Worcester Centrum Centre, Worcester, MA
Encore: Loving Cup
 Phish debut.
 Lyrics referenced the fire at the band's hotel in Cincinnati a week earlier.
Average Song Gap: 20.73
Notes: YEM was preceded by a Call to the Post tease from Trey. The YEM vocal jam included Trey singing pieces of Clone (which would be played in its entirety after the vocal jam). This show marked the Phish debuts of Clone, Drifting, Blue Skies, and Final Flight (all of which had previously been played by various band member side projects). Maze included a tease from Page of Summertime (Gershwin). Stash included a Foam tease. The lyrics to Makisupa referenced the fire at the band’s hotel in Cincinnati a week earlier. Trey expanded Page’s nickname to “Leo Kottke” in Ya Mar. Ya Mar also included a Stash tease. Golgi included a Frankenstein tease.
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "2003 Winter Tour."
To catch live Phish these days one needs to be both lucky and good. At least, that has become my philosophy; ever since my wife, Karyn and I were shut out of the New Year's festivities at Madison Square Garden and the Hampton, Virginia shows to end the hiatus. At first, like many others, I was bitter about not gaining admittance to the celebration. I felt like the only kid in a kindergarten class who wasn't given an invitation to his best friend's birthday party.
When it comes to scoring tickets, I am not good at surrendering to the flow. I become a madman, possessed by one goal. If that goal is not achieved I refuse to accept defeat. Well, in regard to the "Kotter Tour,"¯ defeat was the pill I was forced to swallow. After I finished sulking, I figured that all events in the universe happen for a reason. Even if they are a bit hard comprehend. I had to research this. I was going to do my best to discover the reason; I wanted something tangible that I could rap my brain around.
I quickly took to surfing the internet to read peoples' reactions to both Phish Tickets-by-Mail and Ticketmaster on-sale results. It didn't take me long to learn that my wife and I were not alone. There were thousands of Phish-heads out there who were not granted a golden ticket. Daily, I looked to various websites for answers to where all the tickets had gone. The more I searched, the number of sad stories I read grew. My resolve hardened. I would never pay the outrageous "scalper"¯ agency prices or the auction prices shown on www.ebay.com .
The initial hangover from ingesting that capsule of defeat had worn off. However, I would always remember the bad feelings it brought. In one, late-night, leisurely, internet browsing session my despair was replaced with elation. I popped onto www.phish.com to discover the February '03 tour dates listed. I sat stunned at my desk.
My gaze became frozen on my monitor as I clicked and dragged my way down the page. My first thought was, "Oh how sweet, the tour begins on Valentine's Day."¯ Then, I saw the show was scheduled in California. It was as if I was intentionally being held in suspense by an unseen cosmic force. Studying each date, and location I scanned for anything near Massachusetts. I am no stranger to tour related travel. It is just that, I have two, small, children. It is more difficult to just point the car toward unknown destinations.
In an instant, it all became clear why Karyn and I were made to suffer the setback of not getting our first choice of tickets. It was because the future held a greater gift for us. Phish was booked at the Worcester Centrum Centre on February 26, 2003. This date may seem insignificant to most. Nonetheless, for us it was huge. Bigger than Christmas, New Year's Eve, or Valentine's Day. It marks my wife's twenty-ninth birthday. Everything was in perfect alignment in the cosmos. Phish was playing in our backyard. We would not be denied!
I immediately began planning my ticket procurement mission and birthday activities. My mother agreed to sit for our girls on show day. She even took a day off from work. I called the box office to make sure I had the information solidly in my brain. I was not putting my faith in mail order or Ticketmaster online. Nor, was I going to agonize while trying to break through a constant busy signal over the phone.
When the time came to buy the tickets I showed up in person at the box office. I wanted to face this head on. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky ones. Tickets for this show were gone in twenty-three minutes. In my mind, I can still hear the sound of the huge "OH SHIT,"¯ collectively released by those who were turned away without tickets. Upon returning to my car, I phoned my wife at home to sing her "Happy Birthday"¯ I had our tickets in hand.
All doubt that the announcement of hiatus spawned had disappeared. The countdown had begun. Karyn and I would once again boogie amongst citizens of the Phish Nation. It was all just a few weeks away.
