DEG teases from Mike. Ending performed at near double-time.
 Trey omitted a verse.
 "Hendge" lyric from Mike.
 Seven Below tease.
 Lyrical change: "Boy, Man, God, IT;" Frankenstein tease from Mike and vocal quote of Daniel Saw the Stone.
 Phish debut.
 Under Pressure and It's Ice teases.
Notes: This was the second show of the IT festival. Chalk Dust contained DEG teases from Mike. The ending of Chalk Dust was performed at near double-time. Trey omitted a verse in Wilson. Afterwards, he announced that it was the “shortest version ever” and dedicated it to Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro. Trey then humorously announced that the band would next play the “longest Bittersweet Motel” (traditionally one of the shortest songs in the Phish canon). The crowd responded with a passionate “Fluffhead” chant, but Trey responded: “Mike says no” (prompting laughs from the other band members). Appropriately, Trey launched into Mike’s Song but Mike had the last laugh: during the Mike’s Song intro, Mike sang his “Hendge” lyric that had been omitted from Wilson. Weekapaug included a Seven Below tease. YEM contained the event-appropriate lyrical change “Boy, Man, God, IT,” a Frankenstein tease from Mike, and a vocal quote of Daniel Saw the Stone. The band vamped on the theme to Chariots of Fire (a Phish debut) while Trey introduced the top finishers in the Runaway Jim 5K race. During Antelope, Trey thanked the staff, road crew, caterers (“part of the reason we’re playing so well is because we have the best food this tour that we’ve ever had”), and fans. He concluded by encouraging everyone to drive safely and noted tongue-in-cheek that next year’s “IT 2” would have a traffic-free entrance. Antelope also included Under Pressure and It’s Ice teases.
This show was part of the "2003 Summer Tour."
"Good times, bad times," is probably the best way to sum IT all up. The only qualifying point I would make is that the greater the contrast of highs and lows, the more rewarding the experience. IT had its problems on all fronts, from ungodly traffic (you don't want to know), to miles of mud (we're talking knee deep, get your foot stuck, this doesn't smell like mud, mud), to the occasional jam that went nowhere, and all the tunes that didn't get played. But its a waste of time talking about all that, because when IT was good, it was really really good, and when it was, IT was AWESOME. I promise I'm telling IT like IT was.
Sunk city, 96.1 the Bunny, and the Runaway Jim 5k Memorial were all non-show elements of IT to be incredibly proud to be a part of, even if you were just laughing at the 16, 000 balls, spacing out to the soundcheck in traffic and rocking to Kevin's always amazing archive show (anyone else remember the 11/11/98 “Halley’s” being that good?), or cheering on the runners. All of the festivals have had these kinds of moments (I've yet to miss one), and they never cease to make me feel proud of Phish scene, despite its faults.
The music? Anyone who expected Phish to not stay with some of the tour's trends still has a little to learn. There was an increasing sense towards the end of this tour that the band wanted to make it clear that yes, they know what they are playing, what they haven't played, and that you know what?: they're in charge. ("Everybody knows it's not the tune that counts, but IT".) Sure there were moments when I would have liked to hear a different tune, a longer jam, but isn't that always the case? If I gloss over a song here, assume that its par for the course in terms of post-Hiatus Phish. I'm going to mention the good stuff so you'll know what to hear first.
I've got “Ya Mar” -> “jam” -> “Jim” written down. Full on exploratory jam out of the end of “Ya Mar” to get things going after the rocking Bag ("let's get the show on the road") opener. Intricate, original, soaring, and as slick a slide into “Jim” as I've ever heard. The first set was actually perfect in the early goings. “Reba” was absolutely gorgeous, with Trey going out away from the standard “Reba” jam on numerous occasions. The band appeared to have ended the song and to be deciding what else to play, only to come back with the whistle minutes later. Some of you might have noticed that they've been doing some wicked stuff to “Birds” lately, and this version will knock you on your ass, guaranteed. Never a dull moment in it.
Now I'm fairly certain the bunch of us in the first three or four rows weren't the only ones responsible for the “Meatstick”. There was a sign somewhere as well (alas, my “Psycho Killer” sign will have to make another appearance, but I didn't really expect them to play it.) I guess a lot of us wanted to hear “Meatstick”. And rightly so! I love the “Meatstick”, you see, plain and simple. I love the lyrics, I love the song, I love the jam potential (check out 7/15/99). Another long pause ended with Trey coming up to the mic and saying "We'd like to honor your request because ...". He was cut off by massive cheers, and started to chuckle, so I guess we'll never know why. But no matter. A beautiful version, complete with Japanese lyrics (and no teaching of the dance to get in the way). I taught the dance to as many people as I could, by example, as I went. Mike and Page were taking off when Trey seemed to want to end the jam. Still a fantastic version, and made my set. Standard fare from there on.
