, attached to 2003-08-02

Review by pmc2kd

pmc2kd I've been revisiting the IT festival a bunch lately, which is deservedly considered a high water mark for 2.0 (&Phish as a whole).

The festival gives you a glimpse into what 2.0 could have been, had the band not been derailed by er "lack of focus on the music" perhaps.

In the context of other Phish festivals, this one remains in the top tier.

AC/DC Bag opens up in fine albeit standard form.

Ya Mar is massive and may be the best version ever (although I think based on preference for different styles people might choose others). It's a huge version that opens up into an excellent jam. What a start! This is a must-hear.

->Runaway Jim is nice and keeps the set flowing perfectly.

Reba is a favorite of mine for it's dissonant spacey middle section. It's a unique one. I remember watching this version in the LivePhish tent at SuperBall and being really inspired (and it's nice they graced us with a similarly outstanding version the next day in Watkins Glenn). I know people that don't love this one - but I love it, and you should too.

Birds of a Feather has yet another outstanding jam. It's plenty long, but also very focused. It doesn't truly deviate from the song structure a whole lot, but is really really great.

Meatstick, Two Versions of Me, an Vultures is a very interesting run of songs, with Vultures being a nice treat. Limb By Limb is one more nice shot of jamming before Cavern rocks us home in style.

Overall an incredible set I. I think it certainly compares to any opening frame from any festival. Is it perhaps the best?

Set II is also quite sumptuous and has some more interesting song selection with plenty of jamming.

Down with Disease rears it's head and snarls and growls with a ferocious opening jam segment. They eventually slow it down into a bubbling cauldron of effects and haunting playing in the 2.0 vein. It's very good stuff (and about 25 minutes) and they manage to find a nice little > NICU, which plays a wonderful peppy, upbeat counterpoint to the chilling jam that preceded it.

->Brother emerges and is a wonderful treat as always.

Lawn Boy is an odd one here, but to me is a nice fun injection. Discern is quite uncommon.

Waves is perhaps the true centerpiece of the set and is rightly held on a pedestal. It's probably the best version ever. The jam proper is very good, with Trey providing some great leads. Eventually like any of the great Waves jams, they break after the last refrain into a haunting soundscape. Whereas some jams tend to go to the light, this one makes it's home in the darker recesses of our consciousness. It's more experience than music. Must Hear.

>David Bowie emerges in surprisingly slick fashion from the ambient noise and is a very nice version as well. Good jamming that is far more interesting than most 3.0 takes on the Phish classic. If they played this one today it would be annotated in the setlist (so I am calling double standard!)

Overall it's an interesting set. The flow is a bit odd in that the BIG jams are bookends, with a bit of randomness in the middle. That uneveness does not take away from the instant classic Waves and the ferocious DWD & Bowie.

Set III, while lacking the most well-known "showstoppers" of the festival, is probably the best set of the whole thing! It is a complete suite of transcendent jamming.

Rock and Roll kicks off the set and sets us into high gear. It finds a nice funky groove with that distinctive chunky rhythmic 2.0 sound. Very good playing and drops perfectly into the -7 Below opening.

->Seven Below segue is perfect and isn't overly long. In spite of it's brevity, it covers tons of ground and finds yet another phenomenal segue into SASS. Another well-jammed version with a magical segue.

SASS is absolutely stellar, with more than capable jamming that slides immaculately back into Seven Below, which provides more incredible improvisation. They build up a great jam and then with equal skill bring the jam down for another -> Spread It 'Round, which is a fun continuation of the continuous music.

Without pause, they make their way into an appropriate Bug conclusion, which I suppose could be one's only chance to gripe about anything in this set, but I would contend is a fine conclusion.

Overall this is the type of set I wish they would play nowadays. It's not a criticism really, it's just that because the sets now tend to be long with many more songs, this type of continuous set which is in essence is a solitary suite of music jut doesn't really exist in the 3.0 style. I can think of a few sets that come close to this, but what's really missing is the unbelievable -> segues they could pull off.

Certainly sets like the UIC elements show, FYF, MagnaBall night I set II, etc. represent a continuous commitment to non-stop improv, but there is just that -> connective tissue missing. All in all this is an absolutely perfect set.

Oh yea, and the Dog Log, Mango encore is superb!!

I won't touch the Tower Jam, just give that one a spin on a dark and stormy night.

Top Shelf - near perfection 4.75/5


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