a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Phish.Net Review Archive

You can also browse our archived review section.

Here are the 15 most recent reviews submitted

Shae_Dougall , attached to 1990-09-20 Permalink
Shae_Dougall Like much of 1990, I feel like much of this show can be sufficiently absorbed by simply taking any of the songs played during the year and listening to them in the evening's setlist's appropriate order. Phish was building a fanbase and as such, they rarely left the type-1 jamming box they so frequently occupied. A lot of fans (myself included for the most part) consider the early days of Phish mostly inessential for that exact reason, but there are still some interesting things going on here, and this is one of the top-tier shows of the year.

Exhibit A: Setlist flow. One common complaint of early Phish is that they had no concept of how to construct a setlist with proper song flow (occasionally complained about to this day!). This setlist is definitely out of the ordinary for the time because of how well the songs fit together. There is nothing jarring at all about song placement in the first set, and the Magilla through Possum to close the set is an excellent run of well-played tunes. In an era where type II jamming was still at a premium, setlist flow is markedly important, and they nailed it here.

Exhibit B: The Tweezer/Buried Alive sandwich. Um, what? This may be one of the first examples of Phish just ripping into a song right in the middle of another, and it must have been mind-blowing at the time. It works surprisingly well, although perhaps a bit jarring at first. The return to Tweezer is excellent, and Trey brings it to a satisfying conclusion with a fiery finish.

Exhibit C: The secret language has started to emerge by this point in 1990. After a lengthy break from playing shows, the band had written something like 15 new songs and developed a strange, new system of teasing whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it. Trey peppers many of the songs with Oom Pa Pas and countless Charlie Chans. The Tweezer and Antelope are definitely worth a listen for fans of the "ludicrously out of place" musicality.

Exhibit D: Check out this McGrupp!!!!! Unbelievable work from Page!

A soundboard quality recording from 1990 with a lot of well-played favorites with great setlist flow and a couple of bonafide highlights in Tweezer and McGrupp equals 4 stars from me. Give it a listen!
Score: 0
myers33 , attached to 2015-08-22 Permalink
Divided Sky was somewhat predictable, the sky did indeed divide that morning. After that I'd say the first set wasn't bad but wasn't special. It was more laid back with less jams, and in my opinion still a good midday set.

2nd set is where it got fun. Wolfman's Brother was welcome to kick us off. Halley's > 46 Days got pretty dull after a while so I welcomed BDTNL when it finally came. And now for the reason I gave it 5 stars: Tweezer > Prince Caspian was simply ridiculous. If you haven't listened to this on YouTube or anything yet, what the hell are you doing with your life.

Meatstick was a great 3rd set opener. Blaze On was well done, and Possum was a great time with the glow sticks (that's really all I can remember about that one). Cities was fun, Light was cool to hear, 555 was funky...I basically just did a lot of dancing at this point so it's all an incredibly-fun blur. Then came WITVS, which was a great fit, and Walls of the Cave was an awesome wrap-up tune. Boogie was a super cool dance number for the encore, and you had to know a Tweezer Reprise was coming.

The ambient nightclub-esque Drive-In Jam was killer, and I'm glad they didn't make as long as it could've been. Just like sex, some things are beautiful in part because they don't last forever.

All in all, what a great day for my first trip.
Score: 0
markah , attached to 1999-05-04 Permalink
Copied (typos and all) from a review originally posted: Wed, 5 May 1999 14:55:07 CDT
Subject: Trey in May! - 1st two shows

Wow. These two shows have been awesome. Honestly, I did not expect these Trey
solo shows to rock as hard as they did. Granted, it's not Phish, but I was
suprised by how well Trey led this new ensemble.

Last night, at the Murat Theater, things were different altogether. No miracle
seekers here, you couldn't even give your tickets away. It was worse than the
Thursday night of Nassau. I've sill got an extra to the Murat if anyone needs

Wow - this place is so cool. The outside looks like a cross between a Turkisk
mosque and a medieval cathedral, very ornate and intricate, with a faux face at
the front of the theater depicting the whole Turkish/Indian theme (and the word
'MURAT'). We chatted briefly with Russ who was out taking a picture of this
Theater - basically both of us saying how fun it was to play with Trey. He
complimented him on "keeping with it" and not letting yourself get discouraged,
perservering through hard work and finally making it on your own terms. He
said he was a bit sad that his own band had moved from the rural area to Boston
then to L.A. in order to 'make it.' Inside wasn't bad either; the uniformed
ushers, lack of security and full bar made me think I was seeing the symphony.
Getting in was a bitch, a near strip search lost me a few nicely rolled
j's...but inside all was taken care of by a few Tanquery n' tonics. (woo hoo!)
Before the show one of the ushers - an extrememly excited 17 year-old girl,
came over and told us how the balcony shakes when the crowd gets going. And
she wasn't kidding. I was sure the place was gonna come tumbling down during
the second set opener.

5/4/99 - Murat Theater, Indianapolis
Set I:
Dirt, Dogs Stole Things, Mountains in the Mist, Snowflakes in the Sand, Purple
Hugh, Talk, Bathtub Gin, Kissed by Mist, [Something Train song], Wading in the
Velvet Sea, Chalk Dust Torture

Trey told us tonight that all the songs in the first set were written by Tom
Marshall and him. I'd actually been wondering that on the drive down, thanks
for the clarification, Trey. Dogs was very enjoyable, ultra-bluesy. Mountains
in the Mist was anounced as the official title of that song, as was Purple Hugh
(which Trey spelled so there'd be no confusion). The crowd erupted for Talk,
almost like they had for Bouncin' the night before (which - I failed to
mention, Bouncing had a long, almost 'jammed out' ending. Quite impressive.
Absolutely the best Bouncing _ever._) ;^> Gin was then dedicated to the guys
that had posted the title "Minestrone" for Purple Hugh, with the audience again
singing on the chorus and winding down perfectly with Trey for the ending. The
jam was great, and afterwords Trey commented that he'd be back "in 4 more years
to play Bathtub Gin again".....I love his concept of's been six
years, Trey....

