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    @chef I’m not really into electronica (or whatever the kids call it these days 😉 ) – mostly too monotonous for me, but that monotony is what makes it great programming music. When it’s done well I like it. When it’s done badly it is nauseating.

  18. chefbradford Says:

    cow, why would we mind? We’re all thrilled for all of you! It’s all good! Over the last year I’ve learned even better how to live Phish vicariously. Excitedness = energy = awesomeness

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Oh I am excited for Miami too c0w, only difference being you’ll be at the shows and I’ll be on my laptop all night.

    I’m sure fellow Phishthoughters (Phishthoughters? Phishthoughtees?) will be joining me though, it is sure to be a massive 4 nights ahead.

    Of course, because I’m not there I hope every song on all 4 nights is either TTE or Jennifer Dances 🙂 Kidding, have fun.

  20. chefbradford Says:

    cow- agreed, that’s why what I’ve heard/seen of bands like STS9 bores me. Monotonous

  21. jibboowho Says:

    Although I never post here, I would like to comment that Miner put together an incredible new years download. thank you, I enjoyed it very much.

  22. VoidBoy Says:

    1067th st Arcata Ca… I lived “right next door to the EX-Mayor of Arcata” and her beautiful daughter, her German “Exchange student” and the best Hash you ever wanted to smoke… the address may be wrong.. but the rest is pretty right on… so swears the the “brain” of 1984.

  23. Robear Says:

    Phish is so big, they’re small. They’re so small, they’re big. Crazy concept that just popped into my head. Only you cats would understand.

  24. VoidBoy Says:


    “Excitedness = energy = awesomeness”

    Hell yeah.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    really hoping for tte when I”m down front on tuesday… if you know me you know I love the tune and I would love the opportunity to see it up close.

    Jennifer dances? We could skip that one 😉

    chef, I guess I’m just saying it’s cool how the excitedness for our community is stronger than the jealousy or resentment. I have a feeling there are many communities that could not boast the same.

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