, attached to 2003-07-25

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo This show lives in somewhat spotlighted Phish lore because it contains the first of two highly extended and highly improvisational Harry Hoods of Summer 2003. But what about the rest of the show. Lots of arrows and dashes in that second set, eh? I wonder what to make of it...

Riding the wake of the HUGE 7.23 show, Funky Bitch surfed out of the silence and into a full blown pornographic 1960s sexcapade. They. Meant. Business. This Bitch is hot. She is sassy. She is a perfect show opener, riffing with full band energy anchored truly by Mike. Trey is especially on point, really taking hold of this scorching hot jam. Chalk Dust hits next and the swell builds. One might look at this pairing and say, "Harrumph, perfunctory Phish." ...that person has been expelled from my class. This 11 minute Chalk Dust breaks quickly from the "norm" and soars off into blissful floating. I had never, ever heard this version before and was totally floored at the amount of highly-original, highly-connected, and highly-focused improvisation it packs into 11 minutes. Sounds like 2016 doesn't it? Well, this version would fit right in. A truly must-hear version of the song that I would guess 80% of the fanbase is totally unfamiliar with. I will be accepting thank you notes at a later time. The crowd is as much on fire as the band is as the song winds down. Two Versions of Me starts up, and although I am not a fan of the song proper, the jam is quite pretty. Reprising some of the tranquil Chalk Dust themes, this is a tasteful little jam that fits nicely into a very powerful start to the show. Bathtub Gin hits next, and if 2003 is known for any vintage, it is known for its Gin. This version starts out with some comical full-band stops... like, almost belly rolling funny and I wasn't even there. I'd love to know what was going on on-stage, as it sounded awkwardly fun! The jam then turns into actual music which builds at a much more benign pace than the Gins of yore. In fact, if any reminiscence fits this version, it is that it sounds strikingly similar to the Gins of Summer 2000. At about the 13 minute mark the pace picks up and the form breaks again, into a more or less, "2003-y" sound. The jam never quite hits the jazzy/spacey/flowy originality of 7.9.03, or the free-form symphony of 2.28.03, or the scary Robo-Funk of 2.22.03, or the angelic soaring of 2.14.03, but hey, we can't hit a homerun every time. Phish has been on a Limb by Limb kick this year, throwing gnarled versions at us left and right. Gritty and powerful, this one fits the mold of what we have heard in the past. It is a deep exploration of dissonance mixed with power mixed with ferocity -- with just a dash of barely-holding-onto-my-sanity. It's quite a ride. Not that I particularly prefer this version over others (I don't) but I am certain in the moment is was a mind-blower. Back on the Train keeps the nonstop momentum surging. I mean this set is really getting after it. Playing the role of little brother to 2.28.03, this version is a bit sloppy and a bit... well... I dunno... coming-up-shorty. It is not bad, no, it just doesn't *sound* like the band really connected in it, despite really, really trying to. Honestly though, in the context of the set, it didn't matter... it ruined nothing. The Horn/Golgi combo had a gritty edge to it, and provided, somehow, a respite towards the tail end of the set. Interesting, no? Sometimes these songs are blasting pads, sometimes landing pads. This time they were the latter, and they fit perfectly into a transition role of "coming down" from the huge jams early on the exclamation point Character Zero to close the set (which was quite raucous). All and all, a VERY cohesive and energized first set with a brilliant Chalk Dust Torture as its bell cow. Now for all those arrows and dashes i Set 2...

The first Drowned in a thousand years opens the second set with a splash ::groans, crickets:: . Ahem. Anyways, Drowned keeps that first set energy flowing with a solid 10 minutes of straight rocking before dripping into a fluid, melodic groove. This is a spunky little pocket Phish finds, not quite an all-star version, but just like all of Set 1, it is fluid, energized, and cohesive. And when they start the Kung lyrics over the groove, man oh man, I can only imagine the energy that unleashed. It was goofy, funny, fun Phish! The best kind! Still, that little groove is pretty sweet too. The groove eventually trickles into Twist which is built in the form of the exceptional 7.9.03 version. Not quite as playful, but definitely as creative, this version of Twist tiptoes and sneaks around the framework of the song. Delicately dancing, the jam is nimble and light. Fishman is the all-star hear, playing notes with his drums rather than beats, and eventually guides the band into -> Heavy Things. This version is the Sandwich King Special. Page crushes it. Trey almost drops out entirely to let Page shine, it was very good. Heavy Things comes to a close, and after a brief conversation - drum role please (literally) - Hood starts up. My mind tells me Trey was telling the other guys, "We are gonna jam the shit outta this." Because, well, they jammed the shit outta it. I could write for hours on this version. It is orchestral exploration. It has false summits, peak-fake-outs, psychedelic pools, and extended, highly stylistic jamming. It ebbs and flows, builds and breaks down. It is, in a (two?) word, must-hear. The Bowie that follows is a little underwhelming and sloppy, but who is counting at this point. Well, maybe that's not true. The mini Tweezer jam in the middle is pretty sweet, and the jam itself kind swirls... but this version as a whole just doesn't do it for ME, not sure why, it just doesn't have a lot of teeth... but that's not to say some fans won't totally dig it. The sets are complete, and show is complete, and this is a fantastic start-to-finish Phish performance. A fun Star Spangled Banner followed by a heartfelt Bug sends us off into the evening, picking our mandibles up off the dance floor, five fiving friends, and thinking to ourselves, "I don't need to pay rent this month... when's the next show?"

Must-hear jams: Chalk Dust Torture, Drowned -> Kung, Harry Hood
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Funky Bitch, Bathtub Gin, Twist, David Bowie...?


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