Kissed by Mist was a very pretty tune, and is for Julia Butterfly Hill (a woman
who has been sitting 180 feet up in a redwood for 18 months to protest
deforestation - what a gal!). The next one was as of yet unnammed, but Trey
mumbled something to the effect that it sounded like another train song. (Not
that it sounds like Trainsong, but that it sounds like a train.) Velvet Sea
was nice - strange to hear Trey singing it. Chalkdust rocked like you knew it
would. I forgot what song he was playing in the middle of it. (Too much

Set II:
Round In Circles, First Tube, Ooh Child, Bell-Bottom Blues, Heavy [something],
Learning the Rules, Somantin, Andre the Giant, I Can See Clearly Now, Pistol ->
Drums, Voodoo Child (slight return)
Encore: Row Jimmy, Last Tube -> Come On Baby

I'm not sure about the accuracy of this setlist in partuicular, I think First
Tube is really Last Tube and I don't know what last Tube is, but like I said
I've never heard the Tubes so I'd better shut the hell up. So I'll talk about
the new tunes. :)

Bell Bottom Blues, new tune...bluesy. Cool. Not much else to say. Heavy
something was either a tune Trey has not decided the tune to, or maybe he just
mumbled it. At any rate, we didn't catch the title. Learning the rules was
the one Reilly, Peerless and Rob heard that sounds like the Meat intro with a
Makisupa-type beat. The bassist has a repeated vocal "Is it a wind...or a
bug?" line which has some people calling it "Wing" "Bug" and lots of other
things. This title was picked by me becuase. The lyrics paint a picture to me
of musicians learning to play with one another ("leaning to we know
the rules..." etc.) I suppose it could also apply to any new relationship.
Somantin is from the 5/8(?)/98 Bearsville sessions tape, much more well done
last night. Weird tune, nonetheless. Andre the Giant featured Tony, pretty
funky. Don't remember much about it except that Trey intrduced it by saying
"This tune is either called [blah blah blah] or Andre the Giant." It didn't
matter what the [blah blah blah] was becasue everyone erupted for the latter

This Voodoo Child was much better than last night's. Woo whee!! And the
encore was very nice, although quite long!

So it has been a pretty fun two days. Right now me and travelling companion
Eddy are hanging at Purdue University, watching the Cubs-Rockies game. I keep
thinking they're saying Anastasio is pitching....

Until tomorrow,

- Mark
Score: 0
markah , attached to 2000-05-21 Permalink
Copied (typos and all...) from a review originally posted: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 00:51:09 CDT
Subject: Radio City Reviews (finally!)

Hi, everybody! Now to first dispell any unpleasant rumors, I am not dead,
nor am I married, nor did I mean for that to come out like some kind of
comparison between the two. I am, however, recharged and sustained - for
now at least - by two truly stellar performances (well, one and a half that
were _truly_ stellar...) and have no remorse that I missed what would have
been the smallest East-coast Phish show in some 10 years, but am a bit
disgruntled that Greater Northeast Productions, aka the Mail Order Gods
decided in their infinate wisdom to overlap tour and mailorder once again.
No, I did not M.O. for Fall.

So let's tawk about New Yohk. What a beautiful venue! Not so much ornate
as it was 'in a class by itself'. An impressive theater with a heavy
curtain draped from the top of an enormous stage - the lobby was painted
with scenic scapes involving floating clouds, chandeliers and lots and lots
of mirrors. The internet's "Project Phormal" was a considerable success,
with probably about 50-65% participating by dressing up somehow the first
night, and a little better participation the second night. Yours truly
opted for a comphy first show, and a tie and tails for the Monday gala. Now
onto the music...

Sunday 21 May 2000 - Radio City Music Hall
I: II:
First Tube Gotta Jiboo
Wolfman's Brother Down with Disease!!!
Squirming Coil Dirt
Possum Twist--> (new - different)
MOMA Dance Piper!!
Limb by Limb Harry Hood
Character Zero Velvet Sea
(0:59) Guyute

E: In-Law Josie Wales (aka "Minestrone" and "Bake and Boil")
Loving Cup

Very nice, strong opener, and a definate nice suprise from the opener
everyone and their brother were calling - Farmhouse. Of course, to open
what had been dubbed the "Farmhouse Promo Tour," what else? This has been
called "Bing Bong" by me and others in the past, but I now relenquish that
title since the album that was actually produced by Trey has the title
"First Tube" on it, even though "Bing Bong" is a clearly superior name.
When it's my band, I'll change it. But its Trey's band. And Trey likes the
internet community's descriptively cryptic moniker. Another thing Trey
liked is doing Pete Townsend-style guitar windmills during this tune after
the change to major key (at about 4:00 on the album).

Everyone got their little solo tonight, not so much a true "solo" as their
chance to be heard on the (really kick-ass looking) Radio City stage.
Page's came at the end of Coil and was considerably short. Of course, all
the screaming fans probably didn't help. It's clear on the tapes that even
if he'd wanted to strech his dynamic range on this solo, anything under a
mezzoforte would have been drowned out by the lurid cheering.

Fishman's solo was his inhuman singing/drumming extrazaganza during the Limb
outro. Fish was funny these couple of nights. For the first time ever in
my watching him, he seemed not to be intensely chugging away as usual, not
at all - but rather laid back. He dropped a couple of beats here and there,
one in First Tube, and I overheard at 7:00 before the Monday night show that
he was reachable "only by phone" from one of the crewmen, and that they'd
just been able to locate him for the first time that day. A taper said he'd
seen Fish at the bar he was at when he left at 1/4 to four am...