On the day of the show I wished my wife a happy one. We spent the early hours taking care of household business and making sure that our children, Sage and Noa were cared for and content. By three-thirty that afternoon, I was ready to explode with excitement. My mother was due to arrive by four o'clock. Karyn whipped up some of her famous, home-style macaroni and cheese with tomatoes for the kids. I had withdrawn some cash from the bank for our big night out. I asked Karyn if she would accompany me to a nice dinner before we hit the seats. Her reply to my request was: "How about a burrito in the lot?"¯ Enough said.
It did not take long for us to say our final "good-byes"¯ and give hugs all around. Before I could open my mouth and say next to anything about traffic and or parking. Karyn had the situation fully under control. She put De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising into the disc player of our PT Cruiser and we were on our way to the "super secret, free parking facility."¯ I think the ride took about six minutes. By quarter-to-five, we were walking toward the Centrum in the frigid, cold. Properly bundled up against the elements, we forged ahead for a few minutes discussing songs we though Phish would play in honor of Karyn's birthday. Seeking warmth inside the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets Mall, She said she wanted to hear them pull out "It's Ice."¯
The mall appeared to be a popular refuge for heads. It was here we began playing our tour-based game called, "Dreaded, Bearded, Hippie Guy."¯ The rules of this game are simple. It is a lot like, "Punch Buggy."¯: The first player to spot a guy with dreadlocks and a beard can deliver a punch to the next player. I must take a moment to clearly state, in no way is this sport designed to insult the beloved dreaded, bearded, hippie folk. It is a game meant to keep ones own senses sharp before and during a Phish show. I, myself, wear my hair long and on occasion, I have been known to grow scruff on my chin and cheeks. I can not commit to full "Rasta-Wookie"¯ transmutation procedures at this point.
While ambling through the mall, Karyn tagged me three or four times. I didn't have a prayer to catch up. She was stacking up points too quickly. After all, it was her day. Upon her next attempt to deliver a whack on my shoulder, I pulled out the "Prove that's a guy,"¯ defense. If one player spies a "Dreaded, Bearded, Hippie Girl,"¯ that is game, set, and match"...hands down.
A short time later we found ourselves outside again. We only had to cross the street to before reaching the main doors to the Centrum. The crowd had not begun to truly form, yet. Mostly those hoping for "miracles"¯ milled about. The majority of them had cell phones glued to their ears. Frantically, these people were attempting to work out last minute deals that would get them on the winning side of the turnstile. A few talked with police. Karyn and I huddled together near a brick support to stay out of the direct breezeway. As more people started to gather, we inched toward the metal barriers that were put in place to keep us all properly herded together like cattle.
It was in this area that we met Jason and Corey. These two were a couple from Vermont, attending their first show as guests of Jon Fishman's girlfriend, Briar. Jason was a kind-eyed soul who wore a black, biker-style sweatshirt with the slogan: "Does not play well with others,"¯ on the back Corey was a pretty, blonde, girl who shivered at the speed of sound against the cold. The four of us were at the head of the line to get through the doors. Karyn and I even checked the opening time with the staff in the will call area of the box office. After chatting with these folks, it became apparent that the staff and security were playing a game of their own. The doors were supposed to open by 6 o'clock. We were sent back out to stand in the cold just waiting and waiting some more.
The first complication of the evening presented itself just after we rejoined the line. A tiny screw that holds Karyn's left temple piece of her eyeglass frame loosened itself and the lens popped free. This rendered her temporarily "half-blind."¯ As luck would have it, she was able to retain possession of the small screw. She held it between two back teeth until she was able to locate her wallet and put it inside the change pouch for safe keeping. Corey, Jason and I gave her all the play-by-play with regard to the event staff and whether or not they were making any moves to let us in. Corey and I led the charge to the doors. We did everything short of pressing our faces to the glass to give to the staff an "up-close"¯ and personal view.
Just prior to seven o'clock we were lined up for security pat downs. Once inside, Karyn reassembled her glasses with a steady hand and her trusty thumbnail. It was an amazing feat of in the field repair work. We were briefly separated from Jason and Corey only to find we were in the same section. Their seats were roughly six rows down from us. Before getting settled, they walked by us a few times and let us know we had just missed Briar. Apparently she was carrying Jon and Briar's one-year-old child, Ella on her hip. "She's so cute,"¯ Corey lovingly remarked. Sure enough, before long, Jason and Corey were pointing Briar and Ella out to us. Corey was right. Little Ella is a beautiful girl. Her round, sweet, face bares an exact likeness to her daddy. Her blonde hair parted to the side. We wished Jason and Corey a good show as the headed down to their seats. Briar and Ella stuck close to Ella's grandpa, Len Fishman.
