Phish debut.
 George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic; Medley included Butt-a-Butt, Get Low, Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker), P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up), and One Nation Under a Groove. Fish on vacuum. Phish debut.
Wilson contained War Pigs teases from Mike and was unfinished. The song may have been played as an opener in memoriam of actor Earl Hindman, best known as “Wilson” from the television series Home Improvement, who passed away earlier in the day. NICU contained Shafty teases from Mike. Weigh was played for the first time since August 2, 1998 (200 shows). Cities included Sand teases. Gin included Show Biz Kids and After Midnight teases. 2001 included a P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up) jam containing some brief lyrics, as well as Gin, Sand, and Auld Lang Syne teases. Tube was unfinished. L.A. Woman was a Phish debut; Birds included L.A. Woman teases. During Makisupa, Trey noted that they were going to play Touch Me, but decided not to because Fish couldn't remember the words and they didn't know how have a horn section. To make it up to the crowd for letting them down, Trey brought out George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic (also known as The P. Funk All-Stars). Trey commented “and that’s even better than Touch Me!” Page teased Touch Me while Trey was talking. The ensuing P. Funk Jam moved through pieces of several classic Parliament/Funkadelic tunes including Butt-a-Butt, Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker), P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up), and One Nation Under A Groove. Get Low (Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz) was also part of the medley. By the end of the jam, Fish was alone on stage playing vacuum. Fish then exited, leaving the stage empty. Phish returned alone to finish Makisupa; to prove that P. Funk was better than Fish singing Touch Me, Makisupa closed with Fish singing the first line of Touch Me a cappella. During the last chorus of Contact, Trey sang lines like “L.A. Woman” and “Make my funk the P. Funk” in place of his usual harmonies.
Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion.
This was the day that we had scheduled for Everglades exploration. Four years to the day of arriving at Big Cypress, I found myself not far south of there taking photos of alligators and flamingos. It was quite fun. Afterward, we headed back to the hotel quickly to get our tickets and head to the lot. Perhaps, as it turned out, a little too quickly.
Shakedown was different on this night. The lot across the street that had been the mad vending place was completely closed. Rumor in the lot had it that it was due to a fight over some nitrous tanks the night before that raged out of control. Needless to say, I hope that story isn't true, but it seems believable based on some of the behavior I've seen. I think some people hit Miami and think that they're playing Vice City.
As I was heading into the show, Elayne pointed out a disturbing discovery. My rush to get to the venue early caused me to grab my 12/28 ticket by mistake. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get back to the hotel on time. Before starting the walk, I figured I should try to see if I could get a cheap ticket first. There were still plenty of extras floating around, after all. Within a minute of looking, someone handed me a free ticket. After 2002's run it sure was nice to have a NYE run where you could get in even if you forgot your ticket.
After a quick (and unfinished) “Wilson” we got our first surprise of the show. “Sand” appropriately appeared for its first post-Hiatus appearance. Unlike many “Sand”s of the past, it didn't stick to the groove riff. The jam was much more exploratory before suddenly deciding to segue into “Shafty”. It was then that I knew that this show was going to be special. Not even the sloppy “NICU” could throw off that feeling. Even that song had something fun; Mike was playing the “Shafty” bassline under the second verse.
The show really became legendary for the end of the first set through the second set. It all started with the “Bathtub Gin” > “2001”. The jam had some very cool teases from the obscure (Steely Dan's “Show Biz Kids”) to the appropriate (“After Midnight” was played at Cypress after all) to what would turn out to be foreshadowing. This wasn't just some sort of tease-fest though. The last twenty minutes of the set were just amazing. It kind of snuck up on me some, but during the setbreak I was buzzing with the energy (and impatience) that only a great set can bring.
There was a funny bit at the beginning of the second set. Trey played something that sounded like the riff to “Chalk Dust” and the crowed booed. Perhaps that's why that idea was rejected in favor of “Tube”. (Author's Note: Later reflection made it obvious that this was a chant of "Tube," not a boo. The original line stands because that's how I wrote it right after the show.)
This “Tube” was nothing short of amazing. Containing a start/stop jam, a nice peak, and a Type II exploration, this is far from your typical version. However atypical it was though, I don't think anyone was expecting a segue into “LA Woman”. When people figured out what they were playing, the place went nuts.
