Lifeboy was played for the first time since November 25, 1998 (133 shows). During I Didn’t Know, Trey introduced Fish as “Henrietta, the world’s finest vacuum player.” I Didn't Know also included some dancing antics from Trey, Page, and Mike while Fish took his vacuum solo. 2001 included teases of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Simple Gifts, and Stash from Trey.
I would have expected nothing less than a shitty, overcast day in Cincinnati, OH to celebrate my 100th show with the boys. And that's exactly what I got outside....however, inside the U.S. Bank Arena this night was completely different story. I have often said to my kidz that the colder and shittier the weather outside a show, the hotter it is going to be inside musically. They all look at me like I am crazy (some truth there) and say "shut up." I haven't heard those words again since this show.
The first set opened with a blistering trio: “Wilson” > “Frankenstein” -> “Down With Disease”. “Frankenstein”'s appearance this early in the show made my ears perk up just a little more than usual. “Disease” was especially hot, with the boys nailing one of those "firing on all 4 cylinders, locked in" type of jams.
Following this was "Lifeboy." I don't care what anyone says, I love this song. It was especially nice to hear it at my 100th show since they played it a lot at my first couple. It was also extra special to be around all my kidz again during this one because the last year since I graduated, "God was certainly not listening to what I said". Anyway, Page shines on this version. Keep this in the rotation boys.
Set II was where things really got rolling. "Mike's Song" kicked off the set. Welcome to Cincy everybody, the most underrated stop on tour. Following a "I am H2" tease by Fish, "Free" was busted out. Next was an always beautiful "Waste", which eventually found its way into "2001." Excuse me, this is where I put my pen down and try my best to breakdance.
The encore was "Velvet Sea" which I really didn't mind as I closed my eyes and was overwhelmed with all of the memories, thoughts, kidz, and emotions that I had been through 100 times with my favorite band in the world. Thanks to all of you who I've met and shared them with along the way. You know who you are. Here's to another hundred.
ah good 'ol cincy! this was many heads first show back, so as mentioned in my review for the 2nd night, the u.s. bank arena crowd was buck wild. the phand weren't fucking around, and when phish came out, we quickly realized they weren't either. wilson is my favorite of the "predictable openers," especially for indoor shows. out of the back end of wilson, they slammed into frankenstein. i had never seen this out of the closer/encore slot, so i was really digging the creative and rocking song selection. page, as always, killed this one. down with disease was another first set surprise. this was a pretty solid version, one of the better first set versions that you will get. life boy fit well, and it gave people a chance to breathe. boogie on got everyone bobbing again before going into a straight forward but still rocking antelope. i thought that would close a relatively short set, but they dropped a bonus i didn't know on us before taking a break.
after grabbing a beer and a bowl, i was ready to rock again. once again, phish came out of the gate blazing. they stretched this mikes song out after exploring some funky realms. they then hit an ambient/spacey jam before hitting the big "free chord." no, there would be no hydrogen tonight. a good funky free gave way to a mellow waste which worked its way into a nicely developed 2001. kuroda was particularly hot here. page was nice and funky while trey worked in some cool stash teases. this very good 2001 bounced right into harry hood. there was some slop sprinkled through here, but since i hadn't seen this song since deer creek 2000.... yippeee!! all of these dreams, like friday, can just go away, but hey, i love me a good possum! this one rocked and started to work into a nice little rock/funk groove that somewhat sloppily worked into cavern. this one closed it down appropriately, but some flubs scattered here and there. velvet sea... blah
i like the 2nd night better, but this was a definitely an excellent first night
This show is overshadowed by the following night, and people say it looks better on paper than it really was. But any show that opens with Ã¢â‚¬Å“WilsonÃ¢â‚¬Â followed by Ã¢â‚¬Å“FrankensteinÃ¢â‚¬Â is my kind of show: EVIL. The energy in that place made gave me goosebumps. Mike laid it down in the Ã¢â‚¬Å“FreeÃ¢â‚¬Â jam and Trey was hitting evil cords which made me grit my teeth.. This was my favorite show of February, topping Vegas and Greensboro.
Evil Phish is good Phish.
Wilson is a nice high energy opener. Frankenstein is in a really weird slot, and it keeps up the energy. Disease transition into a nice floating groove, it's a nice warmup jam. Lifeboy mellows things out. Antelope is top notch and well played. Weird set closer in I Didn't Know.
Mike's is strong and it moves into a static layer groove. No ending coda (and no weekapauge) it just drifts into Free. Not crazy about the 2nd set song selection, but waste is pretty strong for slowing everything down. Strong hood that is very cohesive and well played, great ending. All of these Dreams again kills the momentum. Very strong possum, fantastic peaks. Very well played.
