, attached to 2003-08-02

Review by FunkyCFunkyDo

FunkyCFunkyDo What better way to the weekend started than AC/DC Bag. Purposefully placed, the "Let's get this show on the road line" drew a true volcanic eruption from the crowd. The jam lifted into a frenzied, inspired peak. A great WHAMMO! to start the show! Ahh Ya Mar. Those opening licks are the sound of sunshine. Please hand me a Mai Tai with an umbrella and allow me to remove my pants. Wait. Ok the pants stay on. This time. The breezy cover is the perfect song to follow up AC/DC Bag in this daytime set. Assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME (did I do that right? ... no). To assume this would be a normal, breezy Ya Mar to easy us int the weekend would be a fair and I'd say, popular assumption. Ha! How silly we are. We fans are as about as good at predicting Phish as the Cleveland Browns are at winning football games (don't act like it's not true). This Ya Mar is absolutely fantastic. A 5-tiered jam that jumps instantaneously into type-2 within seconds of the chorus winding down, this Ya Mar morphs from woodblock-driven darkness (ironic in the daytime set) into an almost EDM sounding, pulsing groove, into a high-flying Trey-led burst, into a Mike-anchored, thumping wind-down. and slides right into Runaway Jim... SAFE! Jim keeps the popping grooves rolling with a standard-great, rocking version. Right away, three songs in, one could tell that IT was it. IT was the place to be. This Ya Mar, I cannot say enough, how complete, strong, organic, and wildly original and improvisational this version is. Reba drops in next (after Jim) and holy cow, what a start! If you are cheating and looking ahead, you will see this Reba has extraordinary length (hehe... that's what she said). However, this Reba jam kinda drifts along, unable to find an identity. It is not entirely blissful as it dips into some typical-2003-quasi-darkness (yet not scary darkness), it doesn't quite soar like we are accustomed to hearing (but it is not stagnant) and it doesn't peak. So, it is hard Reba to really be able to enjoy, for me at least, because it doesn't have the "typical" Reba markings. Still, am I disappointed with a 16+ minute Reba? No way. Birds of a Feather picks up where Ya Mar left off. A careening, ferocious jam breaks out of BOAF proper and into a somewhat dissonant, yet cohesive, firing jam. It loses some muster in the middle portion before rocketing skyward in a climaxing, exciting finish! Wow! This thing has energy! One of the most impressive BOAF I have listened to, this thing is a monster of type 1.5 style jamming. Not fully out of the box, but one foot is definitely over the line. A Meatstick chant inspires Trey to "honor your request" because Phish is cool and loves us like seriously big time. Standard Meatstick goofiness was just what the doctor ordered to allow our shoes to cool to responsible temperature - as excessive dancing is a fire hazard punishable by nominal community service in the state of Vermont. Two Versions of Me comes in next and although I don't particularly care for the song itself, it's kinda whiny, the mini jam is pretty enough and fluttery enough to regain my attention. A standard, pretty-well-executed Vultures gives the set a much-needed dose of "Ohhh reallllly? Vultures in the first set of the festival eh? I like where this is going," as the set, as a unit, is clearly unstoppable. Speaking of which, an incendiary (Hey, I'm incendiary too man) Limb By Limb explodes with energy and gusto. Trey really kicks ass in this version - 2003 was really good to Limb By Limb - and we can see Trey sink his teeth into this extended version while Fishman, good god, morphs into an octopus for these 11-minutes of mayhem. Cavern is an bold exclamation point to a set filled with exclamation points and bold-faced type. That was not one of my better analogies... Tom Robbins would be ashamed.

