The Return of Phish 2.0

It was on this weekend six years ago that Phish re-established themselves in the post-hiatus era.  As much of the Phish community flocked to Las Vegas for two nights at the beginning of the band’s winter comeback tour, many fans held lingering questions in their mind.  The Hampton shows left a bland flavor in mouths of most fans, and aside from those who saw the “Walls > Carini” at the LA Forum on Valentine’s Day, many wondered when, and if, Phish would regain their explosiveness.  Any unclarity was wiped away over the course of two demonstrative shows in which Phish musically exclaimed their return.

image-808998a843c311d7There was nothing like another spectacular weekend in Vegas for Phish to regain the confidence of their fan base. (Ironically, it would be a weekend in the same room about a year later that signaled the band’s imminent demise.)  Returning to the Thomas and Mack Center, the site of so many special nights, the band played with a creative dynamic and that sense of urgency that was so blatantly lacking in their four-night reverse New Years Run.  Weaving together lively sets all weekend long, Phish highlighted songs past and present, culminating with the much-loved second set of the 2.16.03 show; no set of the weekend better exemplified the meshing of the old and the new.  The opening segment of “Disease > Seven Below > Disease” popped with intensity while the band’s playing remained incredibly intricate.  With remarkable improv and seamless segues, this was one of the first big highlights of 2003, a year that would resurrect Phish and bring us all back to those mystery-laden adventures of yesteryear.

powerYet, what also emerged from this Vegas weekend was a new direction in the band’s sound and playing.  Not as squarely focused on groove as in the late-90’s, the band still anchored their playing in dance rhythms- though with far more texture and effect- creating a “space-like” quality to the music.  This new direction would be typified by such legendary Winter ’03 jams as the Cincy Gin (2.22), the Chicago and Nassau Tweezers (2.20 & 2.28), and the Worcester Ghost (2.26).  This style of dissonant-space-groove became magnified as the tour and year moved on, taking Phish’s jams to new and different places than ever before.

image-ba5346c0449611d7The colossal “Piper” that came later in 2.16’s second set also foreshadowed a post-hiatus trend; that of huge “Piper” jams.  On this night, the song would fly off the handle for 22 minutes, something that became the norm throughout the year as it produced continuous highlights.  Including musical references to the set’s “Seven Below” and a full “Disease Reprise,” this “Piper” soared in a new direction for the song- a launch pad for adrenalized, full-on improvisational adventures.  Like this Vegas version, every time “Piper” appeared in ’03, jaw-dropping  jams materialized.  A full-speed canvas that the band collectively shredded to bits, “Piper” became one of the best developments of ’03, fully realizing a transformation that began as the band wound down in 2000.

While the most impressive playing came within the weekend’s final set, the others shone as well.  2.15’s “Waves > Bug,” highlighted the Round Room composition for the first time since the comeback show, and the “Ghost” that followed absolutely smoked. (Potentially in response to a banner that hung from the second level image-ba5300d6449611d71proclaiming it had been 871 days since the previous version.)  The first set boasted hot versions of “Reba” and “Antelope,” while 2.16’s first set opened with a ferocious “Bowie > Catapult > Bowie,” and brought some amorphous new-school improv with the second “Round Room” ever.

This Vegas weekend back in ’03 was cause for universal celebration in the Phish scene, as they were finally back.  Both inspirational and playful again, the Phishy vibe had returned in a city where it had thrived for years.  These nights were the first building block for Phish 2.0, in a year that saw their playing evolve, exploring a plethora of new ideas.  This was the first step (well, second and third) down a path that would culminate in Miami’s magnificent New Years’s Run.

All photos from Vegas ’03



Over at, they are running a Hampton opener contest!  If you guess correctly, and we all know we have the right answer, you have a chance to win summer tickets. The top prize is one ticket to The Fox if you are the only person to guess the answer correctly!  Give it a shot; why not?  Details are on the site.



hampton_outsideFor those of you who won’t nearly be done with your night when the encore ends, there are Phish after-parties scheduled in the surrounding Hampton area each night.  If you are arriving on the 5th, the night before the shows begin, The Disco Biscuits will be passing through Norfolk on their winter tour.  After Friday’s Phish show, Bassnectar and Orchard Lounge will take The Norva Theatre’s stage starting at midnight.  Following both Saturday and Sunday’s shows, Steve Kimock and Friends will be playing late-night gigs at The Norva as well.  In addition, after Sunday’s show, UK psychedelic dub maestro, OTT, will be headlining a down-tempo electronica party at The Omni in Newport News.  Click on artists below to buy tickets now!