He was seated one row behind our new acquaintances wearing a red sweater. Karyn and I had a perfect line of sight into what seemed to be the band's friends and family section from our vantage point in the accessible seating area. I leaned my crutches against the handrail and soaked in the scene from inside the Centrum.
As more seats filled in Karyn and I got to know some of the others around us. Andy was a guy from Albany, New York who said he went to Jon Fishman's rival high school. He was at the show with his friend Nancy from Sturbridge, Massachusetts. She was in a wheelchair and appeared very happy while getting to know us. We traded Phish stories back and forth. We even let them in on the rules of "Dreaded, Bearded, Hippie Guy."¯ Andy started racking up points as well. I had no hope of winning. I was lucky I didn't get bruised. Just as our game was picking up speed the house lights went down.
Phish came onstage and came out of the gate like a racehorse favored to win the Kentucky Derby. Trey played "Charge!"¯ on his guitar before launching into "You Enjoy Myself,"¯ I looked at Karyn with awe. I never expected this song as an opener. It was a pleasant surprise. An instant charge of electricity hit the crowd. Phish was back in front of a New England crowd. With friends and family in attendance, they could have been self-conscious and reserved.
On the contrary, I feel as if they were comfortable enough to play "without a net."¯ They stretched out musically. Mike Gordon showed us, early on, that he was in his groove. He brought out a taste of the funk reminiscent of summer '97 tour. This "Y.E.M."¯ came complete with a vocal jam and crazy, white, lights from Chris Kuroda. Trey began using the lyrics from "Clone"¯ in the vocal jam. It was an atypical to way to segue into a debut, but the boys made it work. This song is the title track of bassist, Mike's side project recording with guitarist Leo Kottke. I have yet to hear the original, but I truly enjoy the spin that Phish put on this tune.
The entire first set was full of first-time songs with a couple of Phish tunes mixed in for color. The members of Phish traded lead vocal duties on the new songs: "Drifting"¯ was Trey's offering. It was uplifting and it seemed an easy fit into the set. "Roggae,"¯ began softly, building to a powerful, guitar crescendo. Jon Fishman served up the country flavored, "Blue Skies,"¯ from Pork Tornado. It took me a minute to get used to this one.
Moments like this are one of the elements I love about Phish most. They are still able to take risks and roll with the outcome. An example of this type of experiment took place in summer '97; On July 21st, at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater, we were in attendance when the band broke out four, new songs to begin the set. Few fans knew them. Only those that had traveled to see Phish in Europe had the pleasure of any sneak peaks.
To bring the focus back to the show in question, "Moma Dance"¯ came next. It was a deep funk romp that served a marker for fans who may have lost their way in the last two tunes. Part of me was hoping they would keep the groove going and maneuver into "Camel Walk."¯ Instead, we were treated to a touching, slow, song with vocals from Page on "Final Flight."¯ This song may have been perhaps the one debut to go through the most adaptation to be included in the set-list. The original from Vida Blue, has no lead guitar part. The end result was a delight to hear.
The first set became a musical space in which the band shared new ideas with each other as well as the fans. They took time to celebrate each other and acknowledge where they have been and where they are going. It reminds me of the days of when, I, as a child, stood in front of a class with my voice cracking: "I want to tell you what I did on my summer vacation"..."¯
Fishman's tick, tick, tick at the beginning of "Maze"¯ let everyone know the time had come to get back to one of the band's standards. This version of Maze stands out in my mind as a truly remarkable one. It was a great way to close the set. Everyone in our section was dancing so hard. I was close to breathless, myself. Karyn was groovin' away all of her stress. It was great to see. For those who may not believe that Phish shows are therapeutic, I urge you to take a listen.