Great Velvet Sea Encore.
Overall pretty awkward sets. But still good stuff.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: this first set is a f***ing party!
The onslaught of volcanic show openers continues with Wilson > Frankenstein. To say this place was on fire would be a disservice to the Sun - who is the King of all the other planets. Wilson couldn't have been a better opener for how the tour was progressing so far. It blew the doors off of whatever US Bank Arena looks like and I am sure said arena was never the same again. Rightfully so. Tacking on a couple extras minutes of hard rock, Wilson ignites the CInci crowd. So, what comes after you catch on fire? What the next step in heat exchange? I don't know either. Whatever it is, Frankenstein did it. BOOM POW!!! I wish I was in the building for this 1-2 combo, insane energy pulsing through the energy and making direct contact with each and every fan in attendance, who in turn, shot pulsars of dance out into the Milky Way. So, uhm, what comes after the thing that comes after fire? DOWN WITH DISEASE does!!! Holy shit balls! I am not so sure I have heard a non-Hampton Fluffhead crowd so pumped. It's nearly deafening on the AUD. AMAZING! This Down with Disease rampages out of the refrain and into a couple minutes of typical, but highly energized, DWD style shredding. It then drops a few gears and prepares for an interoceanic harmonic journey through the colorful corals of the Great Barrier Reef. No idea what that means? Me neither, but eat your heart out Mr. Miner. This jam swims along in delightful fashion, with subtle Trey picking in that 2003 nimble, soft tone I LOVE SOOO MUCH. Fish and MIke layer a deep current groove while Page splashes about above the rest of the band. 3rd song of the show. First set. THIS is what 2003 is all about. 18 minutes later the band comes up for air and explodes through the surface like a Grey Whale breaching. The return to the DWD chorus is indeed triumphant and inspiring. Moments later we are greeted by a delightful Lifeguard, er, Lifeboy. Perfectly placed, beautifully played, Lifeboy nestles into the 4 slot and douses the red hot band Phish - albeit, not for long. The fires get stoked again and WHOOSH Phish yet again bursts into flame. Boogie On drops and man, is this version dirty. Fast forward to about 3 minutes and watch them take off. Three separate breakdowns, each filthier than the next, turn this fire into the sexiest inferno this side of Stu's Disco (keep an ear out for some amazing Fish fills). How can they top the set so far? Run Like an Antelope! THAT'S HOW! This version takes no prisoners, accepts no water, and is downright gnarly. It rummages along, foraging through the Great Plains of America's heartland, feasting on tension and release. Two explosive peaks erupt. The ground shakes. The women weep. And if the band and crowd isn't having enough fun as it is, let's play some god damn vacuum I Didn't Knowwwww. What a fun way to end an amazing first set!
Now, set 2, for me personally, is the weaker of the two sets. Not always good to start a review with a negative comment, but it speaks to how powerful Set 1 was. Mike's Song growwwllllss out of the darkness and seeps into a murky, dissonant jam. It never peaks. There is no signature closing lick, no build. It just groans along. It is weird. Sometimes weird is good. Sometimes. But this time (for me) it was just weird. Mike's Song melts away into Free which showcases little of the energy we saw in the first Free of the tour in Vegas (which was downright sexual). This version is relatively prude. Oh well. Waste finds an odd placement in the middle of set 2 and now I am scratching my head as to where all the set 1 energy went. An inspired guitar solo picks things back up ever so slightly as Phish prepares for a murky intergalactic journey. This 2001 isn't funky - it's spacey. It's a minimalist groove which meanders ever so slightly from the 2001 pattern, but doesn't blow minds. I have mixed emotions about this 10 minute 2001, I am certain in the moment it was fantastic, but re-listen value? Not a whole lot. Just when I feel the band may be throwing in the towel, the 4th quarter of the set TAKES OFF! NOW THIS IS THE ENERGY WE EXPECTED. A raging Hood is impeccably placed and saves the set. It peaks not once, but twice. It is incredible. The band patiently builds in "normal" fashion to a huge climax, but there is no "You can feel good, good, good about Hood" instead Trey winds it down, gets fluid, gets patient and continues the jam... ONLY TO BUILD IT RIGHT BACK UP TO AN EVEN MORE INCENDIARY PEAK!!! HOLY CRAP!!! Let me say this, if a Hood like this were to take place today, .net would have a god damn aneurism. It is that good... but hey, par for the course in 2003. All of these Dreams cools us down before Possum lits us on fire again. Channeling Hood's energy, this Possum SCORCHES. In fact, all 2003 Possums are fantastic. This one is peak upon peak upon peak... and I didn't yet mention the spaghetti western style, decrescendo mini jam to start things off... well I suppose I just mentioned it. So yeah. Anyways. This Possum has it all. Fantastic version the likes of which we don't see in post-2009 Phish. Cavern puts about 17 exclamation points on a highly energized show. A great way to end the set. Wading gets extended pretty far and for all intents and purposes, is very very well executed. Despite how deflating it may look on paper, it was a very good encore.
