Thank you to the 100 golfers who came together on September 2 at Willis Case Golf Course in Denver in support of our mission. We’re still crunching numbers, but have already raised over $6,000 through the event to continue our support of music education programs across the country.
I've had a bad habit of posting results 9 months or so later, but this time... we've got tournament results, prize summaries, sponsor thanks, some photos of the event, and a hidden lyrics puzzle - all below the fold...
The Mockingbird Foundation is all about music education, and the volunteers behind it adore concerts, so we love when we can support the combination of the two. We're proud to announce that we have donated $20,000 to the Lebanon Opera House in Lebanon, New Hampshire, to bring teachers-by-day and musicians-by-night The String Queens to the venue for a residency in April 2024 as part of the LOH's coming Centennial Celebration.
During this residency, The String Queens will not only put on a slate of shows for the community, but also host a youth education series to demonstrate how diverse string music can be and offer one-on-one lessons to participants. We'll share more about the series as the event draws closer, but to find out more information, visit the Lebanon Opera House's social media pages.
We are only able to achieve this through your continued support. If you haven't donated recently, we hope that you'll consider doing so - at mbird.org/donate or via the "donate" button at the bottom of any page on Phish.net or at the top right of any page at mbird.org.
When Jimmy Buffett recorded Phish’s “Gumbo” 23 years ago, it was one of many incredibly generous things he did, to the surprise of some. Generous, because it was for the Mockingbird Foundation’s two-disc tribute album Sharin’ in the Groove, which continues to raise funds for music education through scores of streaming services (from Amazon to Spotify and beyond) to this day. Incredible, because he spent an entire week in an Atlanta studio with the full Coral Reefers band, all on his own dime, recording the one Phish song that mentions a parrot. (Jimmy also has his own song about gumbo, as well as a song about a lizard.) Surprising, because some in the “music industry” continue to be stupefied that he did it at all.
Jimmy was extremely charitable, helping to start three nonprofits serving different needs. But he was apparently known for declining charitable performance invitations. He did his own things, and enjoyed his own spaces, and he gave plenty through other means. But his performances were understood to be for Parrotheads, or perhaps for profit (at least up front), not directly for philanthropy. “How’d you get him?” many who would know have inquired. The short answer is, I just asked. The longer answer involves that Jimmy and his people were instrumental in the creation of the Mockingbird Foundation, in ways few know and appreciate, providing helping hands both before and after Jimmy recorded what became our track #2.
I've been remiss to post results of the 7th Annual Runaway Open from 2022, but since the 8th Annual is less than 3 weeks away - Sat. Sept 2nd at Willis Case in Denver - it seems well past time...
Last year, we had 120 plays (plus 18 additional donors, and a great slate of sponsors!) and gorgeous weather. Foursomes names have changed each year - sponsors, Phish characters, songs, etc. - and were named for venues in 2022. The top foursome was Gallagher's (Gronli, Stoleson, McCumsey, and Hunt); 2nd place was Red Rocks (Zabka, Zabka, Stone-Zabka, and Ratiff); and 3rd was Saratoga (Patrick Donnely's foursome; sorry we were never sent the other 3 names). The top golfer was David Hunt, and two of Donnely's foursome tied for 2nd place.
Player photos from the event last year are below the fold...
Daniel Montesinos-Tubee is half Dutch, half Peruvian, and lives in Berlin, but has been an enormous Phish fan for over 25 years. (He's only seen three shows, having flown to the U.S. for the 2013 Atlantic City shows, tickled about Fishman's rant there about "kush bush", mention of Peru in "Fee", and other plant-related lyrics.)
As part of his doctoral work in botany across the Andes (basically Peru), he has dedicated to science a new species of a plant that grows in South Peru honoring Trey Anastasio. Full details about the plant (which looks to this non-botanist like a hybrid of dandelion, green bean, and mushroom) are included in this Etymology section of the full article, "Senecio anastasioi (Asteraceae / Compositae: Senecioneae), a new caespitose species from the South Andes of Peru", in Plant Taxonomy, Geography and Floristics (vol. 79, no. 6, pp.355–366).
The Seventh Annual Runaway Open is booked solid at a record 120 players with waiting list enabled and we've expanded it, so that as many Phish golfers who are interested can take part in the fun and fundraising, wherever you are.
Those on-site this Saturday will be part of our largest outing yet: sixty (60!!) golf carts, 22% larger than last year, with gift bags twice the size! We've already had 6 cancellations, and been able to fill them from the waiting list. Hopefully there aren't any more conflicts, but the waiting list is now empty, so sign up if you're interested, and we'll let you know as soon as there's a spot.
And now those not coming to Denver - or not able to golf on a show day - can join a virtual tournament, using the same 18Birdies app that we used for the Fifth Annual in 2020, at the height of quarantines (and a cancelled Dick's run). You can play on any course, anytime from September 1 to September 7.
Those who participate in the provided Virtual component and make a donation of at least $50 to the Mockingbird Foundation during that window, will be sent the two limited-edition event merch items (a divot tool with a magnetic marker and pencil sharpener, and a mini bluetooth speaker, both in the same forest green of all Runaway Open merch, and both with the Runaway Open logo) and other surprises pending availability.
In celebration of Phish’s 34 shows this spring and summer, The Mockingbird Foundation has announced that it is sending an unsolicited $1,000 Tour Grant to a music program near each venue at which Phish performs. The grants are part of a long-standing effort to help bring music from the Phish community to the local communities that Phish touches.
These are the 21st round of unsolicited Tour Grants awarded, an effort that now totals over $200,000, which is 9.0% of all disbursements made by the Foundation. Continuing the celebration, additional Tour Grants will be announced through the end of the summer. The recipients announced thus far are:
An essay by Trey Anastasio about the future of roots music appears in the Summer 2022 issue ("Movers and Shakers") of No Depression, from the FreshGrass Foundation. The issue also features pieces by Bonnie Raitt, Woody Guthrie, Dan Auerbach, Rhiannon Giddens, and more.
Whether you're taking advantage of Amazon's Prime Days deals (today and tomorrow), stocking up on concert tour needs for upcoming shows, or getting Christmas gifts done early (check the time!), we hope you'll start with any of the links in this post - all of which are affiliate links benefitting the Mockingbird Foundation. And if not today, bookmark any of them for later, then use that bookmark any time you shop at Amazon.
It's an easy, low-effort way to support music education while doing something you're already doing. It doesn't require using Amazon Smile (though that can benefit Mockingbird, too), and often means a higher cut towards our all-volunteer, nonprofit efforts to fundraise for music education among Phish fans.
From Parke Puterbaugh's book to that mildly suspicious Phish trivia one, to musical instruments, to luxury beauty care products, to a Segue - every Amazon purchase, rental, or subscription starting from any of these links will help pay for instruments, staffing, scholarships, and more, "bringing the music full circle" (Trey's words about what we do) from the fans back to kids who'll be the next musicmakers.
You can even help Mockingbird earn a "bounty" by signing up for a trial subscription of Amazon Prime, Audible, or Kindle; or use Amazon Fresh or Amazon Pets; or do pretty much anything else, at any Amazon site or property, as long as you start with any of these links.
To round out the Mockingbird Foundation's 25th year fundraising for music education, we're holding a 10-day auction with a range of things we think you'll find tasty:
The auction runs from 6am PDT Friday March 18th until 6pm PDT Monday March 28th. Register in advance, now, at mbird.org/auction, and get ready to start bidding for the kids!
The Divided Sky Foundation is partnering with the Antelope Running Club (on Facebook and Instagram) to plan a charity run in Ludlow, VT, May 14th to celebrate the opening of the first Divided Sky Center. Sponsors include Ben & Jerry's, and over 150 runners are already signed up for on-site or virtual participation. Register now at http://www.anteloperunners.com/dsf
Tamara Rubin interviewed Jon Fishman for nearly four hours via Zoom a little over ago, and shared clips of it on January 9th - but still very few have seen it. So, here's what she recently posted to Reddit:
Since almost no-one has watched this since last year (as I understand the connection between Phish and activism is not something that all Phish phans want to engage in) I wanted to share this again. Last winter I had the opportunity to interview my friend Jon Fishman on Christmas Eve. We chatted for about 4 hours but I cut the interview down into three bite-sized 10 minute segments. This is why the background gets so dark in the last segment (the ambient light at Jon's house disappears because I didn't know our interview would go that long and I didn't think to ask him to light himself for the zoom chat!) Thanks for checking this out. Once you click through to this link there are links to all three segments of the interview on YouTube. We talk about parenting, tour, the pandemic, politics and - because I am a childhood Lead poisoning prevention activist we also talk about lead poisoning... but that's really not the bulk of the 30 minutes of published interview - it's kind of fun... we edited it to be fun too (to make sure to show some of the fun from our call).
Decades ago, Rolling Stone had a web-based poll for best guitarist ever, with a long list of choices. For a younger guy eager both to spread love for Phish and to explore the developing web, well... that was just an open challenge.
It was difficult to vote for anyone (such as Trey) more than once, because submitting a vote went to another page, so you'd have to go back to the voting page, argh. The web then was simpler and mostly static, but bandwidth was smaller and slower, so moving forward and backward, well... that was just wasting time.
But I soon realized that I could copy the source code of that page, to create a page that instead directed back to itself. And voted for Trey by default, rather than needing to make a choice. And had no graphics, very little other text, and only one choice in the voting list (Trey, already selected) so was much simpler and so quicker to load. But... I still had to click a button, sigh.
Then I discovered that, instead of submitting by mouse action, I could have it automatically submit after a few seconds. And I learned that it worked for only a single second. And even 0.5 seconds. I eventually settled on 0.25 seconds, arbitrarily. Voting more than four times per second seemed excessive, regardless of His Crimsonness' greatness, amirite?
Iron Hill Brewery in Hershey, spitting distance from the stadium where Phish will perform August 11th, will hold a Mockingbird Foundation fundraiser on that date. They'll be donating $1 per pint of Jim's Sedan, a West Coast IPA, as well as $1 per entree from their "Chef's Table," which will have pizza, grilled cheese, and noodle bowls. The location just opened two years ago, and, well, you already know how the pandemic has affected restaurants (and music education).
We encourage you to head over, get your fill of carbs, and help rebuild the arts and the local economy. We'll be announcing a Tour Grant in the area soon, and appreciate your support - at Iron Hill, and generally - in helping "complete the circle" (Trey's words) by bringing the fruits of our collective celebration of music back into communities that are working to train tomorrow's musicians and thereby seed new celebrations.
Want to name a pet something besides Tela? Can't recall which song mentions Aquitana or Elihu? Remember which nine Phish songs mention birds? Now, and once again, you can. Originally published in the second edition of The Phish Companion, extended with input from forum regulars in an earlier (c.2012-2015) version, and now thoroughly rebuilt from the ground up, the Lyrics Index is coming back!
This is a selective topical index of the lyrics to 253 Phish originals1 – 26,835 words2, indexed in 2,393 references3, organized in 51 topical categories4, some more selective than others5. And it's rolling out, though still getting populated with entries (1,117 entered so far - 1,276 OTW!).
The included references follow this logic:
Runaway Gin - a Tribute to Phish raised over $8,000 for the Mockingbird Foundation over the past year, donated in memory of keyboardist John "Fitz" Fitzgerald, who passed away unexpectedly in January 2020. We appreciate their support of music education for children, and encourage you to check out Fitz (and all of four of them) laying it down...
We learned of Jim Stinnett while putting together the second edition of The Phish Companion, which had forewords from those who were music teachers to Phish: Jane Ambrose, who taught Trey at the University of Vermont; Paul Asbell, Trey’s guitar teacher at the University of Vermont; Dave Hanlon, Fishman’s only music teacher; Lois Harris, who taught all of them but Mike; and Jim Stinnet, Mike's bass instructor.
Jim taught hundreds of other students, primarily at Berklee College Of Music, before he passed away last Sunday. His family has invited celebration of his life on a Facebook post, and JamBase has assembled some videos including Mike's rememberances and Jim's guest appearance 12/29/95.
