Four Crappy Phish Runs

As readers know, I’ve spent most of my time on this site highlighting the best and the brightest moments, jams and shows of Phish’s career. But let’s be honest, sometimes the band just doesn’t get it done. One needn’t look any further back than Bill Graham’s second night or 2011’s craptacular New Year’s Run to find shining examples of these less than stellar performances. Today, instead of pointing out gems from the past, let’s take a look at four of the least inspired runs in the band’s career.


New Year’s Run 2002-2003

NYE 2002 (S.Campbell)

Though everyone was through-the-roof excited for Phish to be back after a 2 ½ year absence, once they hit the stage, there wasn’t a hell of a lot to write home about. Their 2002 New Year’s performance contained very little impressive jamming, and got by on the community’s adrenaline alone. The only musically memorable part of this night came in the third set with “Runaway Jim -> Time Loves a Hero,” and even this jam was nothing too special. Phish’s highly-anticipated comeback show easily took the cake for the worst New Year’s Eve show of all time. And once the band got down to Hampton—the fucking Mothership—things just got worse.

Strewn by sloppy and uninspired play, the band slogged through three shows with zero listen back value whatsoever. The first night in Hampton provided the strongest effort of the three, highlighted by the jam of the run in “46 Days.” The second night fell totally flat despite a first set that looks great on paper. The “Wolfman’s” from set two provided a decent jam that got the Coliseum rocking, but outside of the live experience it’s not worth remebering. The third night was highlighted by—well—nothing that I can remember. The band had more or less lost me by the fourth show in the run, and I was just rooting for some serious practice time before they came out for winter tour. “Weekapaug > What’s the Use?” would have to be considered the jam of the show, but it was not memorable. When the band returned at the Forum in LA and then Las Vegas in mid February, they announced their return with their instruments, not just their presence on stage, and the 2.0 era got rolling in earnest


Turkey Run 2003

20th Anniversary Print (Pollock)

After a phenomenal and exploratory Summer Tour in 2003, the band took a few months off before hitting Nassau, Philly and Boston for their 20th Anniversary Run in November. Everyone was expecting some very special shows over this weekend, and most everyone was let down. Over these four nights, there were only a handful of highlights with “Twist -> Simple” from 11.29 at The Spectrum leading the way by far. The first show in Nassau Coliseum featured two engaging first set sequences in “Ghost -> What’s the Use” and “Bathtub > Free,” but the second set was completely innocuous, featuring a string of unjammed singles. Philly, outside of “Twist -> Simple,” really need not be discussed at all. I know a lot of people enjoyed the third night in Albany, but I found it to be a totally setlist driven affair. If there could be any less action in a sequence labeled “Tweezer > 2001 > YEM,” show me too it; it doesn’t exist. The “Wolfman’s Brother” that came towards the end of the first set pumped the crowd up and provided the one true highlight of the night. Halfway through the second set,however, the band invited their original fourth member, Jeff Holdsworth, to the stage to perform his songs “Camel Walk” and “Possum.” Holdsworth stuck around for to play the first song ever performed live by the band, “Long Cool Woman With a Black Dress,” and their old-school single “Run Like an Antelope.” It all sucked. Steeped in Phishy nostalgia, this set contained nothing worth listening to again.

When the band made their way up to Boston for their 20th Anniversary show, everyone expected musical fireworks and something extra special. But the band didn’t even address the crowd or acknowledge the event but for a stellar video retrospective that aired on stage during setbreak—easily the highlight of the show. The beginning of the second set provided the a small musical takeaway in the unconventional combination of “Rock and Roll -> Weekapaug -> Tweezer Reprise.” The guys dropped a solid “Maze” late in the set, but “Maze” can’t do much to save a show. All in all this “celebratory” run was pretty piss poor. Antelope Greg maintains that these shows didn’t cut the mustard because he wasn’t there. Well, Greg or no Greg, these shows simply blew. (But check that “Twist -> Simple” below as the jam of the day.)


Vegas 2004

Vegas ’04 (Pollock)

The three night run in Las Vegas in the spring of 2004 marked the beginning of the end. After this weekend, Trey would post his notorious message on proclaiming—“We’re done.” The news came as a stake through many a fan’s heart, but based on the guys’ haggard musical output over the weekend, few could argue with his reasoning. Sandwiched in the middle of a lot of very messy playing, however, there were some really solid jams, led by “Halley’s > Tweezer” that opened up night three and a manic “Twist” from night two. The other Vegas notables include a near twenty-minute “Pebbles and Marbles” from the final set of the run and an opening night sequence of “Drowned > 2001 > Disease.” But relative to what we recognize as quality Phish today, these shows really stunk up Sin City.


 New Years Run 2011

MSG 2011 (DKNG)

It’s no secret that last year’s New Year’s Run at MSG blew goats. After a stellar summer that concluded with an outlandish run at Dick’s, the community was incredibly excited to “Occupy YEMSG” for the holiday celebration. But after Phish came out and raised hopes with a high quality opening show, everything went down hill. Getting progressively worse by the night the band stumbled to the finish line in a run for which they didn’t hold rehearsals. The 29th featured little to no improvisation, with a single segue between “Chalk Dust” and “Hydrogen” making the only buzz of the night. The 30th was a trainwreck, less the jam of the run in the second set’s “Piper,” and New Year’s Eve immediately challenged the 2002 show in the same building for the worst ever. On one of Phish’s high holidays, a bunch of first set singles gave way to the “main event” in the second. The only jam of note in the set, however, was “Light” which saw Page make token use of his Theramin. Though the band jammed “Light,” I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to this version after my once through after the show. Remember the third set? Probably not. Three words—“Velvet Sea,” “Alaska.” Nuff said.