Must-hear jams: Down with Disease, Boogie On, Harry Hood, Possum
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Wilson > Frankenstein (for its energy alone), Run Like an Antelope, Mike's Song (because it's weird)
I didn't know it was going to be like that. Six and a half years since I first saw the band, and two and a half years since my hiatus began, Phish was back in my life. I headed to Cincinnati, excited about my first show since the band had ended its self-imposed exile. I knew it was gonna be good. I presumed it would be great. But I didn't realize the power and ferocity with which the four of them would destroy me and everyone else packed into a hot and smoky US Bank Arena on a chilly Friday night in Cincinnati.
A few minutes before eight, the lights dropped and the crowd roared with intensity as the fab four emerged from the tunnel behind the stage. The opening notes of "Wilson" resonated twice before the crowd's screams shifted into the familiar "Wilson!" chant, and the show was off. The band was rocking and Trey's crunchy and in your face guitar led the way through a quick run-through of the tune, as a wide smile spread on my face and my feet started moving. Practically on the last note of "Wilson", Trey tore into "Frankenstein" without missing a beat and it was evident we were in for a full-on rock fest.
After the close of that tune, the familiar white noise that precedes "Down With Disease" began to fill the arena as the crowd, which never stopped moving for a second the whole night, bristled with anticipation. They were not let down as Mike stepped up and thundered forth the opening bass lick with reckless abandon. This led into the night's first exploratory moment as the band tore off on a pulsating funky jam that would continue for about fifteen minutes of high paced action before Trey brought the band back in with the song's trademark lick.
After the jam which preceded it, "Lifeboy", not played since 1998, was the perfect breather song, as the band took a moment to cool their jets after the rocket-like opening to the show. The overlapping melodies provided by the guitar, bass and piano filtered out over the arena as the band played this one with subtle beauty. I was thinking that Trey was right when he said that there is something amazing about a slow song in a big room.
Things weren't cooled off for long when Mike stepped up and began popping out a funkified lick and Fishman dropped in to kick off "Boogie On Reggae Woman". Trey seemed a little unsure of the lyrics, but there was little to worry about because the band was kicking. Page and Mike took turns at funk breakdowns while Trey and Fishman started and stopped the groove. The whole time, Kuroda's light's shown down on the crowded floor screaming in ecstasy at each turn.
As the outro to "Boogie On" petered out, Trey began chording out the familiar intro to "Run Like An Antelope". The crowd began to pick up and roar in approval as Fishman joined in on the woodblocks and Page bounced pleasantly along on the piano. Then after the tension had been built and the table had been set, it was all knocked down by one crashing guitar chord and Kuroda's spiraling light show. The band kicked it into the high gear and those in attendance were on a wild ride. The pace of the jam was that of a runaway train hurdling downhill with its brakes out, and just when you thought they would drop into the familiar stops again, they kept pushing forward. Finally the pace slowed and Mike thumped out his bouncy line. Trey held out "Marco" extra long before dropping into the song's closing portion, with the crowd prancing to and fro, echoing the band's repetition of the song's final line. As Trey hit the last note and Fishman rode the cymbals, the crowd screamed its approval.
I figured that the band would have nothing left in store for us, as they put down their instruments and began to head off stage, until they motioned for their a cappella microphone and Page, Mike and Trey huddled on the corner of the stage. Henrietta, straight to Cincinnati via Outer Mongolia strode behind his riser in search of vacuum as the rest of the band started up "I Didn't Know". Their barbershop styling were a little rusty, but no one in the house cared as Fishman offered us a spirited vacuum solo as the remaining three members of the band pranced around him waving their fingers and arms, even kneeling at his feet as he let loose with some lively electrolux sounds. With that, the band bowed and took their setbreak, one the exhausted but energetic audience needed as well.
Setbreak seemed to fly by as heads around me buzzed about the high-energy set they had just witnessed. Once the band emerged again, and took their places. Trey began to noodle around a bit when suddenly, before the crowd could really notice what was happening, he dropped into the trademark opening lick of "Mike's Song". The arena erupted with raucous joy as the band hit the groove and Kuroda bounced light around the arena. I began to think about how much I had missed the band in recent years, and almost cried at the realization that I didn't even know how much until right then. The jam took off on a funky and dark undulating tone and I was filled with happiness at the realization that the magic was back in my life. As the band slowed the groove, it seemed that some began to start "I am Hydrogen", which I was dying for, but instead Trey chimed in with a loud guitar chord and started up "Free".
