Piper was preceded by an On Broadway tease. Wolfman's included Apostrophe teases by Trey. Twist contained a Dinah-Moe Humm quote from Trey. Free included a guitar and bass duet jam. A lengthy audience ovation followed Free.
On Broadway tease, Apostrophe tease in Wolfman's Brother, Dinah-Moe Humm quote in Twist
Debut Years (Average: 1993)

This show was part of the "2003 NYE Run"

Show Reviews

, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

When the Music’s Over, Don’t Forget to Turn Out the Lights
Phish tends to piss away its encores. Perhaps it’s just my cynicism speaking, but, in general, I feel Phish views its encores as musical after-thoughts; hastily written epilogues to otherwise energetic shows. Stylistically, this makes sense. After all, the group’s tendency has always been to weave together thematic segues and extended musical medleys, not six-minute exclamation marks. So when Phish returned to the stage for a second encore segment three days before New Years Eve 2003, no one really knew what, if anything, to expect.
In fact, Phish’s second encore ranks among the most surprising moments in my career as a “professional” Phish-head. Over the years, I’ve come to expect musical surprises and special theatrics, but once Phish slips off stage right after their encore, its time for everyone to exit. Sure, I am prone to screaming and cheering for a second encore, but, in the back of my mind, I know this applause will soon be unplugged by Paul Languedoc’s post-show music. Even for a band as adventurous as Phish, once the lights go on, the high school play must drop its curtain, causing Clear Channel guidelines and venue curfews to overtake any last minute musical musing. Despite my cynicism, I understand; after all, I also have a lengthy drive ahead. But none of that really mattered when Phish returned to the stage for a second encore of “Squirming Coil.”
Fittingly, many of my concert bootlegs include a brief track titled “crowd noise.” Sitting snuggly between the end of Set II and the encore, “crowd noise” is a live recording's most revealing moment, and the audience’s chance to comment on the night’s performance. There is also a subtle beauty to a crowd’s screams, unifying several thousand fans' disorganized chants into a single musical phrase. It’s almost like an invisible conductor is directing these dialects, smoothing out their rough screams and harmonizing their haphazardly arranged comments.
At times, I felt bad for the American Airlines Arena’s staff. Obviously overwhelmed by Phish’s first appearance, staff members seemed genuinely frightened by the crowd’s local impact. So it wasn’t surprising that the arena hurried the group onstage by turning off the lights a few minutes early on 12/28/03. Immediately, the crowd saw their cue and collectively screamed a “woo.” Realizing their mistake, the staff panicked, and brought the lights back up, signaling the audience to cross-fade their “woos” to “boos.” But then, a few seconds later, the lights once again dimmed, ending the audience’s first segue with yet another collective “woo.” It was beautifully chaotic, like a great Phish jam.
So when the lights stayed off for a few more musical moments the following evening, I figured someone had simply forgotten to press the on button once again. But for the first time in years, the lights continued to stay off and the audience’s energy began to build. Screams echoed throughout the arena, the invisible conductor arranging his longest symphony. Finally, Phish returned and quickly jumped into “Squirming Coil.”
Simply examining its set list, 12/29/03 doesn’t seem like the type of event that would warrant an extra encore. Songs like “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Twist,” and “Free” are excellent jams, but nothing so out of the ordinary that both Phish and its fans would need an extra mini-set. Similarly, covers of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” and Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times” were enjoyable, but nowhere near as unique as the medley of funk-hits and Fishman covers offered each other night of the New Year's Run.
