, attached to 2003-07-26

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Hotlanta. Temperatures rising. Momentum building. Can Phish continue the torrid pace with which they've attacked the previous week's worth of shows?

A Wilson opener might suggest as such. But this Wilson, though containing some extended heavy metal-esq jamming, was a little too loose and sloppy for my taste. Nonetheless, when Phish opens with Wilson the tone is set: energy. This was no more apparent when they came out swinging with four consecutive "bust out songs." Cars Trucks Buses, being the biggest of the four, has some serious rust unfortunately. It was fun to hear... except... it was painful to hear. Trey kinda forgot that he was holding a guitar I think. Oh well, I mean A for Effort.... right? The Wedge also got out to a sloppy start but at least Trey picked the axe back up and tried to slay the finale of the jam, which, for some consolation, starts the momentum to swing in the positive direction, rather than the negative. Now here is when things get interesting. It's Ice finds its first placement of the summer and ho boy, this one took me pleasantly by surprise. Having listened to exactly zero minutes of this show in my Phish career, I had no idea what to expect with It's Ice... especially considering how sloppy the composed sections of the first three songs were. Phish played this version well. Surprisingly so in the context of the set. But things get super cool during the jam. Equal parts slow-build Piper and Thunderhead fluttering, this jam is peaceful, melodic, soft, and happy. It drifts for a good three-four minutes, never losing direction, but never following a straight line. It is a fantastic hidden gem. My Mind's Got a Mind of It's Own caps off the bust out train with some good old PhishGrass, and now, the momentum is definitely turned up. A two-part Wolfman's Brother drops in next. The song portion itself seems rather... uninspired. There is no bite or pace to it at all. HOWEVA... the jam immediately drops into a minimalist, quasi-plinko groove-a-thon. Giddy with excitement, I got up off the ouch and shook my funky bad self in the living room. Mrs Funky looked on in admiration, the cat in contempt. The jam starts to unravel about halfway in when, wouldn't you know it, Trey Anastasio delivers a screeching cascade of notes and the band explodes into a rockin, energized, raucous cacophony of a jam! Man! I did not see that coming! There really is no such thing as a bad Wolfman's, but this one is definitely a GOOD Wolfman's. Mexican Cousin was an odd choice to follow up the funk-down. It did not sit well with me, but I am certain in the moment laughs and smiles were abound as this goofy diddy kept the good times rolling. I have gone on record saying I am not a Guyute fan, and - I am still not a Guyute fan. This one was performed well though, honestly, and even though I don't prefer the song, it doesn't take anything away from the set. Taste continues to succession of odd song selections. But again, I bite my tongue because this is a truly beautiful version. Trey starts out soft. Twinkling. Sparkling. Playful and tasteful playing. The band gets quiet. Trey skips about. The band starts to build. Fishman touches the cymbals. The hits them. The crashes them. Trey responds in kind, in tone, in volume! Before you know it they are in a lock step frenzy, building towards a glorious explosion! What a way to wrap up the set! Especially when you aren't expecting it! I gotta say, this set felt like it could have been 2 hours, especially since it was my first time ever listening to any of these songs. I was impressed.

Set two starts out with Piper. Perhaps picking a thread from It's Ice, Piper kinda slow builds... kinda. The jam then blasts off into a 4 part musical endeavour. Part 1: 3-9 minutes: Straight fire rock n roll. Part 2: 9-13 minutes: Bouncey bubble jam. Part 3: 13-17 minutes. A little bit o' everything from previous 2003 Pipers jam. Part 4: 17-20 minutes: Serene deep space jam. Piper settles beautifully onto Mountains in the Mist. Mist is humble and blissful. Introspective and calming... a perfect landpad from that multifaceted, high-action Piper. A wonderful pairing. Waves got a lot of attention in 2003 and I sure do wish they would give it the same attention in today's era. Ahh well. This Waves starts out with Trey nimbly picking his way through the water. Skipping stones across the frets he eventually dives in face first and starts shredding away. Personally I like the nimble, stone-skipping portion of the jam over the latter shreddage part, but whatever, it is still a decent version. Waves recedes into Tweezer which definitely gets a HUGE cheer from the crowd - as the set so far - the show so far - the week so far- has been on fire. This Tweezer doesn't do much though... in fact it is rather forgettable. A rough (and liberal) -> NICU regains some momentum as Mike and Fishman take turns exchanging riffs or flourishes or something! I dunno how to describe it, but it is sure fun to listen to! Never thought I'd say this, but do not skip this NICU! Eventually it gives way to a respectable and well-timed Cavern. You Enjoy Myself catches EVERYONE by surprise and WOW! What a way to end the show! Although this version is rather tame for 2003 standards [author's aside: 2003 was a STRONG year for YEM. 2.26, 7.19, 2.18, 12.1, 7.12 are ALL top-notch. And although this one is certainly the least powerful of 2003, had this taken place, oh I dunno, in 2016... we would be freaking out saying, "FINALLY YEM IS BACK!!" So, a little context when I say this one is "tame."] Back to the tunes... this YEM was "tame" but definitely not lame. And then as a show closer to this particular show, well, it was very well received. Wading was particularly pretty and Tweeprise put about 10 exclamation points on the evening.

It's always fun to listen, start-to-finish, to a show you know NOTHING about. This one took me by surprise in the best way possible... even though it is not an "all-timer" nor contains any "best evers." It is still a dang good Phish show.

Must-hear jams: It's Ice, Wolfman's Brother, Piper > Mountains in the Mist
Probably-should-listen-to-jams: Taste, NICU


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