Set II saw a “Disease” with lots of potential go nowhere too special, and an “NICU” that was sloppy until Mike took it over in full force. Highlight of the set was probably the tiny jam out of “NICU” into “Brother”. Yes, they played it in Starlake. But it rocks, I loved it, and hadn't seen it since the Clifford Ball, so I was happy. “Waves” ended and slid into a very long and nice spacey jam that turned into a short “Bowie” intro. “2001” was on the tip of it (all weekend, it seemed). “Bowie” was the short and sweet one they've been doing. Trey would seem like he was about to take things up and out, and then deliberately return back to the “Bowie”. Ending nailed. Average set.
I need to hear Set III again. A few times. First thing I'll say is they didn't stop once, with perfect segues all the way through. “Rock n' Roll” was just that (at its best) for a while, then elaborate and bouncy, then “Seven Below”ish, then rocking again, then slid into “Seven Below” nicely a la Alpine. The rocking jam had “Can't Your Hear Me Knocking”-esque moments. “Scents” was great (again, a flawless segues) and then came back to the “Seven Below” theme again for another nice jam segment. I love “Bug”, but it didn't work for me as a closer here.
The old school encore made everyone happy, after three new "S" songs dominated Set III. It was a nice nod to the past. Trey got a little chatty while they were deciding what to play, and made a few comments about the old, the new, and something about "pissing on the present", if I'm not mistaken. At this point I had had a good time, but between the traffic and the mud, and with Nassau having been the last show I had seen, I wanted more. A lot more. (Don't worry, I got it...)
A late night set anyone? After five festivals and three late night jams, and never a trip to Limestone without one, I was ready at 2 to find IT. It wasn't hard. I don't think it makes too much sense to describe IT. Visually, let me just say that I have seen a spaceship, and aliens, and that more importantly, I was completely sober when I did. Oh, and the hour long jam was f — ing amazing. I loved the ambient jam from Lemonwheel (I think its one of the best things they've done) and this was like an original sequel that just took things one step further. The average show was more than compensated for between 2am and 3 am on Saturday night.
The second day was a major upswing from the previous night's debacle. We went to the grounds and noticed hay all over the ground. It had rained during the night so the grounds were worse and huge sections of the field were covered in mud. We were a little farther back than the previous night, but we could see the lights much better. Now, this night completely blew away the previous one. For obvious reasons, but also musically.
The band seemed more in tune with each other. The show started off with “Daniel” which was sorta hard to get into. “Saw It Again” and “PYITE” were played next. “PYITE” was sloppy at times but rebounded in the end. “Army of One” was very good and I think it is one of the better new songs. Then, “Chalk Dust”. This was the most amazing version of this song I have ever heard. They jammed it for about 25 minutes and took the song to whole new levels. “Wilson” followed and it was poorly done but still fun to hear. after “Wilson”, the crowd chanted for “Fluffhead” and Trey went to ask Mike if they should play it. Mike said they should, but Trey said "Mike says no" and the crowd began to boo. “Mike's Groove” was a surprise to me for it closed the first set and I think everyone thought it would have been placed later in the show.
The second set was the best set of the weekend. It had incredible energy and never stopped giving. “Mellow Mood” was a perfect opener and quickly went into one of the most wonderful, beautiful “Ghost”s I've ever heard or seen. During the jam, which lasted for 30 minutes and longer, an incredible glowstick war occurred. The war lasted for about six minutes with glowing sticks of light flying everywhere. I looked straight up and all I saw was glowsticks. Nothing else. I wanted to grab that moment and lock it into my soul for the rest of my life. The amazing “Ghost” went into “Mist”, which calmed everyone down. “Pebbles and Marbles” brought the energy back up and blew my socks off and it quickly went into “YEM”. During the vocal jam, Page started to play “Chariots of Fire” and Trey announced the winners of the Runaway Jim Marathon. The perfect ending to the set was “Loving Cup” which led me to think, what will they do next?
The third set was a step down from the second. A massive “46 Days” started the set which went on for almost forty minutes. “Julius” and “Lizards” seemed perfect together. “Secret Smile” was also a amazing moment for IT. The entire crowd became quiet. Not a sound could be heard except the band. “Antelope” closed the set. It was a little sloppy but all around, it was a good way to end the set.
The band came back on two minutes later, and the crowd began to chant again for “Fluffhead”. But no “Fluffhead” was in sight, for
“Good Times/Bad Times” closed the entire weekend with a big fireworks display.
Overall, the weekend was amazing. I couldn't have thought of anything I'd like to do more and if I could, I would do it again.