"LA Woman" was a lot of fun, even though there was a sense that the band didn't quite know how the song went and was just running with a fun idea. That idea was reinforced when they went into R20;BirdsR21; before doing the bridge or the "Mr. Mojo Rising" section.
The “Birds” is notable for two reasons. The first is the long “LA Woman” tease that happened in the jam. The second is the completely botched ending. They didn't sing the final, "Birds of a feather," part, rather they just went directly into the ending chords. As soon as they ended though, Trey and Fishman sang, "Mr. Mojo Rising," and we were back into LA. While some people were hoping for a return to “Tube” to finish up all of the loose ends, we got “Makisupa” instead.
There wasn't really a keyword in this version. Instead of that, Trey explained that they were thinking about reviving the old version of “Touch Me” that they did in the Giant Country Horn era. Alas, they didn't remember how it went and they didn't have the horns. After a pause, Trey announced a different plan. George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic would come out instead.
I'm not a huge P-Funk fan, so a lot of the charm of this moment was lost on me. However, I could see in the bliss of a lot of people around me that this was a great moment for them and I enjoyed it second hand through them.
At the end of this segment - which was kept to a reasonable length unlike many recent guest appearances - Fishman started playing the vacuum. Eventually it was just him on stage. When he ended his solo, he left the stage too. There were a few minutes of indecision in the crowd. Was the set over? The band came back out though and picked “Makisupa” back up like nothing had happened. They did say, though, that they wanted to prove that this was indeed better than Fishman singing “Touch Me”, so they performed the first line of the song just to demonstrate that. Personally, I'm not convinced that the P-Funk section would have been better, but I'll go for either one really.
The set wasn't over yet. We still had a “Down With Disease” to go. There was a great moment toward the end of the jam. A pretty theme was played for a while. As I was wondering what it was and if it was another song, they slightly morphed it and it did turn out to be a song. What they were doing apparently was playing a slight variation on the main “Down With Disease” riff. Returning to it was an awesome rush and an incredible way to end a wonderful set.
While the encore - a slowed down “Contact” and a “WMGGW” where Trey couldn't hit the high notes - wasn't that impressive, few people seemed to care. This was the kind of show that keeps everyone up all night basking in the glow. Everyone I talked to afterwards was raving. The complaints that were raised were nit picky and even those who mentioned them pointed out that this was a superlative concert. If there's one problem with it, it's that it runs the real chance of completely overshadowing New Year's Eve.
I'm currently writing this review in my hotel room early on the morning of 12/31/03. You know what went down that night and if it met the challenge of New Year's Eve Eve. I can't imagine what could possibly top tonight, but that's part of the fun. Hopefully tomorrow's review will be just as glowing. You know something I don't know.
Set 1: A sharp and muscular Wilson starts the show, and then a surprise as a) it's not finished, and b) the one and only Sand of 2.0 starts up in place of "BLAT BOOM", a Sand that's closer to the looser versions of 3.0 to the lockstep late-90s versions and picks up steam at the end before segueing into Shafty (!), which then segues into NICU. The rest of the set proceeds in standard fashion, until Gin kicks into a very relaxed and bluesy jam that gives way to the "Classic Gin" jam and then morphs into something harder and more muscular (Fish, in particular, is raising an almighty racket), then drops back into another cool groove before collapsing into the familiar fog of noise from which 2001 emerges. 2001 is more notable for its many teases (especially the foreshadowing of the P-Funk tease) than anything else, but is certainly a neat way to close out the set.
Set 2: A personal favorite Tube kicks off, going more for upbeat jamming out of the gate than the usual (even for 3.0) mega-funk, before the bottom drops out and first Mike, then Fish get a moment to shine. Fish goes into a skittering beat as Page and Trey step up to the forefront, then they move into what I consider a typical 3.0 jam space, a thick groove where Trey plays repeating notes and Fish locks into one beat, allowing Page and Mike to dance around them as they see fit. The jam collapses into a buzzing, ugly fog (another typical 3.0 jam space), and a metal-ish guitar line claws out of the muck, then rather hilariously molds into the group's one and only full performance of LA Woman. The actual cover itself is fine, and the band wastes little time blasting into BOAF, which teases LA Woman before sliding into a nice, relaxed jam. They neatly find their way back to the usual Birds ending (it's not as big a deal to me that they don't sing the final chorus as it was to @zzyzx), and then crank up LA Woman again and bring *that* to a close before segueing into Makisupa.
