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. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah Miner, your jadedness is getting me down, man

    classic stuff there

  2. Robear Says:

    yeah, what A dub said. If you don’t see every show, you miss the Gorge, maybe Hartford, maybe Albany II. It’s part of the lore. Hit ’em all, hit a few, to each their own.

  3. albert walker Says:

    me and my girl are going to try to line up vacation time for a mini run next summer and fall

    I don’t know if I’m for 1 month straight these days

    but jumping on and off can be a bummer

    we’re going to try to string at least 2 weeks together
    so much more fun to get settled in and let it become a lifestyle for a while
    rather than a vacation

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    we’ve been through this before – but I always felt I enjoyed shows much more in 3-4 show chunks than 6/7/8 .. I understand the difference and the lifestyle and all that, but I just feel the peaks just don’t hold the same weight after a week or so.

    Of course ymmv and a huge part of our culture is the every show thing so I’m probably in a minority here.

  5. albert walker Says:

    for me I watch or go to every Cubs game
    do the same for the Blackhawks
    I guess listening to every SBD extensively from fall tour is the same mindset

    I like to study something in its totality
    I like the over arching sense you get of how on the band is on a given night when you’ve seen every show
    I dig the sense you get of the setlists
    I love knowing all the other tour kids, gets to be family by the end

    I wish I could describe it better

    cuz yes the exictement and pure joy would probably be highest if I only saw one show a year thinking about it logically

    but for me I get this real enjoyment from the complete picture
    viewing the process in its entirety
    understanding every argument directed towards the tours performances

    kind of miss hearing a Bowie and not having first hand knowledge of how it stacks up to all the previous Bowie’s

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    word aw – I hear ya – I do the same with the mets when I can..

    I guess for me it’s always been a thing where I hear as much as possible off the road and check in on the road – just how I’ve always played it and it works for me. I like to leave the shows for that unquestionable dousing of IT and leave the “hear it all and pick it apart” mentality for the at home.

    Though this year I have tried to take the night or two before a show I’m seeing off -no setlist, no recording- so I can be more “surprised”.. It was hard as hell not hearing about the hartford show before merriweather I tell you that!

  7. albert walker Says:

    nice cow

    a Met’s fan

    another cat that can respect a big market shit show like being a Cubs fan
    damn that shit’s been ugly lately

    nothing like spending a bunch of cash on shit players
    kind of the Cubs and Mets MO lately also

  8. sumodie Says:

    miner’s either a fluffer who’s jaded or a jaded vet who fluffs, or maybe he just tells it like he sees. ahh, the thankless joys of seeing so much joyful phish.

    im on the ground ready for beachtime.

  9. Robear Says:

    cOw, it was hard not hearing about Albany II before Portland. I kept trying to dodge my friends obvious excitement. On listen back, it’s like, maybe I could have hit Albany.

    If anything stings, it’s when the blow-out is right before or after your ‘mini-run’. It happens.

  10. albert walker Says:

    that’s why I usually never break my rule about missing 1 show of a run

    I was forced to miss night 1 MSG and it sucked
    missing a piece of a run kills more

    does not help that the Light from Night 1 seems to be the most beautiful piece of music from the whole run

    always seems to go that way

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’s an interesting bit of psychology to be sure

    @aw you work in finance where the big picture is necessary, right? you have to see everything in context or you miss the meaning…a little up or down might seem meaningless on its own but in the larger view it could mean something important.

    I’d give almost anything to be back out on tour again

    Anything except what I would actually have to give up to do it 8)

    I think you described it well Albert…I miss it so much…for me being on tour was life, and everything else was just waiting.

    I see the other side too, since that 2-4 shows at a time thing has been my actual life for the last 10 years or so…

    But if I could choose, I’d be on tour. For the social part as much as anything. The freedom.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    hitting all the shows is how to do it, though 2010, not so sure this can continue for me, as the wife gave more than a little leeway in their comeback year…but hey, if you can do it…go see em all. ain’t nuthin like it.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    but it’s making you so jaded!

    really, you’re getting me down, man

  14. albert walker Says:

    funny C

    after I was posting I was thinking that my work mentality def played into this

    at my job missing a trade can get you in just as much trouble as losing on a trade

    my boss want’s to know everything that is going on in every sector

    everything does kind of play into each other.
    miss one piece and your whole thesis could be out the window.

    could be information from reading a compeitors quarter report that has an effect on your position in a different company.

    due diligence is key. and if you miss something, anything it could be the outlier that kills ya.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah the mets have been rough the last few summers with last year being a total wash out. After the pain of 06,07,and 08 it was actually nice they just gave up and did the cellar dwelling thing

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    Miner being jaded.


  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    the funniest thing about being so heavily imprinted with tour memories is the associations that build up

    for instance, you know the smell of a Shakedown parking lot the morning after a show, when the second day is just getting ready to start? Basically just the smell of stale beer and asphalt, really…maybe a hint of wook-foot and a dash of the kind…pretty gnarly, really…

    I love that smell. It smells like…freedom.

    Well, no. But it does conjure up incredible memories for something that’s basically a mild stench…

  18. albert walker Says:

    “I love the smell of wook feet in the morning”

    little bit of a apocalypse now going on

  19. albert walker Says:

    yeah C

    we brought some extra heads did not want to take back to Chicago from Cinci

    had to stroll down to the lot probably for the first time in 2009 and get rid of a few
    find me some fresh college custies old school style

    juts like old times (except these actually weighed)

    talk about the feeling I forgot
    like going home again

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    I really like seeing the whole picture too, in everything

    how the bits fit together, the overall dynamic

    like trying to understand a great symphony or something, you have to follow both the details and the grand scheme

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    one thing I found really fun in 2004 was doing my own tour .. with phish as highlights

    Since I spent so much time / energy / money on tour in the late 90s when I was about 20, it began to feel like I’d been all over the country but all I had seen was parking lots and highways and rest stops.

    In 04 we went to alpine, then instead of following phish, did some touring around vermont, new hampshire, upstate new york, and maine, then caught back up in coventry. Changed the whole ballgame. I remember meeting up with some kids near the ben and jerry’s factory just before getting to coventry, they had all been on the road – were all worn out, hung over, and jaded, and we were feeling like a million bucks. That summer changed my perspective of the road and tour a little bit.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    “except these actually weighed”

    LLFA isn’t that against the Lot Workers’ Union rules?

    those were probably the only fair bags on the whole lot that day

  23. albert walker Says:

    I’ve been really getting into the global macro trends lately

    currencies, interest rates, commodity trading

    kind of cool to try to vibe the entire global picture
    along with the smaller components and how they interact with other

    how the inflated price of oil reflects interest rates in Brazil and such
    very interesting

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah c0w that’s an awesome plan!

    I did that in summer of ’91, I was in burnout mode more than a bit, so I saw the country with some Dead shows sprinkled in, instead of the other way around

    was fucking great

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    at bonnaroo 1 I was trying to come off of some last bit of something walkin through the car lineup on the way out, and a kid actually pulled out a digi on my ass. I was glad that one was to weight!

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