Here, we'd like to share Jim's part of that education-focused Foreword from nearly 17 years ago:
Phamous Mockingband has just just released some of their favorite live recordings on Bandcamp, and they're donating half of all the proceeds directly to The Mockingbird Foundation. In their words, "Time to make a difference and get your Phish tunes in!" Streaming, downloads, and donations are available here: https://phamousmockingband.bandcamp.com/releases.
"Phamous Mockingband aims to recreate the energy, feels, jams and intricate catalog of the jam legends Phish. These seasoned musicians bring their love for music and Phish together to form a unique take on the songs. Their deep improvisational jams, experimental ideas and creative transitions really set this group apart from your typical tribute act." (Facebook - Instagram - Twitter)
Here, finally, are the results from Phish.net's #hometasking challenge #9, as well as the overall results from our (first?) series of #hometasking challenges...
Beginning at 5 p.m. ET, Jay Curley of Ben & Jerry's will host a public forum -- "In a Minute I'll be PHRE: Origins & Organizing" -- to address how phans of color's experiences at Phish shows are different from those of white phans, and to talk about what fans can do together to make the scene as inclusive as possible as well as an opportunity and responsibility to act for racial justice in the broader world. The forum will also address PHRE's origins, including the "Phish Scene So White: Let's Talk" article, the online backlash, and what that says about the Phish fan community; as well as about PHRE's mission and core activities, including tabling at Phish shows and working with venues to address harassment, and how folks can get involved.
At 7:30 p.m. ET, come back for "Party Time! Happy Hour", to hang out and listen to some great music from a diverse and exciting lineup of performers who are excited to support PHRE's mission: Jackie Venson, Hayley Jane, Gordon Sterling, Garrin Benfield, Neel Singh, and Andy Greenberg (of Runaway Gin).
This launches the third of at least 10 weekend-long challenges to help get you out of Zoom, back into some Phishiness, and engaged with housemates, with something to share as a result. Top that with weekly prizes, a grand prize, and the glory of crushing the competition with your creativity and wit, and... how could you not take part??
This week's challenge calls for a bit more effort, the first of a series of three that might involve moving furniture, perhaps redecorating, maybe even making use of blankets or boxes or whatever you have round the house. As always, post your 20-second video to this thread by Monday at noon Pacific, after which your submissions will be judged by a guest Taskmaster, with a montage to be posted prior to Tuesday's Dinner & a Movie archive show.
You have 72 hours, and your time... starts... NOW!
This past weekend's challenge in the Phish.net #Hometasking series was to create a live-action representation of a Phish album cover. And this week's Taskmaster Chris Cagle has completed his evaluations, made his decisions, and put together some fantastic viewing for your setbreak or post-Dinner & a Movie viewing:
The Fourth Annual Runaway Open was held Saturday, August 31st, at Willis Case Golf Course in Denver, Colorado. From 84 registered players, we had 5 last-day cancellations and 3 no-shows - but 6 called-in from a waiting list and 1 walk-up, for a balance of 83 players on the course. Everyone had a great time raising thousands of dollars for music education, and we're finally reporting back on the tournament results.
All players received a gift bag with an event golf shirt plus items donated by fourteen sponsors, including Phish, LivePhish/Nugs.net, PhanArt, PunkYourFace, Surrender to the Flow, Tropicana Atlantic City, Roboworm, and 4imprint. Through systematic random drawings for player numbers and prize numbers, we also gave away 13 prizes donated by J2G Live, Stranahan's Whiskey, LivePhish, Vincent Romeo Rodriguez, and a Tennessee engraver whose grandfather was a music educator. In total, gifts and prizes averaged nearly $170 per player, not including on-course prizes - for an entry donation of only $150!
We'll have up to 80 players this time, with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. (preceded by a group photo and warm send-off), playing at Willis Case. As before, we'll have contests - but it's all about swingin' sticks with fans, so don't sweat it if you're rusty, new to the game, or prioritizing fun over competition. So are we. :)
Early registration is strongly encouraged. All three previous events have sold out, with a waiting list we couldn't satisfy. The number of players has nearly doubled each year (16 to 32 to 54), but we've also opened registration earlier, to facilitate players' planning and to help find more players. So act soon - and please help spread the word!
Register by completing this online form and then making a donation to the Mockingbird Foundation of $150 per player, which covers all fees, cart, lunch, an event golf shirt, and a gift bag of goodies.
Here's a look back at the Third Annual Runaway Open, last September 1st in Denver. This charity golf tournament for Phish fans included more than 50 players, in beautiful weather, the morning of the 2nd show during the three-show Labor Day weekend at Dick's Sporting Goods. Nearly a thousand dollars in prizes, from lot pins to free shoes, and a great time had by all.
Congratulations to the winning foursome (Gapp, Rusch, Mortell, and Bradley), the various contest winners (Colin Hall won for longest drive; Ron Mckernan did not win for closest to pin), and the ten raffle prize winners, and immense thanks to everyone for coming out.
We hope to see you at the fourth annual event this year, Saturday August 31st. Details will be announced, and registration will open, this Sunday, May 12th. Early registration is encouraged, as all three previous events have sold out, with a waiting list.
(P.S. The soundtrack from this video is Tom Tom Club's version of Phish's "Sand" from the Mockingbird Foundation tribute album Sharin' in the Groove.)
There's still time to shop for Valentine's Day, so we wanted to remind you to please use Amazon Smile so that you can support the Mockingbird Foundation, the all-volunteer phan-run effort to support music education for children, with 400 grants made so far. Bookmark smile.amazon.com/ch/16-1529562 or click here:
An incredible amount of time, effort, and passion was invested building an experience for Phish's planned Curveball festival this weekend, before it was cancelled. Fan Adam Dyda was on site to capture the eerie, almost Scott Haefner-like quality of the unpopulated environment, and we're honored to be able to share some of his pictures here (17 total), to honor those who worked so hard to make Curveball what it was meant to be.
This is a game for 2-10 Phish fans, designed to be played on tour – whether passing hours in the lot or in line, meeting new friends at a forum meetup, or post-show fun at a hotel or campground. It’s ideally suited for relaxed banter among casual fans, and could be a great way to help share your particular interests in Phishtory. It’s also well suited for cut-throat “I know this band sooooooooo much better than you” gauntlet throwdowns (once you’re sick of arguing about whether the most recent show was historically uberepic or only subprime millennial epic), if your crew swings that way.
You’ll need some sort of tokens – coins, poker chips, pencils, Pepperidge Farm baked snack crackers… or maybe Phanart pins, if you want to put your artwork where your mouth is. (Put ‘em in the game, and let ‘em fight it out.) Each player starts with five. These are your “goldfish” and, unlike Jimmy (RIP Poster Nutbag), you do want a goldfish. Every single one of them.
Artist Jim Pollock has just done a solid interview with Ben & Jerry's, covering some background basics as well as some aspects of his process, and his thoughts on Phish Food.
Fishman has given a huge two-part (one and two) interview with Nick Ruffini, host of the Drummer's Resource Podcast, including extensive comments on a wide range of drumming-related matters as well as MSG, the Baker's Dozen, New Year's eve, and more.
As LiveforLiveMusic reports today, the Naugatuck High School Percussion Ensemble is back again, with more input from Trey's string arranger Don Hart, and a great new version of "Guyute".
Twenty-six years ago today, Lee Silverman posted the first Phish.net Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) File. It's evolved over the years - up and out, to an unwieldy 500+ pages of cruft; and slowly back to a more tidy but still in-need-of-attention ~100 questions currently. But when Lee started it, it was just the following twelve (provided here with links to select, current, relevant resources):
The Mockingbird Foundation and Education Through Music invite you to participate in a campaign to highlight the importance of great music teachers and quality music education.
Education Through Music was one of the charities supported during the Baker's Dozen run, receiving one of Mockingbird's unsolicited "miracle" Tour Grants of $1,500. ETM partners with NYC schools to bring music education classes to every student. ETM focuses on some of the poorest communities, and works with schools that previously were not providing any kind of arts curriculum to students.
Participating in the campaign is simple:. Visit the ETM campaign website at ETMonline.org/SupportMusicEd, where you can print a sign graphic and snap a selfie with it to post on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter. You can also make a 30-60 second video talking about how a music teacher made a difference in your life, or simply post a story or statement of support. When you post, please be sure to use the hashtag #SupportMusicEd, tag ETM (@etmonline, all platforms), and link to the campaign webpage.
The Mockingbird Foundation and Phish.net are proud to join ETM in raising awareness and recognition of the impact of music teachers and to #SupportMusicEd.
In celebration of Phish's 13-show run at Madison Square Garden, the Mockingbird Foundation is announcing 13 unsolicited "miracle grants" supporting music programs across the country. Each board member identified their favorite Phish show, and we found a worthy music education program nearby, part of the Foundation's long-standing Tour Grants program. We're presenting these 13 special grants chronologically, based on the dates of those favorited shows.
Board member Matt Sexauer picked the 8/16/96 show in Plattsburgh, NY - the first night of the Clifford Ball (not counting the 8/15 soundcheck), which was the first of Phish's one-band festivals (not counting Amy's Farm). The three-set show featured an acoustic mini-setup, six noteworthy jams, and fireworks to end "Hood", all followed by the 3:30 a.m. "Flatbed Truck" escapade.
In recognition of that foundational experience, we're sending a $1,500 grant check to nearby Plattsburgh High School to support foundational experiences in music education. With this check, Mockingbird has given over $100K in Tour Grants alone, and 331 total grants!
The Mockingbird Foundation is excited to announce the Second Annual Runaway Open, a charity golf tournament exclusively for Phish fans. The inaugural event (10/30/16 at the Arroyo Golf Club in Vegas) was a great success, and we've been hearing from players who are ready for another. So, let's do it!
This year's Runaway Open will take place Saturday, September 2nd at Buffalo Run Golf Course in Commerce City, one of the nicer of the dozens of courses in the Denver area, and among the shortest driving distances to Dick's Sporting Goods Arena, where Phish is playing that weekend.
In celebration of Phish's 13-show run at Madison Square Garden (which begins tonight), the Mockingbird Foundation is announcing 13 unsolicited "miracle grants" supporting music programs across the country. Each board member identified their favorite Phish show, and we found a worthy music education program nearby, part of the Foundation's long-standing Tour Grants program. We're presenting these 13 special grants chronologically, based on the dates of those favorited shows.
I've reviewed the 2/20/93 Roxy show many times, many places. There have been many great Phish shows, great for all sorts of reasons. But none has been, or is likely ever to be, as turn-twisting and constantly unexpected as that one. The setlist conveys some of the turns, and the show notes and song notes help understand some of the returns. I could say the obvious: You had to be there. But the telling moment involved fellow .Net friend Matt Laurence (who designed that beanie'd fish logo you see all over Phish.net).
Phish.net is but one project of the entirely volunteer nonprofit Mockingbird Foundation. We frequently credit the volunteers involved, and accept critiques of our own roles among them. But we’re also proud that Mockingbird – which today turns 20 years old – has grown beyond the individuals behind it, and is now a structured, vibrant, productive entity that will outlive the participation of any us.
As we continue to envision the Foundation’s future, we take a moment today to look back – on the history of the band, its fans, and our attempts to contribute. We knew at the start that our vision was plausible and our intentions honorable. But the path following them to today was winding and confusing, testing both conventions and friendships. And it all started, of course, with that new sound coming out of Burlington.
Phish is a curious specimen. Because they share certain traits with apparent ancestors, the band and its concerts are often described with blunt classifications. Yet their musical diversity, performance ingenuity, and fan connections helped spawn a new lineage, of which Phish, even on their least ambitious nights, remain the exemplar – jambandus maximus.
Trey in the upcoming issue of Relix
What changed, starting in 2009, is this clarity of vision and this clear understanding of what a precious gift it was that the four of us met. It took a couple of years after that for things to get rolling completely, but we’ve realized how important this is for everyone — the way that the primary relationship between the four of us is nurtured, and the way that ripples out into the rest of our families and the community. We communicate. The four of us are texting many times a day.
