Great Western Forum, Inglewood, CA
Encore: Loving Cup
 Phish debut.
Average Song Gap: 8.81
Notes: Cover of the Rolling Stone made its Phish debut at this show, presumably as a nod to their actual appearance on the cover of the March 6, 2003 issue of that very magazine. Gin included Entrance of the Gladiators, Woman from Tokyo, and San-Ho-Zay teases. Limb By Limb contained a Gotta Jibboo tease. A fan jumped on-stage and grabbed Trey’s microphone during AC/DC Bag before being dragged off-stage. Caspian was unfinished.
Songs by Debut Year:
The second-set opening Possum is fine, but the ensuing WotC might be the best rendition of the tune I've heard. Shit gets ridiculously dark before leaving orbit around the 18 minute mark, and we ultimately land on Carini. Though Carini isn't on the level with the 3.0 versions we've been spoiled with thus far, it keeps the darkness rolling. AoTD provides a little breather, and though Trey has trouble hitting the high notes, I found it to be a pleasant song. This was the point in the show where I got pensive, introspective, and emotional (does that happen to anyone else during some of these songs?). Anyway, enough about me... LxL is fine with a big almost ADITL-like build-up to close, and the OKP > Bag -> Caspian (unfinished feedback fadeout) is pretty great with a crazy dude jumping on stage during Bag and screaming something like "LUCY! I LOVE YOU! HAPPY VALENTINE--" [dragged off stage]. Kind of fitting that her name was Lucy (dude likely had a head full of her) and that the line the band sang as he ran on stage was "no future at all". In any event it was a unique way to end the second set. Loving Cup'd and we're on the way out into the filthy Inglewood air. This show is a solid 4 star show, and I am so thankful that my wife (then girlfriend) didn't leave me for ditching her to go see a show on VDay in her hometown (LA). Thanks babe!
On another personal and historical note: I was in my last year of college when 2.0 started, and by summer tour I had graduated, so these were my prime Phish-seein' years. It's a shame they were cut short but I'm glad they're back today and healthy, even though work, wife, and kids put me in a situation where I can only see a couple shows a year. I started *really* getting into Phish in late 2000, right before the end of 1.0, and during the first hiatus I "did my homework" and really listened back carefully to much of the bands' history. I got really into August '93 and December '95 (in the last few years I've graduated to Fall '97 and I don't think I'll ever make it out of here). When 2.0 was actually happening, I was stoked with a lot of the jams, but being a musician myself, I would get super flustered with all the flubs Trey was making. It was evident to me that they weren't really practicing much anymore, which was really frustrating. In some sense I was down on 2.0 at the time, having spoiled myself by spending years listening only to the best of the best (at least technically). But I slowly began to realize a few things: there have always been flubs; there weren't always this many exploratory jams; and not every show is going to be epic. This is all a long-winded way of me saying that looking back ten years after the fact (I've now listened to *every* show from 10/6/00 to the present), Phish 2.0 was pretty freaking awesome and I'm glad I got to see a bunch of shows during that brief stretch. As @andrewrose points out, this show really marks the beginning of Phish 2.0, and it's a very solid show for which I'm glad I made the 6-hour drive from Berkeley!
The fulcrum of our pre-show activities for this tour opener was a bubbling pot of Crawfish Monica, which is now available by mail order; they send you all the frozen goodies and you heat it up yourself (preferably while lubricating yourself with a Hurricane or two). Get it while it’s still legal, kiddies.
The crowd at the Forum arrived late, and the pre-show energy was unusually subdued; many of us wondered aloud whether Phish would come back well-rehearsed, or slinging the same unpredictable slop that characterized the Hampton run a month and a half earlier. We settled into a couple killer seats on Mike’s side and waited an eternal forty-five minutes for our answer, which was... well, some of both.
Fishman charged with authority into “My Sweet One,” getting the first nod to Valentine’s Day out of the way early and invalidating the “Roses Are Free” opener call that Gary and I had made earlier in the afternoon. “Cover of a Rolling Stone” was an appropriately fun way for the fellas to knock themselves down a peg, which they always do with style and grace. These first two tunes felt pretty much like soundcheck.
