The many fans shut out of the hiatus-ending run could at least take solace in the fact that Phish would be returning to the stage soon enough. As if attempting to give fans from across the continent a chance (albeit possible a singular one) to see the boys back in action, Phish darted across America on a series of one night stands, broken only by two nights apiece in Vegas and Cincinnati. This twelve-date jaunt was nicknamed by some the "everyone gets a crumb tour." Indeed, the crumbs were small - but oh, so tasty.
The exceedingly brief duration of the tour offered no opportunity for the band to warm up. No matter, A well-received opening show in LA was followed by two stellar shows in Las Vegas, with the second set of the first night standing as one of the highlights of the entire year. Almost every night of this remarkable tour featured at least one standout jam, and each is worth hearing. High points include the Chicago Jibboo, Simple and Seven Below; the Cincinnati Gin, the Philly Theme, the Worcester Ghost-> Low Rider, and nearly the entire 2/28 show at Nassau Coliseum. During many jams, Phish seemed to be pushing ahead into the future and forging yet another new sound. This style is harder to pin down than the "Cow Funk" of 97 or the "Space Camp" of Summer 95, but it includes elements of both, and leans more towards a kind of "space with a groove" than, say, the rock and roll glory of December 95.
The Round Room songs, debuted on the New Year's run, got their first chance to work within the rotation of a full (albeit brief) tour. All of These Dreams served three times as a second set cool-down, and all but two shows included either Waves or Walls of the Cave (they generally alternated nights). Seven Below proved a rare delicacy, making only two appearances.
There were no new song debuts until the third to last show, when the performance in Worcester served as a showcase for material from the side projects that band members pursued during the hiatus. A song from Mike's collaboration with Leo Kottke (Clone), Page band Vida Blue (Final Flight), Fishman's bar band Pork Tornado (Blue Skies) and Trey's project (Drifting) made their Phish debuts. One return of a long dormant song this tour likely towers above all previous breakouts: Destiny Unbound, the near-mythical original tune long clamored-for by fans, brought the house down with its return at Nassau.
There was also notable news on the cover front. Playfully noting their current status as the cover story of the influential music magazine once known for groundbreaking journalism (but now mostly for the degree of nakedness in which its young cover subjects display themselves), Phish celebrated the cultural moment by playing Cover of the Rolling Stone the first night of tour. The first night of Vegas offered the first Live on Mars? since 3/2/97, and the second featured Stevie Wonder's Golden Lady for the first time since 10/20/94. In East Rutherford, the band played Corrina (Taj Mahal) for only the third time since 1989. And as if their breakout of Destiny in Nassau was not enough, that show also featured the first return of Soul Shakedown Party since its debut on 2/17/97. Also, YEM vocal jams emerged based on The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Denver) and Proud Mary (Greensboro).
This tour also featured one extremely notable special guest: guitar legend BB King joined the boys from Burlington on 2/24/03 for nearly an hour.