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. IrieWalton Says:

    Whatup, BB Massive!

    In the throes of experiencing my first west coast harvest in 5 years and just wanted to take a minute to thank all the farmers out there. Dear Lord, this is sickness.

    Domino, FTW!

  2. MiA Says:

    I assume your parents put food in your mouth SW until you left.

    Sorry about that. Shouldn’t have gone there.


  3. mitch Says:

    Insert joke about silly’s mom paying me for sex so that I know what she paid for in his life

  4. MiA Says:

    ““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.”

    I meant to write “Nah, this happens when one quits having one’s parents pay for stuff.”

    My “you” didn’t meant to be personal SW. Sorry you took it that way.

  5. mitch Says:

    Didn’t mean for my fun comment to follow an ass comment. Bad timing silly. Laughin with ya not at ya

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m just aggro, MiA

    bad day at work.

    don’t know why I even talk about this shit.

    Anyway, I’m all set for tix for NYE, and that’s big. just need to book a flight…

    come on kayak.

  7. MiA Says:

    I poked ya. Sorry. Still, you’d like this Cod book. But maybe not. Might just piss you off more. It pissed me off.

    Rightfully so though.

  8. poop goblin Says:

    MIA is here to argue with when you had a bad day. It’s often my stress reliever. Kid likes compressed guitar tones Wtf!

    This proves the quality of the amex brand. MIA and AW agreement. That’s rarer than the kaya 4th star.

  9. poop goblin Says:

    MIA is here to argue with when you had a bad day. It’s often my stress reliever. Kid likes compressed guitar tones Wtf!

    This proves the quality of the amex brand. MIA and AW agreement. That’s rarer than the kaya 4th star.

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    I deserve a lot of what comes at me when I drop all radical on the board.

    and Anne Marie does hide money in my clothes when I go home.

    I should confess that for a while I collected all the random 20s my mom dropped in my clothes and went to my guy

    felt bad until the first puff.

    sorry, ma.

  11. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    SW, did they hang somebody?

    Too bad if they did. Too bad they didn’t

    Talk about population density….

  12. IrieWalton Says:

    Another happy Amex user here, too. If you can pay your balance in full each month the card is great for all the reasons already given (I.e., points, free cash, buyer protection, and great customer service).

  13. poop goblin Says:

    SW being all radical gonna draw heat to the board

    They’re watching you man

  14. poop goblin Says:

    TT yo!

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Fact: My amex never got denied for phish ticket lottery.

    Fact: I did not use it this time around.

    Fact: daughter’s cross-country meet conflicts with MSG On Sale

  16. MiA Says:

    I do love that super round, hollow body tone.

    But gotta say that growly uncompressed tone in Trey’s rig was perfect for TAB in ’02. Loved it. When Hoarse Trey and Hoarse guitar came together, I didn’t like it.

    Finally put that ‘Roo TAB in my car. Also now realized I’ve never listened to Plasma.

  17. poop goblin Says:

    speaking of OG

    Freddie Gibbs-Personal OG

    love that shit

  18. poop goblin Says:

    when he drops the west coast prices and the chicago prices in singles and chunks. best shit ever.

  19. MiA Says:

    That’s a great track.

  20. voopa Says:


  21. poop goblin Says:

    Gary, Indiana’s finest

    love the subject of course but damn Gibbs throws it down on that track.

  22. MiA Says:

    I didn’t realize that Freddie Gibbs has an album cover for “The Label’s Trying to Kill Me” that’s a parody on that Master P album cover “The Ghetto’s Trying to Kill Me”

  23. sumodie Says:

    This must be old news round here by now but haven’t read back

    Troy confirms Phish will enter the studio (doesn’t say when tho)

    full audio interview clip:

  24. mitch Says:

    Didn’t sample this cause I’m on the train so sorry if the quality sucks.

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    a shitty day just got shittier…my bane man is out of town until Monday…

    Fuck it Donny..lets go see Mule on NYE instead…

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