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. billy sanders Says:

    I listened to the 03 news years run as i read these articles and although some of it is very good….after Pfunk they barely click again. I love the first two night but there are still lot of painful moments. REba especially. It really makes me appreciate what we have now…people complain theyre not jamming….the end of this run is a prime example…they dont want to embarass themselves. I would take the tight polished phish we have now over 03 anyday. A tight clean crisp nailed reba intro is way better. THeyre doing things in order this time. practiciing first…then jamming. 2.0 Was balls to the wall abandon….hit or miss. They are being very patient and smart…confidence is coming back and they are growing the right way.

  2. Stupendous Says:

    Ahhhh, its actually killing me that I will miss the first night… but i will catch up
    quickly on tuesday and hopefully meet up on wed before the shows…
    Can’t wait!!!! Safe Travels to everybody!
    Cow – it was cool hanging out hit me up next time fo sho’

  3. Worthless Swampy Fool Says:

    What is the lot situation in Miami? Looking at google satellite images it looks like garages w/ a couple smaller lots.

    Anybody else in sec 322?

    Hey c0wfunk – 4 hour drive? are you in Central Fl already? We leave O-town at noon, everyone drive safe!

  4. whole tour! Says:

    The main lots are across the street from the arena. This is where “shakedown” was last time.

    There are several smaller lots next to the main lots and other lots and parking areas scattered across downtown.

    Word of caution: once you pass under the over pass to the west of the arena, it gets very sketchy. Do not wander alone into those areas, especially after dark. Stay in groups if possible.

  5. Robear Says:

    You all might think I’m a cornball, but here goes. Think of all the people you know and don’t know that need love in this world while you’re at the shows. Blast that love through the roof to every corner of the globe. It’s our job.

  6. Worthless Swampy Fool Says:

    Thanks whole tour!
    the I-95 overpass right? Don’t think we’ll be wandering that far (hopefully), plan is to get there early enough to park close and take a picnic dinner to bayfront or bicentiennial park. Then soak up the “atmosphere” of the lots till showtime. It’s all new to my wife so I want to ease her in.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    right on, robear!

    i want to feel the vibes from my gf’s house in cleveland. this run is gonna be awesome

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    @rob with that type of talk you’d fit in perfectly in an sci moshpit of love 😉

    @stupendous – great jamming last night I really needed that! When we were at that karaoke bar I really wished I had gone w/ you to that party. Maybe next time.

    @swampy fool – I’ve been in sarasota since 12/22 visiting w/ inlaws. We leave tomorrow as soon as we’re up and rollin – 9-10 am probably

  9. fromthetub Says:

    Hey all… we just made the last minute decision (as in an hour or so ago) to pull the trigger on flights to Miami tomorrow. We’ll miss the first night, but will be there for the others. I got a new camera for Christmas, so I’ll see what I can do!

    Crazzzzzy times ahead! It’s all sinking in! Can’t I live while I’m young(ish)!?!

    @Robear, I will spread the love out to all. It’s not cornball.

  10. Robear Says:

    yeAH! ^ stellar photos forthcoming ! 🙂 !

  11. albert walker Says:

    anyone flying in today know if security has been longer
    more pat downs

    is that just internationally

  12. chefbradford Says:

    Hoodstream is running audio of the 11/30/97 Wooster show

  13. Robear Says:

    A dub, there’s extra screening for elderly people, and family’s with young children. Other than that, don’t try to go to the bathroom right before the plane is landing.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    thats awesome, fromthetub!

    heading to shows last minute is the best feeling ever.

    one minute your toolin’ through your day…the next your sittin page side trying to pick your face off the floor.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thinking about trying “no spoilers” for tomorrow nights show, I will be out and away from computer anyhow, so why not. never done it before. Is there anything special i need to do? Or just find the no spoiler link on right hand column of home page and click away? Thanks.

  16. Robear Says:

    fromthetub, now you just need to score seats right near the Waterwheel booth so the kids have a homebase!

  17. chefbradford Says:

    Hoodstream is now streaming 8/20/93, Red Rocks, starting with ‘Divided’

  18. neemor Says:

    Well done, Wendy…you’re a credit to Phish fans everywhere….way to pull the trigger.

    cow…I picked up the Phish biography by Parke Puterbaugh also…some interesting and in depth stuff, dude had some real perspective and freedom given to him by the band.

    Some of the reality of the drug scene that infiltrated the band as early as 96 surprised me, but he made the band look almost like hapless pawns in the game which allowed them to save face a bit.

    Good, worthwhile read for any interested.