But musically, 12/29/03 ranks not only as the New Year's Run’s best show, but the entire reunion year's most musically adventurous. Refocused, the group continues to weed out its theatrics and filter out its raw early Zappaesque fusion. Instead, the band is masking its jams with what can be called "chord-heavy space," playing a fast, raw synthesis of their '97 cow-funk and Siket Disc ambience. Mixing tight up-tempo group jams and long, lingering emotional ballads, the first set was technically proficient and rock-based; the type of show one would expect during an early night of a New Year's Run. Tight but funky, the choice Hoist selection "Wolfman's Brother" highlighted Phish's post-Hiatus rhythm clarity, with Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman remaining in sync. Quick, up-tempo romps through "Cavern" -during which Trey actually nailed the song’s lyrics- and "Poor Heart" seemed to break up the jam-heavy set, exploring Phish's late 90's understanding of arena-rock. Pacing their shows with precision, and emphasizing their ballads better than ever, Phish is replacing small, loaded riffs with wilder, darker guitar textures. While this style has uncoiled into "Great Gag in the Sky" jams, this new type of jamming, as first explored in "Seven Below," is most often being worked into worn-out funk vehicles like "Wolfman's Brother." Throughout Monday's "Wolfman's Brother," Phish continued to layer these textures into the group’s traditional cow-funk, further signs that the group is learning to play more subtly with age.
While the sing-along set closer of "Good Times/Bad Times" was a welcome surprise, it seemed like Phish's American Airlines Arena show wouldn't stand out from its immediate Thanksgiving Run predecessors. But after the quartet returned for their second set, it become clear the group had something special up its sleeve. Tearing into a tight "Twist," which segued into an ambient jam that remained more focused then similar '99-'00 experiments, Phish gently weaved into an equally adventurous "Boogie on a Reggae Woman." While Trey’s guitar guided each song early on, Phish's front man let his band mates lead the core of each jam. This change of pace is particularly apparent on "Ghost," the group’s purest funk song, and a number that truly elevates Mike to band leader. Acknowledging Mike's lead instrumentation, Trey also played a gentle guitar-bass duel during “Free,” a surprisingly subtle mix of Pumping Iron adrenaline and brotherly love.
Often times during the Hiatus, Trey cited his fans’ increasing emphasis on song requests as a major reason the group needed a break. “People started caring more about what we were playing, instead of how we were playing it,” he often said. With this phrase in mind, it makes sense that Phish chose this unsuspecting night to offer a second encore. In their minds’, it is equal, collective group interplay, not a brevy of spectacles, that warrants additional set times and potential curfew breaks.
For a ballad, “Waste” is a controversial song. Some people feel its chorus, “come waste your time with me,” is Phish’s way of telling fans not to blindly follow their tongue-in-cheek fantasy tour. Others feel it is the group’s most loving lullaby. No matter what connotation this number has had in the past, when placed next to the crowd’s most victorious noise creation, “Waste” didn’t seem cynical. It seemed symbolic. From “Divided Sky’s” silent jam to “Limb By Limb’s” drum outro, Phish were on this night in Miami and decided to celebrate with “Squirming Coil,” a lengthy gentle jam that left all in attendance with a good taste in their mouth, Phish included.
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Does anybody have much of a good word for the NYE 2003 run anymore? I mean, I know 2.0 has enough of a rap against it to begin with, but even a cursory glance at the setlist reveals lots and lots to sink your teeth into - big first set jams, antics out the wazoo, and some crazy one-offs that really set this run apart from even the greater runs of old. It might not be the most musically extraordinary (95, 97, and 99 will be fighting over the crown until hell freezes over, I'd think), but it might be the most purely interesting, all told. 12/28's an average show; it's the last 3 shows that really give this run its special energy.

