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Link Monday, 12/29/2003
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

Set 1: Piper, Foam, Anything But Me, LxLLimb By Limb, Wolfman'sWolfman's Brother, Poor Heart > Cavern

Set 2: R&RRock and Roll -> Twist -> Boogie OnBoogie On Reggae Woman -> Ghost -> Free[1], DividedDivided Sky, GTBTGood Times Bad Times

Encore: Waste

Encore 2: CoilThe Squirming Coil

[1] Guitar and bass duet jam.

· On Broadway tease
· Apostrophe tease in Wolfman's Brother
· Dinah-Moe Humm quote in Twist

Noteworthy Jams: Piper, Limb By Limb, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Free, Divided Sky

Average Song Gap: 6.13

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: Piper was preceded by an On Broadway tease. Wolfman's included Apostrophe teases by Trey. Twist contained a Dinah-Moe Humm quote from Trey. Free included a guitar and bass duet jam. A lengthy audience ovation followed Free.

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Song Distribution:
2 Farmhouse
2 The Story of the Ghost
2 Billy Breathes
2 A Picture of Nectar
2 Junta
1 Round Room
1 Hoist
1 Lawn Boy
1 The White Tape

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "2003 NYE Run."

, attached to 2003-12-29 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

When the Music’s Over, Don’t Forget to Turn Out the Lights
Phish tends to piss away its encores. Perhaps it’s just my cynicism speaking, but, in general, I feel Phish views its encores as musical after-thoughts; hastily written epilogues to otherwise energetic shows. Stylistically, this makes sense. After all, the group’s tendency has always been to weave together thematic segues and extended musical medleys, not six-minute exclamation marks. So when Phish returned to the stage for a second encore segment three days before New Years Eve 2003, no one really knew what, if anything, to expect.
In fact, Phish’s second encore ranks among the most surprising moments in my career as a “professional” Phish-head. Over the years, I’ve come to expect musical surprises and special theatrics, but once Phish slips off stage right after their encore, its time for everyone to exit. Sure, I am prone to screaming and cheering for a second encore, but, in the back of my mind, I know this applause will soon be unplugged by Paul Languedoc’s post-show music. Even for a band as adventurous as Phish, once the lights go on, the high school play must drop its curtain, causing Clear Channel guidelines and venue curfews to overtake any last minute musical musing. Despite my cynicism, I understand; after all, I also have a lengthy drive ahead. But none of that really mattered when Phish returned to the stage for a second encore of “Squirming Coil.”
Fittingly, many of my concert bootlegs include a brief track titled “crowd noise.” Sitting snuggly between the end of Set II and the encore, “crowd noise” is a live recording's most revealing moment, and the audience’s chance to comment on the night’s performance. There is also a subtle beauty to a crowd’s screams, unifying several thousand fans' disorganized chants into a single musical phrase. It’s almost like an invisible conductor is directing these dialects, smoothing out their rough screams and harmonizing their haphazardly arranged comments.
At times, I felt bad for the American Airlines Arena’s staff. Obviously overwhelmed by Phish’s first appearance, staff members seemed genuinely frightened by the crowd’s local impact. So it wasn’t surprising that the arena hurried the group onstage by turning off the lights a few minutes early on 12/28/03. Immediately, the crowd saw their cue and collectively screamed a “woo.” Realizing their mistake, the staff panicked, and brought the lights back up, signaling the audience to cross-fade their “woos” to “boos.” But then, a few seconds later, the lights once again dimmed, ending the audience’s first segue with yet another collective “woo.” It was beautifully chaotic, like a great Phish jam.
So when the lights stayed off for a few more musical moments the following evening, I figured someone had simply forgotten to press the on button once again. But for the first time in years, the lights continued to stay off and the audience’s energy began to build. Screams echoed throughout the arena, the invisible conductor arranging his longest symphony. Finally, Phish returned and quickly jumped into “Squirming Coil.”
Simply examining its set list, 12/29/03 doesn’t seem like the type of event that would warrant an extra encore. Songs like “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Twist,” and “Free” are excellent jams, but nothing so out of the ordinary that both Phish and its fans would need an extra mini-set. Similarly, covers of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” and Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” were enjoyable, but nowhere near as unique as the medley of funk-hits and Fishman covers offered each other night of the New Year's Run.
But musically, 12/29/03 ranks not only as the New Year's Run’s best show, but the entire reunion year's most musically adventurous. Refocused, the group continues to weed out its theatrics and filter out its raw early Zappaesque fusion. Instead, the band is masking its jams with what can be called "chord-heavy space," playing a fast, raw synthesis of their '97 cow-funk and Siket Disc ambience. Mixing tight up-tempo group jams and long, lingering emotional ballads, the first set was technically proficient and rock-based; the type of show one would expect during an early night of a New Year's Run. Tight but funky, the choice Hoist selection "Wolfman's Brother" highlighted Phish's post-Hiatus rhythm clarity, with Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman remaining in sync. Quick, up-tempo romps through "Cavern" -during which Trey actually nailed the song’s lyrics- and "Poor Heart" seemed to break up the jam-heavy set, exploring Phish's late 90's understanding of arena-rock. Pacing their shows with precision, and emphasizing their ballads better than ever, Phish is replacing small, loaded riffs with wilder, darker guitar textures. While this style has uncoiled into "Great Gag in the Sky" jams, this new type of jamming, as first explored in "Seven Below," is most often being worked into worn-out funk vehicles like "Wolfman's Brother." Throughout Monday's "Wolfman's Brother," Phish continued to layer these textures into the group’s traditional cow-funk, further signs that the group is learning to play more subtly with age.
While the sing-along set closer of "Good Times/Bad Times" was a welcome surprise, it seemed like Phish's American Airlines Arena show wouldn't stand out from its immediate Thanksgiving Run predecessors. But after the quartet returned for their second set, it become clear the group had something special up its sleeve. Tearing into a tight "Twist," which segued into an ambient jam that remained more focused then similar '99-'00 experiments, Phish gently weaved into an equally adventurous "Boogie on a Reggae Woman." While Trey’s guitar guided each song early on, Phish's front man let his band mates lead the core of each jam. This change of pace is particularly apparent on "Ghost," the group’s purest funk song, and a number that truly elevates Mike to band leader. Acknowledging Mike's lead instrumentation, Trey also played a gentle guitar-bass duel during “Free,” a surprisingly subtle mix of Pumping Iron adrenaline and brotherly love.
Often times during the Hiatus, Trey cited his fans’ increasing emphasis on song requests as a major reason the group needed a break. “People started caring more about what we were playing, instead of how we were playing it,” he often said. With this phrase in mind, it makes sense that Phish chose this unsuspecting night to offer a second encore. In their minds’, it is equal, collective group interplay, not a brevy of spectacles, that warrants additional set times and potential curfew breaks.
For a ballad, “Waste” is a controversial song. Some people feel its chorus, “come waste your time with me,” is Phish’s way of telling fans not to blindly follow their tongue-in-cheek fantasy tour. Others feel it is the group’s most loving lullaby. No matter what connotation this number has had in the past, when placed next to the crowd’s most victorious noise creation, “Waste” didn’t seem cynical. It seemed symbolic. From “Divided Sky’s” silent jam to “Limb By Limb’s” drum outro, Phish were on this night in Miami and decided to celebrate with “Squirming Coil,” a lengthy gentle jam that left all in attendance with a good taste in their mouth, Phish included.
Score: 7
steelcon58 , attached to 2003-12-29 Permalink
The lot was ridiculous and the stuff was just amazing. My friend and I loaded up on essentials and partook in just bit too much fun prior to the show. We could barely walk in. We were freaking and things were spinning. I asked my friend if he could just please lead me into the arena. I remember telling him that I pray they start the show off with some Stones and slowly get weird. Nope. They went nuts with Piper and I was holding on for dear life. My friend lost his voice, somehow, oddly. He just couldn't talk anymore, it wasn't anything physical.

