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.

[audio:,] Tags: , ,

410 Responses to “Four Crappy Phish Runs”

  1. gavinsdad Says:

    Being rich is nice too.

    ^Dorn filling my coke bullet to the rim at MSG!

    seriously tho, i think i’m out for NYE run…wife has plans for us to visit the grandparents. such is life.

  2. ren Says:

    Curious what the schedule looks like at the studio Traveler was recorded at 😉

  3. dorn76 Says:

    Asset rich and cash poor, GD.

    Married, ya know?

    In truth, our little Cape cost $250k in 2002 and is worth about that now. Not much boom/bust around these parts.

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    you guys heard the Analyze Phish podcast?

    couple comedy writers (both with solid pedigrees….the one who likes phish actually did some work for Eastbound and Down’s upcoming season). one tries to convince the other to like the band.

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Almost missed the boat….Congrats to Tela’s!! The BB is good at this baby thing, mind and body.

    Cutting up cc’s takes serious dedication. Impressed. Would love to do the same in the next couple years, just use the trusty Amex to grab Starwood points.

    Detroit got their 1 run, should be plenty.

  6. ren Says:

    teenage wet dream

  7. poop goblin Says:

    I use an Amex to gain a free $100 every $7500 I spend but never hold a balance.

    I got no mortgage, kids, or car payments.

    selfish ass bastard FTW

    me and the wife don’t even combine cash. funny shit.

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Bout the same here willowed. Kid at 20 w/ major health problems/bills, married at 21. Had a shit job and didn’t really start making decent money for a while. Plus wife has always stayed home to be a mom, which seeing as my kids are the best ever, has turned out to be a great decision for us. Have never lived above our means, but when you start out behind the 8 ball, credit cards have been a necessary evil. I figure since the Supreme Court says corporations are people, then I am a corporation, so I’ll just write that shit off. 😉 We ain’t rich, but you won’t find a happier family.

  9. mitch Says:

    There’s a serious correlation between me paying off cc bills and PHiSH reuniting. Ran it up in 03/04 then back down to nothing. Ran it up again and down again. This should be my last time. Learned the third go round to finally stop using CCs.

    Listened to that analyze PHiSH as background noise a while back. Worth it for that at least.

  10. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i don’t have any credit cards, never have. however, i am having a kid soon and in our fucked up society i need to earn credit if i ever want to buy a house. i am 100% debt free. why do i need credit, if i want a loan?

  11. Mitch Says:

    So they believe you when you say “sure, ill pay that back”

    Prime example of my comment above

  12. ren Says:

    Credit Cards are like guns….just need to be used responsibly. I use mine instead of cash and pay the balance every month.

    -extra “insurance” on purchases
    -buffer between the world and your $$$
    -every few months I earn a $100 gift certificate to Amazon

  13. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    “sure, ill pay that back”- i understand that. however, don’t utility bills, rent, etc answer the “sure, i’ll pay that back” questioning? is their anyway to avoid getting a CC while still acquiring a loan?

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    my cc has a limit of 500$

    banks taking one look at my income and my student loan debt and they say

    get the fuck out of here.

  15. poop goblin Says:

    I was a credit ghost til age 30 heady. Never worked in Babylon or paid taxes.

    Took on a car payment cosigned by my pops to build it up.

    Funny but no credit can be worse than bad credit

  16. poop goblin Says:

    If I fall off the wagon ever I have a junkie dream of a max balance I can borrow cash on my am ex

    Since phish came back they keep upping my balance

    They see me touring around like Ned

  17. phishnin Says:

    That 2011 NYE “Steam” is a great jam, no matter who you are.

  18. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    damn- i am 34 and a credit ghost. i need to figure this out. i am finding that a baby brings on strange new realities. i do think, however, that the baby’s love- and overall radness- will out weigh any negative strange new realities that we must face.

  19. dorn76 Says:

    That profile could’ve had you living on a cul de sac with a pool not too many years ago. Then when the payment ballooned and the pool filled with algae you could just walk away like thousands have done/are doing.


  20. MiA Says:

    Our company has folks that moved here from other countries to work for our company.

    Great folks, made good money in home country, get a nice 6 figure salary here, and don’t have social security numbers or a US based credit rating.

    So they can’t buy homes, even get cell phones, etc.

    Credit scoring is crazy stupid business.

  21. alf Says:

    jersey discussion the day miner posts about all time worst runs

    coincidence? fuck jersey.

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Wow everyone bailing for the MSG run. You know what that means. Gonna be fucking epic.

  23. MiA Says:

    I put everything on AMEX. Greatest credit card company in the world. They are 100% for the consumer, fight for you, and have great coverage. My hell bent Beagle ate my wife’s glasses, and AMEX replaced them without a question.

    Can’t say enough good about the organization. Ren is right though about responsibility. Gotta pay them off every month. Floating a balance is terrible.

    We had huge student debt. The Government will loan you all kinds of money for student loans, then people use the Student Loans for all kinds of non-Student Loan things, like Phish tour, vacations, stupid shit, etc.

    Most kids I know with huge student loans, also paid mortgage, food, etc with them. So, yeah, you have a debt. That’s because you didn’t work while going to school. Of course you have a debt. Life ain’t free.

  24. MiA Says:

    That and school is now ridiculously expensive. Esp. private schools.

    My U of MN education from ’86 to ’94 was about $3400 a year for tuition. Shouldn’t have done it for 8 years, but was a pretty good deal.

  25. majikpresto Says:

    What a bunch of pussies! Are you kidding? VEGAS 04 was awesome, and I listen to Phish every day and saw Jerry 39 times.
    Night 2 – Strange Design, Brian and Robert, and Lifeboy all in the same show!! The Piper was sick 3rd night! (A 50 foot glow snake made it’s way from rafters to front row and all around. One of my favorite Phish moments by far. Trey was totally jamming to the snake!)
    The only complaint was Trey’s voice. Horse as hell, but how do you stop that? The music rocks and everyone there extremely happy. The vibe was off the hook. Oh yea – Soul Shakedown (so sick), Halley’s (boom), Ginseng!, double encore!. Listening to Taste right now. So sweet.

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