Set-break had its highlights as well. We chatted with Andy and Nancy while partaking in one of our favorite sports, people watching. I took a few more punches as the game of "Dreaded, Bearded, Hipppie Guy"¯ raged on. Andy quickly displayed his skill. He was able to "spread the love"¯ equally. He tapped both Karyn and me to score points. Karyn broke away to find the bathroom. I caught a glimpse of Jason coming up the steps. He breezed by, without a word. Upon his return from the concourse, I pulled him aside to ask him if the gentleman behind him was, in fact, Len Fishman. He replied, "Yeah, that's Len. Go say `Hi.'"¯
I told him that I didn't want to risk falling down the steps on my crutches. He told me he understood. Then I asked, "Could you tell Len that the kid he gave a ride to at The Went is five rows behind him?"¯
"Sure,"¯ said Jason.
Karyn had just returned from her travels. I explained to her what I had just enlisted Jason to do. "You're not going to have him do that, are you?"¯
With that, he headed down and tapped Len on the shoulder. Seconds later, Len turned and shot me a smile and a thumbs-up. That made me smile too.
Halftime seemed to last an eternity. We also gained a couple new neighbors in the last row of section 123. We didn't speak much with them. If memory serves, we didn't do much beyond an initial wave. When the house lights faded again, "Stash"¯ filled the room. Trey's melodic guitar told us all this set would be worth the wait. If set one was a test for new material, the second set seemed carefully planned. It fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It was a harmoniously tight, yet fluid jam. "Ghost"¯ appeared to conjure up some more funky vibes. Trey, Mike, Fish and Page were "hooking up"¯ in this one. Using their unique powers of telepathy, they guided one another through rest of the set. They smoothly rolled through a jam of War's "Low Rider,"¯ in true Cheech and Chong fashion. Without missing a beat, "Makisupa Policeman"¯ followed in hot pursuit. Trey's key phrase in this version: "Woke up just the other morning / my hotel was burning down"¯. Apparently, this was a reference to a hotel fire that took place during Phish's most recent visit to Cincinnati. With memories of the nightclub fire at the Station in Warwick, Rhode Island still fresh in peoples' heads this line was a bit of a buzz kill. The song was short and to the point. "Ya Mar"¯ quickly snapped me back to the present. I shook my butt until images of "Guyute"¯ the "ugly pig"¯ kicked me into hyperspace. By the middle of the tune I totally surrendered to the dance. I ignored any potential distractions. Knowing that my feet hurt, I could not sit. "Waves"¯ from the Round Room album swirled and swelled. Keeping the aquatic theme alive, "Prince Caspian"¯ allowed me to slow down and just sing along. Who needs feet anyway?
I don't quite remember the exact point when, but I looked to my left to see Andy backing Nancy's chair out of her spot. He leaned over to me to explain, "We are going to take off. Nancy's tired. We'll see ya again. I hope."¯ With that, Andy moved Nancy back toward the exit. I think I hear her inquire, "Did you get their phone number?"¯ Sadly, we didn't exchange digits. But Andy did shake my hand and deliver one more pop to my chest to let me know he was playing to win. He asked me to pass that one on to Karyn. So I obliged.
The band was relentless. They launched directly into a "Frankenstein"¯ tease. This was a "monster"¯ jam packed into a relatively short time. "Golgi Apparatus"¯ closed the second set and was a special treat. It had some "Frankenstein"¯ left in it.
The encore was appropriate for the occasion. "Loving Cup"¯ is a sentimental favorite. Briefly glancing over at Karyn, I saw we were on the same wavelength. Phish just seems to know when to shake the dust off of this one. I couldn't have said "Happy Birthday"¯ in a more meaningful way. The boys seemed to extend the end of this version as well. It was the perfect way to punctuate the evening.