Fish used to describe our improv in terms of this ‘lifeboat’ concept: If somebody falls in the water, everyone reaches over and pulls him back in. I know I’ve experienced that myself personally with the band, where the other guys have pulled me back in. After Lockn’ and Dick’s, I was thinking about our crew who never come out and take a bow, but who literally make the show happen, and all of the people in the audience who are beloved members of our Phish family, and the big boat philosophy is more appropriate than ever. It's a big boat.... There's room for everyone.
The Mockingbird Foundation has announced eleven new grants totaling $59,650. The all-volunteer nonprofit's 20th round of competitive funding reached nine states, including the first Mockingbird grant in Rhode Island. The Foundation has now made 285 grants in 47 states totalling $977,743.40.
Among the many data elements on Phish.net, users' ratings of shows receive a disproportionate amount of critique. They are generic by design, suspected of some biases, and used differently by different users.* But despite their flaws, the ratings are still informative**.
We’ll start with an arcane issue: how show performance varies by day of the week. While some fans may love the Friday/Saturday blowout, many warn to “never miss a Sunday!”. Similarly the band’s “you snooze, you lose” mantra has emphasized that sparks happen in expected places on unexpected nights. An analysis of show ratings helps to consider each of these ideas, as well as to identify some interesting variations.
All at Once
First, let’s look at the ratings*** for all 1701 known shows. If we take the average rating for each show, and then average those averages by weekday, Sunday is indeed tops - with a mean average of 3.87 just edging out Friday (3.82) and Saturday (3.85). However, the averages alone don’t vary much, as the lowest (Monday, at 3.69) isn’t much lower. Meanwhile, variance (differences from the average within each group) do vary. So, let’s look at that...
Of those that have been rated, only a third have average ratings below 3.57, while a third have average ratings above 4.13. That’s stilted towards the high end, but still involves sufficient variation for comparisons. Or, treating the ratings as an indicator of performances, Phish shows are typically hot – but they’re not all equally so, and how hot they are varies, even across the week.
This stacked-petal polar chart**** uses red for the hottest third, and yellow for the bottom third. Each spoke within it illustrates how that day’s shows are distributed across these thirds. (Icons outside each spoke indicate how many shows happened that day and the average number of raters for each of them.)
If you lose by snoozing, it’s not on Monday: 41% of Monday shows are in the bottom third, while only 27% are in the top third – respectively, the highest and lowest proportions of any in the chart. Saturday seems least risky, with the smallest proportion at the bottom (28%); but Sunday more often had the highest payoffs, with the largest proportion (39%) in the top third. Of the rest, Friday fared best, while Tuesday and Wednesday were “merely” consistent, with about a third of each day’s shows in each third of all shows.
For more stark differences, compare shows within and beyond the United States. The aggregate statistics for domestic shows are close to the above. But shows outside the U.S. have either been weaker or simply judged more harshly: The top third of them have averages as low as 3.78, while the bottom third have averages all below 3.17!
Distributions across the week are even more stark than single summary statistics. Mondays fare decisively “worse” both domestically and abroad. But the strongest nights abroad have apparently been Thursdays (43% in the top third, and only 14% at the bottom!), while the weakest have been either Sundays (with only 13% at the top) or Fridays (with just over 50% at the bottom!)
Across the Eras
Finally, compare the weekly distribution of show ratings, as it changes across three eras of Phish (as commonly distinguished, with divisions at the hiatus and breakup). Even 2.0 shows have been better than non-US shows, on average, with the top third at 4.04 and above. And 3.0 shows have tended to be rated higher than 1.0 shows by small margins, whichever summary statistic is used.
But, again, the distribution across weekdays is even more pronounced: While there were far more Friday and Saturday shows in 1.0 (1983-2000), the distribution of ratings was relatively consistent across the week. In 2.0 (2002-2004), Wednesdays were apparently the bomb: Only seven shows, but 57% of them were at the top, while none were at the bottom. Finally, so far in 3.0 (2009-2016), Monday through Thursday have apparently been meh, with about half of the shows in the bottom third for that era. But only about 1 in 5 weekend shows fall in the bottom third - and nearly half of Sunday shows are in the top third.
The weekend blowout is back, and you definitely shouldn't snooze on Sundays - at least, not in the U.S.
* There are three known concerns about ratings, addressed briefly here and thoroughly in coming posts:
First, the show ratings are a blunt instrument. Individual users might prioritize song choice(s), bustouts, overall setlist rarity, improvisational breadth (as a proportion of sound made at the show), improvisational depth (as variance from the composed notes, keys, rhythms, etc.), guest appearances, show length, venue characteristics, personal experience, esoteric characteristics or events, and/or other matters – if they discern with any clarity. Many judgements are more generalized, and some are more informed than others. Those differences are interesting - but measuring them separately would simply invite some form of combination, to provide an overall rating.
Second, there are some purported biases in the data, such as that a show is rated higher by actual attendees (compared to those on couch tour or listening later), by those who've seen fewer shows (which presumes that n00bs are less discerning and connoisseurs more critical), or because it occurred more recently (both from n00b bias and from a rose filter critical of the past). Some of them could potentially be incorporated into our statistical summary, but each has been addressed in previous forum posts presenting data analysis that somewhat undermines the assumptions they entertain.
Finally, there are known variations among raters: Some are more critical, giving only 4s and 5s, while others use the full range of available scores. The effects of differential use of the available ratings are somewhat mitigated by comparing relatively few categories, in the aggregate, across many hundreds of shows, from many thousands of ratings. Nonetheless, we are exploring variation among users and possibilities for standardizing scores per user. This blog post is the first in a series of analyses that have emerged from those investigations, and which illustrate a key point: Even without standardization, the ratings have valid meaning and uses.
** Despite flaws, the ratings are informative in three senses. Two are straightforward: They aggregate input from tens of thousands of users, about hundreds of shows. (Even the least discerning rater doesn’t give 5 stars to every show.) The third is empirical, and the point of today’s post: The show ratings are related to other variables of interest. That is, they may have predictive validity. (Similarly, you might critique DMV road tests, but they’re correlated with driving performance.)
*** All ratings data current as of April 8, 2016, at 1 a.m.
**** A stacked-petal polar chart (which might also be called a stacked circular column graph) is a dual variation on radar charts, using disconnected directional spokes, each with multiple values. (Here, bubble keys are also added for two additional variables.) Whereas the outwardly expanding widths of sector graphs (aka pie charts, et al) are subject to variable interpretation (by angle, arc, or area), concentric gridlines and series values are included here to emphasize that the salient aspect of spokes in these charts is length rather than area.
Sick of delegate counts on the proverbial road to 1600 Pennsylvania? Here’s some relief: a state-by-state analysis of the 1600* public Phish performances in the U.S.
The graphic below plots each state as a bubble, at the intersection of the first and last dates Phish played there. The larger the bubble, the more shows Phish has played in that state. (A legend is included in the lower left of the graphic.)
These bubbles appear in several distinct clumps: The large bubbles in the upper left are places Phish started and has performed the most. To the right of that, a group of varying sizes represent states first visited in the band’s early expansion, from 1989 to 1991, and still played recently. Finally, the sparse group of smaller bubbles in the lower middle-to-right represent sporadic stops from 1990-1995 that haven’t been visited in a number of years.
An upward sloping trend, where that third group was higher (i.e. had been played more recently) than the first, would show that Phish was adding new states and shedding old ones. But while they’ve added new states, they aren’t shedding old ones: Though Vermont hasn’t been played in several years, every state played before 1989 has also been played since 2009..
Contrarily, a downward sloping trend, where the first and third groups predominated, would indicate that the band was simply sticking to its origins. Instead, that second group appears: The bulk of the states added from 1989 through 1991 have been played in the most recent year.
The overall trend of the 45 represented states is still slightly downward (indicated by the red dotted line, a simple linear regression of those 45 data points). But take into account all 1600* shows (as the green dashed line does), and the trend is simply forward and steady: Beyond a small number of outliers (such as Oklahoma, not played until 16 years after Nevada, and not shown here at all), Phish has typically expanded their itinerary while continuing to visit most states.
* We're aware of 1823 dates at some point associated with a Phish performance (not counting side projects or guest appearances, which we group as sideshows). Of those, 9 didn't happen (6 cancelled, 3 postponed), and 45 more were either erroneous (e.g. 10/12/88 was actually 12/10/88 set I) or aberrant (e.g. there was no 12/25/88 show, planned or performed). Set aside 16 private events, 13 soundchecks, 14 television appearances, 8 radio shows, 6 sporting events, 3 award events, and 8 miscellaneous events (such as a post-show bluegrass jam in a parking lot), and we’re left with 1701 legit, public, mostly ticketed, "counts for stats purposes" show dates - of which 101 are outside the U.S. (that graph comes later) and 1600 within.
Natalie Cressman (part of the Trey Anastasio Band) and Mike Bono have graciously written and recorded a song about music education for the Mockingbird Foundation, for which we are extremely grateful and which we are excited to debut. Hear the track on Soundcloud, or via the following frame. Lyrics follow below the fold.
I never knew quite how to turn the noise around
To cast a meaning glow, to paint with sound
Help me spin the trials of my heart into good
Into potent tunes, easily understood
To speak my mind without a word
Cascades of sound you've never heard
To sing my story clear as a bird
All I need is you to teach me
Tones with truth reach past any one tongue
Felt and repeated by everyone
Shape and build me up note by note
Bring my ear to blossom with all you wrote
I'll speak my mind without a word
Cascades of sound you've never heard
I'll sing my story clear as a bird
All I need is you to teach me
Standing on your shoulders I see
All that was out of reach
What you give, all you pass on,
Bring journeys that never cease
I'll speak my mind without a word
Cascades of sound you've never heard
I'll sing my story clear as a bird
All I need is you to teach me
The following story, by Jennifer Hersey Cleveland, is reprinted from the Orleans County Record (and online there but behind a paywall) by permission of Executive Editor Dana Gray:
It was one of the longest traffic jams in history, backed up for miles after thousands of Phish fans abandoned their vehicles to hike to the former Newport State Airport in Coventry for what was billed as the band’s farewell concert.
But the fans, stuck for days on Interstate 91 and surrounding roads, found comfort in the locals who fed them, provided fuel and shelter, and gave them rides into the show.
That was 11 years ago, and now, filmmakers Alex Daltas of Los Angeles and Lawrence Shapiro of Denver want to capture that giving spirit in a documentary called “Jam.”
Concert images (clockwise from bottom left) by Andrew Blackstein (8/23/15 and 10/31/14) and Jake Silco (7/12/14 and 8/23/15) used by permission.
The answers go in circles, starting from the "R".
But there's no indication how long any of them are.
Answer each in order, to know where the next one starts.
We've given you a diagonal, so at least you have some parts.
Either a letter or a number could fill each beanied fish.
And if you're careful with your capitals, you'll get to the next dish.
