, attached to 2003-12-31

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo BLAT BOOM BA-DIBBY-BOOM DIBBY-BOOM!!! That's how this show started. No, really. Member how Wilson was unfinished the previous night and just kinda sunk into Sand (I member), well Phish member'd too and started this show off with a totally Phishy thing to do: finishing that closing section to Wilson. The crowd went nuts!!! This might be one of my favorite all-time openers just because of how comical/apt/ridiculous/100% Phishy it was. Trey then catapults the band into Mike's Song and we are off! Mike's was played with some serious growl and ferocity, riding the wave that Wilson had created. The jam was solid, standard-good, but the energy in said jam was a cut-above. Hydrogen came next and was timidly-played to my ears. Not sure how else to say it. It was executed well-enough, not perfectly, but entirely forgivable, but Trey and Page seemed reserved in playing their parts. Nonetheless, it is always a twinkling, pretty three minutes, acting as a blasting pad for Weekapaug Groove. Weekapaug was all sorts of fun. Starting off with some Auld Lang Syne teases and then morphing into a bouncy-ball jam. It loses direction just for a hot second before finding another groove that I have heard before (and I can't put my finer on it!) There is a Piper from Dick's 2011 (I think... ?) that has this jam, and a Weekapaug from 7.21.03 that has this jam, and it is all sorts of fun. It is entirely percussive-based, yet entirely recognizable, and downright fun to listen to! Weekapaug then surges to a climactic ending and BOOM, what a start to the show! A solid Moma Dance comes next and continues to superlegality of what's happening so far. Dance moves which can only be defined as controversial permeate both the American Airlines Arena and living rooms, alike. This Moma Dance is rather "straight forward" (for 2003 standards, as 2003 was the year when Moma got taken for lonnnnnng walks) but this version was more energized and heated, rather than funky and deep. It set up a pretty good Guyute (and any of you following along know I am not a Guyute fan)... however, in the first set, especially with how energized the set has been, I was not unhappy with Guyute's placement. I was, however, very happy with You Enjoy Myself's placement! WOW! DID NOT SEE THIS COMING! Neither did the crowd, judging from the explosive roars of the AUD. What a cool set so far! YEM Was executed fairly well, and the jam featured all sorts of stylistic playing. It starts out with a broken down, entirely Mike-led jazz section (what a cool filter he is using, no?). It then picks up into a jam that tries diligently to follow the trajectory of 12.1.03's still-smoldering version, however, it doesn't quite get as tenacious. B+ for effort, as Trey tries to make this one peak hard, but falls only a little short. Still, an extended jam section highlighted by 1) A Mike Gordon jazz-breakdown and 2) A full-effort attempt at a huge peak 3) First set and this was a delight to listen to. Plus a standard-good bass n drums section. First Tube continues to fury, or at least tries to, as this version was a little tepid to my ears. They never quite locked into that driving, freight train of a groove that can make First Tube soar out of the building. Having said that, as far as song selection is concerned, Phish was crushing it. And to add an extra cherry on top of a comical, inspired set, Phish ends where they begun - by finishing Tube from the night before! A la Wilson, Phish dropped right into the closing section of Tube and, geez, it sounded unbelievably energized in there. It must have been so much fun! What a set!!!

