, attached to 2003-07-31

Review by TooManyUrkels

TooManyUrkels Underrated show. Yea, Hood/Piper/Moma get all the love, but there's a lot of other goodies here that I think some other reviewers maybe missed.

Set I: Fierce Llama sets the tone for a take-no-prisoners barrage of Type I crispiness. Moma absolutely scorches - great take. D. Sky is well-executed (I don't recall any notable flubs) with a killer jam - also a great take. Seven Below rages quite concisely - a nice surprise peak. Sloth is a treat, also well-executed IIRC. There's a little difficulty getting WitS off the ground at first - hello 2.0 flubbery - but the Wolfman's that follows totally slays. I'd call this a particularly notable Type 1 affair, which tees up Possum well. Possum is properly played but otherwise not super notable. THAT SAID - this first set breathes total fire. Charizard shit. Phish fans come for the big jams, and I get that, but I love a good first set, and IMO this is about as good as I've heard through the rest of '03. Bust outs, big jams, obscure nuggets? No, but it doesn't need to have a 30 minute SASS, a YEM closer, or a Tweezer to get the love from this listener. Get over yourself if you think a Phish set has to have a 20+ minute jam or a Forbin's > FFM to still be worthy of praise and notability. jk the ocean is love and I don't hold it against you ;)

Set II: Piper rips - I'm a big fan of spacy '03 Phish and this Piper's mid-section is a great example of this, with a killer groove on the back end that elevates the whole affair. Lots of shredding in this Groove - Trey bodies Mike's and Paug, but his lack of the Ross compressor shows in H20. That said, it's a largely on-point recitation at a time when that wasn't a given (it unfortunately still isn't). Decent --> into Free, which may have a hiccup or two scattered across the composed sections, but the jam is more of the top-shelf Type I variety exhibited elsewhere. The big Hood hits some bouncy segments in its exploration, features some good Page on organ lending a soul-inflected vibe to the mid-section while Trey hits his typical blues chromatics atop. The second space-voyage of the set creeps in as Page lays out on the organ, Mike builds a bedrock of drone, Fish finds a light ostinato on the rim, and Trey continues to bounce around in '03's plinko-adjacent manner. Soon the effects start coming in as Trey joins Mike in the land of the minor-key drone, Fish opens up the groove, Page takes chordal charge on the ivories and the '03 haze threatens, if only for maybe 90 seconds, to bring this jam to scary places as the cadets and spunyuns in the room start to take cover lest they be consumed by chemical ego death. Page suddenly brings us back to calmer waters with a deft deployment of our friend the D major, and thus begins the ramp up to the jam's typically cathartic ending. Cue wall of cymbal swell, and a fermata'd resolution brings Set II to a close. Not the peaky, climactic, shreddy Hood that comprises much of the "best ever" lists, but this one's punching above its weight based purely on the exploration therein. The Frank-Encore (Franken-Core?) gets off to a shaky start (Trey rushes), but deploys almost the full barrage of '03's effects pallet and hits all the right notes to send the throng home. Crunchy stuff all told.

Okay yea so the Type II banner-wielders of this show are pretty much only Hood and Piper. Whatever, it's all killer stuff nonetheless, like a greatest-hits show played with the '03 rawness and edge that makes this one of Phish's most rewarding years to explore, if I may humbly opine. I'd give it like 4.3 stars if I could, but I gotta hit it with the fiver on account of .net's wack-ass rating system.


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