Watching the exhausted but satisfied fans move toward the exits I tried to regain my breath my breath. Speaking to a random passer-by I said, "They always manage to do something special here in Worcester."¯
"I don't know what it is about this town,"¯ the stranger replied. "They tore the roof off of this place."¯
After that comment our new neighbors in the section spoke up. "I didn't know when they were gonna end,"¯ said the guy next to me in a wheelchair. "That set just kept going"..."¯
Karyn introduced herself and me to the two next to us. They then told us their names. Jeff and John had come up from Cape Cod for this show. Jeff had purchased a ticket for himself and one for his younger brother as a Christmas present. Jeff asked us how to get back to the Holiday Inn from the Centrum. They were not familiar with the area. Karyn began to explain the directions, when we learned they were going to make the roughly six mike trek without transportation. They had flagged down a cab from the Holiday Inn to make it to the show. Jeff didn't feel confident that they could find another in the after-show crowd Karyn said, "We've got the time. You can ride with us. Every once and a while, it's good to do a random act of kindness."¯
We set off into the night like old friends. It didn't take very long before the cold had a grip on us again. Moving quickly to our vehicle, we all loaded in. Karyn assisted Jeff into the co-pilot's seat. Then she helped me contort in the back seat. We took a roundabout way to their hotel. The brothers invited us to breakfast as payment for the ride. We respectfully declined. After all, we had no idea if our children had run my mom ragged. As a further gesture of goodwill, my wife asked the brothers to our home for brunch the next day before the headed home. Jeff saved our number in his cell phone and told us, "We'll try to make it."¯ The next morning we got a phone message inviting us to visit Cape Cod this summer. Jeff and John decided to drive home earlier than expected. It's too bad we didn't get together the day after.
If it is meant to be, it will happen. In all my years of following this band and being caught up in the scene. Everything happens for a reason. We are all connected to share in the experience. I am truly happy to have been able to give my wife such a gift. I am also happy to have crossed paths with the people that I have.
While unsuspecting eyes probably immediately lacth onto the early part of second set (and as waxbanks points out, with reason), there's terrific, terrific stuff going on elsewhere. For one, this was the first time the band opened a typical two-set show with YEM since 1989, I believe, and they meant business from the get-go. Mike absolutely slaughters the solo and his tone and melodic playing drove a huge chunk of the show all night. All of the solo-project cover stuff flows nicely and is fun, but do NOT sleep on the Moma Dance or Maze. The Moma is extended and playful and gets into some very interesting atypical like interplay between Mike and Trey, and the Maze is just nailed 93-style with so much gusto you'll be hard pressed to find a better version in the ten years prior. No lie. I was up close and I remember Trey giving a serious classic fist pump following the Maze and if you listen closely you can hear him saying "we liked that, thank you" with enthusiasm before they went off. There was kind of magic old school aura hanging over the band on this night and it would continue through to Long Island. Band on a mission. Blowing our minds again.
In terms of the second set, don't skip the Waves->Caspian->Frankenstein either. Very nice jamming and fluid segues.
That's how happy I am to review this show. Maybe more happy. Because this show is A+, 10/10, cowabunga Bonzai Pipeline, and I would have probably been thrown in jail if I attended -- that's how controversial my dance moves would have been.
The Call to the Post riff before the first actual song... man, I just got goosebumps thinking about it. Like a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby, You Enjoy Myself blasts out of the gates with focus and energy so amplified, so electric, that Phish could have made this concert 100% eco-friendly by producing all of their own power to run the amps, lights, and assorted concession stands throughout the venue. I have NO shame in saying this is my favorite version of YEM, ever. ::cue eye rolls from Red Rocks 94, Albany 95, Vegas 96, ect ect...:: This version, with how hot it is, could melt the sun. I could breakdown each minute of the song, but that wouldn't be nearly as fun as listening to it yourself. From Trey scratching back and forth with Page, to the three independent, orbit-changing peaks, to Fish and Mike's pure-sex Bass and Drums, to the Clone vocal jam... man, wow. AND THIS OPENS THE SHOW!!! If that opened a show I had attended, I would have looked around after its conclusion and asked, with all sincerity, "Am I die?" Clone sneaks in via the vocal jam and what a tune this is. It has Mike written all over it with its swanky bassline and problematic vocal story telling. It swings and grooves and should be in Phish's repertoire with more regulatory... said EVERYONE EVER who has listened to this song. Come on, Trey! A mesmerizing Roggae comes next and at this point, the deal was sealed that this show was going to be special. Not just Phish special, but all time special. Swirling, swooping, and gliding through a soft mist, this Roggae is as delicate as it is determined. A full band focused composition, this piece of music is the perfect yin to the fire of the YEM's yang. The next song, Drifting, is also another one of these solo songs that *needs* to be in the repertoire. Since it's a Trey song, I personally blame Page for it not being in rotation. Anyways, Drifting makes me feel like laying in a meadow on a warm summer day - looking at clouds as the scoot by, wondering what it might feel like to be a cloud. Trey takes the lead, as it is his song, and hits a beautifully melodic peak. Blue Skies is okay, but at this point, I don't really care if an "okay" song is thrown into the mix. The set is already so good. This Fishman "bluegrass folk" song feels a little slapdash, but whatever because do you know what comes next... Uh oh. Uhhh ohhhh. Do you see what's happening? Someone alerted the authorities because Funky has official unleashed his most controversial dance move "Walking Through Unseen Spiderweb at Night." If this Moma Dance doesn't lube your loins, you might be dead. Sassy, sexy, filthy, and steamy, this Moma Dance is without a doubt the best they've ever played. Sexy. If your dance moves are anything less than Controversy Level Three: Naked Soul Train, you're doing it wrong. Grooooooooove city. Final Flight is kinda a crappy Page ballad, sorry Page, but is instantly redeemed by a smoldering, psychedelic-laced Maze. Slash-and-burning through all sorts of effects from both Page and Trey, anchored by an even-more-heavy-than-usual Mike line, this Maze leaves nothing but ashes and dust in its wake. Really, type-face reviews like this one don't do proper justice to how good this set was. It's the weekend. I urge you to go home, find this set, this show, and listen to it with focus from start to finish. You will be a better person for it.