When we oozed out of the arena and tried to find true north, I noticed a man by the canal bringing in what looked to be a dead Chinese girl, maybe 20 years old, when my friend finally spoke, "Great fucking show!" Yep, it was brother.
Score: 2
n00b100 Staff , attached to 2003-12-29 Permalink
n00b100 Does anybody have much of a good word for the NYE 2003 run anymore? I mean, I know 2.0 has enough of a rap against it to begin with, but even a cursory glance at the setlist reveals lots and lots to sink your teeth into - big first set jams, antics out the wazoo, and some crazy one-offs that really set this run apart from even the greater runs of old. It might not be the most musically extraordinary (95, 97, and 99 will be fighting over the crown until hell freezes over, I'd think), but it might be the most purely interesting, all told. 12/28's an average show; it's the last 3 shows that really give this run its special energy.

Set 1 kicks off with a Piper that zips forward with a ferocious propulsive energy before somehow finding its way back home; it's not quite on the level with the huge Pipers of the era, but it's still a damned fine way to start off any show. The rest of the set features very interesting song selection (where IS Foam these days?), with a second highlight coming in a fine LxL that just peaks and peaks and peaks, eschewing subtlety for Trey showing off and Fish blasting away on his cymbals. The Wolfman's, both funky and grimy in equal measure, is also worth a listen or two.

