, attached to 2003-12-01

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo After last night, some of you might be saying...

[Spoiler]

But that's just, like, your opinion, man. Because then Phish strings together a show like this one, well, let's say 3/4 of a show, and...

[Spoiler]

Chalk Dust Torture starts things off with a bang. There is a saying in the sports world (probably in most worlds) and that is if one is to be successful, you need to "have a short memory." That is to say, regardless of how good or bad your last performance was, you'd be best served to forget about your previous performance ASAP and focus on what is happening right in front of you. I think Phish did this. In fact, after following this year so closely, I for one could hear the energy and focus with which they came out this night. Chalk Dust had an extra dash of hot sauce, played at a slighter quicker tempo, and broke into a true, focused jam right after the lyrics ended. Dropping into a quiet, pre-plinko groove, Phish, lead fearlessly by Trey, dropped the volume on the jam to near crickets before building it back up to near-jet engines. A quintessential example of tension-and-release, this was the opener we all needed, Phish especially, after the debacle on the 29th. A swooping Stash follows suit. Straight forward and driven with intensity, even if bordering on manic, Stash continues the energy release from the tension that the previous show had built. Stash never gets too far out of the box, but is just crazy enough for the listener to say, "Whoa. That was the second song of the set?" Although I am not a fan of Guyute as a whole, this version fits nicely into the tension/release, highly volatile set Phish has begun constructing. The frenetic chaos of Guyute matches what has been happening between the interplay from a couple nights ago to what's happening tonight. Is this art imitating art? Avast! A new genre has been born! Well, maybe so, maybe not, but there's no denying whatever was happening, the crowd and band alike were certainly digging it - as you can hear the roars from the crowd and the extra attention the band-mates were giving to their show, three songs in. Thunderhead drifts effortlessly into the set after Guyute's madness subsides. It's as if the clouds parted, ironically, and Thunderhead gave way to clearer skies. Enveloping and bright, Thunderhead was awash in music that took on the color of a sunrise. Unbounded by a steady beat, this song swung and swayed - and floated into another glimpse of chaos: Sparkle. Didn't see this coming. Not exactly the best pairing of songs, especially with how pretty of a version this Thunderhead was, but hey, Phish seemed to have a method to their madness tonight. Sparkle brought the craziness back to near-maxed-out levels before finally relenting to what I will say is the jam of the run... SO FAR. Wolfman's Brother was dirty and nasty. Starting out slow, with ample spacing between notes and downbeats, this Wolfman's took its sweet time to build momentum. One minute at a time it grew in pace and strength. One minute at a time it built energy and controversy, until it ultimately erupted into a jam that the NYPD were quoted as saying after the show, "There were no laws in place to control what was happening out there. Even if there was, we wouldn't have interfered." Apparently the NYPD had been reading Funky's Extended Dance Suite -Volume Six: A Comprehensive Guide to Funk Dancing for Self Defense - Foreword by Moe Szyslak. Lucky them. This version blows the pants off of, well, everyone (I for one started the jam with pants, ended it sans pants) and eventually relents into Good Times Bad Times. Now, let me reiterate something, GTBT was no where near as common back then as it is today. This was the second version of 2003 and it was met with a thunderous applause. The jam itself was just plain old shredding from Trey. He could do no wrong, the band could do no wrong, and just like that, Phish has a short memory and locked into a set that dropped panties, jaws, and bombs alike.

There could not have been a better choice to open set 2. Tweezer is, without a doubt, my favorite set 2 opener... and when it comes on the heels of a first set like the one we had tonight - buckle up, baby! This version takes follows the pattern from set one - raging energy. For the first 5 minutes or so of the jam, it Just. Keeps. Driving. It Just. Keeps. Climbing. It has all the makings of a jam that is about to rival 2.28.03's Tweezer until, unexpectedly, it veers off-course into space. And, for some reason, it Just. Keeps. Going. And I don't mean this in a good way. It almost gets tangled in itself. Sometimes, the 2003 darkness gives way to a swanky beat or groove the elevates the jam into a multi-headed monster. Not this one. It is almost to the point of disappointing because of how good it started out (and how good the first set was) and then this Tweezer jam submitted into a relatively benign, even boring, take on "outer space." Outer space. Interesting, because right on cue, Fishman starts the 2001 beat in the middle of the murk. A slightly more spacey, and slightly less funky version, this one won't blow your mind by any means but it is a good pick-me-up after that Tweezer fizzled out. Still, a tame version. But then, as having a short memory would have it, the next Jam of the Run drops right into place (sorry Wolfman's Brother, you had a good run). You Enjoy Myself was most unexpected to drop into the 3 slot of the second set, but the crowd was up to the challenge. Coming out of the dissonance of 2001, this YEM hit the ground at a full spring. It stampeded through the composed section and never looked back. When the tramps section ended, Fishman took center stage. Ohhhhohohoho boy. WOW! Some sassy, saucy, cheeky drumwork from Fish punctuates this opening segment of the jam. Trey and Mike sitting back - trading single strikes on their respective instruments - Page not even playing (sandwich break) - Fishman becoming an octopus. I can listen to this 1-minute section over and over again. This is giggle-Phish at its finest (in the nation). The rest of the band can take no more or else they too will have their clothes fall off. They take off into a spunky, quasi-funk jam. Fishman anchors them to the woodblock. And then they explode. Fishman drives the freight train to warp speed. A cacophony of comets and galaxies! WE'VE GONE PLAID! The jam peaks! But wait, a false summit! Trey circles the wagons, needing more fury to feast on! Once more, twice more he climbs the scales - striking again and again and the peak! And BOOM! A second explosion! WOW!!! I have now sworn off pants forever. But, I did I speak too soon? Bass and drums, from the deep. They are coming... they are coming... even if Gandalf was here with us, no one could save us from this otherworldly bass/drums segment. If Mike is an all-star, then Fish is a hall-of-famer. Trading exceptionally brash exchanges of their skill sets, giggle-Phish reaches a new level of excellence. A bass/drums segment for the ages! The vocal jam winds down... and for all intents and purposes, the show does too.

Jeff Holdsworth (you know, the guy who found Jesus and didn't get a cent to show for it) gets invited on stage to perform with Phish for the first time since he made the worst decision of his life. Now, take these next five songs with a grain of salt because there was indeed a heartfelt, sincere vein of sentiment and respect tying these songs together - both from Jeff and Phish. Even if the songs weren't exactly barn burners, there was no doubt the guys were having a really good time on stage together (with, perhaps, just a small dose of "F*** you" from Trey during Antelope, which he 100% took the reigns on... not even sure if Holdsworth actually played guitar on Antelope). Camel Walk was sloppy. Possum was fun, but a little amateurish... but, really, still fun (if you listen closely, I kid you not, I think Holdsworth forgot the lyrics and FOR REAL said, "shoooby-dooby-doo"). Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress was REALLY cool to hear because of the history (Phish's first song ever played) and if you didn't get goosebumps listening to this, please have someone check your pulse. Antelope rocked, because I think Jeff finally just said, "I'm outta my element" and let Phish do what Phish does best. Fire was a perfect closer to cap off a fun, complete, rowdy, energized evening!

Turns out Phish has a short memory after all. What a show!

Must-hear-jams: Wolfman's Brother, You Enjoy Myself
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Chalk Dust Torture, Thunderhead, Run Like an Antelope


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