3.5 The Disco Biscuits @ The Norva, Norfolk, VA (Pre-Phish)

3.6 Bassnectar, EOTO, Orchard Lounge @ The Norva

3.7 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Ott, Bluetech, Telepath @ The Omni, Newport News VA



10.26.96 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC < LINK

1996-10-26gnA show that has always been overshadowed by the Halloween hubbub in Atlanta just a few days later, this stop in Charlotte had plenty to offer. With a second set filled with feel-good Phish anthems, the band took the most improvisational liberty with “YEM,” “Simple” and “Antelope.”  This night had an upbeat feel from the beginning, and was a solid effort amidst a relatively generic east coast run to begin Fall ’96.

I: Julius, Cars Trucks Buses, Wolfman’s Brother, Reba, Train Song, Character Zero, It’s Ice, Theme From the Bottom, Sample in a Jar

II: Down With Disease, You Enjoy Myself, Sparkle, Simple, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Waste, Run Like An Antelope

E: Fire

81 Responses to “The Return of Phish 2.0”

  1. PHIS AFTER PARTY…..BLVD, Megasoid & Pretty Lights will be playing post-Phish Friday night 3/6 at the Tribeca Nightclub in the Omni Hotel. The venue is 6 miles from Hampton and a beautiful club. Ana Sia & Danny Corn are also on the bill performing as 3WS along with TonyInOrbit. This event is being put on by San Fran based Symbiosis Events, ArtNowSF and The Beat Register…all well accustomed to throwing raging dance parties.
    3 day passes are available.

  2. Yeah I wouldn’t call it dope…..
    but still it’s hard to imagine “hating” a Phish show……. I don’t think I’m capable. Maybe I just like golden showers.

    good point on the Soul Shakedown opener, that was great.

  3. The Mad Hatter Says:

    Just completed a trade via the Phishthoughts ticket exchange. My Knox for his Burgettstown. Thank you Mr. Miner.

  4. Been trying to find a 2/26/03 AUD for a while now. Haven’t heard it in ages.

  5. Miner, I’m still getting no love on the DC show. Is it just me?

    I’ve tried diff browsers too.

  6. Like I said…to each his own. I know I had a blast at those three shows, and I felt like they were good shows musically, even/especially for 2004. Buried Alive, Soul Shakedown, Twist, Camel Walk, I thought the Slave was great, Gumbo! for cryin’ out loud. I’ll agree that not having Kuroda there left a lot to be desired, and I do remember Trey being really hoarse on night one, but that seemed to be gone by night two. I’m gonna see if I can find my soundboards and go back and try to listen objectively to these three shows, to get a sense of where y’all are coming from. I guess I was just taken aback at the idea that the whole run was a total miss.

  7. hairy pood Says:

    ^^ Matso, way up the board- the publishing rights theory makes perfect sense. when the dead released anthem of the sun in 68, they published “That’s it for the Other One” as a four part suite for two royalty-related reasons:
    1) They actually needed the money (Bear Owsley was supporting them at the time), so receiving 4x the royalties was a reat idea. (A set royalty payment per original song is standard in the music industry).
    2)Seperate parts were written by different members of the band, so by publishing seperately, they ensured that each composer/writer would receive royalties for their contribution(s). THis is similar to the idea that Phish labels jams out of Anastasio/Marshall tunes as _____ Jam, because they are ensuring that each band member receives royalties for their own compositional contributions.

    “That’s It for the Other One” – 7:46:

    * “Cryptical Envelopment” (Garcia)
    * “Quadlibet for Tenderfeet” (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)
    * “The Faster We Go, The Rounder We Get” (Kreutzmann, Weir)
    * “We Leave the Castle” (Constanten)

  8. hairy pood Says:

    ^Asher: Burgettstown 03, parts of IT, Albany 03, SPAC 04 (both nights) ,
    Deer Creek 04 (2nd night)

  9. Mutha_Ohks Says:

    hairy pood is dead on with those shows^. Deer Creek ’04 2nd night was some of the most fun i’ve ever had at a show. It wasn’t the best i’ve seen musically- but the weather, vibe, people and music combined for what I have described as the most fun I’ve ever had at phish.