    Really excited for you guys.
    Excited also to get my drygoods presents which take forever to ship apparently, Antelope Hood, hats, etc.
    And of course, my blackboard long sleeve tee with the 1.0 collector’s print, soon to fade into the night…can’t wait.

    JOTD’s today are super sticky and bring some of that last minute Phish before the Miami run, I hope everyone stays safe in the big scary city and has nothing but great memories to share afterwards.

    Happy trails, guys and girls!

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    sounds like you’re a good deal further along than me neemor – just getting through the early histories now. But so far great book with some interesting fresh insights!

  20. neemor Says:

    Yeah, I had some real down time to delve into it…when it comes to Phish, I can really get into it.

    I was interested by some of the insights into how Trey puts together setlists and when and how the boys have the potential to override them or abandon them when the feeling is right….

    We’ve speculated about how the boys decide to go out and just jam their asses off, it’s not really a situation where they just decide to do it, not like they say, ‘alright, let’s go play Runaway Jim for 50 minutes’ or anything…it actually just happens.
    Shed a lot of light on the mindset of the band especially now…I think we’re right on with the thinking that they want to get comfortable wiht the catalog before opening it up….it made me excited with the thought that they are taking the ‘high road’ to get back to where they can open up a can of whoop-ass and blow our minds again.
    If they are in the Phishy mindset of days of ‘yore, and things hold true to form, we’ve got our band back and for a long time to come!
    Good stuff.
    I also enjoyed knowing that the DSOTM set from Utah for 3,500 fans that didn’t skip the stop was truly a way to teach us a lesson about skipping out of the way shows.
    Brad Sands came running back to the band and told them that there were only 3500 tickets sold and they decided to stick it to us…kind of a dick move, but certainly a game changer in the whole history of the band.

  21. neemor Says:

    Oh, and anyone near Connecticut on Monday nights…
    There’s a bar in New Haven called Stella Blues that has a residency situation with a band called Kung Fu.
    Six piece, great drummer, great bass, sax and trumpet, solid keys and one of the great unknown guitarists of our time (Tim Palmieri of the Breakfast) that are putting on some really solid jazz shows with surprising setlists, interesting teases and an all around good time.
    Just got a 2 disc SB from the band for the weekend and it blew my mind, especially for a ‘local’ band.
    Get a chance to check these guys out, will not be disappointed.

    I think about people like aw a lot when I listen, something I’d know he and other ‘jazz heads’ would totally dig.
    The roots of the band come together to create what I consider some truly interesting stuff….
    I don’t see them on the archive yet, but if anyone’s interested, I can do an old school B&P for New Year’s gifts…

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thanks for the insight on the new Bio Neemor. Gotta go pick it up. i’ve read some really bad phish books over the years. from a true phan like yourself, your recommondation is all i need.

  23. fromthetub Says:

    @Silly, that made me laugh out loud. That’s exactly how it went down. I actually made a shirt right before Cincy that reads “everything is better Page side”… might need to pack that…

    @Robear, a friend is giving us *free* floor tix to all nights. I was like, “wait, what??” I’ll make sure to stop by the waterwheel booth. Would love to offer up a home base! (That did work out incredibly well at MSG).

    @Neemor, “you’re a credit to Phish fans everywhere…” well, not sure about all that, but when it comes to seeing shows, I do try to make it happen! Just lucky to have such good friends that have tix + lodging which made it all possible.

    The best part is that we’ll head to Tahoe directly from SFO on the 1st to meet up with another group of friends for the weekend. Not sure how I’m going to make it through this week… I’m not that young anymore! 🙂 (obviously not complaining, very excited)

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Oh yeah- Phish exile set HD video DL– sorry if this is old news.

  25. neemor Says:

    Thx, Palmer….I’m not so sure that this Bio treads a whole lot of new ground, but some of the things it puts to rest or brings to light are worth the read.
    I think that the freedom to write what he saw firsthand from ’95 on speaks volumes to the forthcoming nature of the band.
    What did disturb me a bit is how, besides Big Cypress, the author considers anything post ’96 almost downhill for the band.
    It made me a bit forlorn for the old days and I thought it somewhat discounted some of the brilliant music that came about from Phish in the late nineties, but it goes a long way to explaining why their music became what it did from 97-00 and draws a lot of correlations and provides a lot of clarity between the band’s backstage scene and what we saw evolve on the lot during those years.

    I was just envisioning a *huge* ‘Cities’ in Miami this upcoming week, maybe a 12/29 Set II DWD>Cities>Timber or the like….once they shake off a bit of the rust again, I’m confident that we’ll see some true segues night two…
    Is it possible to be this excited?

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