Although I have never seen a Stash set 2 opener, I think it is one of three or four "perfect" ways to start set two because of how far it can reach. Know you might say, "Well hold on Funky, Phish can take *any* song for a ride, especially when it opens set 2." True enough, but Stash is one of those classics that can reach any multitude of musical excursion. Check out 6.11.94 for white-hot peaks. Check out 7.2.97 for the MOST BLISSFUL 8 minutes of music Phish has EVER performed. Check out 11.14.95 for pure terror. Check out 12.31.03 for some Hubble-esq deep field plating (teaser). And check out this version for some downright playful breakdowns, builds, and wavelength patterns of musical crests and troughs. This Stash has it all, and has it all in spades. My favorite segment is nearing the end, maybe 14 minutes in when it breaks down and Fish on the woodblocks and Mike is just plain dirty on his "picking." Ohhh soooo gooood. Then the jam explodes back into Stash jam proper and winds down to its normal end, with a punctuation mark. Now, before we get into the next song, I suggest you remove your pants. Pants off? Okay let's do this thing. Michael "Gacktoidler" Gordon. Are you familiar? Yes. Good. Are your pants still off? Yes. Good. Now, when I say a jam is slinky, this is what I am thinking of. This Ghost is a slinky jam. It is the Mike Gordon All-Star game. It is, if there ever was, the musical reincarnation of what a ghost would be. Ecto-9 all the way. Some people say Trey just kinda drops out and it lazy in this jam. Not me. Even though Mike is the #1 in this entire rendition, Trey's layering and incredibly nimble playing is downright goosebump-enducing. The jams seeps through all sorts of moods, each amazing, before culminating in a subdued yet celebratory, cohesive peak that blends right into Low Rider. The crowd goes bananas as the Low Rider theme permeates the building and the level of Dance Controversy has reached Four: Naughty Shower Lufa. An equally amazing -> Makisupa keeps the jaw-dropping-ness of this set going. A playful version akin to 2.16.03's this on has some splashy cymbal work and sultry Mike accomplishments. Then add on a third consecutive, cleeeeaaaaan -> Ya Mar and holy crap, this set is even better than the first!!! Ya Mar is playful and just great. It stays within its framework but it honestly doesn't need any fancy treatment with how awesome and well-constructed this set, and show, has been. Just great, happy music. Wasting NO time after the Ya mar winds down, you can hear Trey yell GUYUTE! GUYUTE! And with gusto, the band bursts into the ugly pig. I am not usually a fan of Guyute, but this one works. It fits a perfect niche, fraught with energy and zeal, complimenting a perfect show up to this point. Phish continues their giggle-inducing playing with a late set WAVES!!! Played with a half-step more OOMPH, this waves, like the Stash before it, hits musical crests and troughs, barrels over itself, and billows beautifully with some crowd-made off-shore winds (I just went type 2 on my review, whoa). Waves settles peacefully, and appropriately, into the nautical Prince Caspian. Phish can do no wrong. Even if you're not a Caspian fan, there's no denying how well this pairing worked in the set. Just great. Caspain features more truly inspired playing from Trey and, believe it or not, has a true -> into Frankenstein of all songs!!! Hahahaha!!! Can't help but laugh at how this worked out! Wow! Frankenstein nearly implodes the venue and where it failed, Golgi completely razes what is left of Woostah. A SMOKING Loving Cup with extended jam close the show with a billion exclamation points. This is not a normal Loving Cup, this one, like this entire show, deserves your attention. Holy crap what a show!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Must-hear jams: You Enjoy Myself, Drifting, Moma Dance, Maze, Stash, Ghost -> Makisupa -> Ya Mar, Loving Cup
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Roggae, Ya Mar, Waves > Prince Caspian -> Frankenstein > Golgi Apparatus
The drive into Worcester was pretty smooth, that is until we hit the exit for the venue. From the exit we could actually see the Centrum, which was a bad thing because that showed us how far we had to travel through traffic to get there. Once we had parked, we made our way up the ramp and into the sea of rabid fans trying to make their way in. My buddy Dan surveyed the situation from his vantage point (high above the rest of us) and told us it seemed that there was only one entrance that we were all to squeeze through.
