Phish at Nassau
11.28.03 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Set I (1:20): Bouncing Around the Room, Runaway Jim, Ghost > What's the Use, AC/DC Bag, First Tube, Frankie Says, Bathtub Gin > Free
Set II (1:25): Waves > Sample in a Jar > Down With Disease, Walls of the Cave, Two Versions of Me, Crowd Control (new song, first time played), Mike's Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove
Encore (0:08): Crimes of the Mind (with the Dude of Life)
Phish is back to celebrate their 20th anniversary. After seeing a dozen bands in the last two months, I have come to the conclusion that Phish pretty much blows almost every other band I’ve seen this year out of the fuckin’ water. Sure they have not played a gig in over four months, and they were a little sloppy, but they still kicked ass. I prefer indoor arena shows to outdoor gigs and amphitheaters because the sound quality is generally much better, and Chris Kuroda’s lights are more fun to watch. The crowd was rowdy and there was plenty of energy, despite the fact it poured most of the time before the show and sent thousands of kids wandering around Shakedown and the parking lots to head inside to keep dry.
Set 1: 7:48 pm… I was surprised that Phish started before 8 pm! The boys opened up with Bouncin and it’s one of my least favorite Phish songs. I normally would have bailed to take a piss, but since they just started the show, I decided to puff down instead. The played Bouncin at the last Nassau show and was surprised to hear it again. Runaway Jim was next and that made up for the cheesy, crowd pleaser opening song. Jim was a little sloppy, but it was great to hear Phish again play with a high volume of intensity. I heard Mike strum a few bass notes and I knew Ghost was next. The jam out was insane and Trey was being his rock star self and going off all over the place during that jam. They broke it down and segued into What’s the Use, a rare song off the Siket Disc. I have heard that several times, and either I dig it, or I don’t. It was well played, but I was not in the mood for it, so again, I puffed down. I was awaiting a high energy song, and they broke out AC/DC Bag, a Phish song I have been hearing for well over a decade, and definitely a Pauly & Senor classic. First Tube was next, a song that Bruce Cohen wanted to hear. I was hoping for a Tube, but First Tube was not too shabby. The crowd seemed to enjoy Trey jumping up and down. Of course, they slowed things down with Frankie Sez, a song they don’t play too much, but it’s one of Molly’s favorite tunes. Up until that point, I thought the crowd was excellent, the playing was sloppy, but solid, however, the song selection was questionable. Just when I started to think they were letting me down, they busted out Bathtub Gin, and yeah, the crowd went ape shit. Page’s intro solo was delicious and that was the highlight of set one. After a long, drawn out funky jam (which I thought would end the set) they broke right out into Free. I guess everyone in the crowd wanted to hear that song, because everyone swelled with a feisty spirit, when Trey slid right into the first few notes of Free. They closed the set after an hour and twenty minutes and just when they started ripping, they took a break! The first set was all Trey, but Mike stepped up on Ghost and AC/DC Bag.
Set 2: 9:51 pm... I should have figured Waves would have been the opener. It’s one of my favorite new Phish songs and it’s a perfect song to start the second set. Trey noodled quite a bit but I liked the version anyway. They segued into Sample in a Jar, again that was a crowd pleaser song, that I thoroughly enjoyed, while everyone eagerly sang along. Then Mike dropped the bomb. They jumped right into a sizzling Down with Disease and Mike took over. It was hard and heavy and I might have reached the peak of my insobriety at that point. Next up was Walls of the Cave and I’m always a fan of Page piano solos. The intro on Walls to the Cave is spectacular and I wished that Page got more chances to show off his chops. Walls was solid and although I heard it a lot last Winter and this Summer tour, I still dig the jam out, when it starts to take on a Velvet Underground-like riffs. They played a sort of new song, something they played this summer called: Two Versions of Me. I saw it at IT, at Alpine Valley and at the Gorge on 7.12 when it was played for the first time. I like the lyrics: "Too busy to see, two versions of me", and it’s a slow song that I enjoy. Next up, Trey spoke to the crowd. He said that he wanted to play a brand new song. I thought it was called Changes, but PhantasyPhish said it was called Crowd Control. It was a "happy Phish song" and it was kinda catchy. I think most of you will like it, especially Boo! I was indifferent and I was wondering what they would play next. Trey said something like "We’re going to play something that Mike likes. How about… ‘His' Song?" And yeah, the crowd went nuts because we all knew they were about to break out Mike’s Song! The guy next to me was named Mike and he seriously wanted to hear it. During the first set I told him that I had a feeling about Mike’s Song, and for his sake, I hoped they played it! And yes, at 10:57 to 11:08, I witnessed the best eleven minutes of live music, shit… the best eleven minutes of Phish all year! I’ll go out on a limb and challenge anyone to present a tighter, insane, sick, live moment like that, and Phish would demolish that attempt in a heartbeat. That was how good they played. Better than good... excellent, superb, ball crunching, you name it. I dunno what the fuck happened. But I was moved! I recalled a similar "moment" happening in Japan on a few occasions (in the middle of Ghost during Osaka 6.15.00, I was completely in the moment and Phish never sounded better!) I really cannot explain it, but if you go to enough live shows, you can tell when the musicians take their ability to a higher level than they were playing. When professional athletes get hot and play well past their ability, they are referred to as being "in the zone". Well Phish was in the zone for those eleven minutes, and I could not recall a better spurt of Phish in a very long time. I had my "moment" and that’s why I go see so many Phish shows, because you never know what they’ll do and how they’ll get inside my head. The only downside is that sometimes Phish could play for months without hitting a peak like that again. I hope to catch one or two more moments like this tour, but if I don’t I still walked away with an epic Phish memory. Mike’s Song at Nassau in 2003. One of the best versions... ever? Fucking A! I forgot to mention that they played Hydrogen into Weekapaug Groove. The crowd dug Weekapaug and I knew it was the end of the set. I was surprised because at that point, Phish already played for almost ninety minutes! After the encore, three hours of total Phish seeped its way into my ears. Despite the shitty weather, I was not disappointed, rather I was excited and anxious to see three more shows. I’m still perplexed because I have no idea what kinda of crazy shit they boys will pull out in Boston for their 20th Anniversary show! That is just three days away, and I’m trying not to lose sight of the next two shows! The Dude of Life came out, sang, while Phish played a nice version of Crimes of the Mind. Wow, twenty years of Phish. Pretty cool stuff.
Afterthoughts: The best thing about Phish concerts, are Phishy chicks (the cute, clean ones). Man, do I love them! I went with Bruce Cohen (his fifth show) and his buddy Jeff who has seen the Grateful Dead well over 250 times. It was only his second show (he caught them last year at Nassau). He seemed to enjoy Bathtub Gin ad Free, which was the highlight of the first set. He said one of the funniest things to me that I ever heard at a Phish show. "How the hell are some of these kids so dirty? They’re not old enough to get that dirty." He was referring to the collection of kids I refer to as "crusties" or as some other Phisheads like to call them, "wookies". At one point I was sitting next to a couple of kids (two girls & two guys) from the North Shore of Long Island. They were all sixteen. One of the guys asked me to by him and his girlfriend beers at setbreak. They insisted that they weren’t driving, so I did a good deed and bought them some beers. They were super happy and loved me the rest of the night. It was funny because I saw my first Grateful Dead show before they were born. Am I getting old? Geez. They were two when I saw my first Phish show (10.26.89). I know what you are thinking, and get your mind out of the gutter!! I would never pick up a sixteen-year old Phishy chick at a show. They have rules and laws against that sort of behavior (thank goodness). Next up… Philly! Tube to open??