Mike's solo I guess was the second set Disease, which was over 20 minutes in
length and raged, rocked, and funked throughout the entire time. This
Disease was easily the highlight of the two days, and the only reason I put
it above the Ghost from 5/22 is becasue this one pumps hard all the way
through to the end, and while the Ghost is definately funkier and more
intense at points, it peters out into what I almost dare call a
"Simple-style jam" for the last five minutes.

Trey's solo came - well, he had a lot of them I guess. It could have been
Character Zero, a fairly standard version, or as Dirt, his self-professed
"favorite of the new songs," or even the next night with Horn. He played a
particularly beautiful Horn.

Most of the tunes this first night (with the exception of the aforementioned
Disease) were fairly straight-forward, no real suprises. Which was exactly
what I expected. We got to see a familiar combo with the Twist->Piper,
although the Twist was especially mellow. Probably due in part at least to
the new arrangement (yes, again) that differs from the version they did in
Hampton as well as on the album. This one starts out with just Fishman
really soft, then fade in slowly adding Trey, then Mike and Page, leaving
out the clever intro with the vocalized bassline entirely. Piper raged, and
had similar form to the CD version, in that they launch out of the first
vocal chorus, taking off with tightly-knit and seemingly reckless abandon
rather than the '97 approach of a slow and steady build. This Piper morphed
into Trey's favorite dj-style wah-wahs and had a slight Birds of a
Feather-feel jam in the outro, akin to the 10.22.99 Minneapolis Piper
although not as pronounced or long.

After Velvet Sea, Page turned to the audience and thanked them, saying he
"used to come here as a kid" and that this was a special show for him (and
also that it was his mom's (?) birthday). Trey, not to be outtalked,
commented that he and Page had come to see Steveie Wonder in RCMH, then went
on for nearly three minutes about how great "this whole thing" was - and
that "we don't want to do anything to screw it up, so let's just keep this
going for as long as we can." He profusely thanked the audience, saying how
lucky he felt for the last 15 years and how they've "built around the four
of us," and said they were the ones who should be applauding us.

Take care, and I hope to see each of you all soon...

- Mark

PS - Deer Creek tix go on sale this Saturday!

PPS - 12/11/99 Sneaking Sally-->Ghost!!!
Score: 0
Tbone , attached to 1996-12-30 Permalink
Tbone Good show and some songs that I took for granted at the time, to date this is the only time I have seen Uncle Pen, Sloth, Lifeboy and Llama live. The PA going out was genius and I got a real kick out of that Phish trick. The anticipation of going to see the them the following night was just killing me and that is what I remember most.
Score: 0
Tbone , attached to 1996-08-05 Permalink
Tbone This was my second show and what great experience. Again I was amazed by how tight they were, first show I attended was New Orleans Jazz fest so this was my first experience really seeing them open things up. I remember the Mike's being nasty and loud ass bass. the acoustic songs were a great way to wind down from that ride. The Haley's is one of my favorite versions because of the wah wah Trey uses. maybe this was a sign of things to come in with the funk in 97?
Score: 0
Midcoaster , attached to 2015-08-12 Permalink
Midcoaster Came in here a second time to remind everyone to listen in somewhere right after the 9:20 mark in Bathtub Gin for a legit quote of Dancin' in the Streets a la GDead 1977. This is a quick little EXACT copping of the lick before a tasty little Dancin' jam until the tempo change around 10:30 or 11.

I petition the admins to add it to the show's jam notes above!
Score: 0
FunkyCFunkyDo , attached to 2003-07-08 Permalink
FunkyCFunkyDo This is a weird looking show. And kind of a weird sounding one. I make a point to not look at any setlists before embarking on my musical journey through each 2003 show (more beneficial for Summer 03 because I am not nearly as well-versed as I am with Winter 03) so this one was a Jackson Pollock painting if there ever was one. Let's begin. Guyute opened the show in surprising fashion. Caught me off guard, and I think it caught the crowd, initially at least, off guard. Now, I will try to not let my personal agenda get too much in the way of this song, as I am not a big Guyute fan, but after the "caught-off-guard-ness" wore off (roughly 6 seconds into the show) I eased into the song as a pretty solid show opener. A very solid one, actually; one that delivers an unexpected jolt of enthusiasm, energy, and "Holy crap they just opened with Guyute!" Good form, Phish. You just may make me a Guyute fan yet. Horn trickles in next and I found this to be a very good selection for the #2 slot to follow up Guyute. Well played, with just a slight off-tone from Trey, it fit the bill nicely. My Sweet One caught me offguard again. (what kind of pot is this anyways??). Well, whatever it is, uhm... hmmm... Cooler Ranch Doritos sound pretty good right now. Snack tangents aside, My Sweet One was a weird, off-kilter choice. And the WHAMO! Tweezer?!? Are you kidding me?! The HELL is going on tonight?! ::puts the bong down, picks up the Doritos, fastens couch belt:: Tweezer wastes very little time setting a tone in its composed section of a furious, straight-forward version. Fish really thumps his kit and Trey adds some hot sauce to his lick. Tweezer takes off into a high-octane car chase of a jam, setting a frantic pace of hard-edged rock rounded off with some crescendo-ing peaks. It is not a "must-hear" version by any measure, but in the moment at the show this certainly was a heater!! I bet the atmosphere in the venue was wild given the unpredictable nature of the first four songs! Cool stuff even if the flow was odd. Did I say the flow was off? Not any more. A perfectly placed Limb by Limb spirals in out of that speeding-ticket Tweezer and amplifies the feel and sound of Tweezer to a T. A really well-executed LXL notched the energy levels up and it hits a really blissful, inspired peak. Fantastic combo of songs, these two. Fast Enough For You, despite how it may look on paper, settles nicely into a resolved set placement behind the still-smoldering wreckage of Tweezer > LXL. The band really liked playing FEFY in 2003, and with good reason. They always nailed it. Dreamy, drippy soundscapes permeate this version. A perfect yin to the fiery yang of the set so far, this misty version sails away into peaceful oblivion. Three songs in a row that really delivered. Make it four. Frankie Says is another favorite of 2003 that, I for one, certainly wish would come back into semi-regular rotation (same with FEFY). Polarized against the volcanic Tweezer > LXL combo, the FEFY, Frankie combo is a calm, autumn breeze. The outro jam has legs, reminiscent albeit briefly, of 2.14.03 Fee, but eventually fades much too soon into Taste. Nonetheless, a great stretch of four songs, paired into two different styles, each meshing perfectly. Taste wanks around for 4 or 5 minutes before settling into a groove and hitting a nice Trey driven peak. Not on par with 2.14.03's version, this one is good... but not that good. Still, in terms of a whole set, I can't really complain, as they really nailed the peak of Taste, sending the audience into setbreak wondering, really wondering, what could be in store for set 2?