“Chalk Dust” had gotten a nice workout at Hampton, and they tried to bend the mold a little with this one, too. They didn't quite bury the needle, but they did manage to get the crowd cooking. Apparently, Brad laid out lyrics for Trey for “Fee.” I didn’t notice this, but did quite enjoy the song; the outro jam was unique and weird and boded well. “Taste” was clearly intended to redeem the NYE disaster, and proved to be an especially sweet version of a song that has pretty much stagnated after ‘97, in my opinion.
“Bathtub Gin” was the first real declaration of the set. It featured a patient and probing jam, a satisfying climax, and some preposterously jazzy work from Fishman (whose maturation on drums reminds me of a dizzyingly fine red wine). “Heavy Things,” it bears mentioning, was stretched out longer than normal, which did not exactly thrill me, but there you go. “Golgi” was a rocking but fairly standard ending to a very solid set.
The second half opened quite strongly with a straightforward but smoldering “Possum” that compared favorably to the smoking Hampton version. The “Walls of the Cave” that followed invited some comparisons to mid-70s Dead, and that's certainly fair; it had a country inflection at times, and wandered far afield (at one point, Chris Kuroda was obviously leading the jam, to great effect). The “Carini” that rose from the ashes of “Walls” was kind of a lumbering mess, but not altogether unpleasing. “All of These Dreams” I can take or leave.
My first “Oh Kee Pah” was a tense affair. I was afraid it was going to fall apart Jenga-style, but they nailed it, and dropped neatly (if not predictably) into a wonderful, angular, peculiar “Bag.” This jam was inspired by the weird energy that SCD (“Stage Crashing Douchebag”) brought to the stage, and finally just evaporated into nothing. Beautifully done. Unfortunately, “Prince Caspian” was somewhat unremarkable, and Trey left the stage holding his wrist as if in pain.
If he were, you’d never know it by the smoking “Loving Cup” encore. Phish opened the show by poking fun at the idea of love, and had earned itself a shot at the genuine article by the end.
Bullseye... and on to Vegas!
The last couple of minutes of WOTC are really interesting, it just takes Phish a while to get there. Ending the show with Prince Caspian, especially one that came out of a subdued, yet lengthy AC/DC Bag, is not their usual way of calling it a night, but after the guy came on stage, Trey was in a weird mood. It still makes for a decent listen.
Fee>Taste is quite nice, and the Gin is a rocker. One other thing: give Cover of the Rolling Stone a listen. Just once if that's all you want, but you'll enjoy it. Then watch this video:
The entire show's on youtube too, FYI.
1. The 20 min Gin which features almost ten mins of solid melodic jamming. Its not the best of the tour but if you take a listen, it'll definitely brighten your mood. I gave this version 4/5 stars in my itunes
2. "Cover of the Rolling Stone"...amazingly fun song. Combine that with the fact that this was the only time Phish ever played it
The Possum 2nd set opener shreds and contains more high energy peak jamming, calling back to the earlier Chalk Dust. The Walls of the Cave that follows is a truly remarkable, dark, and intense thrill ride that will have you on the edge of your seat until it slams into Carini. Such a fitting landing pad. Listen to this jam. The rest of the show is rather standard, save for a stage jumper interrupting the "no future at all" segment of the Bag, and a pretty hot Loving Cup encore.
Overall this show is definitely worth checking out, it's very fun. Gin and WotC -> Carini will blow you away.
My wife Mia and I hit the road from the Bay Area on Thursday the 13th, destination: Phish in LA on the 14th (Valentine's Day!) and then in Las Vegas on the 15th and 16th, for the first three nights of their first tour since ending the Hiatus.
We left the night before because its a six to seven hour drive in best conditions, but we had our two girls with us (three and one half years and four months), making it an eight hour drive that can fray everyone's nerves. We hit the halfway point and our Motel 6 about 10:30 p.m., primed for some great sleep to rest up for the weekend. We got some sleep, hit LA by noon the next day and went to my Mom's house in suburban Palos Verdes (coastal LA County), where our girls would spend the weekend with their grandparents. I grabbed a half hour power nap, and by 4:00 p.m. we were off to the Great Western Forum with my brother and his girlfriend driving in their car. We hooked up seamlessly with our large group of Santa Barbara based friends at their hotel about a mile from the Forum - ¯ Greg, Cory G, Rick and Leigh Ann, and Paul M, who would be in our crew for Vegas, and a special treat with Corey L and Jenn J for LA only (and sitting in our section). We were quickly off to the lot.
