The Return of Phish 2.0

It was on this weekend six years ago that Phish re-established themselves in the post-hiatus era.  As much of the Phish community flocked to Las Vegas for two nights at the beginning of the band’s winter comeback tour, many fans held lingering questions in their mind.  The Hampton shows left a bland flavor in mouths of most fans, and aside from those who saw the “Walls > Carini” at the LA Forum on Valentine’s Day, many wondered when, and if, Phish would regain their explosiveness.  Any unclarity was wiped away over the course of two demonstrative shows in which Phish musically exclaimed their return.

image-808998a843c311d7There was nothing like another spectacular weekend in Vegas for Phish to regain the confidence of their fan base. (Ironically, it would be a weekend in the same room about a year later that signaled the band’s imminent demise.)  Returning to the Thomas and Mack Center, the site of so many special nights, the band played with a creative dynamic and that sense of urgency that was so blatantly lacking in their four-night reverse New Years Run.  Weaving together lively sets all weekend long, Phish highlighted songs past and present, culminating with the much-loved second set of the 2.16.03 show; no set of the weekend better exemplified the meshing of the old and the new.  The opening segment of “Disease > Seven Below > Disease” popped with intensity while the band’s playing remained incredibly intricate.  With remarkable improv and seamless segues, this was one of the first big highlights of 2003, a year that would resurrect Phish and bring us all back to those mystery-laden adventures of yesteryear.

powerYet, what also emerged from this Vegas weekend was a new direction in the band’s sound and playing.  Not as squarely focused on groove as in the late-90’s, the band still anchored their playing in dance rhythms- though with far more texture and effect- creating a “space-like” quality to the music.  This new direction would be typified by such legendary Winter ’03 jams as the Cincy Gin (2.22), the Chicago and Nassau Tweezers (2.20 & 2.28), and the Worcester Ghost (2.26).  This style of dissonant-space-groove became magnified as the tour and year moved on, taking Phish’s jams to new and different places than ever before.

image-ba5346c0449611d7The colossal “Piper” that came later in 2.16’s second set also foreshadowed a post-hiatus trend; that of huge “Piper” jams.  On this night, the song would fly off the handle for 22 minutes, something that became the norm throughout the year as it produced continuous highlights.  Including musical references to the set’s “Seven Below” and a full “Disease Reprise,” this “Piper” soared in a new direction for the song- a launch pad for adrenalized, full-on improvisational adventures.  Like this Vegas version, every time “Piper” appeared in ’03, jaw-dropping  jams materialized.  A full-speed canvas that the band collectively shredded to bits, “Piper” became one of the best developments of ’03, fully realizing a transformation that began as the band wound down in 2000.

While the most impressive playing came within the weekend’s final set, the others shone as well.  2.15’s “Waves > Bug,” highlighted the Round Room composition for the first time since the comeback show, and the “Ghost” that followed absolutely smoked. (Potentially in response to a banner that hung from the second level image-ba5300d6449611d71proclaiming it had been 871 days since the previous version.)  The first set boasted hot versions of “Reba” and “Antelope,” while 2.16’s first set opened with a ferocious “Bowie > Catapult > Bowie,” and brought some amorphous new-school improv with the second “Round Room” ever.

This Vegas weekend back in ’03 was cause for universal celebration in the Phish scene, as they were finally back.  Both inspirational and playful again, the Phishy vibe had returned in a city where it had thrived for years.  These nights were the first building block for Phish 2.0, in a year that saw their playing evolve, exploring a plethora of new ideas.  This was the first step (well, second and third) down a path that would culminate in Miami’s magnificent New Years’s Run.

All photos from Vegas ’03



Over at, they are running a Hampton opener contest!  If you guess correctly, and we all know we have the right answer, you have a chance to win summer tickets. The top prize is one ticket to The Fox if you are the only person to guess the answer correctly!  Give it a shot; why not?  Details are on the site.



hampton_outsideFor those of you who won’t nearly be done with your night when the encore ends, there are Phish after-parties scheduled in the surrounding Hampton area each night.  If you are arriving on the 5th, the night before the shows begin, The Disco Biscuits will be passing through Norfolk on their winter tour.  After Friday’s Phish show, Bassnectar and Orchard Lounge will take The Norva Theatre’s stage starting at midnight.  Following both Saturday and Sunday’s shows, Steve Kimock and Friends will be playing late-night gigs at The Norva as well.  In addition, after Sunday’s show, UK psychedelic dub maestro, OTT, will be headlining a down-tempo electronica party at The Omni in Newport News.  Click on artists below to buy tickets now!

3.5 The Disco Biscuits @ The Norva, Norfolk, VA (Pre-Phish)

3.6 Bassnectar, EOTO, Orchard Lounge @ The Norva

3.7 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Ott, Bluetech, Telepath @ The Omni, Newport News VA



10.26.96 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC < LINK

1996-10-26gnA show that has always been overshadowed by the Halloween hubbub in Atlanta just a few days later, this stop in Charlotte had plenty to offer. With a second set filled with feel-good Phish anthems, the band took the most improvisational liberty with “YEM,” “Simple” and “Antelope.”  This night had an upbeat feel from the beginning, and was a solid effort amidst a relatively generic east coast run to begin Fall ’96.

