, attached to 2003-07-26

Review by gperk

gperk After nearly 9 years I’m the first reviewer? Well, let’s get this started Hotlanta!
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We were determined not to be late on this evening. My suggestion one day earlier of venturing into the Smokey Mountain National Park had left us a wee late for Charlotte show. We literally parked our car, got out, closed the doors and we heard the roar. All in all it was a quick entry and we missed the Bitch opener (only one of the year so we were a bit bummed about that).

OK, where was I?... ah yes, Atlanta. Using my built in spidey sense when it comes to navigation (and wanting to atone for the previous days snafu), the moment we hit traffic on the 75 and it was getting to be that time (say 6pm) I grabbed the lone atlas we had at our disposal and found an end around way into Lakewood. My skeptical tour mates wanted to wait like lemmings in the line on the exit ramp. No way, not today, this was as far south as we had been since Phoenix and SD and we are getting it right or I am turning this Lexus around! They listened, and we were able to sneak in a traffic free back way through a decent looking ATL neighborhood. Having arrived in time we had plenty of time to gather, check out the local ATL vibe (I remember dust, heat and cold beer) and head into Lakewood with plenty of time to spare. The whole experience getting to and in the show was quite pleasant.

I had the best seats PTBM had every hooked me up with, 5th row center and as such I had been looking forward to this particular show since April or May, whenever the tickets had arrived in the mail. Wilson was raucous and the longest non-horn CTB followed. A superb version. Check it. Actually the run of CTB, Wedge, Ice and MMGAMOIO were all played for the first time all tour or since the hiatus and each had excellent short improves. Nice to get a run of songs not yet played at this late point in the tour. A great Wolfman’s (though not on par with the PHX version and Vegas versions), and possibly a best ever Mexican Cousin (certainly the most exploratory) provided a few more late set delights. Taste had a hell of year in 2002-03 with huge versions at MSG, LA, a nice show opener at the Gorge, and this stellar set closer was the icing on the cake for a great set. Songs like Taste that can literally show up anywhere in the set and feel right are what it’s all about people. In 2003 and today this first set was and is, easily overlooked, but has great versions of semi-rare songs. If anything, the 2003 ethos of Phish improv popping up anywhere and multiple times in a setlist was in full effect. Nice stuff in the south.

The 2nd set found me in the back of the pavilion with some old friends and a few tour mates. Literally the back row of the pavilion! It’s so fun to move around at Phish shows, and the particulars and freedom I was afforded this night in ATL made me quite plussed. On to the set- The set opening Piper like many from this year is superb. Featuring various jam segments and a full blown Can’t You Hear Me Knocking tease this version was up there for summer Pipers. In fact I’ll rank them right now:
1) 7.19
2) 7.26
3) 7.31.
4) 7.9
5) 7.12
After all that sustained improv we need something to relax, have a smoke and glass of wine (large beer in a plastic cup) to relax, Mountains in the Mist provided that tonight. Being a native Mainer I held up the coming IT festival all summer and this sojourn south had with it plenty of people who were starting their run up to IT. Mountains in the Mist (Katahdin) and the Wedge (Limestone) may have had me pine and even balsam for my native state. Waves didn’t help but he improv sections did as did the short Tower jam (as it would come to be known) right before Tweezer. When going back through this tour the Tower jamming style showed up all over the place- sometimes for minutes on end and sometimes like in this version of Waves for a few seconds. At any rate, I made my way back down to the 5th row for the Tweezer (arriving at the Uncle Ebenezer moment) and I jammed thusly to the jam and segue into NICU (Cactus!). Mid-set Caverns are weird they throws me off my game. Set closing YEM’s w/ an IT reference do not, and this sent us off nicely. I wandered to the back of the pav for the classic paring of Wading (actually a nice reading) and the boomquake of the Reprise sent us out into the night.

I bought a lot poster, got a Sierra and passed up the chance to party in Bucktown, which in hindsight was a huge mistake. Who passes that up for a 3 hour drive back north to our hotel to prepare for the impending Raleigh crap factory the next night? What does one know from night to night on tour some shows shine for a variety of reasons, and some find the bass player asleep at the switch? Some of us will take the sleep and press on.

This ATL show was great at the time and still holds up well. That said, I’m a huge homer for summer 2003 and will put this one in the middle of the pack (with 7.17 say).


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