When Trey roared into the intro lick the crowd matched it in intensity. They danced and waved their arms, some sang along loudly, each time returning the energy in the arena right back to the stage from whence it came. The band let loose with blistering tenacity, before bringing the final jam back to a stop, while Mr. Anastasio could quiet the room with the opening guitar pattern of "Waste".
The classic Phish ballad acted as a good cool down song, but didn't stay that way for long with the rhythm building back during Trey's solo, Mike, Jon, and Page linking up underneath him. As the song began to trail off, Trey and Page each noodled quietly, when, as if to say, "Hey, let's play something, it's my turn to pick," Fishman dropped into the tell tale opening drumbeat of "2001". They crowd heartily agreed and bobbed together in beat as Trey and the others took their time sliding into their parts of the song. Trey's teases of Bach and "Stash", were well played and entertaining as he wove those other melodies on top of the undulating funk sound created by the other three.
Then, at the close of "2001", as if things just hadn't been good enough, Fishman dropped the band into "Harry Hood", a song with profound personal meaning to me. I felt the tears well back again as I began to dance with abandon. I lost track of myself, and began to wonder why I hadn't realized how much I missed this. During the latter part of the Hiatus I almost began to get used to Phish being no more. I was at my forty ninth show, but it felt like my first. I didn't keep a detailed setlist like I usually do. I just danced, I smiled, and I didn't give a rat's ass what song they played next because I was just so goddamn grateful to have them back. Later, when I listen to the official release, I could tell you if it was a good
"Hood", or a so-so one, but I know that as I looked down on the band from the upper level US Bank Arena, I didn't want to be anywhere else in the world.
"All of These Dreams" was next, and I know I needed a breather, and as far as Round Room songs go, I think it's one of the better ones. "Possum" built the energy back up and the band took off on a tight rockin' pace which rollicked and rolled as there wasn't an ass in the crowd in their seats. "Cavern" closed the set, and seemed a little rough at times, especially in the beginning, but by the time the band reached the closing refrain they had everything ironed out. As the band put down their instruments and exited the stage someone threw their shoes onstage. I laughed to myself, since that's just about the opposite of what the band tells you to do, but to each their own.
The "Wading in the Velvet Sea" encore didn't go over too well with some I talked to in the lots after the show, but it sat fine with me. I think that song, the album version especially, is a quietly beautiful song which pulls at the heartstrings without much razzle dazzle from the band. I was reminded of the Big Cypress version, in the tail end of the all night set, in which the band was so exhausted you could hear it in their playing, and Trey's voice was almost cracking. This one felt very much the same way: a quiet farewell after a night that left me drained, physically and emotionally.
After the show I lingered a bit, not quite wanting to leave, but knowing that I would be back the next night. It just felt so good to stand in a smoky, but now lit, arena filled with happy fans sharing in the post show glow. Many of them were seeing the band for the first time in years, some for the first time ever, but everyone knew they had just seen a special show. As we filtered out into the cold and snowy Cincinnati night, someone held aloft a sign that simply said, "Smile". As if we needed a sign to remind us.
I loved this show. I was standing on the right side of the stage and could throw a football at Fishman. It was the best seats I've ever had at this point for a Phish show, even the seats I had for Cincinnati in 1999 when I was on the floor. Wilson, Frankenstein and DWD were all ass kickers to start off the show. Lifeboy was a little bit of a let down, not what I expected at all, but right back up again with a good Boogie on Raggae Woman and into another good one Run like an Antelope, and finishing off the first set with a walk to the edge of the stage and doing I Didn't Know. A surprise ending. They started off the second set with a great Mike's Song leading into Free, Waste, 2001 and Harry Hood. All were very good and had the crowd into it, big time.The went into a little different direction doing All of These Dreams but coming back strong with a great Possum and Cavern to finish off things. I was letdown at this point when they played Wading in the Velvet Sea. Not a favorite of mine. I don't care for this song at all and headed for the door. Over all, it was a great show and I thought it was gonna be hard for Phish to top it the next night. I would have to wait and see. This was gonna be the first time I saw them back to back nights......
This show was great!! I drove from West Palm Beach, FL to Cincinnati for this one. This is the furthest I've driven for a show and they did not disappoint. I had 3rd row center for this show as well which was sick! The weather outside that day was disgusting, something like 40 deg. and raining. The lot scene was pretty cool up in the Nati, considering Cincinnati is one of the worst cities I've ever been to. The highlights of the night for me were DWD and Free>Waste. Free isn't one of my favorite Phish songs, but they fucking rocked it that night!
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $1,000,000 to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.