, attached to 2003-07-27

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Well this first set certainly does suck.

[Spoiler]

Well, maybe a couple sentences. I've heard the rumors that "Mike was SO off" and "Mike sounded SO bad..." yadda yadda. Well you know what, they all sucked. They all sound bad. Trey is obviously frustrated, addressing the crowd after Ya Mar saying they're "ironing out some details." Uh huh. But Trey is also a 1/4 step ahead of everyone else, missing transitions, and just seems downright disinterested. Fish is missing fills and his timing sounds off. Page is lost in the AUD and I don't blame him. Mike also sucks. His voice and general spunkiness on the ol 5-stringer are non-existent. Honestly, one of the worst sets of Phish I've listened to. Is it because of Mike being hungover (I don't think so), Trey's ego (I don't think so), Fish forgetting timing (I don't think so), Page being too shy at this point in his career to speak up about it (I don't think so) or perhaps a combination of all four instances combined with some late-tour fatigue brought on by what seems to be 3 straight incredibly-hot-weather shows (I think so)? You can listen if you dare to answer that question. I for one will never revisit this set again.

But then set two happens, and although it's not a barn-burner, juxtaposed against set one it may well be Magnaball. Well... maybe I am being too hasty. Let us explore. Ghost is a welcome set two opener and despite it's impressive length (that's what she said) it doesn't do much until the very end (that's also what she said). It takes about 12 minutes of kinda-hot-but-also-kinda-sloppy jamming before the band settles into a really pretty, really soft little jam. The final five minutes of Ghost are super good, a cleanser of the ear in a sense, especially with how rough the first 80 minutes of music have been up to this point. Halley's Comet seemed to be on odd choice for my ears, and this version is all things pedestrian until a very unexpectedly nice -> Seven Below. The crowd didn't seem to dig this much, considering you can almost pin point individual cheers of celebration amongst an otherwise unenthused crowd. FEAR NOT, FELLOW LISTENER! PHISH IS HERE! And just like that, the switch is turned on Seven Below takes on a swinging, sassy, playful, and energized jam! My goodness, momentum is a fickle beast. This Seven Below garnered a second listen from me after the show concluded because it is such a fun jam to listen to. One of those jams where, despite it being the savior THIS show, its place in ANY show would absolutely result in the incarceration of many in attendance, due to the high levels of controversy of their dance moves. Phish couldn't have dropped a more perfect jam at this moment in time. Seven Below returns to the quizzically comical "huh?" ending about 5 minutes too soon (the jam was still firing before Trey reeled it back in) but oh well, I dig it! A slightly extended, Trey-effect-laded Tube drops in next and the energy surges. This version is rather mild, with Page doing almost all the heavy lifting while Trey f***s around with sound effects and Mike hammers home a solid bassline... Fishman however, is still struggling. He just isn't all that splashy during this show and has a pretty bad swing-and-a-miss trying to bring the jam back home... actually two bad swing-and-a-misses... had there been a third he'd have been ejected for arguing balls and strikes... but I digress. Tube eventually sifts itself into Prince Caspian which does have a solid 4 minutes of good, soaring Trey-led jamming. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary here, but it sounded (and felt) good to hear the Phish let loose with a cathartic OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TO BE PRINCE CASPIAN followed by a powerful outro jam. You could tell they needed it. 2001 was a super surprise, but much like Tube this featured mainly Page and Mike (not that I am complaining). This version, length notwithstanding, could fit right into 1999. Check it out for that reason alone. Fire closed the set and, I cannot believe I am saying this, contains the second best jam of the night behind Seven Below. The Fire is straight fire. I mean Phish FINALLY (never say never, right?) connects on a full-band power surge and they blow the roof off this version. It is a FANTASTIC closing song, and really lifted (my/our) spirits as the night came to a close. Man, they really really crushed this Fire. Squirming Coil was played almost apologetically, and it was a perfect encore song for that reason. It was humble, soft, and forgiving. A nice way to pat our collective selves on the back, as if saying, "You'll get em next time kiddo..." and if you're looking ahead, they certainly hold true to their word.

Must-hear jams: Seven Below, Fire
Probably-should-listen-to jams: The last 5 minutes of Ghost, 2001


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