The first thing I noticed in the lot was that people couldn't sell extras; they were offering under face value and not getting takers. Apparently there was a sizeable ticket release just a few hours before show time. The lot was pretty full of people, but kinda subdued for a tour opener.
Most of us had reserved seats, so we didn't hurry in. My (other) little brother though was among those with general-admission floor seats, so he got in line when the gates opened, and he called to tell me he was about thirtieth in line. When we got inside, we found him on the rail, right in front of Trey and Page's space...nice. We got to watch him bob his head and grin from our seats all night.
Our seats were pretty solid, we had six together in a line, in the lower sections about twenty rows up straight sideways from Page's piano. There was a great view of the band, floor, and light show. Plus plenty of space to move and to welcome in other friends who stubbed in.
Another interesting note is that we got to our seats around 8:00 p.m. (show time was listed for 7:30 PM.), and the place was still half empty, even the floor. It mostly filled in later, but it was not standing room only.
Finally at 8:30 PM (!) the lights dropped. You know that amazing feeling when the lights cut out, you swear you can hear the big switch being
thrown, and all that's left is the stage bathed in soft purple light.
Let's get this show on the road!
Mike came out in a big white Fedora, and he looked hysterical. He kept it on for about two songs. We always like to try to pick the first tune, but no one guessed "My Sweet One"¯....of course, Valentine's Day!
The encore was the best of the three nights, as the band nodded once more to Valentine's Day with a scorching "Loving Cup"¯. Back on Phish mini-tour with my Valentine - ¯ oh, what a beautiful buzz!
It took a while to get out of the lot. Several clutch quesadillas and a root beer helped things out. Big thumbs down to the Inglewood/LA police department for circling a helicopter over the crowd no sooner than one half hour after the last notes of the encore (about when we got to our car), instructing people to vacate the premises. We were all in a gridlocked line of cars trying to do just that. Settle down guys. You don't want half of these people driving just yet, anyway.
Of course coming out of the show we were all smiles, it had indeed been a good show. But now that show is paling in comparison, and fading in memory, after what happened in Vegas - ¯ where Phish dropped the BOMB.
Some swear by this Gin, and it reaches a magnificent peak at the end, but I don't think it is fully deserving of all the credit and attention it gets. In my opinion the REAL highlight of the show is the incredible Walls > Carini, All of These Dreams run in the first half of the second set. (I include All of These Dreams because it's a beautiful ballad). I'm a sucker for Walls of the Cave - I love it. I love any Phish song that mixes complex composition with improvisational experimentation like this particular version does. I also love Page's powerful piano chords to open up the song. The composed section of this version is a little rough in places, but the jam more than makes up for it. The first half of the jam is full of organ swells and gritty uncompressed guitar, but this eventually fades into a sparser jam with more delicate soloing by Trey and absolutely beautiful playing by Mike. This segues into a sloppy but powerful Carini. I love Trey's maniacal solo in this song. Though it doesn't reach the improvisational heights the song has been taken to in recent 3.0 renditions, the brief jam is menacing. Next up is All of These Dreams - a beautiful ballad in my opinion - which includes a rather soulful solo from Trey.
This show marks the beginning of a prolific period of 2.0 highlights, and while I don't think it's as strong a show overall as some of the following shows of the Feb. 03 tour, it's highlights definitely place among the best of the tour.
Taste> Gin Heavy Things is good but if you're short on time check out Carini instead.
Possum isn't like Phish circa 1980 but I'm not complaining. Walls of the Cave is the reason everyone came to that night. A musical library gem. They encored with Loving Cup a coming to full circle move on their performance, as they opened with a roaring drum lick and blunt harmonized vocals. Page is then introduced properly, the band isn't just backing up Trey.
This concert offers a lot of Pagehose and if Mike's tucked bass can't convince you to listen to this little pocket of winter tour nothing will.