Set 1 kicks off with a Piper that zips forward with a ferocious propulsive energy before somehow finding its way back home; it's not quite on the level with the huge Pipers of the era, but it's still a damned fine way to start off any show. The rest of the set features very interesting song selection (where IS Foam these days?), with a second highlight coming in a fine LxL that just peaks and peaks and peaks, eschewing subtlety for Trey showing off and Fish blasting away on his cymbals. The Wolfman's, both funky and grimy in equal measure, is also worth a listen or two.

Set 2 is one of those sets that doesn't really have a standout jam, but is knitted together perfectly and adds up to a greater whole than its parts. Rock & Roll opens up the set, and it's a plain old high-energy version akin to the 7/12/14 version, but it starts cooling down as Page pulls out some spacey effects, and Trey starts up Twist. It doesn't take very long for Mike to pop on the envelope filter, and as Fish starts picking up the pace Mike picks out what can only be one bassline and the band slows down to properly usher in Boogie On Reggae Woman. Trey finds a different key from Boogie On and a surprisingly low-key groove emerges as Mike flips off the filter and Trey takes over, then Ghost slides in (the 3rd segue in a row), and we immediately get into a spartan jam as Mike and Trey take center stage, Fish and Page only offering the barest accompaniment.

The groove begins to pick up as Fish kicks up the tempo, Page going to the piano, and a really nice energy begins to emanate off the stage. Trey then moves into major key and the jam goes upbeat briefly, but soon enough they dip back into darkness, where they stay until Trey suddenly gets an itch and he starts hammering away on chords as the band hits a nice peak. Things drop back to a simmering boil, Trey again going back to chords, Page doing some work on the electric organ, and then explode into one more hard-rocking jam that neatly slides into Free. Free books along in its usual manner, Mike going back to his envelope filter, but then Fish and Page suddenly drop out and Trey and Mike have themselves a very nifty and kinda weird duel along the lines of the Trey/Page duel in the 12/2/97 Simple. They then kick back into Free with hardly a pause, and finish off a very nice suite of music that earns a well-deserved long applause break from a very appreciative crowd. A very cool Divided Sky is their reward for the love, and two separate encores close out a very fine show.

Final thoughts: the best show musically of the run, I'd say. Lots to sink your teeth into jam-wise, some really cool segues, a powerful Divided Sky to boot. Things are starting to heat up in Miami...
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by steelcon58

steelcon58 The lot was ridiculous and the stuff was just amazing. My friend and I loaded up on essentials and partook in just bit too much fun prior to the show. We could barely walk in. We were freaking and things were spinning. I asked my friend if he could just please lead me into the arena. I remember telling him that I pray they start the show off with some Stones and slowly get weird. Nope. They went nuts with Piper and I was holding on for dear life. My friend lost his voice, somehow, oddly. He just couldn't talk anymore, it wasn't anything physical.

When we oozed out of the arena and tried to find true north, I noticed a man by the canal bringing in what looked to be a dead Chinese girl, maybe 20 years old, when my friend finally spoke, "Great fucking show!" Yep, it was brother.
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Well it certainly didn't take long for me to lose my pants listening to this show. There are openers... and then there is this Piper. Holy smokes. 15 minutes of fire-breathing locomotive barreling down friction-less tracks. 15 minutes of "OMG did they just do that?!"


Okay. I mean, for all intents and purposes my review is complete. But I guess I have to say something (say it on the radio) about the rest of the show. On paper, this is what shows are made of. In reality, don't believe the florist when he tells you that the roses are free. So let's get to it and figure out what this show is all about. An adept, playful Foam rises like a Phoenix out of Piper's still smoldering ashes. This version missed some spots in the composed section, but made up for it with the lingering, latent energy from Piper. A fair showing, if not extraordinary, this Foam features perfunctory normal Page and Trey solos, that in the heat of the moment, were perfectly forgettable yet still well-played enough to keep the energy swelling. Anything But Me slowed things down just a *touch* too soon, but the slightly extended jam on the back end, led by a very contemplative Trey, gave this version a "Mountains in the Mist" aura to it. Limb by LImb has been an all-star in 2003, and this might be the finest version of the year. Swirling and spiraling are two words I have used often to define LxL jams - and these words are right at home here - especially if this jam was a tornado. The sheer intensity of the Trey/Fish connection was inspiring and beautiful. Asking myself, "How can he play like that?" I am glad I know not the answer, as the mystery is what keeps me coming back for more. This version is a must-hear for sure. A standard-good Wolfman's drops in next and boils with energy, at first, but eventually peters out. Again, standard-good, but seems to lose cohesion near in the final 3-4 minutes. The Poor Heart > Cavern combo was indeed fun, although seemed a bit premature. However, looking back at what this set brought, I have reflected and concluded I would have been perfectly content in the moment at the show - not that it matters to anyone actually in attendance, as I am sure their concern at this moment was finding their face. Rightfully so. All and all, a stellar set with some serious replay value. Top notch versions of Piper and Limb by Limb, era notwithstanding, anchor an efficient and energized set 1. And (it's okay to peak, I did) just look what's on the horizon.