  10. ^Asher- my .02 for post hiatus shows off the top of my head…

    2.28.03 Nassau (!)
    2.22.03 Cincy
    2.26.03 Worcester

    7.9.03 Shoreline
    7.15.03 Utah
    7.18 Alpine II
    7.25.03 Charlotte II (!)
    7.29.03 Star Lake
    7.30.03 (!)
    IT (!)
    12.28.03 Miami
    12.30.03 Miami

    SPAC 6.19 & 6.20.04
    Alpine first night 04

    guess that’s more like .25 cents…

    @Mitch- Yeah, not sure. Many others seem to have downloaded it today…I will double check. Reup potentially…

  11. hairy pood Says:

    Wow mutha- “what I’ve described as the most fun I’ve ever had at phish.” Thats how I describe it too. What was the post- show music? I remember evryone started leaving after the encore, and about 100 people around me were kind of in shock. we all sat down on the grass for 10-15 min, then just boogied to the house music for EVER! it was amazing. We kept it up in the campground with Dancin in the Streets from Cornell, spinning in all our friends arms. A night I will never forget.

    i guess worcester and miami were two i would’ve included too. first night alpine 04 was great, as well, but it didn’t come close to the night before, for me. still was a great show. i remember raging so hard to bowie, wolfman’s, golgi, and the second set was money for sure. Miami nights 1 & 3 were off the hook. After night one we went out to the beach and rolled around in the surf all night. reminds me of the scene in fear in loathing- “then we ate some mescaline, and went swimming.”
    Late night miami monorail rides can be rather intense, too.

  12. hate is a strong word. i’ll agree. how about disappointed?

  13. Threads like this are why i love your site, Miner. Y’all are the greatest.

  14. completely agree–Vegas ’03 was some great playing and really showed a new direction that seemed to fade after the summer.

    it was awesome to get a few extra free days in sin city too after that snow storm shut down the east coast…boss still didn’t want to believe I was “snowed in” in Vegas

    and Mr Miner–thank you for the time and effort you put in here, it is a highlight to my day every time you have a new post up and some great links to shows I don’t have. Keep it up–we should all buy you a beer in Hampton : )

  15. Mr. Miner & Hairy Pood
    Thanks for the suggestions! I can’t wait to get listening.

  16. Yes disappointed is more like it. Actually, I was disappointed by Phish once…. Hampton ’04. That was my fifth show. I had a pretty good time since it was the first time I dropped L at a Phish show but the whole drive back to NY the guys I rode with (Like 200+ deep each) were bitching incessantly about how Phish had never let them down like that before. I wasn’t sure if the drugs erased my memory of the show or there just weren’t any memorable moments. Looking back on it I just remember that it was my first Gin. Pretty rough show, way worse than any of those Vegas show IMO.

  17. Is it easy to sneak into the seated section at Alpine? Also anyone think a ride from DC will be hard? I don’t.

  18. Yes from what I remember sneaking into a section at Alpine is hard, unless it’s the side section, but towards the middle, no way. I have never seen Phish there, just Dead 87 and 88, and I remember there was open seat 6th row on the aisle, and I got to hang there for four songs, then got the boot. Never had seen Jer so close. If you do sneak down, go solo, and please be mellow-not to preach. As a kid, I’m not a sneaker, I snuck in myself as I said, so I guess now I’m an old man, I can’t preach.

    I am psyched to see Phish there as I have not been there since Dead 88. Plus we have a-3 both nights. Ahhhhh nice. :<) It was going to be my first real bite of Phish until a Phriendly call on Saturday. Hampton. I’m just so pumped to go that show sober as a judge and get the biggest contact high of my life when they take said stage Friday.

  19. PS Miner no 2nd night Gorge 03 on the list??? That was a great night as the music ebbed and flowed. I remember a poor kid bumming out, and we gave him water, and talked him quietly back into good vibes. Made me feel good to pull a stranger out of a bad trip. Especially after a spooky night one 2003 at the Gorge for me.

    Speaking of, where are those Shoreline Gorge dates yo. Need to book with flights being cheap, also since I have not spent a penny yet on Phish tix (All gifts from friends so far), I am armed.

  20. @Jphishman- That Hampton 04 show is WAY underrated! The first set smokes, and the Stash > Seven Below does to. IMO, this way better than those 04 Vegas shows..

  21. No Langudadoc? what are we gonna do?

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