Set 2 is one of those sets that doesn't really have a standout jam, but is knitted together perfectly and adds up to a greater whole than its parts. Rock & Roll opens up the set, and it's a plain old high-energy version akin to the 7/12/14 version, but it starts cooling down as Page pulls out some spacey effects, and Trey starts up Twist. It doesn't take very long for Mike to pop on the envelope filter, and as Fish starts picking up the pace Mike picks out what can only be one bassline and the band slows down to properly usher in Boogie On Reggae Woman. Trey finds a different key from Boogie On and a surprisingly low-key groove emerges as Mike flips off the filter and Trey takes over, then Ghost slides in (the 3rd segue in a row), and we immediately get into a spartan jam as Mike and Trey take center stage, Fish and Page only offering the barest accompaniment.

The groove begins to pick up as Fish kicks up the tempo, Page going to the piano, and a really nice energy begins to emanate off the stage. Trey then moves into major key and the jam goes upbeat briefly, but soon enough they dip back into darkness, where they stay until Trey suddenly gets an itch and he starts hammering away on chords as the band hits a nice peak. Things drop back to a simmering boil, Trey again going back to chords, Page doing some work on the electric organ, and then explode into one more hard-rocking jam that neatly slides into Free. Free books along in its usual manner, Mike going back to his envelope filter, but then Fish and Page suddenly drop out and Trey and Mike have themselves a very nifty and kinda weird duel along the lines of the Trey/Page duel in the 12/2/97 Simple. They then kick back into Free with hardly a pause, and finish off a very nice suite of music that earns a well-deserved long applause break from a very appreciative crowd. A very cool Divided Sky is their reward for the love, and two separate encores close out a very fine show.

Final thoughts: the best show musically of the run, I'd say. Lots to sink your teeth into jam-wise, some really cool segues, a powerful Divided Sky to boot. Things are starting to heat up in Miami...
Score: 2
, attached to 2003-12-29 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

I can't believe that it’s over a year since Phish has triumphantly returned. This has personally been one of my biggest years with the band. I have managed to catch all of the shows since the Hiatus ended except LA and Chicago in February. Needless to say, I am a little exhausted: physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, financially.
I have had an unbelievable run this year though, from the chills of those first notes of "Piper" last New Year’s, to my 100th show the first night of Cincy, to the insanity of the boys’ maiden voyage of "Mr. Completely" in Utah, to "the novelty show" of Pittsburgh for the old school kidz, to what I like to call "The shut up and be thankful" Thanksgiving (thanks + giving, people) Tour, to an eventually warm and sunny New Year’s.
After a few hours on lot of doing nothing but strolling, I decided to head in. I was really ready to see what the boys had after what I felt was an "OK" show the night before. The opener was the always-welcome "Wilson." It rocked as usual. Next was one of the songs that had me moving the hardest this night, "Cars, Trucks, and Buses." I love this song (I know, I know…I am such a sucker for Leo).
"Seven Below" has quickly become a regular in the rotation and with good reason. This version is good (from what I remember) but no Chicago or Gorge. "Divided Sky" was next. I have rediscovered a love for this song, (especially Page's chops at the end part), and it seems the band has too. Next was "Fast Enough for You." Like most of you, I never really loved this song…that is until the last year. It has more to do with my personal life, but I've really become a big fan of the older ballads (FEFY, Lifeboy, etc.) "Julius" was the set closer and is in my mind, one of the most improved songs post-hiatus.
During "Makisupa Policeman", Trey told us it was the "official first Phish song." It morphed into "Buffalo Bill," which saw an appearance from Tom Marshall on vocals. (After the Dude the night before, you knew Tom would grace the stage in Philly or Albany.) Although not as crisp as the Deer Creek combo of the same two songs on 7/23, they still are always fun to hear, and was a nice way to acknowledge Tom as a huge part of the Phish family. A pretty standard "Bowie" was next, followed by my other highlight: "Strange Design." I closed my eyes and drifted away for a few minutes while Page made my heart go pitter-patter. "Character Zero" closed out the set, which was typical of the night: Trey showing off his chops, sometimes successful, others not. "Friday" was the encore and was nothing to brag about.
Thank you to everyone…especially Trey, Mike, Page and Fish…for showing me that it's alright to be myself.
Score: 0
roybelly , attached to 2003-12-29 Permalink
roybelly T'was a fun run of shows.......I was going back over it, listening to the exchange between Trey and Mike during Free.....I can remember the audience pouring the love on them for a good bit after that little bit of negative vibes, but it felt like the band had a hard time settling in during some of the first set.....maybe it was just to my ear. The good times bad times was a welcomed friend.
Score: 0

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