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. Phamily Berzerker 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.

    ^ Had a boss do this after cashing out and buying guns and a motorcycle even with his VP salary.

    I have a a couple of K on the ccard mostly paying it down agressively.

    New snowboard and concerts for the whole berzerker clan did not help. paying it off with HELOC to get tax benefit.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    39 times, eh?


  3. SillyWilly Says:

    “Of course you have a debt. Life ain’t free.”

    I just distributed the government’s money where I saw fit.

    Those in power have made it so we have to pay simply to exist on the planet. We have to pay for a place to sleep, and we have to pay for food. If we don’t, people with guns come and force us to pay. That’s violent.

    There’s a difference between earning enough money (even this phrase has so many problematic connotations…replace “earning enough money” with “being allowed enough power to”) to live, and expending energy to feed yourself, and building shelter to protect yourself.

    one difference is that most people around the world could feed themselves and build shelters for a lot less than 40 hours a week before the rise of civilization.

    but, I’m crazy.

  4. poop goblin Says:

    04 Vegas made me sad when I heard it on tape

    They’re done were my thoughts at the time

    But I rarely spin phish and only saw jerry 27 times

    So what do I know

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Silly saw jerry 0 times. Pussy.

  6. MiA Says:

    You’re just made SW that you have to exchange something for something.

    “Those in power have made it so we have to pay simply to exist on the planet. ”

    Nah, this happened when you quit having your parents pay for stuff.

    You can try to just gather your daily bread out there, but then you’ll be like the Jews wandering around in the desert eating manna off the ground.

    “one difference is that most people around the world could feed themselves and build shelters for a lot less than 40 hours a week before the rise of civilization.”

    Not so sure that they fed themselves very well. Or that the tent they had was that good for warding off intruders with a bigger stick than you and an appetite for your children as wives.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Yeah, but give yourself at least partial credit for all the fake jerry in your past too, poop

  8. Phamily Berzerker Says:


    Could I borrow your glasses? I want them to be able to read my paycheck tomorrow.

  9. Albert walker Says:

    Youre good peeps bingos

    If you’re at tab tomorrow would love to puff ya out with this delicious OG wax we just made. Will be armed with pens in venue.


  10. voopa Says:

    i had a blast at Vegas ’04 too. Then I got sober.
    How do you stop one’s voice from getting hoarse? I know of one way.

  11. MiA Says:

    Tough not to comment about a certain baseball game.

  12. majikpresto Says:

    Funny I’ve never heard any other show where Trey’s voice is hoarse. That must’ve been the only night he ever partied.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    There’s no game 😉

  14. MiA Says:

    Well played T3.

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Sounds delicious, but you will not see me at TAB. We should definitely make plans to see a good band together in the near future though. Let me know if you hear anything fun coming through. Have only seen Jerry once, but I’ll keep my ears open.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Coral Sky Stash on lp radio. I miss the times that Stash wasn’t such a pussy.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m not mad I have to exchange something for something

    I’m mad that people’s entire lives are exchanged in destructive jobs just so they can support themselves.

    writing off what most people in industrial civilization have to do to survive as exchanging something for something operates on the notion that earning money is the same as working for your food.

    But, exchanging calories for the walk it takes to pull a trout out of a river is much different than exchanging 2 hours of labor for the 12 bucks you can take home to buy that trout from the supermarket.

    “Not so sure that they fed themselves very well.”

    I don’t think that food shortage was such an issue outside of civilization.

    Take North America, for example, if you believe the myths of most First Nations they were here since the beginning of time. If you believe the myths of science they’ve been here for 12,500 yrs (the ones that are left).

    They were able to support themselves on this land (without denuding it of its ability to support life) without leaving – for 12,500 years. They could have only done this if there were enough resources here.

    There’s plenty of firsthand accounts that there were flocks of passenger pigeons so thick they blotted out the sky, the salmon were so thick coming to spawn on the river that you could hear them thrashing from 20 miles away, and whales literally fucked with commerical fishing routes.

    have to live in balance as a culture, no doubt. But, I think the food was there.

  18. mitch Says:

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

    ^are you trolling? That jam was a recording from the studio so they could time the ball drop. Trey was hitting play on the CD player underneath the tea kettle.

    Silly, you got a $500 limit on your cc? You get that thing at a sporting event? First cc I got was at a cubs game and had wrigley field on it. Got a free jersey out of the deal. 500 limit. Hard to do a lot of damage besides a night of drinking with one of those.

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Oh, they had plenty of food. But how many trout would you have to trade for tickets to 39 GD shows?

  20. poop goblin Says:

    2 nail dabsand I’m uncomfortably high


  21. SillyWilly Says:

    I don’t know the right way to communicate this because it’s not really a big deal, it just hit me the wrong way…

    but, no one on this board knows what my parents have or have not paid for in my life.

    I understand I’m young, and many of you have created great lives for yourselves and your families and that’s awesome, but I don’t feel we don’t need to take it there.

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    horrible time for a double negative…haha.

    “I don’t feel we don’t”

  23. MiA Says:

    “They were able to support themselves on this land (without denuding it of its ability to support life) without leaving – for 12,500 years. ”

    The population density has increased considerably since then. Worldwide.

    You would like this Cod book I am reading. Very similar stories of Cod off of New England. Of course they are all gone now and our fishing habitats are mostly destroyed.

    Amazing stories of the UK using their navy to illegally fish off the coast of Iceland to grab their cod. They would ram Icelandic coast guard boats, and use special naval tactical information and radar to help illegally fish.

    Crazy stuff. I get ya. People didn’t just shoot what they could eat. They did more. Like having a still that makes more liquor than you can drink.

    I for one am thankful for those farmers that farm more precious than they can smoke.

  24. Selector J Says:

    Keep fighting, @sw.
    Drive-by Eek-A-Mouse vid:
    Saturday Night Jamboree riddim.

  25. poop goblin Says:

    I wish I wasn’t at tab either bingos

    2 gumdrops and a few flavs of wax cartridges. I probably won’t remember how cheezy it was.

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