Oh boy. Do I ever love that opening growwwwwwllllll of Down with Disease to open Set 2. Before I break this jam down, let me tell you something... after I listened to this song FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER 2 nights ago (no idea how that is possible, as this jam is AMAZING) I thought it must have been somewhere in the mid-20 minutes in length. There is SO MUCH music in this jam... a jam of ONLY 18 minutes. WOW! Ok here we go. It breaks into typical DWD shredding and then returns to the DWD theme about 6 minutes into the jam. At this point I was like, "Hmm, okay, just a straight up rocker to open the set and fade into something else..." How wrong I was. Trey takes them out of the DWD return and steers them into a swankkkkyyyyy groove. Oh man do I love this groove. It really swings. A full band dance, the jam has some serious attitude. Then it morphs into some syncopated, Mike-driven weirdness! THEN, it morphs back into that initial swanky groove, albeit with a more minimalist attitude. THEN it drops into this groove that is entirely reminiscent of 9.22.99 Ghost... you know the one, that 29-minute outer space monster from Portland MFING OREGON! What a jam! I mean, 4 distinct, highly stylized sections. Great stuff!!! Vultures comes in next. A cool choice. Unfortunately it was a sloppy version. Kind of diluted the energy that DWD created. Secret Smile did nothing to help the cause. A poor choice for that part of the set. Hood comes in next and really saves face. Another stretched-out, "where the heck did this come from?" version, this Hood builds towards a false summit before returning into an extended groove-based/Hood-based jam. Hood was exceptional in 2003, and it needs to be discussed more. These 2003 Hoods, specifically this one, play around with a typical build, then venture out into a second jam, then return to a triumphant peak. It saved the set, perhaps the show. An evil, dark Carini finds a perfect home behind this Hood. A very well dropped song. Keep in mind, 2003 Carinis were not thought of as 2012-2015 Carinis. That is to say, in 2003 Carini was not expected to take on a major key happy jam - no way - they were expected to be dissonant and dark, gritty and gnarly. This one is all those. A perfect juxtaposition to what Hood created. Discern... meh... I dunno. I kind of like the song proper, but also kind of don't. I wasn't too fond of its placement here, and the jam it gets into is, in a word, directionless. It seems like Discern could get into Waves jam territory, but it just doesn't... in fact it gets no where close. It just sputters along. Waste, even with a great solo from Trey, was an odd way to end the show. Bouncing, Tweezer Reprise encore was perfunctory and welcomed, even if not mindblowing. A disjointed second set highlighted by two AMAZING jams. A hard show to get a grasp on, especially not being there in person. Moments of brilliance met with moments of "huh?" Which direction would the rest of summer go? Read on respected listener!

Must-hear jams: Down with Disease, Harry Hood
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Tweezer, Limb by Limb, Fast Enough for You
Score: 0
Mark77 , attached to 2005-11-12 Permalink
Mark77 This was a fun show overall. It was in a college gym, so a much different venue than what we are used to now. Since it was a College Gym, no alcohol was served which was a real bummer for some. Tea Leaf Green was a good opener.

Trey's band was pretty tight from what I remember, but Trey seemed a little out of it. Still a lot of good playing though. At the time it was bittersweet hearing the Phish tunes since this was post break-up and we all assumed this would be as close as we got.
Score: 0
fhqwhgads , attached to 1999-09-14 Permalink
fhqwhgads This review is occasioned by the LivePhish archival release (I wasn't at the show.) Phans have clamoured for 9/14/99's release for some time, and many feel that 1999 is underrepresented in the LivePhish catalogue disproportionately to its quality. I've listened to merely a sample of '99, but aside from being The Year of the Big Cypress, I'd have to agree that it's not to be overlooked. I remember talk on (RMP) in 1999 about Phish's new "techno" sound; while I can't quite agree with that association, I would definitely sign off on 1999 representing a critical interlocking of the funk of '97 and the ambience of '98 into a new--yes, perhaps more "electronic," at least in a synaesthetic sense of having a propulsive groove yet a clinical or detached patience--groove that didn't put as much emphasis on balls-out "rawk" as would be found in many shows in 2000. Someone in the Forum said that the first set is the definition of standard, but I have to stand up on behalf of 9/14's Set I. It scratches a very thematic itch, with that peculiar-to-1999 sound cropping up in several tunes' outros, or, in the case of What's the Use?, for the duration. The kind of picture I'm trying to draw of how I perceive 1999's signature sound is probably best encompassed by The Siket Disc, which IIRC was released that year but was comprised of jams from the Story of the Ghost album sessions compiled by Page and Phish engineer Jon Siket. I have to inwardly giggle a bit at The Curtain here, because, although Big Cypress wouldn't be announced until later, the boys/gents have to stifle their own snickers at the "Follow the lines going south" line, not giving away the surprise. Waste is rendered quite beautifully here, Wading has pristine vocal harmonies, Taste is long and inspired and holds my attention for the duration, and Nellie Kane and Rocky Top bookend that jam with their respective bluegrass merits. This is certainly not a first set that I feel should be dismissed too hastily, if at all.

