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. sumodie Says:

    Telas, congrats on baby Amelia! Hope mom and the kids are doing well

  2. kayatosh Says:

    what up BB massive?

    lively convo here today. best of luck to all of you, including you rich cats who don’ need luck.

    chillin after solo parenting (wife workin) — rayon vert (funk beer) + old koosh. harvest where are you?

  3. sumodie Says:

    For better or worse I’m pinning my saturday tix hopes on the TM android app. Not gonna be home, tho my online at home track record sux for hot shows anyway

    almist wished i didn’t live so close to NYC (3h15m) so i had a decent excuse for skipping

    but who am i kidding, i don’t skip 4 night runs

    meanwhile i must’ve imparted my partner some good (or bad) knowledge

  4. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Congrats muff family! Good things, good things.

  5. sumodie Says:


    cause he’s going to Boston TAB without me

  6. sumodie Says:

    LP app has me thinking

    how much would i pay per month to be able to stream the entire Phish catalog from the cloud

    wonder if phish inc is already considering that business model

  7. kayatosh Says:

    just realized – tomorrow, i’ll be seeking out an aud. of tonight’s detroit TAB show, despite how lame i anticipate it being. need to try it firsthand. treyhooked.

    NYE (my only MSG possibility) notions fading. don’t know if i can deal w/ the expense and the intensity of NYE in NYC. watch it blow the f up.

  8. marcoesq Says:

    umphreys tonight in Rochester, anyone? just got into town

  9. kayatosh Says:

    you get around, marco. respect. bet you have binders full of women.

  10. sumodie Says:

    Love how 2 of today’s crappy runs are represented by gorgeous prints

    (On the other hand, Pollock’s garishly awful Coventry print was most appropriate in hindsight)

  11. sumodie Says:

    4-5 hours of slavishly typing nye only captchas would surely turn up a single ticket. gotta be dedicated, tho, and even i won’t have time for that on Saturday

    tab tonight? well whaddya know

  12. kayatosh Says:

    just took a peek at the coventry pollock. ewwww.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I, for one, believe it is more than simple coincidence that trey opens tour in rock city on the same night that the yankees are swept by the tigers

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya- you are one of the biggest TAB fans on here. You are always pimping certain tunes. Don’t let the negative nancies get in your head. Go to the show and enjoy yourself. Come on now.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    you’re right, palmer. i dig the TAB. but what show am i seeing? maybe the autumn bell will kidnap me if he goes to one.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    but in defense of the Negnancies, that Corona video was awful. lyrics about the ozone layer and too many keyboards – comon trey!

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Trey Anastasio: Thu, Oct 18, 2012
    The Fillmore Detroit, Detroit, MI
    Set 1: Corona, Push On ‘Til the Day, Words to Wanda, Simple Twist Up Dave, Burlap Sack and Pumps, Cayman Review, Scabbard, Frost, Drifting, Wherever You Find It, Gotta Jibboo

  18. MiA Says:

    I guess he’s playing that Jaguar.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    nice, t3. that looks good. words to wanda is a super soft, wimpy tune, but i like it.

    palmer’s right. i dig TAB and will give this go round a fair shake.

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    add a
    >Goodbye Head
    to that Jibboo

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Gdad is coming up this way to catch the Cap theater show with some of his boys i believe. I am going as well. Mitch maybe also.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    cap theater. cool. thanks.

  23. Oldskool Says:

    @TIII, not gonna catch the show here but if you want to grab a beer or two beforehand let me know

  24. MiA Says:

    Wow. Terrible refs.

  25. MiA Says:

    What an incredible ending to the game.

    If you are a homer and had SF at -7.5 you are incensed at Harbaugh.

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