1. She cooked in a tub
2. Llamas minus Lizards
3. Gladiators first entered Llama here
4. I'm falling in a well that's this
5. Careful, Eugene; it's not small, like Bob's
6. SPACs minus Red Rocks
7. He never listens to what I say
8. New Year's Eves minus Halloweens
9. Atlanta venue that no longer Remains
10. Wriggled in the earth and this
11. Debuted (began its descent?) at the Flynn
12. Phil's guitarist Robben
13. Lushingtons minus Shaftys
14. Farcial punk "song", minus arch
2 It's __
3 46 __
4 Let's __ Downtown
5 Frankie does it
6 Mine's poor; don't steal it.
7 Body part mentioned most often in Phish lyrics
8 To blaze on, put these on; they’re nice.
11 My Sweet __
17 Whose sack held a puppet?
19 And So __ Bed
20 All of __ Dreams
23 Lemonwheel's 4th set nickname (abbrev.)
24 Siht morf sesir nam yreve.
26 Fee flirts with it
28 Tequila, a __ lost friend
29 This pillow wanderer swerves?
30 Monarch's sequined __
31 Trey played this house benefit
33 Punch mentions a tender one
35 I'm __ that they're dead
37 Punch you in the this
38 __ these demons
39 It’s insufficiently this for you
41 Aboard a craft bereft of this
43 Who's face does the exile want to see?
44 The middle of what we're down with
47 My Left __
1 I'm doing this to a pyramid
9 Roses __ Free
10 Who enjoys myself?
12 I love meatballs, so be this
13 Missing from Rip joint or Flown Bird
14 Taken from The Name Slick
15 It's __ A Dream
16 Belongs in Walls of Cave
18 We all __ out small
21 Taken from Jane's Iction
22 Part of 8/14/04 (not the show)
25 Followed by birds, dogs, horse, lizards, and sloth
27 Once free, we’ll do this in the sea (with a p)
29 Hendge, or henge?
30 If a slice (as to a nipple) was long and sweeping.
32 Blood to boil, or betrayal with trust
34 Texted mouth at another Rocky Top encore :/
36 Where comes the joker?
40 Born Run or Highway Hell
42 The boys from Vermont (don’t call them that)
45 The plural was on a large poffy bun
46 One way to catch fish
48 Trey gerunds this at the sky in Greyhound Rising
49 Forbin went on one, to save…
We recently re-discovered this word search, designed in 2000 by Pete Sitzman - a friend, Phish fan, and Phish Companion contributing photographer, who passed away in 2007. The puzzle never made it to a flyer or website, until now.
There are 83 Phish-related words hidden forwards, backwards, up, down, and diagonally. See how many you can find:
Amys farm, Anastasio, Antelope, Bathtub Gin, BBFCFM, Bouncing, Bowie, Clifford Ball, Contact, Dirt, Dog Log, Driver, Esther, Faht, Fee, Foam, Forbin, Free, Gamehendge, Ghost, Glide, Golgi, Gordon, Greenberg, Groove, Guyute, Hampton, Harry Hood, Helping Friendly Book, Hoist, Horn, Hot Dog, HYHU, Ice, Jon, Junta, Landlady, Lawn Boy, Lizards, Llama, Maze, Mike, Moma, Mound, Nectars, NICU, Noel, Oswego, Page (twice), phans, Piper, Possum, Poster Nutbag, Reba, Rift, Ruthaford (sic), Simple, Sleeping Monkey, Sloth, Stash, Stash (twice), Suzie (sic), Tela, Timber ho, TMWSIY, Tom Marshall, Trey (thrice), Tubbs, Tube (twice), Tweezer, UFO, Wedge, Weekapaug, Weigh, Wilson, Yamar, YEM
As an alternative to its traditional online auction format, the Mimi Fishman Foundation has introduced a “buy it now” donation format featuring posters from the Phish 2015 summer tour. The official show limited edition posters are signed by all four members of Phish - wonderful gifts, for yourself or someone else.
@FrodoPiano is a 12-year-old composer who grew up listening to lots of Phish, thanks to parents who are fans. That exposure inspired an arrangement of 22 Phish songs (plus a reprise) in a mammoth 269-measure medley, his 45th posted score. You can hear and watch the arrangement here (or visit the host page to read his introduction), followed by a short Q&A with the prolific songsmith.
How many Phish shows have you seen, and what was the first?
I have seen Phish some six times, and I have seen Trey with an orchestra twice, at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. My first concert was on November 1, 2009. When I was younger, I listened to Rift a lot, as my dad had a copy that he kept in the car, so you could almost say I “grew up with it,” which might be why I am a bit biased toward it. ;)
What’s your favorite Phish song, and why?
I don’t want to sound cliche, but my favorite has to be "Divided Sky". It has so many movements, with so many great themes, and I love all of them. (It was also apparently the song my mother wanted to hear instantly after I was born, so maybe that means something …) My favorite albums, though, are Junta and Rift.
How long have you been composing, and why do you enjoy it?
Well, first of all, I’d like to make clear that I certainly did not compose this, and all writing credits go to the members of Phish, respectively. However, I do compose regularly, and I have been for … say … 4-5 years now. I really like it because there are so many possibilities, and so many different concepts and ideas to explore. For example, I just learned about polyrhythms, so I just did an “experiment” to see how they worked within a piece, and that turned into my 6th prelude! I actually compose more than I arrange, and I’m now working on a piece called "Sinfonia Pangaea", one called "Song of Life", and the score for a friend’s game, of which the opening piece is called "Solitaire."
You’ve also written a seven-movement suite, somewhat inspired perhaps by Holst’s “The Planets.” Can you tell us about that?
Yeah, somewhat going off the idea of The Planets (which I love, and have seen in concert), and The Four Seasons, I decided to write a suite entitled The Days of the Week. At first, I realized that the seven days could correspond with the seven musical modes (Lydian, Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, Aiolian, Phrygian, and Locrian), but I decided against it, both to give myself more compositional freedom, and to prevent writing in Locrian, what with “resolving” to a diminished chord being … difficult. If you want to check that out, it’s here, and my favorite movements are "Wednesday" and "Friday."
What role has music education played in your life?
Music has, among other things, given me something to think about. There are so many different concepts in theory, and they’re so thought-provoking that you could spend ages just thinking about them. Also, if I’m ever stressed, I can just start snapping out a cool rhythm (or polyrhythm), or come up with a new theme or concept for a piece. It’s also just a lot of fun! Composing, for me, is a great outlet for creativity, because there are always new … possibilities, and new ideas that can be made reality through composing. I have also played piano for almost 6 years, and I just started playing the oboe.
Why did you arrange for this particular dectet, and for what other ensembles have you arranged or composed?
To be honest, I don’t completely know. I guess I just wanted woodwinds, and I chose some, and came out with this double wind quintet (with handclaps, because no performance of "Stash" is complete without handclaps). The bassoons are extremely versatile, and, in this case, work great as Mike’s part, throughout the medley. Other than that, different instruments get the melody throughout the medley, sometimes multiple kinds of instruments, sometimes just one. However, whenever an instrument gets a melody, both of the players of that instrument get the same part. In fact, only in certain harmonic cases do the two players of each instrument get a different part than their “counterpart.” Some instances of this are "Divided Sky," "Rift," "The Lizards," etc. Other ensembles I have arranged for include a piano with a violin and a cello, a piano with two violins, a piano duet, and solo piano. I have composed for many ensembles, including: solo piano; piano four hands (that’s four hands on one piano); violin and orchestra; oboe and bassoon; solo oboe; brass sextet; string quartet; guitars and an accordion; along with other small ensembles.
What songs did you not include, and why?
Well, that’s a long (and, in some cases, unfortunate) list, but there are good reasons behind most choices. The most common reason, of course, is that I can’t include every Phish song - that would take hours of music. Another reason is that some songs didn’t really … fit anywhere very well, and by the time I was wrapping the medley up, they just weren’t there. The third reason is something some of you may have noticed already - there’s no percussion! This was, frankly, an odd choice on my part, but I prefer, in general, composing with very little percussion, which typically doesn’t pose much of a problem. Now, for an arrangement of Phish songs, this gets a bit tricky, and on some songs, typically the “rock-ier” songs, this got a bit too tricky, so I left some out. Now for some reason, while I was arranging the medley, I completely forgot about "Fee," which would have worked, and now I’m really mad at myself.
What other adjustments did you have to make without a drummer?
Let’s face it - Fishman is amazing, and none of the songs sounded as good without him. But, both by choosing (mostly) more melodic songs and by laying down a clear rhythm with the bassoons, it wasn’t too hard to get a beat in there. As for the handclaps, you can’t do "Stash" without handclaps, and I decided to use them in "Mound" too. On the topic of "Mound," it provided a new problem in terms of rhythm, because of its polyrhythmic intro, which happened to be all I used. It’s just a simple 3:4 polyrhythm, but without a percussion section to lay down a beat, I had trouble keeping it sounding like a polyrhythm, and not just a time change. "First Tube" also has a polyrhythm, but that one wasn’t as hard to lay down.
You mention choosing more melodic songs. What can you say about what that excludes - songs you’d otherwise like to arrange, how you’d describe them, and where Phish’s arrangements lean, if anywhere?
This excludes, as I said, the “rock-ier” songs, meaning the songs that are more rock-and-roll(-ish), or more Fishman-heavy. This might include "Chalk Dust Torture," "Run Like an Antelope," "Weekapaug Groove," (dare I say) "Meatstick," etc., which unfortunately are some of Phish’s greatest songs, but would not be a good use of precious time in this arrangement, because they wouldn’t sound nearly as good with only woodwinds. Some of these might be fun to arrange if I added, maybe, some percussion/brass, and maybe strings or keyboards for fun.
Are there any Phish songs you would NOT want to arrange, or that you think are beyond re-arrangement, either by a woodwind dectet or otherwise?
Well, that’s a difficult question, but the one answer that comes to me is "Also Sprach Zarathustra." This is simply because it was arranged to be a Phish song, so to re-arrange it would be silly.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I know, this MIDI patch sounds awful, but hey, if one of you knows a woodwind dectet who’d like to play this, go ahead! (Just credit me.) :)
Shouldn’t you be playing with a ball or getting a job instead of poking a keyboard?
Today's guest blogger is Professor Paul Jakus, of the Department of Applied Economics at Utah State University. We are honored to share his writing and research, and welcome other academics to contribute scholarly analysis of the band's history, as well.
Before the 2015 tour kicked off, @Lemuria analyzed where Phish has played over the years using Census divisions. He argued that not only does the west coast not get screwed; it gets more than its fair share of shows, while New England — the band’s home turf — is the region that gets shafted.
But analysis by Census divisions didn’t seem right to me. Census Divisions in the east are much smaller than those in the west, potentially distorting the analysis. Instead, why not calculate the geography of Phish shows the same way the Census Bureau determines the geographic center of the population?
What is a geographic population center? Think of a map of the U.S. as a table to be balanced on a single leg. Each person is a weight placed on the table where they live: In 1790, more Americans lived on or near the Atlantic coast; so, the leg on which the table is to be balanced must be placed very far to the east. (In 1790, this was in Kent County, MD.) To maintain the balance as Americans migrated west, the leg was moved further and further to the west. This Census Bureau map shows the westward movement of Americans with every Census since 1790:
We can do the same thing with Phish shows, using the latitude, longitude, and the number of shows played in any town. Restricting the analysis to North America, Phish has played at 322 known locations since 1987. I calculated the mean geographic center of Phish shows, by year, using the Census Bureau formulae with the number of shows (instead of population) as the weight. Holiday runs breaking over more than one calendar year were assigned to a single year.
In 1987, the geographic center was located just south of Burlington, VT. The well-known Telluride shows of 1988 pulled the geographic center further west (to near Canandaigua, NY), but then it reverted back to Stratton, VT, in 1989, as Phish spent that year closer to home. The band’s growth as a touring act can be seen when the geographic center rocketed over 600 miles to the west in 1990 (to near Utica, OH). The geographic center has since stayed firmly rooted in the heartland of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois for most years. Prior to 2014, 1996 was the only year that the center moved west of the Mississippi River. But Lemuria’s central argument is correct: In 2014 and 2015, Phish played, on average, further west than it ever had.
What about that green dot near the 2014 and 2015 geographic centers? That turns out to be the 2010 geographic center of the U.S. population (Texas County, MO). Like it or not, Phish’s recent touring years have been almost perfectly balanced with the U.S. population. They’re an American band.
Brothers Day (May 24th) is as good a day as any to satisfy a common request in comments about previously posted charts. So, here finally is a Venn diagram with Phish songs that mention brothers. (Another, for "dog shows", will come later.)
Phish has sung the word "brother" live 1,603 times, in 311 song performances at 283 shows. But no shows have included all four songs that use the word ("Brother", "Wolfman's Brother", "Sand", and "Crowd Control"), or even any three of them; and only 28 shows have included any two of the four. There just aren't a lot of Brother Shows (though there are a few more Bro Shows, if we expand to include the slang "Brutha" in Julius).
