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. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    waddup. got a bunch of NYE tickets to trade. Need floors for every other night.

    bdragon89 @

  2. btb Says:

    Did the Albany/Boston 20th Anniversary Run.

    Have to say that I’m glad I witnessed it, however, I expected more from the Boston show. Had a good time in Albany (no shotguns back then?!) and it’s probably one of the few shows I ever hit where I saw a distinct piece of PH history (holdsworth).

    My prints from that era

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    poop, i’ll score you a bunch of NYEs on saturday if i have to to get you to msg. but you’ll be there regardless don’t lie.

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    Puff the Magic Dragon, puffs by the sea
    And when he sees the poop goblin, he rolls a big fat tree

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    don’t know if litteringand is out there today, but if so just wanted to pass on that Moe, the owner of Club 23 passed away. That place was the only watering hole in South Bend where freaks like us felt at home and Moe was the reason for it. He was a great guy to talk to at 3pm or 3am. RIP, Moe. 😥

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    got a bunch of NYE tickets to trade. Need floors for every other night.

    bdragon89 @

  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Where is Umphrey’s playing? Water Street?

    Tela’s probably won’t be around but big congrats buddy.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  9. poop goblin Says:


    If we got even one night I figured I could swing it. non of my peeps are going so even extra flow with friends is pretty minimal this year.

    i can probably get me, K, my dad, and bro all on computers for the onsale but only me and K are properly trained in quick on sales.

    whatever. it may work out. no fuckin way though I pay above face to see TOry. not gonna happen.

    would love to go but kinda fucked myself by goin floor only on the mail orders. whatever. only way I would have done it anyway.

  10. poop goblin Says:

    anyway. done whining.

    have fun kids. back to researching US Shale natural gas companies. love me some good fracking well research.


  11. marcoesq Says:

    yeah g$$, water st

  12. [Not Tom] Says:

    have rejection emails gone out?

  13. tela's_muff Says:

    hey. popping in from dropping my 1st daughter off to school.

    we welcomed a beautiful 8.1lb 20.5in baby girl yesterday. happy, healthy, and a massive amount of hair. wife is good, and we are happy. Amelia Sybil is her name. anyway, thanks for the kind thoughts and support from severl BB’ers, crazy how the family grows. realting Phish to the birth, my wife’s fav song is Ghost, so she pushed to the jam.

    hope ticket hunting went well for those going. it’ll be family couch tour for me. peace and love.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    congrats, Tela’s

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    congrats, smuff! great choice on the name 😉

  16. ren Says:

    Spun that NYE ’02 yesterday since I only realized a week ago that I was actually at that show. Might be one of the more deafening crowd roars I’ve ever heard. Funny that even some of the “worst” shows still have really good ideas…like that PIPER opener. What a great way to harness that extended break energy and build it to a fever pitch on the first song.

    Love how you’re throwin’ down the gauntlet Miner! The boys are gonna deliver whatever they’re gonna deliver but our voice will be heard.


  17. ren Says:

    Congrats Tela’s!!!! Nothing better than a happy, loving family 🙂

  18. MiA Says:

    Congrats Tela’s. Great name too.

  19. voopa Says:

    For those who haven’t seen it:
    Phish 20th Anniversary Video Montage

    Congrats Tela’s!

  20. dusty Says:

    congrads Tela’s! I heard Vegas ’04 was a shitshow. I’ll be working further NYE at the civic center. Renting some honey dips and charging by the number.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Congratulations Telas! We are one year in here. It is a wild ride.

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I likely have 4 Friday floors in exchange for sats.

  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    What’s up guys? Shutout on NYE tix so probably a definite no go for me. Scoring tix the old fashioned way was my plan, and the ticket gods shit on me. Guess I may try onsale just to see what happens.

    Big Congrats to Telas, Mrs. Telas, and the family…beautiful baby girl that I’m sure will grow to love the Phish and Scratch.

    I know you guys know this, but Simple Twist of Fate from 2/28/80 works magic like not much else. Kinda like that 7.6.94 Reba…

    Happy Day!

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    I love Water Street but it’s kind of a pain to get beers.

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Congrats Tela’s! Daughters Rule!

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