After about forty minutes we were at the door. When we finally made it into the venue and into the room, we began the slow decent down the stairs to our seats, which were right off the floor. It was nuts. People were squished together and moving as one big unit down a narrow set of stairs. The lights went down before we were anywhere close to our seats, and Trey played an appropriate "charge!" tease. The band then launched into “YEM”. A very tight and rocking version, and the whole place was feeling it hard as the opener. We made it to our seats by the vocal jam and got to take in Kuroda's display of crazy white lights. The “Clone” teases in “YEM” sounded strangely familiar before I realized what they were. “Clone” was great to hear, I loved the groove that Phish created with that song. “Roggae” was nice, and gave me a chance to look around the venue. I would swear that this place was filled way over capacity. It almost seemed to be busting at the seams.
After “Roggae” came “Drifting”, a favorite of mine from Trey's band, and this one did not disappoint. It also got us all thinking "hmmm, two side project songs. this could get interesting." With that thought came the Pork Tornado square dancin' number followed by a SUPER FUNKY “Moma Dance” that had the whole place movin'. Vida Blue's “Final Flight” finished off the side project segment of the show and a crazy multi-peaking “Maze” ended the set.
During setbreak I heard rumors that a lot of ticketless fans had made their way into the building. This could explain how crowded the Centrum was, and I wondered if the band knew about any of this. Set II began with a beautiful “Stash” which took us far out and back, then came the meat of the set. “Ghost” > “Low Rider” > “Makisupa” > “Ya Mar”. This combination of songs took us through some twists and turns, all of which kept us on our toes, dancin’ away. During “Makisupa”, Trey called Page “Leo Kottke” in an apparent reference to “Clone”.
The whole show was so tight. It made me feel so good about the coming years of Phish. And I believe my question about the fans who snuck in was answered with Golgi. I had this funny vision of a newbie who had snuck into the show, ingested something psychedelic, then heard the lines "I saw you with a ticket stub in your hand" only to think, "Wait a minute... OH MY GOSH!! They know I snuck in!!" This show is a Winter 2003 standout and should be a part of everyone's collections.
I can't think of a better way to open a Phish show than YEM, and this one - while not an all time great - certainly brings some extra mustard, with some particularly firey guitar work by Trey and an awesome bass solo by Mike immediately prior to the Clone-infused vocal jam. At the time I was hugely surprised to hear Clone, and it was executed very well, although I prefer Kottke's work on the acoustic to Trey's electric for this song. Very pretty Roggae, nice interplay between Trey, Page and Mike. Drifting is well played, (the background vocals are a bit rough though), but at the show this is when I started thinking it would be cool if they played a song from everyone's side project.
I had no idea what Blue Skies was at the time (and I still have never heard the original) but it is a pleasant enough country tinged Fishman tune. No complaints here, the first set is the perfect place for something like this. Nice patient staccato Moma jam. Final Flight is the inevitable Vida Blue song, and executed nicely, although as in Drifting the background vocals are shaky. A little sloppiness at the beginning of Maze by Trey, but he rips into the solo as if trying to make up for it. I may be imagining things, but I think I heard a Summertime tease by Page at 4:44 into the Maze. In any event, a typical high energy set closer that devolves into what I used to call a textural jam, with Trey using the delay pedals in a big way before retiring to the typical Maze outro.