Including other family roles doesn't help much. For example, no shows have included both of the songs that mention sisters ("Crowd Control" and "Rock a William"). And only one show has included "Rock A William" and any of the four "brother" songs, making 2/13/97 agruably the only Sibling Show (not counting the 13 shows with "Crowd Control", which uses both "sister" and "brother", nor the 73 with "Sand", which uses "siblings".)
Phish.net lists 871 songs written and/or played by Phish, but that includes 22 that were "only" teased or jammed, 42 unperformed originals, and 533 covers, of which 289 weren't played beyond their debut. Of the 274 originals left, 42 were only played once and most were written decades ago.
But don't discount the band's originality yet, as there's good evidence of two forms of overlooked balance. You can see them both in today's chart (the next in a series), which involves several variations on a population pyramid (a.k.a an age-sex graph, a variation on a paired-bar graph).
This chart treats Phish's repertoire of songs as a population, disaggregates them by age (measured by year of debut, with the oldest on top), and distinguishes originals from covers (rather than male/female, as is typical). Further, the bars for each age are segmented ("stacked") to differentiate songs that were only performed once (the lighter tips of each bar) from those performed more than once (the darker root of each bar). Finally, to help understand growth in the repertoire, rows are labelled with studio album releases and musical costume albums performed in the given year.
Halloween performances, as well as the cover-rich summer of '98, help explain growth in the repertoire, often with songs never performed again. But they also belie a relative balance in material: The number of originals and covers played more than once is nearly the same, at 232 and 244, respectively.
And, yes, the band's introduction of new original material has slowed since their prolific early years. But setting aside years when Phish didn't perform any public shows, the slowdown isn't as dramatic as you might have expected. The number of debuts in four recent years is only a minor reduction from the '90s, during which (Halloweens aside) new material was already slowing down from the '80s - but so, gradually, did the number of shows. And the reduction in shows over the last 20 years both partly explains the lower rate of debuts and, as a control variable, reduces its difference.
When they do play, surprises continue - and, arguably, at a comparable rate. But the biggest factor in repertoire expansion has of course been time off, including the "hiatus" and "breakup". With no fall tour, it'll take another debut-rich summer for 2015 to compare even to recent years.
The next few entries in our charts series summarize some of the information and scrutiny available through Phish.net. First up, a quantitative summary of the site's extensive Jamming Charts, which identify 3,343 recommended performances of 193 songs (an average of 17.3 each) as well as 919 highly recommend versions (an average of 4.8 each).
For the 41 of those songs which were performed 150 or more times, the chart to the right illustrates the total performances (to end of grey), proportion recommended (end of green), and proportion highly-recommended (yellow).
Those 41 songs account for 1,549 recommended versions and 541 highly recommended versions, or about half of all those in the Jamming Charts. But those charts recommend a wide range - from only 2 of the 438 Caverns, to 43% of the 366 Tweezers (of which 63, or 17%, are highly recommended.)
We encourage you to explore the charts, more guidance in your exploration of Phish.
For purposes of readability, I limited the chart to songs performed 150 or more times. That leaves out classic jam vehicles such as Simple (150 versions, 46 charted and 13 highlighted), Ghost (134, 48 and 15), and Birds (97, 24 and 7).
I did not weed out songs such as HYHU (524, 1 and 1) or Cavern (438, 2 and 0) - that is, I did not define "jamming vehicles" and limit the chart to those - since it's interesting to see both that not all songs would qualify and that our recommendations vary even among those that do.
Where one song appear twice in a setlist and was charted or highlighted both of those times, I included both. Though some might consider that an exaggeration, the difference is a fraction of a percent, imperceptible in this chart's long thin lines without values.
A "Triple Nipple" refers to any show in which Phish plays all three* of their original songs that refer to nipples**: "Fee", "Punch You in the Eye", and "The Sloth". They've been an item of amusement for decades. But even the FAQ's Triple Nipple page has until recently had the numbers wrong.
Corrected numbers reveal something that's long been elusive, partly because we didn't even know to look for it: There have only been two such shows, such that the next one will be the one, the only, Third Triple Nipple - the cubed cube, the apex of nubbin allusion, the supernumerary of supernumerary shows.
Now, knowing that there have only been two, seeing that "2" pulsating from the middle of a Venn Diagram***, may make you start to wonder, when will the Triple Nipple Trilogy be completed?
But it's not the kind of thing for which you can campaign explicitly without seeming either immature ("Tres Trip Nip, Trey?") or overly sophisticated ("I want my ternate supernumerary!") So, we're here for ya', with a solution: Special Mockingbird-supporting shirts and tanks that promote the cause without using the "n" word... or even that "s" one.
By the way, triple nipples are less common at Phish shows than on humans: Those two shows are pnlyl 0.13% (an eighth of a percent) of the 1,510 shows Phish has performed to date, much rarer than the 2% of women and 5% of men blessed (or cursed?) with a third nipple.
* Some would include others songs: A nipple is mentioned in the version of "Sanity" that appears on Junta, and including "Sanity" in Triple Nipple counts increases the total to 10 - but none of the 10 versions of "Sanity" that would be counted, mentioned a nipple. The count would double again to 20 if we include "The Oh Ke Pa Ceremony," the title of which comes from a tribal ceremony painful to nipples - but the song is not clearly a nipple reference, either for Phish or as understood by most fans.
** Note that all three of these lyrical references are about nipple slicing. That's not really a methodological note, but the nubbin trouble seems weird.
*** Unlike the earlier Venn-like graph (with nested sets but aggregated numbers), numbers here are incremental. There have been 166 shows with Sloth, of which 9 also had "Fee", of which 2 also had "PYITE" - but there were only 106 shows with just "Sloth" (no PYITE), 7 with Sloth and PYITE (but no Fee), and, again, 2 with all three.
The wonderful folks behind Surrender to the Flow Yoga have raised thousands of dollars for the Mockingbird Foundation through a series of yoga classes, set to Phish music, on show dates, near venues. Now, they're planning for some special yoga classes in conjunction with the coming Fare Thee Well shows, and are asking for your help via a poster design contest.
Until last fall, every announced tour brought a common lament: "West Coast screwed again." But the data has a different refrain: While the West Coast gets plenty of love, it's the band's home turf that gets routinely shafted - and moreso across the band's history.
The mantra "follow the line going south" did not emerge in lyrics or tour patterns until 1987, following four years solely in New England. By 2014, Phish had abandoned Patriots territory - but they still played Seahawks city.
And last fall was hardly an anomaly. There have been more shows in Pacific states than New England ones in 12 of 23 periods - including 1997 and 2004, in particular. New England has even fallen behind non-US shows in six periods!
Other patterns are apparent, as well: The Midwest had its hey day (esp. 98-04), but has slipped away since the "breakup". Non-US shows were tops in 1996 and 1997, but have barely been seen since the hiatus. And if there's a region that's been roundly ignored throughout the band's history, it's not Western states but South Central.
This stacked-column flowchart is expanded from a 4-year chart (by the fabulous FrankensTeam) to cover 23 periods and with narrower columns, faded connectors, and percents (rather than proportions in decimal form). It might also be called a Linked Stacked-Column Graph, Platform Shift Graph, or Shifting Stripe Graph.
Regions are based on Census Bureau divisions, though these may not be ideal. For example, the Atlantic region is a long swath heading south, although DC was played four years before Florida. (Indeed, subsquent comments have suggested using FEMA regions, though there are of course problems w/ any alternative.)
Note also that I've left Pacific separate from Mountain, a distinction that wouldn't be made by some (such as those who divide the country by the Mississippi River). If those two regions are combined, Western shows dominate even more often.
And, yes, you can hang a print of it over your bed.
As far as we know, Phish didn't play any Monday shows their first two years. And except for some regular gigs in 1988, Monday (and the first half of the week) remained less likely to have a show for most of their history. I know, you're not surprised... But there are two interesting twists in the pattern.
First, the distribution of shows across the week became more even throughout the 90s. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were played 2-3 times as often from '89 to '94. But by '97, Wednesday was just as common as Saturday; and by 2000, even Monday tied with Saturday! Gone were the days of booking weekend gigs at clubs in college towns; Phish could play anywhere, any night of the week.
But since the breakup, weekend shows are, once again, twice as likely as Monday. And now, even Thursdays are slipping away. The aggregate pattern now is fewer weeks, and 5 shows in each of them: Tues/Wed and Fri/Sat/Sun. (Two coming graphs will delve more into the related shift towards multiple-night runs in each venue.)
Red dots indicate 5 or fewer shows; green are 20 or more.
Already, rumors are spinning about various stops on an anticipated summer 2015 tour. Wherever it's stopped, and whenever it's announced (likely on a Tuesday, late February?), it's almost certain to happen: Phish 3.0 is all about the summer tour.
For most of this chart, each row shows a calendar year (Jan 1 to Dec 31), with a vertical blue sliver for each Phish show. Three heatmaps summarize those 32 years: The darker blue the sliver, the more shows occurred on that day of the year. In all rows (the 32 years and the heatmaps), dates without shows stay white.
The top multi-colored row is based on a sum across all 32 years, and shows that Phish shows have historically been distributed roughly evenly across the calendar year, with only three exceptions: There have never been shows most January days, several days around the start of the school year, and the third week of December. But glance down the chart (where each row is a different year) and see both noticeable gaps and shifts in where they happened.
Those shifts are summarized clearly in three more heatmap rows at the bottom, one each for three periods in Phish history. Shows from '83-'94 were year-round but with summer downticks reflecting, in part, the targeting of college markets. From '95-'00, summer was central, fall shifted from Nov/Dec to Sep/Oct, and the first three months of the year were thin. Since the hiatus ('03-'14), the first five months (as well as September and November) have been bare - and 3.0 has been decidely summer and October.
So, unless we enter a new pattern, and perhaps even a new era... get ready for the heat, and start brainstorming a costume.
Though a summer event will celebrate "the music of the Grateful Dead" (emphasis added), the last Grateful Dead show was 7/9/95, 30 years and 65 days after their first. Phish reached that age February 5th of last year, will be a year older than that in less than three weeks, and arguably* became the longest-performing jamband when they took the stage 4/26/14.
Though they are said to have expanded rapidly (even exponentially), Phish's growth was far more gradual than that of other bands, including the Grateful Dead. It wasn't until Phish was perhaps** 7 years old that they played 100 shows in the same year, something that the Grateful Dead did in their 2nd year - and that Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey's McGee, for example***, all did in their 4th. (The fastest growing of these was SCI, who played 226 shows in 1997, their sixth year, after two spare ones - though they've played relatively few shows since their 15th.)
And while Phish is thought to have stopped suddenly, their decline was also more gradual: The Grateful Dead's performance frequency peaked (at 150 shows) in their 5th year then dropped (to 4) in their 10th, whereas Phish didn't peak until their 8th year (at only 143 shows), followed by a relatively slow decline until their 18th. Yes, the Grateful Dead (lost and) replaced some personnel, an approach sort of built into the band's music, mystique, and even name. But they also played every year for 31 years, bounced back with abandon after their pause (in 1975), and played more shows per year than Phish in each of the bands' respective 16th through 31st years.
Phish, meanwhile, actually came to a full stop, twice, for almost two and then more than four years. Only WSP has had a (single) sharper drop - but with the exception of that one, WSP has been far more prolific: Only 17 months younger than Phish, they grew almost as quickly as SCI (and in line with both the Grateful Dead and Umphrey's), have typically played more shows at any age than any of these bands, and have played the greatest total number of shows, almost twice the number SCI has played (not Everyday, but the closest to it, at about 24% of the days since they started.)
For their age, Umphrey's McGee wins for consistency and stamina. The band has played more shows at any age than Phish or the Grateful Dead, played more shows in its first 15 years than Phish has in 31, and show no signs of slowing. By 2018, at only 21 years old, they'll have had more stage experience than the Grateful Dead.....though not Widespread, seemingly destined to outlast them all.*
* The Allmans started earlier, and only recently stopped, so maybe they're the oldest - if they're a jamband? And iterations of "the Dead" continue. Don't over think it; just look at the pretty lines and smile. :)
** We are aware of 94 shows in Phish's sixth year, but recognize that there may be others, long forgotten.
*** Don't be offended that I didn't include moe., Wilco, U2, Celine Dion, or anyone else. Some didn't have data; others didn't add value.