Damn it. I knew I should not have peaked. Eating that third hi... wait. Wait. Different peak. Ahem. With Phish, I have found, unequivocally, the very best shows and funnest times happen when you have zero expectations, Check your setlist prognostication at the door please, this ride requires less-than-zero analysis.
Uh, Funky, Carol isn't a Phish song. Oh right, REBA! REBA! We are due for a REBA!!! Anyways, my point is, when you follow setlists religiously (I do) and try predict what they are going to play (I have) you are usually wrong (I am). And then you kick rocks and get too caught up in yourself, instead of being fully immersed in the moment, the beauty, of the Phish show. What is the point of this tangent, well, I suppose it is that I should follow my protocol of not peaking at setlists before I listen to the show. That and just surrender to the flow... man.

Okay, set 2. Rock and Roll gets off to a fumbling start. Kinda un-energized and flat to be honest. The jam jumbles along for about 9 minutes, hitting no real peaks, breaking no real form. Trey realizes this, not a moment too soon, and guides the band into a verrrry generous -> Twist (more of a > in my opinion). Twist features a playful, extended mini-jam segment before the lyrics start. Good stuff here. Fishman loves those woodblocks. As the band breaks out of the lyrics, Mike turns on his Boogie filter and they toy around the a reggae/funk groove for a couple minutes before a true -> Boogie On. The Twist jam is abbreviated, but efficient, and sets up Boogie On quite nicely ... a good pairing indeed. Boogie On however, like Rock and Roll, never finds its footing. That is not to say it is a bad version (it isn't) it is just rather tame. It eventually morphs into Ghost with another true -> and the energy picks right back up! This Ghost is a scorcher. An interesting, conundrum of a scorcher! It builds, but doesn't peak. It has grooves, but none of those "stuck in my head forever" riffs/basslines/anthems. It really brings the dance, but as I look back on it, I can't recall which moments stand out! I just remember it being very fun and very energized. And you know what, I'll take it! Not every jam has to have those types of moments for it be memorable. Sometimes, it is just memorable because the band locks into some fun, straight-forward jamming. You will nary find a bad word about type-1 jams coming from these fingers. Ghost gives us another -> (wow! I know, so many ->) Free. Another almost-seamless transition (not quite, but so close) keeps the energy levels in the red. This Free though, eh, I might draw some wrath for this... this Free does nothing for me. Mike's opening bass blitzkrieg is indeed exceptional, but then two Trey/Mike duets seem off-key. Like two cats yowling at each other. Okay okay, maybe not THAT annoying. But I just couldn't get into it. Having said that, it is interesting to listen to and it sounded like the audience was really digging it. Free comes a stop and (I think I hear a Fluffhead chant?) and Trey has a weeeeeird opening to Divided Sky. It sounds like he's scratching his fingernails up and down the neck of the guitar before playing the true opening notes. It was rather grating and harsh, especially for such a beautiful song. Hmm. Weird indeed. The composed section was played very well though. It took Trey a couple minutes to find his rhythm in the jam section, in fact, the first two minutes were pretty bad. He recovers though, and sends the jam to some soaring heights. All and all, a decent rendition, but interesting in a not-so-good way. A smoking hot Good Times Bad Times closes the set, complete with some, geez, quasi-plinko jamming early on in the jam segment, This version is a cut above almost all other GTBT. It rocks! Waste was a tasteful encore and is exactly what you'd expect. Getting a second encore, I mean, that's exactly what you do not expect. Although the composed section featured some flubs, Trey stuck with Page for a long while in the outro, playfully weaving in and out of Page's soft melodies. Trey finally breaks away, leaving Page on the high keys. Small and petite playing, Page lulls us with soft strokes and light touches. Beautiful way to cap an crazy, energized night of Phish.

