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Review by FunkyCFunkyDo
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.