, attached to 2003-01-02

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo Phish's triumphant return to the Mothership blasted off in truly galactic fashion. Listening to the AUD, you can hear AND feel the energy when the Chalk Dust chords start to rip. The place just erupts! Chalk Dust immediately feeds off of this energy and is played with a little more oomph and pizzazz, not that CDT ever lacks oomph and pizzazz, but this one really brings it! Wasting no time, Phish breaks off into a peppy groove at about the 7 minute mark continuing for the next 4 minutes or so. Really good stuff. It then morphs into a nimble little groove, led by Fish's percussive playing and accented by Trey's tasty little notes - I am not sure what tone/filter Trey is using, but it has that organ-esq sound that is so representative of 2003. I love that shit. The final 120 seconds of the jam segment features really inspired, cathartic playing that is symbolic of the renewed energy Phish brought to us in 2003, and then CDT winds down to a psychedelic, echo-plex(?)-fueled closing-segment before exploding back into its formal ending. What an opener!!! Bathtub Gin hits next and picks up right CDT left off. This jam really gets into bliss, major-key territory. I am already into novella territory with one song, so I will try my best to not make this a novel -- but damn it, I want to! Long story short, this Gin is made of happiness and inspiration. It is hose jamming. For the love of god do not skip over this 1-2 CDT/Gin combo, it is so incredibly good.

Keeping with the pattern set 2 days earlier, Phish threw in a compositional piece early on in the set, really showcasing their chops. Though this It's Ice isn't anything particularly interesting, it is a statement to place it in the #3 slot after 30+ minutes of hose. Back on the Train follows, and it if you are a fan of 2.28.03's BOTT, seek out it's little brother in this show. This one doesn't quite reach the stratosphere like 2.28, but it absolutely gets down! Round Room comes in next. There is something very alluring about this song. It is weird and quirky and in the few times played seems to both be played with humble focus and confused meandering -- an odd juxtaposition, but somehow, it makes sense with Round Room. Probably because Mike wrote it. f***ing love you Mike. Anyways, Round Room shifts things down a couple notches, but in a very interesting fashion. Seems like this could be the next "Fee" with the type of jams it could lead into, but that's for another discussion. Horse > Silent gives a nice little break from the absolute scorcher of set we had under our belts so far and sets up a pretty interesting Stash. Not sure how I feel about this Stash. It features "typical" Stash syncopation and poly-rhythmic playing but in a fashion that is more perfunctory than original. Nonetheless, it is well executed and is definitely not boring, as it culminated a strong peak. Water in the Sky is played in (my preferred) upbeat tempo and has some nifty Page/Trey interplay... with Trey really hitting some nimble, quick high notes towards the end of the jam, super good stuff A good little ditty indeed. The second Zero in as many shows puts an exclamation point on a white-hot first set.

46 Days opens set 2 and, like the set opener before it, wastes no time launching into deep space. [author's aside: This is what is so awesome and representative of 2003 - the band's willingness and focus to jump right into an extended jam with any song, in any set, in any slot. Phish was a jam band jamming for the sake of jamming. The consistent purity with which the improvisation flowed out of them was something unheard since the 97/98. THAT is why 2003 is so special.] 46 Days gets dark. Gritty. Gnarly. It's a soundscape of hallucinogenics and emotional mastery. For a band to be able to take you that deep, whether you are on drugs or not, is a spectacle to behold. So go forth ye dedicated listener, and be entranced by this 46 Days - and stayed tuned as it melts into a sublime Simple. Simple sways into a breezy, soft jam that is absolutely worth a single listen, although you need not revisit it. Nonetheless, a -> My Friend My Friend punctuates the rhythmic beauty of Simple and adds a splash of raging gusto in the middle of set 2. Limb by Limb steps up to the plate, and delivers a momentum gaining performance on the heels of the raging gusto of MFMF. This LxL really swoops and swirls and surrounds the venue with mesmerizing playing from Trey. I am particularly fond of this version as it really brings some great creative energy.

I will let my bias do the review for the next song: Thunderhead. I f***ing love Thunderhead. I love all Thunderheads. To me, if I were inside of a puffy white cloud, it would sound like Thunderhead. It would sound like bouncing on a plush mattress in the heavens. This one is that... and to quote Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there." PLAY THUNDERHEAD MORE DAMN IT! Antelope is scorching hot faux-closer that delivers the same extra-oomph that we saw in Chalk Dust, Gin, 46 Days, and LxL. I would not skip over this version. Cavern adds a couple more exclamation points to a really solid show. And Mexican Cousin sends us out somewhat bewildered (at the time it wasn't the cult-favorite as it is today) but hey, Phish is weird and does weird shit like that.

Must-hear jams: Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, 46 Days, Thunderhead
Should-listen-to-jams: Back on the Train, Water in the Sky, Simple, Limb by Limb


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