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. chefbradford Says:

    Timber, love me some Timber. Every time I think of Timber, I think of 12/14/95 II, Tweezer>Timber>Tweezer>etc. Oh my gods, insanity

    The good time

  2. chefbradford Says:

    And neemor, I’m pretty excited, and I’m not even going. I’m pumped for the streams (probably will miss Wednesday, possibly NYE), and I’m really excited for what the future holds

  3. neemor Says:

    I don’t think there’s any other way to feel about it, chef.

    Yay, Phish!

  4. chefbradford Says:

    sorry, the good kind, not time

    neemor- exactly

  5. Kenny Powers Says:

    “I don’t think there’s any other way to feel about it, chef.

    Yay, Phish!”

    Ditto that Neemor.

    Also making my way thru the Phish bio, only about 50 pages in but really enjoying it, especially the descriptive detail of the early college days. I always knew Trey got kicked out of UVM for the hand and heart stunt, but I had no idea he and a friend had a competition for who could mail the most outrageous package. classic. what a crazy, loveable fucker.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    love the story about the flames shooting out of the rhombus at tom’s bachelor party too 🙂

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    Im not kidding, Ive got this nervous anxious feeling going on right now.
    Some of it maybe that Im flying to see my girlfriend tomorrow and I havent seen her in 8 weeks or so.

    I think a lot of it is the end of the Phish year. I dont know what Ill do for the months of January and February (and maybe even March and April). For the first time in my life, Im able to say that Im truly in the offseason!

    It feels so cool. I feel like Im on the beginning of a great trip. Im not sure where Im going or how Im going to get to my next destination, but I feel like Ive got a brand new car thats all tuned up, my bank account is full, and ive got open highway in front of me.

    Thanks to everyone on this board who has given me advice and shared his or her thoughts and experiences.
    On the eve of the last Phish run of 2009, I can’t wait to see you all in 2010. Drinks (even if its just Mountain Dew) will be on me!

  8. chefbradford Says:

    I just opened a can of Mountain Dew, actually

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    right on, chef…i was typing about buying people drinks and i wanted people who dont drink to know that i think its cool they dont drink so i threw the part in about mountain dew

  10. neemor Says:

    “I feel like Ive got a brand new car thats all tuned up, my bank account is full, and ive got open highway in front of me. ”

    Make sure that you aim that feeling towards a Phish show next year.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    I will, neemor. i made my first two this year and my only obstacle was money, but i got a scholarship at school so ill have some money to hit the road this summer.

  12. neemor Says:

    I don’t normally consider Colts fans classless, but ‘booing’ your undefeated team?
    C’mon now.

    Silly, I tend to find some local music to check out in the offseason…
    Bands like Chance Fisher are out there doing some really fun stuff from small stages and deserve our support.

    Not sure what the local scene looks like from your spot, but I know I have no excuse to stay home when I can be out there keeping warm sharing the love and cutting a rug in some local bars and pubs in front of some up and coming bands that are out there for the love of their product.
    Maybe give that a shot.
    And have fun with that little lady, spend time doing things she loves to do, when you’ve gotten to be my age and you look back on the loves that have passed you by, it hurts to think what could’ve been….don’t lose sight.

  13. neemor Says:

    I’m still wagering on a smallish February tour in ’10….Worcester needs some love like the ’03 winter….

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Wow. Neemor.

    Thank you very much for that advice. You always bring something great to say. that was really a great thing to say to me.

    and thats a great point about the local scene. you just reminded me of my pre-end of the semester favorite bar. The Argus Bar. theres a little jazz/reggae group that plays every thursday. i forgot about that until you told me to remember the local scene.

    Some great acts came through Madison this past fall: Old Crow Medicine Show, Bela Fleck, Yonder, and Railroad earth.

  15. chefbradford Says:

    I know all the smart money is on a short NE run in the spring, but I’m keeping up my insistence on love for the Deep South (Miami doesn’t quite count, it’s almost its own region)

    Silly- I’m hoping I can have a drink (of any kind) with all of you sometime next year

  16. SillyWilly Says:


    Im in Madison, WI about 45 mins from Alpine Valley, so if you can make it up north for that Im gonna try and host a meet up this summer.

    I also really wanna make a trip south, so if they do hit the south this spring or summer im gonna try my hardest to get down your way.

  17. chefbradford Says:

    Good deal, Silly. I made it up to WI once, in high school. Went to a drum corps try-out in Wakesha (sp?). I was still living in Tennessee, and from the time we left out until our arrival, the area had gotten 11 or 12 inches of snow. Beautiful, but frigid. This was early or mid-January, I think

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah weve had a ton of snow already. i can deal with the snow for the most part. it just gets so cold. the single digits and below 0 weather really get to me.

  19. neemor Says:

    Wow, Big Cypress almost happened in Hawaii….
    That would’ve sucked.

  20. chefbradford Says:

    Yeah, it got cold in TN every year, and we got snow, but nothing like as much as WI. This part of Louisiana is a whole other beast. People freak out when it gets down to the 30’s. Lived here ten years, seen snow 3 times, the third being for half an hour a couple weeks ago

    I miss the snow, and seasons, but it’s pretty nice here. Incredibly muggy and hot most of the time, but nowhere’s perfect

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, my girlfriend, absolutely hates the winter, so Im sure Ill be looking for a job in the south or maybe the west in the next few years.

    youre right nowhere is perfect, and in the dead of winter i think i would love to live down in Louisiana

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    What time is it in Miami now? It’s 7:50 here

  23. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    No more Spoilers, there Neemor. I need a nother book for my bedside table to block out the alarmclock.

  24. chefbradford Says:

    Miami should be on Eastern Time I believe, Brandon. Should be nearly 8

  25. chefbradford Says:

    What time are the show scheduled to begin?

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