I: Julius, Cars Trucks Buses, Wolfman’s Brother, Reba, Train Song, Character Zero, It’s Ice, Theme From the Bottom, Sample in a Jar

II: Down With Disease, You Enjoy Myself, Sparkle, Simple, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Waste, Run Like An Antelope

E: Fire

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81 Responses to “The Return of Phish 2.0”

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  1. c0wfunk Says:

    as with most 2003 shows I missed the Vegas run too.. will have to give it a listen now!

    Thanks for the Charlotte 96 download .. after the Simple conversation the other day I’ve wanted to check this one out again. Do you know what mic source this download is from? My second show, it was far out shadowed by Hampton the night before.

  2. Jeff Says:

    I was able to make these shows (including the Charlotte). nice trifecta. The Piper>Makisupa would have been the obvious highlight for me had it not been for that huge Bowie opener. It had been a long while since Bowie opened a show. When it hits this heavy metal riff towards the end and they bust out Catapult, my mind was buzzing. My favorite Bowie other than the Providence 94 version.

    Also, don’t forget a nicely jammed Round Room and the return of Golden Lady, which was really cool.

    I praised this Charlotte Simple last week. I’m glad peole will get to hear it as it’s pretty special. So is the Antelope.

  3. Cason Says:

    10.26 was amazing! i can still remember the crazy energy flying around as we were leaving the venue. the simple was the highlight for me.

    thank you mr. miner.

  4. dyda Says:

    fyi, minor typo, miner. cincy gin is 2.22, chicago tweezer is 2.20. only noticed cause i like that gin so much and the 2.20 tweezer is like a template for the grand 2.28 version sorta like the 7.25 hood being very similiar to 7.31.

  5. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    As always, thanks, Minor. I haven’t heard that Charlotte show since I was there. Only show I ever went to where I allowed myself to be “overserved” bourbon in the lot and only have vague recollections. Lesson learned: the real party is inside.

    Never seen Phish in Vegas, but from listening to tapes, it seems like its always either a big hit or a total swing and miss. I do like seeing them in cities large and frenetic enough that they swallow the scene (like NYC) rather than get overwhwlmed by it. Maybe next time.

  6. contact420 Says:

    Here is a sick version of phish97-07-01.2067

    I know it’s a little late from Mr. Miner’s post but it’s the Neumann TLM170 source!!!

    Paradiso- Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Source: Neumann TLM170->Sonosax
    Transfer: Stewart McCloskey
    Upload: Mike Fischer (

    note: This show is SICK! Thats all I have to say >:)

    Disc One
    set I
    1. Ghost 0:21:19.32
    2. Horn 0:04:08.36
    3. Ya Mar 0:09:58:00
    4. Limb By Limb 0:11:40:00
    5. Funny As It Seems 0:05:51:00
    6. I Saw It Again 0:06:49:00
    7. Dirt 0:04:34:50

    Disc Two
    1. Reba 0:17:36:10
    2. Dogs Stole Things 0:05:19:24
    Set II
    3. Jam*-> 0:02:33:35
    4. Timber Ho 0:08:14:44
    5. Bathtub Gin->Jam-> 0:14:27:00
    6. Cities-> 0:09:33:30
    7. Jam 0:15:09:00

    Disc Three
    1. Loving Cup 0:06:09:11
    2. Slave to the traffic Light 0:12:03:00
    3. When the Circus Comes to Town 0:05:05:60

    *with Fishman on piano

    Questions, Comments, problems send an email to me @
    Enjoy, and thank to Stewart again for another DANK euro 97 show!!t again for another DANK euro 97 show!!

  7. Jeff Says:

    The only Vegas “miss” was 2004.

  8. Kaveh Says:

    Mr. Minor, first off, thanks for all that you do, as I’m loving the perfect perspective you bring to this band. The Vegas two nights in ’03 were great, and to this day that Bowie monster of an opener is one of my favorite all-time Phish highlights (that run all the way back to the State Theatre, Mineapolis 1993). The playing over those two nights was great and massive. Great to see them back, at that point, and now, again, great to see them back. Keep up the great work, I do enjoy it!

  9. shpongleyez Says:

    Walls > Carini? I’ll have to listen again; the Forum Gin is what I remember from that show.

    Happy 2.0 to all!

  10. SOAM Says:

    Need to hears


  11. Keep Stella blue Says:


    Any mention of the LA Forum 2.2003 shows should include the stellar Bathtub Gin on 2.14. In my opinion, it’s truly great and warrants return listening.