Set starts off with a ferocious Down with Disease. I don't know how long the setbreak was, but you can feel the energy streaming through the band and crowd alike. They. Mean. Business. Had I been there, there is no doubt I would have 1) Been incarcerated and 2) Broken out of jail, both because of my dance moves as this DWD got rolling. Th monster slays from the get go. The first seven minutes feature wave after wave of Trey swells breaking over the crowd. Awash in fury, the band slinks into a drippy, secret-agent-y jam that is equal parts giggle-Phish (you know, when the jam gets so slinky and dirty you just kinda giggle to yourself at how awesome it is) and equals parts psychedelic-Phish (you know, when the jam gets so slinky and dirty you just kinda stare out into the distance wondering if 2 hours or 2 minutes has passed). DWD fades out and NICU fades in. A fun crowd-pleaser, this NICU actually features some really good Mike work. Hammering at the bass, the jam never swing back into NICU, instead, it segues almost perfectly into Brother! I had been 100% unfamiliar with this segue, and somewhere on .net there is a "greatest segue thread" and I do believe this NICU -> Brother deserves a mention. Super good stuff. Brother absolutely rips. Honestly, not much else can be said. It's a straight up rocker. Lawn Boy was perfectly placed, a la Meatstick in the first set, for some much needed fire-extinguishing and breath-catching. Discern... hmm... well, I kinda like the song portion of the song... and I kinda dislike the jam portion of the song. The song is pretty and soft, very Round Room-y... but the jam is disjointed and lost. Not the biggest fan of this placement. Then, Waves. I am sure just about 98% of you have heard this Waves, and for good reason. I hadn't listened to this Waves in quite some time. Years probably. So I was quite excited when it started after Discern came to a full-stop. At this point, it was late Saturday night, Mrs Funky was in the bedroom reading, and I was pantless in the living room on my 3rd margarita of the evening. Needless to say, I was ready. The Waves itself (as in, before the weeeeirrrrrddddness happens) was really fantastic. Waves, one of my all-time favorite Phish songs, rarely misses, but sometimes it does indeed miss - becoming too dissonant and not fluid in its jamming. This version is not one of those misses. It is a direct hit, even before the final 10 minutes. It soars and climbs! Rides barrels of warmth and gets dropped into a spray of sunshine. A truly fantastic version of Waves. But then ... then it gets scary. A 20-minute version that is split in half, the second 10 minutes are as deep, heavy, and terrifying as Phish gets. No words of mine can relate what this jam sounds like. It is something you must experience by yourself, in a dark room, with no other distractions. The one mental image that sticks with me from this Waves is from the IT DVD. During the terror-portion of the jam, the camera pans over the crowd, as in directly overhead, as the crowd is awash in light. There is one guy in particular amidst the crowd of motionless souls, who is standing with his hands clasped behind his head in a very obvious, very anxious pose. You just might find yourself doing that, and that's perfectly okay. The jam settles back to Earth, thankfully, as there were moments, even in my living room, where I had thought 15-20-25 minutes had passed and I was like, "Man I do NOT remember it going on this long." It one of *those* kind of jams. The Bowie high-hat starts and all is well. Thank god. A song. ANY SONG! Just get me outta that abyss! Bowie is a smoke-show. I mean it really, really hits. Phish is on fire from start to finish, and all throughout, this Bowie. Ending with peak after peak, each one completely, flawlessly nailed, this Bowie for me at least, is the best of 2.0 (granted there is not a big sample size, but this one is IT!). The set felt like it was two sets... that DWD > NICU combo seemed like it was ages ago. That's what we want out of Phish, time-travel. And that's exactly what we got.

Rock and Roll opened set three with the same energy that DWD opened set 2. They sprinted out of the break and follow the same 7-minutes-of-rage pattern before slipping into a sexy, sassy, oh-so-playful groove that made me shake my funky bad self so funkily that it wouldn't have warranted a single look from James Brown, although he would have scoffed when he heard about it. That's how good I was dancing. James Brown would have scoffed. Wow. Anyways, the Rock and Roll jam is yet another one of these "giggle-Phish" anthems that is non-stop energy and playfulness. I really love this jam. It slinks right into Seven Below in the first of many, purely sexy segues that tied the entire set together as one, non-stop piece of music. Seven Below, for me, fell just a little flat. I went back and reslitened on Sunday to figure out what I wasn't so impressed with and I can't quite put my finger on it. I like Seven Below as a song, and I like the jams it usually delves into, and I love the flow of the set (at IT)... but this one never really registered for me... yet I don't have a reason to back that up... you might really enjoy it! Nonetheless, the jams breaks down and sashays confidently into the TRUE INTRO of Scents and Subtle Sounds. Oh how I love MIke's bassline in the intro. It reminds me of spelunking, though I have never been. Good story, Funky. Ahem. The Scents jam swoops into the darkness of the night with understated energy but focused playing. It follows a similar structure to the Rock and Roll, but replaces some of the playfulness with some more trippiness. The jam swings right back into Seven Below proper for a couple measures before jamming right back out of it, eventually (crash) landing into Spread it Round. Even though I say (crash) landing, the segue is indeed executed pretty well... even though it is very, very unexpected. Spread it Round is like Sparkle that goes on for 4 minutes too long. Not really a fan of this placement. Bug is a note-perfect closer to the show. Heartfelt, passionate, and positive, this version envelopes us in warmth and love, even though it doesn't matter. It's a fantastic version. Normally I don't save much writing for encores, but when those opening bass note of Dog Log came through my speakers I let out an audible, "OH SHIT!" I had completely forgotten this was played (I was anticipating Mango Song). So I can only imagine how rad it must have been to been there in attendance when Dog Log rumbles through the PA system. I freakin love this song, and it was played as I would want to hear it. A very cool treat. Mango Song starts immediately after Dog Log ends and is a really, really tight, fresh, great version. This Dog Log/Mango pairing might be one of my favorite encores of all time. It works really, really well!

So there you have it! Three sets, each set containing at least 2 all-time caliber jams, and all-time caliber flow. And we still have three. wait, FOUR sets to go!

Must-hear jams: Ya Mar, Birds of a Feather, Down with Disease, Waves, David Bowie, Rock and Roll, Dog Log/Mango Song (just bc it's so cool in the encore)
Probably-should-listen-to jams: Limb by Limb, NICU -> Brother, Scents and Subtle Sounds


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