Set II opens with Peaches en Regalia, which must've been oft-requested in '99, as you can hear someone on the official releases of both 7/10/99 *and* 12/16/99 (evincing attendance at Summer and Fall tours, or at least a few shows each--but I like to think of this guy doing this every show that year) yelling "Peaches" in the "Wiiiil-soooon" breaks in those shows' Wilsons. Well, the guy finally got his Peaches; I just hope he was at this show (there's some banter audible on the LP SBD with Trey asking, "You want Peaches?" to someone in the audience, totes a thing.) Next up to bat is Bag. This AC/DC Bag is enormous! Very patient, very typical yet outstanding by 1999 standards, and seems to point down the road to the year-capping festival in Florida. You've really got to hear this wide-roving masterpiece for yourself. There's even a bit of stop-start jamming, unbewooed for that matter. What I'll refer to as the "second half" of the jam really does, upon relisten, call to mind danceable electronic music--perhaps not techno specifically, especially of the Detroit mode, and not today's woefully-monikered "EDM"--before segueing fleetly into a jammed-out Gumbo with Another One Bites the Dust teases deftly woven into the fabric of the Type-I excursion. DWD features some exemplary guitar pyrotechnics from Trey before Frankenstein takes us home. A study in contrasts, the first set and the second set, though both seem of-a-piece in themselves. Great value and great variety are two things you almost always get at a Phish show. Nice Simple, Hello My Baby encore just for shits and giggles, and Phish puts this one away, no problem. Truly a show for the ages; I hope you all get as much out of it as I already have, or more, and support Phish's archival-release program by buying the show at
Score: 1
FunkyCFunkyDo , attached to 2003-07-07 Permalink
FunkyCFunkyDo With Winter 03 firmly cementing the sentiment of, "They're back," with a healthy portion of "Holy shit they're better than ever," there was zero question that Summer 03's expectations were a little higher than many other tours, before or after. Rightfully so. Winter 2003 was an embarrassment of riches contained in Phish's single most efficient tour of their career. 12 shows. TWELVE. And think about what came from those twelve shows: THAT Tweezer, THOSE Gins, THAT Piper, THOSE Hoods, THAT Stash, THOSE YEMS, THAT Moma Dance... you see where I'm going with with. Comparatively, Fall 2013 can't hold a candle to that. Pick the 12 best shows from Summer 15. or Fall 97. or Summer 98. You'd be hard-pressed to find the same amount of "all-time" jams as you would in Winter 2003. Not saying you couldn't, but you'd have to really dig to find 12 shows that carry the fire power of the 12 Winter 2003 shows. And this isn't really taking into consideration that Winter 2003 ONLY HAD 12 shows - there need not be picking and choosing - every show delivered. Food for thought next time you write-off Winter 2003...

So here we are, in the heat of early July with another full nation-wide tour laid out ahead of us. This time, with more shows. Quite literally, the possibilities were endless, as Winter 2003 showed us that there were no rules to setlist construction, jamming style, jamming placement, and so on. Look what Phish did with 12 shows. What could they do with 22 culminating in their first festival since Cypress? Let's find out.

Phish | Mon Jul 7th, 2003 | Cricket Pavilion | Phoenix, AZ
Set 1: Stash, Sample in a Jar, Billy Breathes > Waves, Spices1, Anything But Me, David Bowie, Dirt, Possum
Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Wolfman's Brother -> Scents and Subtle Sounds2, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > Walls of the Cave > Prince Caspian
Encore: Character Zero

This show featured the Phish debut of Spices and the debut Scents and Subtle Sounds.

As you are being suspended in mid air, your feet are floating beneath you without touching the ground. You suspect to come to earth in a respectable, dignified fashion, wading into Summer tour, but Phish supplanted this idea by saying, "No thanks, we prefer to hit he ground running." Stash opens the tour with a bang. Context is everything, and suffice to say this Stash, placed anywhere else in a set in any other show would be mushed into mediocrity, but as a Summer tour opener, this was a statement choice. Stash billowed into spiraling psychedelics, if ever so slightly teetering on insanity, but ultimately never quite hit the frenetic peaks of tension and release we crave. Nonetheless, a show opener like this, let alone tour opener, and we knew within 12 minutes Summer 2003 was going to be a treat/ But how sweet? Sample kept us on cruise control two songs in and Billy Breathes, within a tour a whole 18 minutes old, was the first HOLY f*** moment of quite-a-many HOLY f*** moments to come. Humbly played, Billy Breathes weaves a tapestry of melodic beauty that couldn't have been better placed within the tour opener. It showed Phish was still busting out rarities, it showed Phish was still unafraid to take risks, it showed Phish was back to be unpredictable, unprecedented, and unparalleled -- in a word, Phish was (still) back to being Phish. Waves (along with Walls of the Cave) quickly became Phish's two most versatile songs of 2003. Anywhere in any set, these two songs found homes and grew roots. They always delivered. Always. This is another no-doubter. 4th song of the show and we have Trey and Page really getting after it. Surfing the interthreaded rhythms, this Waves. though not exemplary, does exemplify some high quality first set, first show jamming. The debut of Spices is met with personal and crowd mixed emotions. The song itself is pretty and delicate, the jam itself is disjointed and directionless. I would love to see Spices reworked into a style of Fee-outro jamming, but I am not a member of Phish. Spices sucks the wind out of the sales that Waves had created, and Anything but Me culled the waters completely. Quite frankly, I am a fan of Anything but Me. Super pretty song with a heartfelt message that can be empathized by anyone who has been in love, but mid set one after a slow debut was not the place for it. Thankfully a gnarly Bowie swoops us back into the churning waters of a Phish show. Up until last night, I had never heard this Bowie. Not a single second of it. I am happy to say that because this one really caught me offguard. It was gritty and windy - a sandstorm of jamming placed smack dab in the middle of the desert. It whipped around itself and defended its territory with ferocity and passion, culminating in a good handful of truly unique, truly psychedelic peaks. Although not an "A+" version, this one deserves your attention. Extremely well played. A heartfelt Dirt caught me offgaurd but was pretty, with ease and patience. It fit nicely, sandwiched between two rockers. The second of which was a smokin hot Possum (weren't they all in 2003???). Yes they were! This Possum delivers a solid exclamation mark to a rather straightforward set 1. [author's aside: Comparative to Winter 2003's opening set 2.14.03, this doesn't even come close... like, not even in the same city, let alone ballpark. This was not a bad set by any stretch, but blow for blow, 2.14.03 Set 1 delivered knockout after knockout compared to this. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!? Read on, loyal fan, to find out.]