Referring to the members of Phish as "the boys" was fun, then "so last week", then ironic. Now, it's just sad. But there's always one way to revisit any issue: statistically.
A little over eight months ago, I posted a Venn diagram purporting to show the numbers of common shows with each combination of Phish songs that mention boys: Lifeboy, Lawn Boy, Dog-Faced Boy, and You Enjoy Myself. The numbers were solid, but some of you questioned the song selection. (No one objected that the first two mention boys only in their titles, not lyrics, but various users suggested adding other songs.)
So, here's a revision, which includes Fluffhead (thanks @larvalcraze) - though not Harpua (which doesn't always mention Jimmy as a boy; sorry, @The_Crested_Hogchoker) or Little Drummer Boy (a cover; sorry, @markah).
This post also does more than update an old farce: This five-petal Venn diagram begins a series of more than two dozen graphs, each drawing on different aspects of Phish.net data, and each utilizing a different kind of graph. Each will post Saturday morning, to give you something to chew on (and perhaps share) over the weekend. Because whose weekend isn't more complete with fresh visualizations of data about the b-... well, you know.
And, by popular demand, yes, you can get it on a shirt - and lots of other stuff, too. Each chart design will be available on several dozen products, with royalties going to the Mockingbird Foundation. And while, sure, this "Five Boys Venn" works on a coffee mug (small or large), it works even better on a boy's toddler t-shirt or mom-to-be's maternity shirt. That's right: Be the first in your 'hood to announce your blue-hued news with a Phish-related visual riddle!
A note on methods: These aren't true Venn diagrams, since each number is total instances rather than unique instances. For example, there have been 191 total Lawn Boys, including the 2 shows that also had Dog-Faced Boy and the 35 that also had Fluffhead; and all three of those numbers include the 1 show that had all three songs.
Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation and the Mimi Fishman Foundation have announced a new on-line charity auction, including five auction items focusing on Phish’s upcoming New Years Eve run in Miami (a pair of tickets to all four shows as well as accommodations at the downtown Miami Hilton) and numbered posters from Phish’s 2014 Summer tour (all from limited runs, signed by all four members of Phish.) New to this auction is a timed release of the posters, with new posters added every few days, each with a unique end date/time.
We're surprised to see how many tickets are still available for shows later this month featuring Trey and varous orchestras, performing pieces from his 30-year career as well as a brand new composition (for electric guitar and orchestra) that he's created just for this tour!
Consider the Hollywood Bowl show, Friday September 26th, featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Scott Dunn. Even if, somehow, the show itself (not to mention the venue) weren't compelling enough, consider the opening act: Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), Bryce Dessner (The National), and the yMusic ensemble, performing selections from new release Music for Heart and Breath.
While tickets up front top $400, rear sections start at only $18 (!) - and while you won't see the bassoonist's fingers from the back, the sound is great. At that price, the music, venue, weather, and ticket availability make for a great family night - so, the Lemurians are coming kids-in-tow. If you are as well, let's aim for a Phish.net family gathering picnic outside pre-show?
The Mimi Fishman Foundation has announced a new on-line charity auction in conjunction with Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation. Bidding has already begun on ticket/cd packages for every show on the fall tour, as well as a Las Vegas package which includes ticket to all three shows, overnight accommodations at the MGM Grand, and a bunch of other goodies. The proceeds of the auction, which closes September 18h, will benefit the organizations hosted at the WaterWheel table at each venue during the tour.
If you're attending the Dick's shows this weekend in Denver, think ahead to Sunday afternoon. You've raged two nights, and you've had two mornings sleeping in, emerging for some variety of breakfast beverage, and following that somewhat later by an impressive tour lunch. But you have another show to go, so now's the time to revive and rejunevate, building your stamina and rebuilding your focus, while helping fund music education for children.
From 1:30 to 3pm, on Sunday August 31, Tracy Stoneker and Brooke Carlson will be leading another session of Surrender to the Flow, yoga accompanied by Phish recordings. All proceeds benefit the Mockingbird Foundation and Street Yoga. Sign up at www.surrendertotheflowyoga.com/register. And breeeeathe....
The Mockingbird Foundation has issued an all-points bulletin seeking old photos of Phish. Now that there's a pause in touring, we're asking you to climb into your closets, break out the shoeboxes, crack open the photo albums, and help us out. We're looking for anything, everything, but especially '83 to '97, the 15 years before there WAS a Mockingbird Foundation. (No need to hesitate on newer stuff - we'll consider anything - but we need to fill gaps in early years, asap!)
And not just you, because there's a chance we've asked you before: We beg, plead, with you to contact other Phish fans you know - perhaps, even, this is a chance to reach out to phans you used to know or travel with but haven't seen in awhile. Find 'em on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace (remember that?), Google+ (remember that?), or just Google stalk them until you find them. Even if you don't have anyone in mind, we hope you'll spread this APB far and wide - tweet it, post it, send it anywhere - all points of contact, please! :)
As an incentive...
As an incentive, we'll send a free copy of the store-version of The Phish Companion's third edition to anyone whose submitted photo is used. Heck, if it helps, we'll throw in a personal call from the board member of your choice.
If you scan them to hi-res digital copies, awesome; let Ellis (email@example.com) know and we'll figure out how best to get them (email, dropbox, etc.). If you'd rather us handle the scanning, send them to Executive Editor Ellis Godard at 12407 Willow Grove Court, Moorpark, CA 93021; we'll reimburse postage, scan them, and ship them back pronto.
Dig deep, reach out, relive the old days, and help out a good cause - please! We need you, and we need you now!
Close your eyes, fold your hands, breathe deeply, and get ready for Alpharetta! If you'll be there in person, be sure to do all that with a small room of other fans focusing on the forthcoming fun, as Michael Levin leads another session of Surrender to the Flow yoga, 3:30-5:30 on Saturday August 9th. Register at www.surrendertotheflowyoga.com/register, and help support the Mockingbird Foundation.
This is one of several items we're hosting at Phish.net today to engage with students in Stephanie Jenkins' Philosophy class. Here, I attempt to answer questions submitted by her students – about the band, its management, its fans, changes in them, and how that relates to community (this week's topic in the course)...
I was fortunate enough to have attended this past Sunday's Merriweather show. Clearly this show was "different" from everything else done this summer (to date). Do you think the band makes conscious decisions to attempt a performance like this or -- as my friend put it on the ride home - "does it just happen?". How much does the bands relationship with its community effect this kind of unique performance.
Every factor – decision, intention, community, happenstance, flatulence, etc. – matters at least a little bit for every show. How much any one mattered for any particular show (that is, how much of the variance in show quality or improv or excitement, is explained by any one of those factors), perhaps not even the band members know for certain. (Mike didn't even know that he teased "The Cave"!) But there have certainly been lackluster crowds, mediocre locations, and darker times (It's not all good, brah); and Sunday was a hot crowd in a storied venue when the band is (by most accounts) trending up.
Do you think Phish -- and bands in general -- choose fan friendly venues that foster community? Is music + community a "magic formula" for band success?
I suspect that all bands, from Phish to the ones that’ll start this weekend in some basement or garage, always want a venue that maximizes the experience, whatever that means. And Phish clearly has been attentive to fan experience, from the start, in innovative ways and to degrees that others don’t typically match or approach.
But I don’t think there’s a strong direct link from venue to community. There are lots of factors about venues – including whether they’re conducive to good sound, security, crowd control, and a good experience for the band – that indirectly facilitate community, partly by there being good shows which focus and ignite the crowd. (David Byrne even makes an interesting argument that the architecture of music venues has affected the kinds of music made, which helps understand a shift from Anarchy to Fuego, if not YEM to Wombat.) I suspect that the band evaluates such factors in terms of their own experience moreso than ours (they’ve played some great shows in some shitholes), and that the benefits to community are essentially just laudable side effects, at least insofar as venue choice goes.
I think the recent addition of a Phish "pit" is a horrible thing for the phish community because it presents a division in the crowd between what I consider a core group of "greedy" individuals (for lack of a better term; you know who they are) and those who are really just excited to experience the rail or be close to the band. Do you think the "pit" is bad for the Phish community?
There’s always going to be a rail, and certain folks are always going to make their way there. There are advantages to rows and chairs, but weeding out “those (and esp. He) whom shan’t be named” probably doesn’t overcome the advantages of mobility and camaraderie that come from a bit of open space.
Per person? No, because there are more people distributed in more ways, and their interaction may be more with the environment than focused on the band - dispersed, distributed, distracted. Put 1/10 the people in a room staring at a stage, and each person is probably more engaged, connected, etc. – however you conceptualize and operationalize community. Outdoor shows tend to have more people, who might have or express or indicate more community in the aggregate, but they are unequally communalized.
Phish, of course, creates exceptions, including nearly a dozen festivals that far exceed the norm for "outdoor shows" -- scores of thousands camping on site, expansive art installations, not to mention innovations in re-entry, water and bathrooms, and, at Coventry, mud. Okay, not all of their unique moments have been desirable, but you might be surprised how much community that mud generated: the stranded walkers, the market for boots, the inescapable suck into which we were all pulled and enveloped. It was a special sort of hell that no one wanted to leave, and that folks walked miles of highway to enter - and was an historic illustration of community that was epically outdoors.
For me, I feel as though 2009's Festival 8 in Indio was perhaps the most positive Phish -- and perhaps any -- community experience I’ve ever had. What show(s) shows bring to mind community for you?
So many, but I’m old. :) I saw community at my first show, with vendor spillover from Dead tour (I bought a burrito and a phan sticker), and fans trading tapes in the lot. I sincerely felt it at least as early as 2/20/93, with perhaps a dozen Phish.net friends on the rail, mezmerized and hysterical. I saw it grow over the years, and even build across tours (for which summer ’93 is memorable). There were many instances where the birth, growth, and evolution of community among fans was apparent – and perhaps none where it was absent. But Clifford Ball was probably the peak, surpassing even Big Cypress. From start to finish, it felt like everyone was smiling at each other with a, “Yep… wow… can you believe it?” look.
At Phish shows and festivals in general, I find the lot/camping scene to be an "important space of hope". It's a break, for a day or a week. There's not much that I'd rather do than hit a few shows on a local run or a 3 day festival like Clifford Ball or Dick’s. This is precisely because of the friendliness and generosity that defines the lot scene. It's a vacation for your persona(s); you can just be yourself.
Agreed. Phish forged serious territory with multi-day, massively-attended, one-band festivals. They do it right, and they do it well. ... Except for Coventry, which sucked -- but we can't glorify festivals without remembering the one that reached the lowest depths. (Have I mentioned the mud?)
Right. Every body needs a hobby, a passion, something in which they have faith - Jesus, football, the White Sox, Gravity Falls (new season starts Friday!). But something different happens among music fans. I wouldn't argue that it's deeper, more embracing, or whatever for individuals - but as a collective, there's clearly something further going on. Going further.
Do you think that the sense of community and belonging and joyous interaction is felt as strongly in other communities as I feel when I'm going to shows? I wonder if music creates and amplifies the Dionysian, the emotional interaction, reaching out. Does an impending NASCAR race create an equivalent satisfaction on race day for those fans? I hope so.
It doesn't seem possible. What's the most collective behavior in which NASCAR fans engage at an event - the wave? or some fraction of them cheering for a particular winner? What at NASCAR, or baseball, or even a Justin Bieber concert (and I've attended two; long live Kuroda!) even approaches the collective mindmeld of audience reactions to and engagement with Phish performances - or, for that matter, with 1000s of other acts? You can sing along (but please don't), air guitar (but no windmills, please), or bounce en masse. Whatever anyone wants to say, philosophically or psychologically, about what's inside the heads of fans in other communities, music fans - and arguably Phish fans chiefly among them - have achieved a level of groupact (never mind groupthink; I'm a sociologist) that's startling.
