, attached to 2003-02-24

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo I really knew nothing about this show going into it Saturday afternoon. I'd say with certainty I hadn't listened to a lick of this show in, at least, the last 5-6 years. For better or for worse, it makes the show very interesting to listen to with a blank mind and without anticipating highlights or lowlights.

The earth shaking openers continues with a 15 minute Down with Disease. The second extended set 1 DWD in 3 shows, you could feel that Phish was really locked into a comfortable groove with placing a heavy jam vehicle, specifically this one, early in the set in order to kick start free flowing improvisation that is permeates every show of 2003. This Disease didn't hit the level of 2.21, but it did break into "standard Winter 03 type-2." If you have been following along with these writeups, I do believe this is the first time I have used "type 2" to describe a jam... this is because nearly every extended jam goes "type 2" territory in 2003 - very few stay with the chord/key framework of the original song. This DWD however, although extended, stays relatively benign: quintessential muted-2003 Trey nimble-picking over a vastly textured three-piece soundscape How ironic and entitled this must sound. A 15-minute show opener type 2 Down with Disease and here I am harrumphing about it. If I was there, I know I would have been geeking out. But upon replay value, there just isn't much there... but really, it is a good jam. Okay enough of that. Moving along. The bustout trend continues with a heartfelt and fluttery Corinna. Super pretty and fulfilling, this opening salvo of DWD, Corinna in its feel and tone speaks to the heart, rather than the mind or soul. A standard, rock/funk Wofman's comes next and delivers as DWD did - interesting but not mind blowing but still a lot of fun. Limb by Limb comes in next and is really the all star of the first set. The band hits a Trey-led, ferocious peak about halfway through. Dizzying to say the least, Phish unleashed a hurricane of music during this LXL. Inspired, volcanic playing dissolves into a meadow of free flowing spacetime. Like water over a flood plain, the jam spreads out, slows down, and drifts placidly through the fields of our minds. It never returns to the LXL theme, it simply absorbs into its surroundings and humbly ends. Great stuff. 23 minutes, 18 minutes, 12 minutes. Normally you'd see that to end a set and say "HOLY CHEESEY POOFS LETS SMOKE A BOWL AND LISTEN TO PHISH CRUSH THESE JAMS AND ORDER SPACE PIZZA!!! ZOMG!!!" Well. Yes, normally. But not this time. Personally, I like my Phish a la carte. The bluesy/jazzy/ragtimey-ish jam sessions with BB King just didn't do it for me. The music isn't bad, no way, but it is rather repetitive and monotonous. This speaks to two things: 1)That Phish as a band and as individual musicians are head, shoulders, knees and toes above anyone else. No one can touch them. Period. 2) That Phish's live show need not be "produced," or have gimmicks, or special guests, or whathaveyou, to maintain their popularity and audience appeal. We are SO LUCKY to have these indescribably skilled musicians playing for us. But thanks to BB King, I was able to wash our floors, clean the countertops, clean the bathroom, start a load of laundry and make a grilled cheese sandwich - none of these are metaphors by the way.

Set 2 kicks off with a crowd-pleasing, first-of-tour Halley's Comet. Ahhh, now this is what I am talking about. Wasting no time, you could HEAR that the band was going to jam this one out. It saunters out of the chorus and into a drippy little groove. Equal parts minimalist funk + space groove + quintessential 2003 type 2 (there it is again, damn it), this jam really elevates and cruises along. It dips into what I was CERTAIN was going to be a -> I am Hydrogen. I mean, given the standalone verions of Mike's Song and Weekapaug, why NOT have a standalone Hydrogen!? (author's aside: I have been wanting a standalone I am Hydrogen for as long as I've been seeing Phish. Please guys, come on.) Sooo close. They break out of the Hydrogen jam and right into... an NICU jam??? Yup. Call it teases or just messing around, Phish fiddles with NICU for a brief couple measures before powering down and mashing up with Harry Hood. Harry Hood second song second set?! YES PLEASE! This Hood is straight forward fire. No nonsense, no noodling around, this Hood hits a TREMENDOUSLY CELEBRATORY peak. I was completely surprised by this Hood in the best way imaginable. It is an ass-kicker! After the peak it winds down and drifts really appropriately into Heavy Things. It just fit. I dunno why. But it worked. Heavy Things had some especially playful work from Fishman and Trey was operating on Happiness Level 4: Bob Ross. Great stuff here, especially on the coattails of a seismic Hood. The band catches it breath before taking on Twist. This version, although clocking in at 18 minutes, is forgettable. Murky and opaque, the band dives into dark dissonance for a majority of the jam - what most people refer to as "oxy jamming." Sigh. They forge back into the Twist theme and crash land rather awkwardly. All of these Dreams gives us all a "reset" and we are ready for more with a late set Waves. Waves is well played, nothing too fancy, nothing mind blowing, but a super good, happy pick-me-up after the puzzling, demented Twist, AOTD combo. Sample had me thinking "End of Set" but it led into Chalk Dust, hooray!!! Chalk Dust though, featured way too much wankery from Trey. It seemed like it was headed to the top of Mount St Helens in an attempt to reignite an eruption, but it only got about halfway there before Trey was like, "Nah were gonna change routes, and go this way, no this way, no this way... nah I'm just gonna play a lot of notes. Okay we're done now." Weird. Farmhouse encore did nothing to save the show. All and all, an odd show. One standalone sequence which was INCREDIBLE but lots of medium-to-forgettable playing. Can't win em all, especially with a tour as hot as this one.


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