  12. themanatee Says:

    definitely the forum gin is great but the walls > carini is amazing as well in addition to the bag (with screaming psycho fan)

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Gin is great, bit incomparable to the Walls > Carini in terms of improvisational prowess

  14. shpongleyez Says:

    Screaming psycho fan ruined the Bag! And focked with the 2nd set flow-age. Will listen to Walls > Carini upon return from coffee capture. Improvisational prowess or no, there can’t be anything as transcendent as those 30 seconds nestled somewhere in that Gin… 😉

  15. camman Says:

    my favorite piper

  16. dyda Says:

    extended outro jam from the fee in the 2.14 show, as well.
    i think it’s actually walls>jam>carini. the jam bridging to carini enters some type II territory that’s distinct from typical type I walls jamming. kinda like walls>jam>bowie from 6.19.04

    one of the melodic themes from the 2.16 piper is hinted at in the hood from the previous night. awesome hood, by the way, especially the build at the end. goes into some serious techno territory mostly due to fish’s beat. good stuff. the ghost from that night too, but we’re starting to repeat ourselves.

    7.31 and 12.2 pipers are also excellent.

  17. WALSH Says:

    I had a dream about the Knoxville show I am going to in June, and they opened with Bowie->Waves->N20->ASIHTOS->Bowie…I am hoping that I am PSYCHIC!

  18. dyda Says:

    actually, if i have one complaint about the official downloads, it’s that type II jams aren’t listed as seperate from the song before.
    i.e. 8.2.03 & 6.20.04 waves both wrap up with the closing lyrics and then enter a distinct separate jam but are listed as one track.
    easy enough to edit into two, but still misleading to setlist purists upon first glance until actually listened to and the change noticed.
    i listen to fish mostly in these instances cause he’s the backbone and if he deviates from the standard type I frame of a particular song it’s a good indication that it’s going to be an unfinished version. or a jam will start up after the typical conclusion to a song but still flows so organically out of the ending that a distinction is not always made on setlists.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ yeah, i never label “jams”…that’s what Phish does…

    I’ve always thought labeling “jam” was silly….like the Live Phish disc w/ “Darien jam” “Fukuoka jam” = lame.

    The jams are part of the fabric of the songs….

  20. soulish Says:

    Labelling jams for us is dumb I agree, unless there is an obvious stop and then a start of a new jam with no song in between. However, on the Live Phish releases they label things as jams, like the Darien jam because it is coming out of a cover song. There is some stupid deal where they have to pay royalty fees based on how long the song they cover is, so a 25 minute Crosseyed jam becomes much more economical if they do Crosseyed->Darien Jam, where the Crosseyed is now only 5 minutes long.

  21. Matso Says:

    One theory on the reason for the Live Phish series distinct “Jams” (aka Darien Jam 1) is publishing rights: I’m not a music lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that they have to pay some kind of publishing royalties to be able to sell their recordings of other people’s songs and presumably this is calculated to some extent on the basis of how long that particular song is.

    So rather than pay for a 30 minute Drowned, they pay for a 5 minute Drowned.

    I assume the reason they do it for the Phish-penned songs (eg. Fukuoka Twist) is that Trey and Tom probably have the publishing rights in the underlying song, and again, if there’s full band jam taking place, then not fair that they take full rights to this? (I don’t have a CD sleeve handy so I can’t check who gets credit for the Jams, but I assume it’s Fishman/McConnell/Anastasio/Gordon ?)

  22. Matso Says:

    soulish and I are kindred spirits clearly

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Interesting. I had never thought of that.

  24. In Flagrante Delicto Says:


    “soulish and I are kindred spirits clearly”

    Or, you’re both lawyers.

  25. dyda Says:

    oh what i was saying, and why i gave specific examples, is that a song will conclude after however long a jam section, but then go to a distinct separate jam. either the closing lyrics/licks will be played or fish’s beat will change and signify that they’re no longer within the typical realms of jamming for that particular tune.

    i actually agree with the labeling of the fukuoka jams because #1 starts after twist has wrapped up and is it’s own distinct song. would you prefer it to read twist>walk away>2001? that doesn’t convey what really went on in the set.

    i mean i know the band jams, but there are places where it needs to be stated as such. take the hampton moma>jam>bug. distinct section bridging the two composed pieces.

    i didn’t realize what the deal was with jams after covers, but that does make sense. silly as it may be.

    it’s not like i’d go labeling every setlist with a yem: yem>jam, but i would label say, big cypress as sand>quad>jam>slave because the quad clearly wraps up, trey leaves the stage and a distinct jam emerges.

    plenty of other examples and getting a little too obsessive, but i do think there is a time to use ‘jam’ when writing out a setlist because it’s a unique piece of music created in the moment that is outside the bounds of normally structured, composed songs.

    another example would be the alpine 99 fluff. there is a point in the arrival section where the beat changes and enters type II territory and jams for 15 min. if the band stayed within the bounds of the arrival and just jammed away then i’d label the whole 30 min as fluff, but there is a change in there and should be noted as such.

    8.2.03 waves is listed as 20 min but only the first 10 are waves. don’t try and tell me that the close encounters jam should be labeled as waves because that’s not the standard structure of the song to have a 10 min space jam emerge from the conclusion.

    in 2.14 walls you can hear the ‘silent trees’ beat emerge and that to me signifies the end of the song, lyrics or not, and what follows is a jam unique to that show.

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