So, the P-Funk Medley is one of the more polarizing moments in Phish's live history, like the BB King guest spot or the Second City guest spot or (for a non-guest spot example) the 11/19/97 Wolfman's jam. Me, I fall somewhere in the middle between "it's great" and "it sucks" - 2003 was rather past Parliament's prime (especially for poor George Clinton's voice), and it's a bit of an awkward fit, but the songs themselves are evergreen and it's fun as heck, if nothing else. Hey, it beats the Jay-Z spot, I can say that much. P-Funk leaves and they wrap up Makisupa, then finish off the set with a DWD that climbs and climbs to a fuzzy peak halfway through, then drops down into a surprisingly mellow range before Trey starts playing an amusingly rockabilly-esque version of the DWD riff and they build to Ye Olde DWD Ending to close.
Final thoughts: my favorite show of the run. The P-Funk medley is fun enough to warrant a listen, and the Tube/LA Woman/Birds sequence, DWD, and Gin -> 2001 are all more than worth your time.
It was 10 years ago today that I saw my first phish show.
We drove from Toronto, ON Can all the way to Miami to see Phish and it was worth it!
We got to the venue early so I could check out shakedown, but no luck tonight and It would just be beer for me.
I had been listening to phish for 3-4 years and I had no idea what was in store for me to see and hear them live.
We had great seats, 100's and center.
Wilson opened the set and then we were off.
I remember getting the NICU was solid and I couldn't believe it when the started to play Weigh!!
Another highlight for me was Strange design. I was surprised to see Page signing. I though from the recording I had, that it was trey.
Then scent of a mule. WOAH!! so this is live phish!
and then a gin and 2001 to close out the set.
What a set!!
I wasn't familiar with TUbe, but when they segued into LA Woman I knew something was up.
Then right into Birds and back in LA woman and then P FUNK come on stage!!
Down with disease was great and it was cool to get contact and while my guitar gently weeps for an encore.
Now I was ready for the next night.
I will always remember the NYE '03 run in Miami. These four shows are what Phish is all about, doing what they do best: having fun and playing great, entertaining music at the same time. The most memorable show for me was 12/30.
The show started off with “Wilson” > “Sand” > “Shafty” > “NICU” > “Weigh”. The "Sand" was one of the funkiest I've heard, recalling the Vegas '00 version. "Weigh" was a huge surprise, as they had not played it in over 100 shows. Once "Weigh" was finished, Page took over with his natural talent in "Strange Design", "Scent of a Mule", and most notably, "Bathtub Gin". The first night was my good friend's first Phish show, he had pulling for a "Bathtub Gin" all week but was not fulfilled, so you can imagine the excitement that overwhelmed him when Page started playing the funk of "Bathtub Gin".
By this point my friends and I were in awe at what we had experienced already, but it was only foreshadowing something we were not prepared for. Halfway through a rockin' "2001", Phish teased Parliament- Funkadelic, a huge surprise to most of the crowd, I'm sure. End of Set I.
Set II opened with a real funky "Tube" which is a personal favorite of mine, and I have not had the pleasure to see it in the past. They jammed this tune into one of the Doors' favorites, "LA Woman". By this time we knew this night was something special. Sandwiched in between "LA Woman" was one of the most raging "Birds of a Feather" I have ever heard. They jammed the second part of "LA Woman" into "Makisupa", which is always a favorite. There was no keyword however. Trey instead announced that they wanted to play "Touch Me" but they didn’t know it and they didn't have a horn section. He then apologized for the "let down" and announced that they'd would like to bring out Parliament-Funkadelic.
I've never heard a larger cheer in my entire life than the one witnessed as George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic walked on stage. P Funk played a few of their own songs, including "Botta Butt" and "One Nation Under a Groove", which was such a treat in itself. After clearing off the stage, Phish returned to "Makisupa" after an almost twenty min. lapse.