Stash starts set 2 with patience and depth. The composed section seemed more, hmmm, open to me. It wasn't fast, nor intense. It was soft, and sweeping. It just rolled. Perhaps this was premeditated, as the jam that ensues is an all-timer when speaking about Stash. Almost immediately when the jam begins, Trey and Fish create musical space. Patience, slow-playing the jam, they placidly guide it away from any sort of peak. Instead they aim higher. For space. Outer space. Deep space. Imagine yourself in a space suit, outside of the Space Shuttle, looking out into the darkness. This is the music that you would be hearing. Ethereal and profoundly cosmic, the jam embarks into zero gravity. Page creating starlight with synths and organs. Mike creating black holes with rumbling, yet un-charted bass notes. Fish drops out, not entirely, but enough to almost make the jam devoid of time. Then Trey takes the lead - looking back at anthems from IT's Tower Jam and soundcheck, he himself starts to space walk. It corrals the jam and leads it back into the structure of the shuttle. Starts to sound like Stash again... but still with a cosmic tone. Trey fires the rockets and charts a course back to earth! Woosh! Trey guides Phish back into a Stash jam that has a satisfying, tension-filled peak. What a version this is! Must hear if there ever was one! After some extended time to capture their breath (space doesn't have atmosphere to breathe after air) and some more time to screw their noggins back on straight (zero gravity will do that to you) Phish sashays into Seven Below. Nailing the composed section, they skip into a poppy little groove. Jumping rope with notes, the version has a delightfully upbeat feel to it, then it looks back a Stash and says, "I too want to go to space." It bleeds out into an ambient and rather disjointed jam segment which ultimately concludes with, wtf, Lawn Boy? An odd choice, given the heaviness of the set. I tend to like Lawn Boy and the carefree feel to it, but with how dark and heavy this set had started, to me, it just didn't fit. Chalk Dust Torture blasts us right back into dance mode and old Funky is happy again. This Chalk Dust is blistering at first - rally focused, energized, pumped-up playing. The rampages along when Trey makes a move to take it into extended jam territory. His modulates and changes his filters, almost on a dime, making the jam sound unrecognizable to Chalk Dust proper - and just as this happens, you can hear him start licking the opening melodic notes to Slave over the jam. Don't call it a ripchord, because it wasn't. It was a deft and thoughtful -> Slave. A tremendous pairing. This Slave, alebit on the short end, left nothing on the table. Inspiring and uplifting (as, like, ALL Slaves tend to be) this version was in fact just a little better, a little happier, a little more soulful than some other you may have heard. And then, the icing on the cake. As Slave winds down Trey absolutely SPRINTS back into Chalk Dust! And I mean SPRINTS! He wastes no time, taking off at full speed, leaping back into the Chalk Dust jam! Wow! Phish scorches the jam for a solid 2 minutes before bringing it back home to the chorus and ending the song. But, WOW! What a sandwich (don't tell Page)! And what bookends to the set!!!

::FUNK GUITAR:: Is P-Funk coming back out? What's going on? ::more funk guitar, Fishman starts a beat:: What is this?! Ohhh I recognize this!!! JUNGLE BOOGIE. The standard funk anthem swings into set 3! This should be fun! Straight forward but oh so funky (if I do say so myself) the "jam" continues on a straightforward trajectory to open the set. Slowly, more sounds are audible. Sounds like drums (from the deep). No no, not like the Mines of Moria drums... not terrifying drums... these are fun drums! Then more bright sounds. Horns! Yes, indeed, a drumline, a brass section and everything else that accompanies a high-school marching band is now performing Jungle Boogie on stage with Phish. Amazing. (stupid kids, why aren't I grumble grumble). Anyways, the marching band settles into the Jungle Boogie groove and Trey starts to wail over them. Nothing extraordinary, except in how fun it must have been, the truncated "gag" finally dissolves into Auld Lang Syne. Still, smiles abounded, the sultry funk left us smiling and dancing as we rung in the new year... or in my case, January 21st, 2017. Not that anyone is counting. ALS gave way to, another wtf, Iron Man? I don't think this was planned, or rehearsed, but Trey just kinda goes for it. Comedic value: high; playback value: nominal; this was an odd, but still fun, way to start 2004. Just as quickly as Iron Man came, it went, and Phish launches into Runaway Jim! The jam swiftly picks up steam and surges forward. But it falters. It breaks down and gets lost in itself... Fishman salvages it though, briefly, with a quick, rock-based drum flourish and the band leaps back into that fiery preceding jam. But. Again, it falters. It just kinda drones along for the next 10 minutes. Honestly, maybe one of the most "meh" 22-minute jams you'll ever hear. Oh well. Jim dissolves benevolently into Simple, but I think Phish is getting tired. Simple is a whimper of a jam that evaporates into... whoa, Reba??? Second wind?? Ehhh... maybe not. Reba had some hard-to-listen-to moments in the composed section and the jam, while pillow-top soft, was rather uneventful It does deserve, however, at least a few words. The Reba jam was light and fluttery. Very light, very fluttery, with almost no intent on peaking. In fact at one point it broke down to Trey, by himself, in a contemplative and introspective solo (which was very pretty to be honest) but when the band re-joined him, the Reba jam reflected his solo: meditative. It was pretty though. A weird, but funny, I Didn't Know > Feel the Heat (uh huh, if you can even call it that) vacuum solo > Hold Your Head Up definitely let us know the band was tired. But hey, they really threw down this show. A standard-good Antelope closed the set (with not much to write about), followed by a standard Frankenstein encore.

You know what, hey can't always stick the landing, on a particular song or show, but the all-around effort was there, no doubt about it. This was a fantastic, fun, funny, spacey, exploratory, energized, fresh, unique, and 100% Phishy Phish show that put an exclamation point on a year that contained all those adjectives, and so much more.

Must-hear jams: Stash, Chalk Dust -> Slave > Chalk Dust
Probably-should-listen-to jams: "Wilson," Weekapaug Groove, You Enjoy Myself, "Tube," Jungle Boogie


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