The members of Phish aspire to a trance state of some sort, as perhaps many improvisational artists do, from their early Oh Kee Pa Ceremony practice/jam sessions, to Mike's frequently writing and speaking about the space between awake and asleep, to... well, just look at Trey's face, when he's doing that back-and-forth rocking with his mouth agape staring into the lights. Certainly some of it is focus, to get through complex improv - but some of it seems more tranced out than Bicknell suggests is common. Trey indeed loses himself in the music. And, on the best nights, so does everyone in the room.
YEM and Divided Sky do it all: Well-known starts (and audience reactions) as a catalyst, epic composition that illustrates their chops, calm (before the storm) retreats for refocus (and a few clouds of bowl smoke here and there), loose and flowing elements to breed serious improv, and explosive endings. It’s not (just) that I’m a JadedVet: Newer material sometimes gets epic, but doesn’t have all five of those elements, in particular the historied starting signals. Harry Hood also works, and Stash is fine but was better when everyone knew the right number of claps. ;)
Travesty. (And not because the song itself is a travesty, which I mention because some would have taken a one-word answer as a joke. I'd love to hear Horse > Silent > Wading -> Wading Jam -> Waiting -> Waiting Jam.)
That’s dense with vagueness and normativity: An answer depends on what helps, hurts, and community mean. :) To the extent that community is indicated in exchange relationships, fan-based commerce by definition is, and so helps (or, at least, expands) community. But some products and services, and some vendors and distributors, are probably more conducive than others to various aspects of community such as identity, membership, integration, ritual, connections, etc. (I hesitate to float examples or venture some typology, but there's something empirical to be said about such patterns.)
Do you think Phish -- the band -- should be doing more to eliminate rampant scalping and secondary market ticket sales that appear to directly impact real fans and the Phish community as a whole?
Phish has done more than most in combating the troublesome elements of scalping, and deserves props for it. There’s always room for discussion about doing more, but I wouldn't put an imperative on the band to do more - partly because I'm an empiricist and partly because I appreciate supply and demand. I’m not opposed to a free market for tickets, as long as the playing field’s equal. Clearly it isn’t always (ever?), and I share opposition to the hacking madness that some folks have used to spin online sales to their advantage. But I support a secondary market for folks who change their minds or lose interest or whatever -- shit happens.
Do you feel as though Phish's relationship with Red Light Management has influenced their creativity and if so is it fair that this can ultimately effect Phish fans as a community?
I know approximately nothing about the band’s relationship with RLM, not even enough to make a sketchy supposition about its impact. But I suspect that any changes in the creativity of the band and its members, particularly to whatever extent those changes affect fans, are far more a function of their age and personal histories than of anything RLM is or does. (The relationship with RLM is itself partly a function of those factors.) I predicted it would slide once I heard they had a backstage cook and masseuse - though it of course slid much further due to drugs and other issues. Maybe RLM, unlike a posh backstage scene, is faciliating more creativity, letting them outsource the hassle and focus on the magic.
As to what's "fair"... No fan has any right to any level of creativity from the objects of their devotion. You don't vest some ownership in Phish continuing to be new, or even good - and no amount of commercialization diminishes anything you have or had. We all hope that wonderful beautiful things will continue forever, but they won't.
Pearl Jam's Ten Club is a fan program that rewards fans (who pay a nominal annual fee) with special offers such as pre-sale ticket opportunities, special CD releases, exclusive merchandise, etc. Phish offers a ticket pre-sale lottery but do you think a program like the Ten Club brings the community closer together or further apart?
RLM’s sister/subsidiary Music Today runs a number of fan programs, including those for Pearl Jam and (their first) Dave Matthews Band. I’m sure Phish was pitched the idea, perhaps many times, but my sense is that they opted out for a variety of reasons, including perhaps some opposition to exclusivity. So far, their unconventional decisions in other areas have borne out as wise; perhaps this one will as well, someday somehow. But it wouldn't be a fully obsessive fan community if we didn't collectively question things like the relationship with RLM, the relationship with Nugs.net, and the state of the LivePhish app.
If you had a chance to make a Phish app to bring fans together -- what would you build?
If folks want to glance at their phone in the show, let it bring them back into it, and both draw from and add to the richness of presence at the show. I want a list of designated phriends integrated with a map of the venue: Best Friend Bob is in this seat with the green checkmark, which you can get to if you turn right at the upcoming portal; Ex-Wife Suzy is here at the red X, but you can avoid her by using bathroom A instead of B; forum regulars The Zee Team are meeting here at the purple rhombus at setbreak to plan their chess move. Maybe there's a gaming system, using song predictions or personal gap records or whatever to increment scores on the user icons shown on the venue map. (Hey, ZZYZX's icon just flashed 300 - but Lemuria finally got his mystery ship, which puts him over the top!)
Depends on what kind of support you mean, what you mean by community, what you mean by best. I think they all satisfy different needs -- apparently they do, at least to the extent they continue to be used. (Anyone miss MySpace? OnLive? Google+?)
From your perspective, what is the role of Phish.net in the phan community?
Phish.net has unparalleled data and related resources, and a community of users that’s notably (even measurably) more positive and engaging than you may find at some alternatives. We hope it continues to evolve to meet the data needs and community desires of evermore fans, while supporting music education grants on the backend. But some folks may prefer something less critical, or more abrasive, and certainly there have been fans who’ve moved on from Phish.net, even of their own accord. I hope every fan finds whatever works best for them, whether that’s Facebook, GroupMe, Whisper, PT, or something else.
PT has entertained many people for many years. Long live PT.
It was almost called 100s of things, but I’m not going to contradict Jim Raras. :)
Does the presence of online communities like phish.net make the "occasional community" more or less of a “miracle”?
The Phish fan community has been extended, strengthened, even emboldened by two decades of online interactions in dozens of services and locales - Phish.net throughout that time, and many others than have come and (for the most part) gone. I've met some of my closest friends through it, and become close friends with dozens of people I would never otherwise have known. We've shared birthdays, weddings, deaths. We've held scores of events, and generated hundresd of grants. Every part of it has seemed like a bit of a miracle to me, and I'm about as unreligious as they come. But every day, I'm thankful for Phish as well as for Phish.net. ... Okay, somedays less than others. ;)
How do you think the technological advances during Phish’s three decades have affected the community? Are we “closer” and more cohesive because of social media, smartphones, and the internet?
There are so many ways to answer that, but... oh, I have some email, texts, and PMs to address...
This week, Phish.net will host several events in conjunction with, and as part of, PHL360: Philosophy and the Arts at Oregon State University. The course is taught by Assistant Professor of Philosophy and "huge Phish fan" Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, who has nicknamed the course "Philosophy School of Phish." (See promo video and syllabus.)
Through midnight tonight, enrolled students will be submitting questions to be answered in a Wednesday morning blog post by Ellis Godard (aka "Ellis of Lemuria") - an Associate Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Mockingbird Foundation, who has been involved with Phish.net since 1991 (and who earned a minor in Philosophy, though perhaps too long ago to be helpful.)
Throughout the day on Wednesday, Drs. Godard and Jenkins will lead discussions about these and other questions in a forum thread (possibly two; they'll be sticky'd at the top). We welcome the involvement of enrolled students in what we hope they will find to be a vibrant and inviting community. And we hope our forum regulars are ready to step up their rhetorical game and hone their linguistic chops for some serious scholarship about the band, their music, and we fans.
Finally, on Wednesday evening, Dr. Godard will host a Google Hangout session for student, to wrap-up discussion, answer additional questions, and reflect on Phish.net and students' experiences here.
The class' topic for the week is "Community". Readings include two chapters of Jeanette Bicknell's Why Music Moves Us, as well as "The Everyday Miracle of the Occasional Community" by John Drabinski, part of Steve Gimbel's The Grateful Dead and Philosophy: Getting High Minded about Love and Haight. Bicknell's book ships from the UK and will take weeks, but Drabinki's chapter is online.
Center your soul and align your breathing with Surrender to the Flow Phish Yoga this Sunday, July 27th, before the second MPP show that evening. Sign up at www.surrendertotheflowyoga.org/register, then join Michael Levin and Kerry Contini at the Columbia Yoga Center from 2-3:30. Registration is only $20, and all proceeds benefit the Mockingbird Foundation and Street Yoga.
And in case you can't catch this one, check Surrender to the Flow's schedule for other upcoming events, including 8/31 with Tracy Stonaker and Brooke.
We've known him as ZZYZX (a monicker he adopted from a southwestern road name for his persona on Phish.net and elsewhere), the guy with the (original) Phish Stats site (and don't miss IHOZ more generally, nor the related page on Facebook), "The Timer" (for recording song lengths, stopwatch and clipboard in hand), and David Steinberg (his birthname, or what we know of it). Now, we know him as author.
David's This Has All Been Wonderful - A Travel Monologue from Summer 1994: The Year Phish Became Phish was released in late April. And ever since Relix dropped a bomb of an excerpt May 7, reviews have been raves, with ratings on Amazon higher than for Puterbaugh's quasi-official Biography (4.5 vs 4.3; gotta have the stats!)
Unlike most of what you may know from him, it's not (much) about stats, but about the man and the experiences. It's a great, smooth read, about a lost time in Phish fandom. Plus, a portion of sales support the non-profit, volunteer-run Mockingbird Foundation. All for only nine bucks!!
Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation and the Mimi Fishman Foundation have joined forces once again for an on-line charity auction, featuring ticket & CD packages for the Phish 2014 Summer tour. Proceeds will benefit the organizations hosted at the WaterWheel table at each venue during the tour. The auction is currently live, with the bidding coming to a close on June 8.
The Mockingbird Foundation (all volunteer, all fans, all for music education) is now accepting donations in bitcoins!
The holiday season is just around the corner, you probably know a Phish fan who hasn't heard this great all-for-charity double-album tribute, and the more we sell, the more grants we'll be able to make...
Of the many elements of the Phish.net feature set, one that often catches my curiosity is Trey's Notebook. It identifies songs most likely to be played at each show, given songs played in the previous year but not the previous three shows.
For upcoming shows, it's an algorithmic prediction ("Here's what you might expect to hear...") that often works remarkably well, such as predicting 68% of the 22 songs played three nights ago in Rochester. But for previous shows, focus on those percentages themselves rather than the list of songs, and Trey's Notebook becomes a measure of the extent to which Phish's setlists are predictable.
That varies widely, as this first chart illustrates. A handful of early shows were completely predicted (100%!), but many were predictive #fails (0%). Shows in 1990-93 were generally less predictable than shows before or since, largely as a function of the repertoire expanding during that period. And there's a general pattern, marked here with a fifth-order polynomial trendline, in maroon, though nothing stark. (Note that this scatterplot replaces an earlier, clunkier lineplot.)
The Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Chicago held a series of fundraisers, during their Summer Honey Tapping Party, in conjunction with the recent Phish shows there. Rock Bottom donated funds to the Mockingbird Foundation for every pint of their “Sample” beer sold over the weekend, and served it in special mason jars emblazoned with the Foundation logo. Co-manager T.J. Catalini also organized a raffle, live music, and more! Foundation board member Charlie Dirksen attended on Friday, as did Foundation volunteers Kevin Hoy on Friday and Scott Marks on Saturday – and, of course, many other Phish fans, including perhaps you.
The Mockingbird Foundation has now received a check for $1,101.50 raised from CraftWorks Foundation, which handles the corporate giving for CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Inc.’s 250 restaurants under multiple brands. We appreciate everyone for their support of music education. In particular, we want to thank TJ, as well as Angie Leach and Michelle Jones of CraftWorks. We hope that we can do it again the next time Phish is in town - and look forward to seeing even more of you there!
For nearly two decades, we and everyone else has listed the 7/30/93 show as "The Veranda at Starwood." That's what Phish called it in their newsletter the previous spring (see at left). But the space didn't even exist yet, as a performance space – and that's not how Starwood billed it. A recently unearthed flyer reveals the space's correct name – or, at least, how the venue was billed that week and that night.