Jam of the Day:

Twist -> Simple” 11.29.03 II, Philly, PA

The one gem of 2003’s Turkey Run.

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410 Responses to “Four Crappy Phish Runs”

  1. RedRedWorm Says:

    New Trey interview with XRT in Chicago

    phish to start recording “pretty soon”

  2. poop goblin Says:

    nice Mitch. didn’t know you quit schwilling. big $$$ saver right there.

  3. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    It is Refi day here.

    I am looking at a nice chunk of cash flows back and an ok rate if we do it.

    Could pull cash out and do NYE in style!

  4. thedayman Says:

    @calpain – electrons sent

  5. Kaveh Says:

    West Coasters: this is pimp!

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Holy shit the Celebrity Theater here! May go see that.

    Mrs. B first tasted phish there. One of the last theater in the rounds in the US.

  7. dusty Says:

    mt living is tough as you get older. I could never live in SF again. It takes me about a day before I can’t take the agro stress yup. I was always amazed at the lack of older folks in SF until I moved to the hills. However, the older folks up in the hills are a great bunch. Pioneer type.

  8. poop goblin Says:

    this shit cracks me up. not sure why. Fake Jerry working the K street scene.

  9. Dorn76 Says:

    Roll call! Have GA East for the 30th, will be on the phone for 28th/30th. Home for NYE.

    Page was not lying to us about the studio. Extra Hot Pockets for that guy.

    Mortgage at 3.1%, recently refi’d…lost a few years but saved $200/month. Cheap money ftw.

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @RRW, did you listen? what does soon mean? before MSG? tickets about to get tougher?

  11. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Poop, go for the forest getaway with green house.

  12. poop goblin Says:

    this is just awesome. can’t believe these people own these clothes in their closets.

    fake jer seems to be wearing an ensemble designed by the extremely gifted designer Glowbanks

    bass players groove while playing is epic only to be outdone by that terrible percussionist also known as fake jerry’s wife.

  13. poop goblin Says:

    solo acoustic bob weird tour. fuck. hope he sings some jerry tunes. sure Jer loves that.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    “Makes me so mad to write some clowns a check for $2400 to “insure” me against someone making a claim for my property.”

    fuck lawyers.

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Anybody who thinks herb is bad should read poog posts pre-first puff and post-first puff. Can literally see the stress melt away on screen. Then again, we would never get to see these supreme videos if he could puff all day.

  16. thedayman Says:

    my guess is they start recording post thanksgiving. would allow them to get comfortable with one another before the new years run w/out playing shows so they can circumvent the lackluster run last year. really think it’s obvious now why they had that video w/fish training. they laid waste to this summer.

    disclaimer: i just made all of that up.

  17. MiA Says:

    Yeah SW! And fuck insurance companies!

  18. MiA Says:

    yeah, I hope they do their recording before Troy starts putting all the TAB stuff into his head. Could go on TAB tour, and come back and say “Hey Guys! I have a great idea for a new album!”

  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Fuck Home builders!

    Fuck Home owners!

    Fuck Bankers!

    Tomorrow is asshole day right? Not that it doesn’t stop some folks at all anytime.

  20. Calpain Says:

    phish to start recording “pretty soon”

    ^ just is time for a in studio re-creation of the vegas wolfman’s, on said date.

  21. William H. Bonney Says:

    Insurance companies are fuckers, carpet bagging son’s of bitches. Finally something to rally all the bb together.

    Have been flooded out since july and bastards are trying everything under the sun to not pay claim. Collect 10 years of prem. then try to deny claims at all cost. Not been a fun time at all, giant stress ball………..

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    when’s Tory tour over??

  23. MiA Says:

    I wanna kick that geico lizard in the balls … hard … and flo or whatever her cheesy ass name is and that goddamn duck. Fuck all of them.

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    just trying to find some efficiencies since i made mistakes when i was young and am cleaning up some debt wreckage. not to mentioned i married a woman with 44k in school loans that are now paid off. i also have a much smaller 2nd home equity loan (as i started with a HELOC that was variable…that i fixed in about 6 years ago that i couldn’t fold into my main mortgage but now that bank said they would chip a point off the apr). as much as i’d like to i’m not going to move since i am near a job market and a high speed rail line, i can get to a number of cities quickly and i can also get to the shore and the mountains without much effort. and our school system is putting kids in college. so i’m also parking it here for the near term.

    @mitch – you better take a few more jersey roadtrips OFF the nj turnpike before you talk any more shit about NJ. it’s the Garden State after all. head up to ringwood buddy. you just happen to be in the nyc commuter burbs which i grew up in for most of my life so i dont know any better.

  25. mitch Says:

    People think sf folks are aggro? I posted on here when I got back how much sf restored my faith in humanity after living in NYC.

    Bob did a solo show at the Capitol theatre. I didn’t hear good reviews heads up.

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