, attached to 2003-02-15

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Coming in hot off heels of Valentine's Day, Phish wastes exactly zero seconds exploding into their two night run in Las Vegas. Llama openers are indeed one of my favorite things in the Phish-i-verse and this one is one of my all time favorite Llama openers. I dunno why - maybe it's Trey's guitar tuning right before Fish starts the drum, maybe it's the 1/4 step faster pace of Fish's beat, maybe it's something singularly special to me, whatever it is, this Llama is a cut above. It absolutely shreds and creates a whirlwind of energy right out of gates and the crowd's explosion after the song winds down is spectacular. Wolfman's seriously funks things up next. A 15 minute goo-train, this Wolfman's is full swampy funk. Be sure to make a serious point to relisten to Mike's breakdown in the middle in between Trey and Page going back and forth - in fact, make a point to relisten to it a couple times. This Wolfman's jam is a prefect embodiment of the coexistent looseness and tightness of Phish is 2003. It is a true gem. Reba fades in from the Wolfman ether and delivers a non traditional version of the song. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think the right words for this Reba are Psychedelic Jazz Odyssey. Reba "normally" carries a building, blissful jam, and this one doesn't quite fit that mold, not a bad thing per se, just different. Very interesting to listen to and marks the end of an improvisationally powerful 1-2-3 combo to open this show. Life on Mars gently settles us, ironically, back to Earth. A normalized but fiery version of 46 Days comes next followed by another normalized but spacey It's Ice. Ice back then didn't have it's signature funk breakdown like we would hear sometimes in the mid-90s or in 2014/15, but it did have a spacey, spooky little jam sandwich between the composed sections. It seeps into another bustout rarity, Frankie Says, along the lines of the previous night's Fee in terms of feel and scarcity. However, this Frankie Says gets cut a little short. I really wish they had taken this one deep like Fee from the Forum - the precedent was set, Phish just didn't follow through. Antelope acceptably and appropriately closed the set and had some really good heat and an early Stash tease to give us all a giggle, but really, this Antelope isn't too special, BUT, it is indeed highly energetic.

Now, Waves is my favorite song off of Round Room and one of my all-time favorite studio songs to listen to. I love the bouy-ed intro jam and I wish, SO MUCH, the intro was always a part of the song. This version has some of that intro! (minus the waves sound effects). Still, the intro, albeit short, is such a great lead in to an even better overall song. This version really ebbs and flows, crests and breaks, and is everything a good wave should be. It makes you feel like you are floating, surfing, a cosmic ocean. A sublime version. Waves fades out into an unexpected Bug. Odd at the time and met with mixed emotion, Bug provides a more somber feel rather the elation of the preceding Waves. Phish are masters of playing with emotion during their shows, and this pairing as a unit is highly introspective and reflective. Bug as a standalone is okay, but on the heels of that Waves it kind of fits. Bug peters out and the meat of the set drops in next. A disco-y, dancey, pulsing Ghost anchors the five song second set. This Ghost has it all... and will give you a high five for your highly controversial dance moves. Grooves, disco, rock, breakdowns, and some space, this is an 18 minute nonstop dance party. It deserves a couple paragraphs worth of writing, it is that good, but I am sure we all have better things to do, such as listen to this Ghost - not read about it. Do yourself a favor and immediately seek out this morphing, evolving, shape-shifting Ghost. Ghost evaporates into Free, and Free features some FIERCE MIKE GORDON ACTION! Frees of late, save Vegas 14, are one in the same. Not hating, but they follow a predictable pattern of a few measures of Mike kinda layering some deep bass bombs over Trey's Free lick. BUT NOT THIS FREE. This Free features full band stop action while Mike DESTROYS Thomas and Mack Arena. The crowd reaction, man, it just makes me laugh. Mike is going nuts, the crowd is going nuts, everyone is going nuts. Funk yeah, Free! A perfectly placed Harry Hood follows Free. The opening roll signals what would be, much like the Reba in the first set, a more Psychedelic Jazz Odyssey version of a song that is "normally" known for its climactic bliss. Fans of Hood, exploratory jamming, free-form improvisation, and D) All of the Above, please listen to this version. It slowly twinkles along, providing sparkler-esq flashes of pristine brilliance before culminating in a false summit. The fake-out build does indeed fake us all out, as the band really winds the jam down before again bringing it back up. A lot of patience and a lot of musicianship and full-band conversation in this version. Very unique indeed and a good send off. Sample closes the show in ceremonious explosions of joy, and just like that, we are two shows into Winter Tour, and already have PLENTY of jams to re-listen to year in and year out.

Must-hear jams: Llama, Wolfman's Brother, Waves, Ghost, Free
Probably-should-listen-to-jams: Reba, Harry Hood
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