Must-hear jams: Piper, Limb by Limb, Ghost
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Twist, Free, Good Times, Bad Times, Squirming Coil
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by roybelly

roybelly T'was a fun run of shows.......I was going back over it, listening to the exchange between Trey and Mike during Free.....I can remember the audience pouring the love on them for a good bit after that little bit of madness...no negative vibes, but it felt like the band had a hard time settling in during some of the first set.....maybe it was just to my ear. The good times bad times was a welcomed friend.
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by JezmundTheFamilyBeserker96

JezmundTheFamilyBeserker96 Set 1 Highlights: Piper, Limb by Limb (Standout Version)

Set 2 Highlights: Twist -> Boogie On Reggae Woman -> Ghost -> Free* (Standout Segment, *Standout Version), Divided Sky, Good Times Bad Times

A very solid second night of this New Years Run. The band comes roaring out of the gates with Piper and you can tell from the start that Trey is doing whatever the opposite of fcking around is. The Limb by Limb in the first set was an extremely powerful version displaying how they would wind that song up and bring it back down, peaking repeatedly. They did that a lot in both Limb by Limb and Taste in 2003 and would recommend listening to all of them. Otherwise, the first set was pretty average great Phish. Now, the second set is just the absolute business. The whole chain of segues from Twist through Free is way more fun than should be legal. Also, the Free that ends that segment is among the most unique versions I've heard. Mike and Trey have done a duet jam in Free before but I have never heard one as exploratory as this version. After a quick breather, Trey transitions very oddly into Divided Sky by bending the opening chord an octave down and releasing his Whammy to bring it back into tune. The unique start of this Divided Sky is followed up with some very diverse and attentive playing by the band in the jam, luxuriating in a softer texture before amping it up for a big finale. Good Times Bad Times closes the set in the expected explosive manner with a little bit of extra gas poured on by Trey.
, attached to 2003-12-29

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

I can't believe that it’s over a year since Phish has triumphantly returned. This has personally been one of my biggest years with the band. I have managed to catch all of the shows since the Hiatus ended except LA and Chicago in February. Needless to say, I am a little exhausted: physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, financially.
I have had an unbelievable run this year though, from the chills of those first notes of "Piper" last New Year’s, to my 100th show the first night of Cincy, to the insanity of the boys’ maiden voyage of "Mr. Completely" in Utah, to "the novelty show" of Pittsburgh for the old school kidz, to what I like to call "The shut up and be thankful" Thanksgiving (thanks + giving, people) Tour, to an eventually warm and sunny New Year’s.
After a few hours on lot of doing nothing but strolling, I decided to head in. I was really ready to see what the boys had after what I felt was an "OK" show the night before. The opener was the always-welcome "Wilson." It rocked as usual. Next was one of the songs that had me moving the hardest this night, "Cars, Trucks, and Buses." I love this song (I know, I know…I am such a sucker for Leo).
"Seven Below" has quickly become a regular in the rotation and with good reason. This version is good (from what I remember) but no Chicago or Gorge. "Divided Sky" was next. I have rediscovered a love for this song, (especially Page's chops at the end part), and it seems the band has too. Next was "Fast Enough for You." Like most of you, I never really loved this song…that is until the last year. It has more to do with my personal life, but I've really become a big fan of the older ballads (FEFY, Lifeboy, etc.) "Julius" was the set closer and is in my mind, one of the most improved songs post-hiatus.
During "Makisupa Policeman", Trey told us it was the "official first Phish song." It morphed into "Buffalo Bill," which saw an appearance from Tom Marshall on vocals. (After the Dude the night before, you knew Tom would grace the stage in Philly or Albany.) Although not as crisp as the Deer Creek combo of the same two songs on 7/23, they still are always fun to hear, and was a nice way to acknowledge Tom as a huge part of the Phish family. A pretty standard "Bowie" was next, followed by my other highlight: "Strange Design." I closed my eyes and drifted away for a few minutes while Page made my heart go pitter-patter. "Character Zero" closed out the set, which was typical of the night: Trey showing off his chops, sometimes successful, others not. "Friday" was the encore and was nothing to brag about.
Thank you to everyone…especially Trey, Mike, Page and Fish…for showing me that it's alright to be myself.
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