, attached to 2003-07-17

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo So far summer tour has been inconsistent, to say the least. 7.9.03 holds serve as the best show of the tour with 7.15.03 and 7.13.03 hot on its heels. Then you have a series of incomplete shows, albeit each show with one (if not multiple) truly standout jams (looking at you 7.10.03 Divided Sky and 7.12.03 Ghost). But really, even with those jams, the shows themselves lacked that consistent, radiating energy that permeating each and every set of Winter 03. So with a stretch of three consecutive shows form Gorge through Utah, each building more momentum, how would the tour fare when it rumbles into the Great Plains? Would the momentum continue to swell? Are we due for a sigh? Let's find out.

The show starts out with a burst. A straightforward and typically hot Chalk Dust moves us into the right direction from the get go. A little loose, perhaps, but still a nice, exclamatory peak allows us to settle into, and subsequently speculate, on *just how good* this show might be. A swampy Wolfman's follows up and you know what, there is no such thing as a bad Wolfman's Brother. There just isn't. Not quite as gooey and locked in as Gorge's, and nowhere near Phoenix's nastttyyyy version, this one continues the mood that Chalk Dust set of positive speculation on where this show is headed - and the trajectory of the tour. [author's aside: I feel this show was a probing hinge point for the band. I sensed a little apprehension, perhaps? I'm not quite sure how to write it out... the *feel* of the show... to this listener... 13 years later... who wasn't in attendance... just seemed a little ---- off Almost too inside the head, if that makes sense]. Anyways, Maze comes next and has a little bit of a disjointed feel to it. Quintessential Maze organ work from Page and quintessential guitar work from Trey anchor this relatively benign (but still Mazey) Maze. Dirt is neither here nor there in terms of flow or energy. It adds little, and takes away nothing. Pebbles and Marbles is performed well enough, with an energized jam segment, but still... Phish seems to be... hmmm... trying too hard? I dunno. It just doesn't seem to be clicking at the moment for them. Strange Design really sucks the energy out of the venue and now I am wondering what's going on. Not *seriously* wondering, but maybe this is the inconsistency resurfacing - that which we have seen a pattern on during Summer 03 thus far. A valiant attempt during Back on the Train gets some energy back, trying to reel in that latent Nassau Train energy, but doesn't even come close to its Winter brethren. A punchy Divided Sky redeems a relatively pedestrian first set, as the Divided Sky jams really soars, with fantastic work from Trey. If you are sensing a lack of energy in my writing, you are correct. as I am sensing a lack of energy in Phish's playing. Hmm. Weird.

When that Tweezer lick growls through the loud speakers, you know it's party time. Another good-old effort from Phish this version, although clocking in above the 20-minute mark, has little to write home about. Normally I like to break down these extended jams segment by segment, but Phish appeared... well, not hasty, but, almost too concerned on forcing a "big jam" to happen. This Tweezer is inorganic, meaning, it feels forced, unnatural. The closing 4 minutes are definitely the highlight, as the jam's looseness leads to, ironically, more tight jamming. A very clean -> Makisupa was fun. This version features a couple of noteworthy achievements: 1) AGAIN great interplay between Mike and Fish 2) Some very playful, inspired banter. HA! It's almost as though Trey kinda knew they weren't playing too well tonight, so he decided to make up for or, (or try to) by joking with the crowd. Ohhh Trey. A really kick-ass Limb by Limb spirals in next and might be the highlight of the show. Its dizzying climax and and frenetic jam are exceptional to my ears. Great placement of this song! Perhaps the band loosened up after Trey's antics? Maybe? Annnnnnd it's gone. Anything but Me takes that wind right out of our sails and I'm left scratching my head as to what's happening this night in Kansas. Horn was played well enough, but didn't fit the set very well. Waves was choppy and jumbled (and I LOVE Waves) so it pains me to say this version was a little flat. A botched Cavern added some indirect comedic value to the set. An above average, but still perfunctory Antelope closed the set. Contact > Tweezer Reprise was fine. Ugh. I hate being negative in my reviews, but this show just doesn't really pack a whole lot of heat. Sorry, Kansas. If you gloss over this review and/or show, don't feel bad, I sure don't. Can't hit a homerun every at bat! Onto Alpine!

Must-hear jams: none
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Wolfman's Brother, Divided Sky, Tweezer, Limb by Limb, Run Like an Antelope


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