Stash kicks off the second set with a bang. Cool vocal work by Trey, he sings "was it for this my life I sought" behind the beat, which builds up a tension and gives every downbeat in that section a new meaning. This Stash jam is a deep dark monster. Fully type I, but lots of great stuff. Nearly 20 minutes, well worth a listen. Ghost quickly leaves the funk to a more jazzy place, lead by some great work by Page on the piano. After a couple minutes, they enter a more experimental spacey section that culminates in a driving jam segueing into Low Rider. If you can listen to Phish play Low Rider without a gigantic smile on your face, you are a better man than I. Funny Makisupa referencing a fire at the band's hotel the night before and a nice (if unchallenging) segue into Ya Mar. A imperfect Guyute follows, with a cool Waves up next. Usually less said about f***erpants the better, although this one does have some rather interesting chill jamming within. A nice segue into Frankenstein and Golgi ends the set on an up tempo note, and the always fun Loving Cup encore closes it out.
One of the better end-to-end shows of 2.0, IMO. The opening YEM is great, as is the Stash through Ya Mar portion of the second set. Moma and Maze have their moments as well. The side project focus of the first set makes it more memorable than most, although having seen it in person I might be overrating the novelty of it. 4 out of 5 stars.
I appreciate that Mike takes the lead going into Ghost, and he's definitely the MVP here, along with Page. Trey's playing in the Ghost jam is some of the most uninspired I've heard--in fact, it barely even sounds like he's on stage until someone or something resuscitates him a few minutes before the segue into Low Rider.
One more thought on the teases in this show (which are aplenty) -- there's nothing I love more than an organically developed, well-placed tease. In this show they just feel kind of gimmicky, like they're falling back on them in place of real type II creativity.
I think my 3 rating is rather generous but will keep it on the merit of the YEM opener.
I always find it amazing how people can all see the same show and have so many different opinions about it. After reading some of the rave reviews on livephish.com, I thought that maybe I had gone to a different show. For me, I thought the Worcester show was mediocre at best.
It was a great setlist on paper, but I just wasn't feeling any inspiring jams. It seemed to me as if Mike and Fish were playing the lead roles, and Trey was kind of putting some notes on top. Maybe this is Phish's new style, and I just haven't learned to appreciate it yet.
I had seats behind the stage and I watched the front rows to see the "energy". I've been down front in Worcester a bunch of times, and the energy usually is rocking down there. For the most part during this night though, I saw a lot of people just standing around kind of staring aimlessly.
They finished off with a “Golgi”, which was good for the crowd energy. It’s really pretty amazing, how into a song people can get. Every single person in Worcester had their hands in the air singing "I Saw You". It’s one of those moments where you know you're at a Phish show and you're happy to be there.
I will say that I do enjoy Phish more now than I did in 2000. I'm still not sure I enjoy them as much as I did in ’93 to ‘95, but I guess that's just the way it goes.
This was my first Phish show ever. I was only fifteen years old and was very grateful for getting my hands on a ticket to this show. I got to the freezing cold city of Worcester about two hours before the show to check out the parking lot scene. Pretty cool, just a large pre-show get together. Everyone was super friendly but I was just anticipating show time. Now once we got through the maximum security full cavity searches at the door, I left my friends that I drove with to find my seat. All my friends were somewhere behind the stage but I was lucky enough to receive a floor seat. I didn't really know if being on the floor by myself would take away from the show. Luckily, it didn't at all.
I remember sitting in my seat, waiting for my first Phish show ever to start. I couldn’t even believe that I was really there, to see Phish! The lights died down and everyone went nuts. I saw the four take the stage and I started thinking, "Oh my God, I’m actually here.” Then I hear Trey lay down the opening appregios to “YEM” and I felt this large feeling of "holy shit, this is going to be ridiculous" take over my body.
From start to finish, Phish gave me the most intense high energy musical experience ever. I think my highlight was "Guyute". They nailed it perfectly. This show had everything from mind blowing musical compositions to unexpected bust outs like “Low Rider” and “Frankenstein”. This show was so amazing. I loved and cherished every moment of my first show. And since then it seems like all that’s on my mind is getting tickets to the next show to see them again. Special thanks to Trey, Mike, Page, and Fish for the mind blowing music.