We had been spoiled by Winter 03. No doubt about it. So when Phish plays a "normal" set, especially in the context of where they were at this point (following a Winter tour for the ages) we may have been scratching our heads. I agree I was one head scratcher, but then I remember to contextualize how uniquely special Winter 03 was versus the rest of their 20 years career. That helped soften the blow of a "normal" sounding Phish set. How crazy, right??? A "normal" Phish set is better than roughly 94.2% of all music shows out there - fourfteen percent of people know that - and if you caught my Simpsons reference, kudos to you. You can't judge an astrophysicist by his ability to think only like Carl Sagan. You can't judge a batter by his ability to hit only like Willie Mays. You can't judge a show by its ability to stack up only to Winter 2003. I hope those analogies help. Birds of a Feather swoops out of setbreak and delivers some high octane tension and release rock grooves. Nothing special, but a more-than-perfunctory set opener, like Stash, it gets the job done satisfyingly well. Now is when we get dirty. Wolman's Brother showcases some swampy funky. Ohhhh boy do I love this Wolfman's! Fish is the all star of this jams with some of the splashiest snare work I can remember. Just KILLIN IT!!! Mike is a close second with deep, dirty bass bombs, and the effects-laden Trey/Page backing is downright sultry. This Wolfman's sets the tone that yes indeed, Phish is STILL back! A smooth, spacey segue into the debut (with opening... it should never be played WITHOUT the opening to be honest) of Scents of Subtle Sounds. Ohhhh boyyyyy do I love this pairing. Swamp funk into space funk into space into bliss funk. This is a segment worth many many relistens. That opening bass riff and guitar riff, man, awesome; plus whatever the hell Page is doing, I love that shit. SASS breaks into a humble, cathartic bliss jam that is verrryyyy easy on the ears before evaporating into a beautifully placed TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu. That pairing is ideal in the middle of this set. It fits snugly and appropriately. Walls of the Cave follows up the 30+ minutes of beautiful playing with some firey hose. Nothing too extraordinary here. Caspian closes the set with mixed temperament - it has passion and direction, sure, but I dunno... it just doesn't *feel* right to close a show. My opinion. Character Zero provides usual rock and roll fireworks that are ALWAYS welcomed (seriously, if you hate on Zero, there is something wrong with the happiness section of your brain) and the night comes to a close with a few good songs, and one great segment. Phish gave us a glimpse of what was to come, and it looks awfully good...

Must-hear jams: Wolfman's Brother -> Scents and Subtle Sounds
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Billy Breathes, David Bowie, Possum
Score: 1
FunkyCFunkyDo , attached to 2003-03-01 Permalink
FunkyCFunkyDo There was smoke billowing in the distance. The ruins of Nassau Coliseum lay razed in celebratory wreckage. Even as far south as Greensboro, NC, the embers of February 28th floated down, dangerously hot, to the city's arena. And that's where the story begins.

The band, still red hot from 24 hours prior, races into the show with a quick-tempo'd, blitzkrieg'd version of Chalk Dust Torture. Extending the jam into lava hot type 1, the tone from the previous night was more palpable in this particular evening. This CDT scorches and sends the crowd immediately into a frenetic dance party. One song is all it took to know this was going to be another barn burner. A sassy-assed Moma Dance comes next. While it doesn't go into extended funk territory like the tour's previous version, it does indeed contained rocking, extended pre-Moma proper and post Moma proper rage-faced mini jam segments. 2 for 2 Phish. And away we go. The first Foam of the tour settles into the three slot. Dangerously exciting, Page takes the reigns right away and tip toes across the ivory while Phish's rhythm section NAILS a punctuated groove. Mike and Fish are LOCKED in while Page crescendos into some truly prodigal playing. Amazing stuff. When Trey takes over, the lavishness continues as he stokes the fires with note after cascading note. The show, as it stands 3 songs in, has all the markings of 2.28: energy, pace, flow. Now we need the extended improv to make it an all-timer... Well, Lawn Boy comes in next and what it lacks in improv it makes up for with Page being such a slut. Hammin in up, this song keeps the energy levels and, and we are taken even higher with a mid-set Zero. I personally think mid set 1 is the PERFECT placement for Character Zero, especially during a show like this where the energy levels created in the first 25 minutes could fuel Greensboro for the next 48 hours. It was that intense. An impeccably placed Divided Sky comes next and is executed to near perfection. The jam builds into a cathartic climax, true goosebump material, and man, hose me down now. This Divided Sky reaches the limits the atmosphere. A retro rocket of happiness, it climbs to the highest reaches of our gaseous buffer zone before gravity pulls it back down to earth. Amazingly enough, as it gets pulled back down to earth, it creates a fine, soft Mist. A perfect landing zone. Mountains in the Mist gives us time to wallow in breathtaking serenity, as the band has no doubt caused several (non)spontaneous combustions at this point in the evening. Humble and pretty, this is the perfect offset to how the set had been going. An ideally placed cool down song that was still played with precious, focus, and passion. Waves tumbles through the Mist and keeps the near-lunar energy roiling through the venue. A straightforward rocker, this Waves keeps with the theme of red-hot, take no prisoners, type-1 energy of the set. Trey climbs the scales and really shreds this version. Sample takes us up even higher, as Phish again is 100% on song selection and placement, mirroring the energy of the crowd, show, and tour.