"Down With Disease" was the Set II closer. I thought this fitting, it was a pretty average "Disease" with an extended jam, however. Tears were nearly running down my cheeks as I awaited the four phenoms known as Phish. The song to end the encore was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", written by George Harrison. This tune is one my favorite covers that Phish does, so I was especially delighted to hear this one. Once the show was over my friends and I walked out of AA Arena with smiles on our faces, memories in our heads, and a sense of joy we had not experienced in years. No doubt we will always remember this night, albeit for different reasons perhaps.
Half way into the first-ever NYE run away from Phish's home court of MSG, one would not realize Phish is playing the role of visitor. After all, they are undefeated since 1983. Unlike the 20th anniversary run, these two shows have given us a four jam-heavy, energized, tight (relative to 2003) sets that "type-whoa" statement jams and segments permeating from every quarter of each show. Lofty words to set up the 30th, no? Can Phish handle the pressure? Can Phish slam dunk from the 3-point line to score a hat trick and score the winning run? Worry not sports fans, Funky has us covered... and I guess Phish does too.
DUH-DUN, DUH-DUN! WILLLSSSSONNNN!!! DUH-DUN, DUH-DUN! WILLLLLLSSSSONNNN!!!! I get shivers just writing it. In my mere 56 shows, Wilson is an opener I have longed for but never caught. The energy. The call and response. The unabashed removal of pants and other articles of clothing... wait, what. Well, this is a Funky review after all, which means it has it all... except pants. I lasted about 15 minutes before full pants-removal while listening to this show. And with good reason. Wilson stampedes forward, surging with jagged rock anthems and Phish's own spin on "Metal." Kind of. As the surge leads up to the BLAT BOOM part, something special happens. Something oh so very Phishy. Like boulders rumbling down a hillside, Mike drops the Sand bassline over the chaotic distortion. Holy cow. The first Sand of 2003, as the second song of the first set... this is when the pants came off. The crowd erupts as a dance party ignites. Did Mount St Helens take a vacation to Miami? No, silly geologists, it is just Phish. Sand blisters through its jam, a la type-1 Sands of this common era. A take-no-prisoners Sand, this one could easily be entitled Concrete due to how hard it was played, and how solid the jam was. What's that I hear? Another familiar bassline. SHAFTY! Apparently the bill for the Dec 30th show read, "Mike Gordon ft. Phish" as this was Mike's show, 100%. Slamming home that Shafty bassline like Shaquille Oneal, the bands slips -> Shafty. At this moment I thought about putting on pants so I could take them off again. And throw them very far away. An idea quickly dissolved by the highly controversial dance party I myself was creating in the living room. Mrs Funky and the cat look on in awe. Shafty, also the first of 2003, drifts nearly flawlessly -> NICU and again, Mike "Shaq" Gordon slam dunks all over the crowd. NICU is playful and fun, complete with Mike layering the Shafty bassline over his usual NICU line. Amazing stuff here. NICU's mini jam isn't so much creative as it is fiery, a version of the song that, by itself is rather "normal" but when listened to in the context of the set is exceptional. Weigh comes next and continues the trend of "First version of 2003." Normally played, again as an individual, this version in the context of the set might as well be Free Bird. This set so far is an example of the phrase, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The jams themselves aren't mind-blowing, but how they're strung together is nothing short of incendiary. Hey, I'm incendiary too man. Yes you are bold reader, yes you are. Cities funks things up and the crowd, I do believe is naked. The Cities jam is rather bland but don't tell that to those in attendance, they were too busy enjoying themselves. Strange Design was a perfectly placed respite which was well-played and well-earned for band and crowd alike. A chaotic yet rather, again, bland Scent of a Mule does what it can to reenergize the venue, and given the next sequence, it succeeds. An efficient and effective Bathtub Gin comes next. Building in quintessential Gin fashion, it hits a solid, spunky peak around the 10 minute mark. Had the jam ended here, I would be content. But it doesn't. Instead, Phish takes off into a wood-block-(I think)-driven quasi-funk jam. So gnarly. Love these final two minutes of Gin. Then... THEN... WHAMMO!! The opening snare/kick drum combo that signals the mothership. 2001. No one had this on their pick'em sheet for set 1 closer that's for sure! A sultry, sexy 2001 complete with Make My Funk the P Funk jam between the two choruses shatters the proverbial backboard. Shaq would be impressed. This 2001 had funk elements, fun elements, and tight-looseness that is indicative of Phish playing at a very high level. In fact, Phish was voted into the All-Star game for the 20th consecutive season.
