, attached to 2003-02-21

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: this first set is a f***ing party!

The onslaught of volcanic show openers continues with Wilson > Frankenstein. To say this place was on fire would be a disservice to the Sun - who is the King of all the other planets. Wilson couldn't have been a better opener for how the tour was progressing so far. It blew the doors off of whatever US Bank Arena looks like and I am sure said arena was never the same again. Rightfully so. Tacking on a couple extras minutes of hard rock, Wilson ignites the CInci crowd. So, what comes after you catch on fire? What the next step in heat exchange? I don't know either. Whatever it is, Frankenstein did it. BOOM POW!!! I wish I was in the building for this 1-2 combo, insane energy pulsing through the energy and making direct contact with each and every fan in attendance, who in turn, shot pulsars of dance out into the Milky Way. So, uhm, what comes after the thing that comes after fire? DOWN WITH DISEASE does!!! Holy shit balls! I am not so sure I have heard a non-Hampton Fluffhead crowd so pumped. It's nearly deafening on the AUD. AMAZING! This Down with Disease rampages out of the refrain and into a couple minutes of typical, but highly energized, DWD style shredding. It then drops a few gears and prepares for an interoceanic harmonic journey through the colorful corals of the Great Barrier Reef. No idea what that means? Me neither, but eat your heart out Mr. Miner. This jam swims along in delightful fashion, with subtle Trey picking in that 2003 nimble, soft tone I LOVE SOOO MUCH. Fish and MIke layer a deep current groove while Page splashes about above the rest of the band. 3rd song of the show. First set. THIS is what 2003 is all about. 18 minutes later the band comes up for air and explodes through the surface like a Grey Whale breaching. The return to the DWD chorus is indeed triumphant and inspiring. Moments later we are greeted by a delightful Lifeguard, er, Lifeboy. Perfectly placed, beautifully played, Lifeboy nestles into the 4 slot and douses the red hot band Phish - albeit, not for long. The fires get stoked again and WHOOSH Phish yet again bursts into flame. Boogie On drops and man, is this version dirty. Fast forward to about 3 minutes and watch them take off. Three separate breakdowns, each filthier than the next, turn this fire into the sexiest inferno this side of Stu's Disco (keep an ear out for some amazing Fish fills). How can they top the set so far? Run Like an Antelope! THAT'S HOW! This version takes no prisoners, accepts no water, and is downright gnarly. It rummages along, foraging through the Great Plains of America's heartland, feasting on tension and release. Two explosive peaks erupt. The ground shakes. The women weep. And if the band and crowd isn't having enough fun as it is, let's play some god damn vacuum I Didn't Knowwwww. What a fun way to end an amazing first set!

Now, set 2, for me personally, is the weaker of the two sets. Not always good to start a review with a negative comment, but it speaks to how powerful Set 1 was. Mike's Song growwwllllss out of the darkness and seeps into a murky, dissonant jam. It never peaks. There is no signature closing lick, no build. It just groans along. It is weird. Sometimes weird is good. Sometimes. But this time (for me) it was just weird. Mike's Song melts away into Free which showcases little of the energy we saw in the first Free of the tour in Vegas (which was downright sexual). This version is relatively prude. Oh well. Waste finds an odd placement in the middle of set 2 and now I am scratching my head as to where all the set 1 energy went. An inspired guitar solo picks things back up ever so slightly as Phish prepares for a murky intergalactic journey. This 2001 isn't funky - it's spacey. It's a minimalist groove which meanders ever so slightly from the 2001 pattern, but doesn't blow minds. I have mixed emotions about this 10 minute 2001, I am certain in the moment it was fantastic, but re-listen value? Not a whole lot. Just when I feel the band may be throwing in the towel, the 4th quarter of the set TAKES OFF! NOW THIS IS THE ENERGY WE EXPECTED. A raging Hood is impeccably placed and saves the set. It peaks not once, but twice. It is incredible. The band patiently builds in "normal" fashion to a huge climax, but there is no "You can feel good, good, good about Hood" instead Trey winds it down, gets fluid, gets patient and continues the jam... ONLY TO BUILD IT RIGHT BACK UP TO AN EVEN MORE INCENDIARY PEAK!!! HOLY CRAP!!! Let me say this, if a Hood like this were to take place today, .net would have a god damn aneurism. It is that good... but hey, par for the course in 2003. All of these Dreams cools us down before Possum lits us on fire again. Channeling Hood's energy, this Possum SCORCHES. In fact, all 2003 Possums are fantastic. This one is peak upon peak upon peak... and I didn't yet mention the spaghetti western style, decrescendo mini jam to start things off... well I suppose I just mentioned it. So yeah. Anyways. This Possum has it all. Fantastic version the likes of which we don't see in post-2009 Phish. Cavern puts about 17 exclamation points on a highly energized show. A great way to end the set. Wading gets extended pretty far and for all intents and purposes, is very very well executed. Despite how deflating it may look on paper, it was a very good encore.

Must-hear jams: Down with Disease, Boogie On, Harry Hood, Possum
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Wilson > Frankenstein (for its energy alone), Run Like an Antelope, Mike's Song (because it's weird)


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