Severe seismic activity marks the beginning of set 2. From the depths of the mantle, Rock and Roll fissures up through cracks in the crust, ultimately exploding through barriers of rock to mark the beginning of the final set of the finest tour in years. 12 minutes of non stop rock n roll, the RnR picks up where set 1 left off. Leaving a wake of ash and ember, lava and fire, stoke and high five. Whew. The pace at which I have been typing is only superseded by the pace at which Rock and Roll is played. Complain if you will (you won't) at the lack of """"type-2"""" so far, but I'll take a show like this over a forced, awkward "extended jam" any day. This show is lightning bolts mixed with Mountain Dew. Speaking of which, Wilson pops into the two slot and my advice to you, find an AUD, listen to the crowd. The place was ON FIRE. Literally? Maybe so maybe not. But all I can say is smoke started rising up from my speakers. Then I realized I was burning my grilled cheese. I digress. Smoldering, smoking, grilled cheesying, there is no stopping this phreight train. Now... now is when things get dirty. I am talking downright controversial. I'm guessing at least 39 people got thrown in jail as a result of their dance moves during Piper. 17 minutes of swanky funk, taking tidbits from 2.16.03 Piper and mixing them with up-tempo porno grooves, this Piper sashays all around the musical spectrum. It is filthy. It is sweaty, sexy, sultry. Then when it morphs into 2001... better google yourself because you all may have XXX written next to your name if you were in attendance this evening. 2001 features drippy spacefunk and volcanic peaks. A perfect slap-on-the-ass to follow up a smoking hot romp in Piper. But Phish isn't done. Who was the .netter that said he makes his "girlfriend" cum like 4.5 times? @frankstallone you know who I'm talking about. Anyways, this guy could take a lesson from this PIper > 2001 > Wolfman's -> Boogie On. Yeah yeah, I got a few songs ahead... but wow. Hold on, I need to buy a pregnancy test. Positive. Fantastic. I am carrying Mike's child. Wolfman's -> Boogie is deserves more than three Xs. It is unrateable. It is pure sex. Swampy grooves tangle with steamy fills an the bedsheets are thrown out the window with this pairing. You cannot pack more passion and energy into an 8-minute Wofman's and 7 minute Boogie On than they did tonight. It was pure controversy. Wading gives us time to take a shower and reflect on our life choices, which at this point are unequivocally good, and then we put our pants back on... kind of... as Antelope drops in next and we are all immediately naked. Continuing the high-paced theme of the show, Antelope is performed at an unsurprisingly fast pace. The band had no choice. There was no fifth gear... only high gear. And the ran ran ran ran ran ran ran ran DUHDUH-DUHDUH!!! Like an Antelope, outta control!!! HUGE PEAK sends us off into the night... or does it. Yeah let's croon ourselves off the stage with an off kilter, but downright laughably heart warming Carolina. What could be better then to send us away with smiles? HOW ABOUT A HALF HOUR ENCORE! HOLY SHIT! A white hot, magnesium laced First Tube pulses through the amps. I wish I was there. Trey is screaming through his guitar. Mike's bass line is SO heavy. Fishman is KILLIN IT on the drums! And when we say, "ENOUGH," Phish says, "You keep those pants off!" and we all enjoy ourselves. YEM. YE-FRIGGIN-M!!! I cannot say smoldering, scorching, smoking, or hot enough to capture the energy that this song brought in its second encore slot. Do yourself a favor and forgo any written review and just listen to it. Does it reach the heights of 2.26, not quite, but circumstantially it is 2.26's counterpart. Then the Proud Mary vocal jam to continue the theme of actual songs in vocal jams (Lion Sleeps Tonight, Clone -- man I wish they still did this, super fun), Phish releases us into the evening satisfied, tired, and knowing the best band in America was officially back, marking one of the best tours of their careers.

Must hear jams: Piper > 2001 > Wolfman's Brother -> Boogie On, You Enjoy Myself
Probably should listen to jams: Chalkdust Torture, Foam, Divided Sky, Rock and Roll, Run Like an Antelope
Score: 0
FunkyCFunkyDo , attached to 2003-02-28 Permalink
FunkyCFunkyDo I could use one word to describe this show...


We all see Phish for a variety of reasons ranging from the interconnected community/band experience, to the interwoven spiritual consciousness a live show produces, to see what Mike's going to wear, and because they are just plain fun. Throughout all of these though, I think a common thread would be, all of us, searching, hoping to see, The Show. That Show, start-to-finish, that delivers everything you could ever want. That Show, that musically, psychologically, spiritually, psychedelically, you-name--it-ly, delivers everything, simultaneously. This show, is that Show.

As I have become immersed in this tour, I have begun to get an ear for the crowd as the band is taking the stage. This show, the crowd was as hot as I have ever heard. No wonder, with the masterpiece from two nights prior, expectations were high, and the level of anticipation of "How can they top that?!?" was even higher. Phish has a knack for delivering in the clutch, which I why I commonly refer to Phish shows as "Magic Johnson." "Hey Funky, what are you doing this summer?" "Oh you know, gonna go follow Magic around the country." ::blank stare:: Well, maybe I don't say that, but maybe I do... anyways, Magic was in the house tonight.