A smoking hot set 1, following up 4 previous smoking hot sets, and it's about time I dive into my thesaurus to find some new words to use. A pornographic Tube opens set two. Riffing with energy right off the bat, Phish does a start/stop jam within seconds of the jam beginning. SOoOoOo dirty. Man I love that sh*t (curses woos under breath). Tube rampages on. With 20% more start/stop action, shipping and handling included! One time features Page. One time features Fish. And when Fish's segment winds down, the band EXPLODES back into the jam!! And Tube breaks another tackle and is crossing the 50! The jam leaps into a building rock groove and at this point, Bo Jackson himself couldn't catch Phish. But it's not done yet, no way. It starts to get dissonant and weird. Trey trying to find a groove. But with purpose. He does. Swish! A little harsh at first, but then completely recognizable, Phish drops into LA WOMAN!!! If Harry Carey had been calling this show, we would have got the biggest HOLY COW of his career. A rocking jam complete with (oddly accurate) Morrison-esq YEAHS and WHOAS, LA Woman sends the crowd into more of a frenzy than free-t-shirt night (wait, did Phish give away free shirts tonight?) LA Woman crashed into Birds of a Feather which, like Sand and Gin, features a straight forward but lava-hot jam segment. Not quite a must-hear, but definitely a jam that should not be overlooked. Birds briefly touches back on LA Woman before a true, unexpected, and smoooooooth -> Makisupa. This is a fun Makisupa. A real fun one. It seems that Makisupa was missing its keyword until Trey starts up "Treys Story Time" and explains how they wanted to play Touch Me, but Fish doesn't know the words and some blathering about a horns section... and he rambles on for a couple more typical Trey asides, before saying that P Funk will be joining them onstage and P Funk is way better than Fish singing Touch Me. THE CROWD GOES FRIGGIN BANANAS. One of the best crowd reactions I've ever heard. I am giggling to myself remembering their response. SO awesome. The P Funk Medley that ensues is EXACTLY what you're thinking it is. Pure onstage chaos. I mean that in the very best way possible. Antics. Funk. Laughs. George. Trey. CACTUS. Laughs. Funk. Laughs. I mean, this was 19 minutes of controversy that transcends any laws we have on the books. Was the music "good?" Well, I mean not necessarily if you're looking for huge type-2 jams. But I 100% promise you with a money-back guarantee that if you listen to this segment, you will smile and say "Man, kinda wish I had been there." It was unreal. The mayhem finally relents, many people became pregnant, and Makisupa "ends." Not a moment too soon, Down with Disease growwwwwwls through the speakers (told you it was Mike's show) and Phish takes off again! A furious maelstrom of notes, Trey takes the reigns on this jam and scalds his guitar with passion and intensity. Mike and Page layer a lucid and soft tapestry of sound behind Trey, who is really showcasing some hot playing. Just when you think they're gonna drop back into the refrain, they instead board the mothership and blast off into contemplative space. Quiet, tranquil and serene, Phish embarks on 3 minutes of placid playing. Then, for me, the highlight of the show. Trey starts playing the closing notes of DWD, oh so very softly, with different tones and filters. He builds. Slowly. Patiently. Slowly getting his guitar back into rock-mode. Still the builds. The re-entry from space to earth is given the GO from ground control. A sonic boom. Trey EXPLODES back into the DWD anthem and the crowd goes nuts. WOW!!!! WHAT A WAY TO CLOSE THE SONG... LET ALONE THE SET... LET ALONE THE SHOW!!!
Contact featured some quasi-funk playing and had just a fun overall vibe to it. Another first of 2003, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, gave us an emotive, inspired cover that richly enveloped all that had transpired this evening. What an encore. What a show. What a band.
Must-hear jams: The -> Sand -> Shafty -> NICU segment, Bathtub Gin -> 2001, Tube, Down with Disease
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Honestly, this is a show that needs to be heard start-to-finish to be fully appreciated.
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