Birds of a Feather attacks! Like an A-10 Thunderbolt, it blitzes the crowd like it would a Russian tank - with ferocity and tempo equals parts unexpected and devastating.
Holy moly what a smokin hot Birds. If one song wasn't enough to convince you how hot this show was going to be, surely the 12-year bustout of Destiny Unbound sealed the deal. It did. Damn. Wow. 2 songs into the set and we have the makings of The Show. A spunky funky little jam in Destiny unleashes, I am certain, the most controversial dance moves of the entire tour. What a start! An impeccably placed and played Horn follows up and we know, when Trey hits note after note, that Phish was locked in. For real. This was IT. Now here is when things gets real fun. 2.14 and 2.22 and 2.28. THE Bathtub Gins. 2.28 is masterpiece. A piece of music so interwoven, so fluid, so bouncy, so peppy, so focused, so Magical. Swish. I could write about each second of this song, from its immediate break from Gin proper into a peppy groove, to its sashaying into this swanky groove, to its build into some amazing Trey trilling, to its breakdown into some deep Mike grooves... it just has it all. It really does. And that breakdown at the very end where Trey goes up the scales, Fish is riding the cymbal, and Mike goes down the scale, THAT is what dreams are made of. Oh and hey, we aren't even half way through set 1. A perfectly placed Sleep comes next, and is just that, perfect. Back on the Train. Not just any Train. This is a locomotive made of volcanoes and hurricanes. This is a freighliner made of thunder and TNT. This Back on the Train features the most consistent, mind blowing, jaw dropping, tension-and-release, build after build after build. Good GOD, Lemon! Let's take a break to change our pants ok? Ok. Ok pants changed. Thanks Bouncing. Oh... oh you just changed your pants, well, this Walls of the Cave has something to say about that. My favorite Walls of the Tour (with 12.31.02 being a close second and 2.14.03 being a suuuuper close third), this one doesn't venture into deep space, no, it just slays us right where we are standing. Seismic, incendiary, crushing. This Walls blows the roof off, no wait, the roofs has already been blown off... hmmm... leaves an impact crater the likes of which most certainly made Chicxulub jealous. What a set!!!

So, after that set, I mean... they can't do much else to top it, right? Right. If you are nodding along, "Yeah Funky, you're right" I would slap you across your face. Then apologize, but would add that you deserved it. There is music that is played in whatever you want Heaven to be. This is the music, specifically from the 10-minute mark onward. The tone, the feel, the passion, the soul... this is uncharted territory for Phish, at least to my ears. Through all of the eras, not limited to Tweezer, I have never heard a jam reach the peaks and spirituality of this Tweezer. It is truly divine. It speaks to other levels of being. Other levels of living. Of feeling. It is remarkable. It is beautiful. It is inspiring. Wow. Just... wow. Oh hey, let's dust off another decade (ish) worth of material and have a -> Soul Shakedown. My god Phish (specifically Mike)! I mean, all you had to do was ASK us to bring a box of condoms. Sheesh. Soooo filthy. Mike lays the wood in this Bob Marley cover, and man, does he ever bring it. If you had a child born in November/December 2003, there is a 100% likelihood Mike "Gacktoilder" Gordon is the father. Just saying, kid's gonna have great musical genes. So dirty this 8_ minute groove train is, and then you add the Sagan-esq space -> to Bowie, and man, sign me up for the next Voyager mission. This Bowie, like all the Bowies this tour, features a crazy spiraling intro. A lockstep burst into the song proper gives way to a pulsing, swirling, bobbing jam that gnarls and bares its teeth. Strong, fierce playing encapsulate this 18 minutes masterpiece. Like a yard dog protecting his territory, this Bowie circles and eyes you down, mano y mano, and comes out on top. Man, what a beast of a Bowie. A dreamy Round Room settles our nerves and, again, following the pattern of brilliance, finds a PERFECT placement late in what is already an all-time show. Swimming the melodies, this Round Room, for me at least, tops the Vegas one despite being 5 minutes shorter. Time isn't always the best indicator of quality, remember that. Next up. Harry Hood. Let me say this, or rather picture it:
That is this Hood. Pure explosion. Pure fire. From the depths of Phish's souls, this version erupts through their instruments. Peak after peak after peak of red hot, soul scorching music. I have no problem saying this is my favorite Hood to listen to. Yup. My favorite. Does it mean it's the best? Who knows. But it is, without a doubt, my favorite. What a way to end the show. Oh did I say end? I mean a THREE SONG ENCORE. Contact, Mexican Cousin, and Tweezer Mother Funking Reprise!!!

:: passes out ::

Must-hear jams: My advice to you, each and every one of you, listen to this show start-to-finish and behold Phish playing at their highest level imaginable. It's really incredible. What a show.
Score: 0
muppet_dr_john , attached to 1997-11-22 Permalink
Maybe I'm still hearing Prince everywhere these days, but Mike's at about the six minute mark has some strong Sign O' The Times jam/feel happening. Was listening on the commute this morning and wanted to double check and see if it was noted. Maybe a stretch, but check it out and see what you think. :)
Score: 0
markah , attached to 1987-05-11 Permalink
I was intrigued by Trey's "I'm going to get my head sharpened..." so I looked it up. According to "A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, American and British, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day" by noted slang researcher Eric Partridge, this was a phrase used by members of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force in the 1950s and 60s.

The only other thing that stood out to me in this show is Trey's first solo in Clod. Holey moley, if you're looking to erase any doubt that he had IT even back in 1987, then check out this Clod!
Score: 1
Login Register