Starwood Amphitheatre was a small southern outdoor amphitheatre owned successively by SFX, Clear Channel, and Live Nation, but closed in 2006 and razed in 2007. Akin to the Nissan Pavillion in Northern Virginia, it had a capacity of 17,137 -- far too big for a 1993 Phish show. It still isn't clear why or how this was the spot to play on the way from Knoxville to Atlanta. But staff roped off the concessions area – a large, flat, concrete plaza directly ahead of the entrance gates – and erected a stage along the edge.
Even with the reduction in space, the space was too big, roped off to accomodate 3,500 though fewer than 1,800 tickets were sold. The area was so restricted that attending fans never even saw the venue proper. The entrance walkway seemed to be straight ahead, through the plaza - but the stage was to the right, with a view of the skyline behind the band. That's where the flock assembled, being eyed suspiciously by the local constables, as they themselves were eyeing the skyline and discussing the Stowe "plug the PA up my ass" comment of 8 days prior. But on this night, nature and the fuzz both backed off, and the band and fans locked in.
We didn't even need, or want, their mammoth "venue proper." We knew it would be special, from flyers taped (yes, actually taped) to windshields in Knoxville the night before (see to right), which promised “a stage built behind the hill in the Plaza area. By not using the usual pavilion area, the Phish family will have a close, intimate experience.” They billed it "the debut plaza party," and we're not aware of any other band performing in that space. It was ours that night, and it's never belonged to anyone else. When Phish announced it, it's name apparently hadn't yet settled. But by the time they took the stage, twenty years ago last week, it was – for one night only – the Plaza at Starwood.
Seth Kaddish has put together a geographic heat map showing Phish touring concentrations by state. (Compare to the one he did of Dead tours. Also, the two are posted together for easy comparison by TheBarnPresents.)
To those curious or surprised by no Halloween show, unsure of a New Year's run, and passing along rumors (and even interviews) about fewer shows and/or longer breaks, some historical perspective...
While only one Phish pause was labelled a "hiatus" by the band - The Hiatus, from 2000-2002 - that wasn't their only pause from playing. (Needless to say, but, it wasn't their longest either, at 815 days compared to the 1664 of the "permanent" breakup from 2004 to 2009.) There was also the "needed break" for the first four and half months of 1995, the European vacation in 1985 (perhaps 114 days, ending 9/26), and, of course, the first extended break, the Heart and Hand Hiatus of 1984, covering Trey's expulsion from UVM and transition to Goddard.
That would make any immiment intermission the sixth such slack - except that there are at least ten more! In fact, pauses for an entire season or more have been nearly annual: Breaks of more than 90 days include those ending on 12/2/93 (after 96 days), 4/4/94 (94), 5/14/95 (134), 4/26/96 (117), 4/2/98 (92), 6/14/99 (175), 5/5/00 (136), 7/7/03 (128), 11/28/03 (117), 4/15/04 (106), and 5/26/11 (145), not to mention what may simply have been the Summer of Untracked Shows (perhaps 96 days ending 9/3/86).
The chart below shows the longest three pauses each year (excluding counts for the hiatus, breakup, and years off). Every year has had a gap of at least 40, and at least seven years have had a gap of nearly six months. So, no Fall 2012 tour isn't unusual - and taking long stretches off next year would be statistically normal.
Originally published in the second edition of The Phish Companion, this is a textual collage of quotations from scores of interviews with the band before, during, and after their two-and-a-half-year hiatus, which started 12 years ago today. These quotations have been edited together in topical areas, which allows for a cohesive telling literally in their words but also allows the reader to pick up on shifts in tone and emphasis over the course of the hiatus.
Phish is currently on hiatus. The band has not decided how long the break will last, nor have they made any future plans collectively or individually. (5) We've got about six gigs left on this tour and ... I want to take this speaking opportunity to thank a couple of people before we go on what's going to be our first extended hiatus in about seventeen years. ... What we're planning on doing, so that you get the message clearly from us right here, is taking some time and writing some music and kind of getting our whole life back together before we return so that we can hopefully get another great seventeen years out of this. ... We have, without exaggerating, the greatest crew even assembled in the history of music, and I mean that. This is a chance for them to take a little breather, too. ... A lot goes in this, it's not just the four of us, it's a whole big family kind of team thing. (1)
Originally posted nine years ago today...
IT has long referred to a transcendent moment of sudden appreciation for Phish and their music, an eruptive combination of sensation and experience. Those who didn't previously "get" Phish, and even some who have disliked Phish's music, become unexpectedly entranced. Whether due to a particular jam, new song, stylistic direction, innovative cover or composition, special guest, silly antic, or simply solid performance, they finally "get IT". And with this band, you can get IT again and again.
I got IT the first time I heard Phish. I probably only barely “got” music at all by that time. But when I heard Lawn Boy on the afternoon of 10/10/90, my ears exploded. And when I attended my first Phish show that night, I was absolutely stunned. This was IT – as strong, diverse, original, and fun as I could imagine – more so, certainly. I was awakened to IT.
The Mockingbird Foundation has announced a short (five-minute) online questionnaire to help plan the manuscript for the Third Edition of the The Phish Companion. Any and all Phish fans are welcomed to take part in the Phish Companion Reader Survey.
Please share, like, retweet, and otherwise help circulate the link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HBM2VBJ. The more respondents who are willing to share a few moments with us, the better TPC3 will be!
The following was originally published in the second edition ofThe Phish Companion, about Sharin' in the Groove, which was officially released twelve years ago today and quickly became of the fastest selling "tribute" albums of all time.
In December 1999, more than three years after first organizing what would become the first edition of this book, Craig DeLucia had the idea to extend the work of the Foundation to a cover album, also for charity. It fell upon me, as an opportunity and (I felt) a responsibility, to take that project from idea into fruition. It was an immense distraction, the commitment of which I had not anticipated and still cannot fathom. But it became something far more rewarding, even historical, than I could have imagined.
Though the project was kept relatively quiet for most of its execution,ideas were bandied about through emails and telephone calls among Mockingbird regulars, around campfire discussions with close friends, and through the trial-and-error process of figuring out what it takes to convince some people in the music industry that a) I wasn’t in it for anything other than what it was at face value and, b) I didn’t have a budget. Through these discussions, and defenses, Craig’s idea evolved into a multi-dimensional concept, the boundaries of which were only hinted at in the first edition of this book:
Phish fan Chris Calarco has been teaching Phish Yoga classes in Portland, OR, starting with a one-off workshop in November 2010 that's turned into a weekly class, with a steady Facebook following. Chris has also conducted classes in conjunction with Phish shows at Superball in Watkins Glen, NY; Svadyaya Yoga in Lake Tahoe; Root Yoga in Denver; Balanced Yoga in New Haven, CT; Dhyana Yoga in Philadelphia, PA; and Yoga Vida in NYC, NY.
Chris will now begin splitting the proceeds from Phish Yoga between the Mockingbird Foundation and Street Yoga. "My Phish Yoga class is all about the symmetry between Phish and Yoga and how the two practices have so greatly contributed to my health and happiness." You can join Phish Yoga August 10th in NYC (615-815pm at Yoga Vida), August 18th & 19th in San Francisco (1-3pm at The Center), and September 1st and 2nd in Denver (2-3pm and 1-230 pm, respectively, at Root Yoga Center).
Can't recall which three Phish songs mention fish? Want to name a pet with their lyrics without having yet another cat named Tela? Want to know the name of a song but can only remember that it mentions Paris or Aquitana? Want to know how many tools or toys appear in Phish lyrics? Want to find out about Elihu but can’t find the song history because you don’t know the title of that song? Now, you can!
Originally published in the second edition of The Phish Companion, the Lyrics Index is now completely revised, updated, and connected from the site's navigation menu (under Music). This is a selective topical index of over 4,000 song references for more than 1,750 words and phrases that appear in the lyrics of more than 225 Phish originals, all organized in 45 topical categories.
The growth of the index, including both corrections and additional (post-TPC2) songs, is due in large part to the assistance of forum regulars Axilla_Part_2_Not_Part_1, BBFCFNJ, forbin1, karmapolice, johnnyd, phan83, ToxicPastePurpleWaste, and WGphan92. Thank you for your help!
GlowStickWars.com has launched a brand new online store, carrying a bunch of new products. The new store includes tubes of solid color Show Sticks (blue, green, and red), LED Gloves (reusable), LED Shoe Laces (reusable) and lots of other accessories so that you can glow at the show from head to toe. GlowStickWars.com is a Mockingbird Foundation partner and will continue to donate 10% of all Assorted Show Sticks purchases to help fund Mockingbird grants supporting music education for kids. Plus, five of the new products will each also generate an additional 10% donation to Mockingbird: Blue Show Sticks, Green Show Sticks, Red Show Sticks, Glow Glasses and Glow Ball Connectors. Order your Show Sticks and other goodies today and take advantage of a 25% off storewide discount!
In April 2000, Charlie Dirksen interviewed Carl "Gears'" Gerhard, longtime Phish guest and member of the Giant Country Horns. The following exerpts from that interview were published in the first edition of The Phish Companion.
Charlie Dirksen: What are your greatest musical influences?
Carl Gerhard: I grew up in a family that totally supported my music. I used to sit in my living room at home for hours and try to play along with every song that came on the radio. That really helped me develop my ear, and from that, I was able to recognize and memorize tunes. I had a great band director in high school (Norris Birnbaum), who loved quality music, regardless of idiom or genre. Our band was always performing the most challenging pieces. He pushed me to be a more well rounded player. I've been a Navy musician for 14 years, and I've played with some super-talented people who have influenced how I play today. I mean, some really hot musicians. I can't say enough about Phish. You can't help but be positively influenced and motivated by their music and their musicianship. No doubt about it, they are the best at what they do.
The following foreword to the second edition of The Phish Companion was written by Lois Harris, who taught Page, Trey, and Fish at Goddard College.
I suppose this little contribution to The Phish Companion should be called a Backward rather than a Foreword, but I guess Foreword will do, given that we will all seem to go that direction without requiring any declaration of the fact. Backward is a different business altogether. In music it’s called retrograde – taking the melody and playing it backwards – in life it is simply memory.
So here are some memories of Phish, as individuals and as a band. First, you have to imagine Vermont: multiple small buildings covered in snow – not always snow, but just to keep this thing rustic, let’s say snow. One building, large by Vermont standards, covered in brown shingle and punctuated by two former hay silos at the far end of the two corridors is the so-called Community Center. The other end of the hall gives access to the Haybarn Theater, wood paneled and multi-functional – a far cry from the massive performance venues the Band would later fill.
In July 2000, Ellis Godard interviewed Ben "Junta" Hunter, the band's first manager/agent, for whom the double-CD Junta is named. The following exerpts from that interview were published in the second edition of The Phish Companion. Additionally of note, this is the 500th blog post on the site!
EG: How did your association with Phish begin?
BH: My “official” association with the band began when we rented a nightclub called Molly’s in Allston, Massachusetts, on 11/3/88. It was the kind of place that had live music only one night a week. If memory serves, they had Dead cover bands and the like on Sundays, and the rest of the time it was a rather, if you’ll excuse the expression, “Euro-trashy” type of dance club.
I would say my primary strength was my ability to proselytize – to spread the good Phish word amongst my friends – and act as sort of a “Johnny Appleseed.” The band’s name was on my lips in nearly every conversation I had during the several years in which I was affiliated with them. I was friendly with the band Ninja Custodian and promoted a gig for them at the Paradise in Boston (with not such terrific results), in late 1990 or early 1991. In fact, it was their drummer, Mike Billington (he of the permanent antic disposition), who first turned John Paluska and myself onto Phish.
EG: What interested you about them so early on?
The following foreword to the second edition of The Phish Companion was written by Jane Ambrose, Trey's music teacher at the University of Vermont.
I read in the paper this morning that Phish had the second largest box office gross per city in North America. Bon Jovi was first, but the average ticket price was so much higher, that without an adjustment, Phish would no doubt have been number one. So I thought again why it might be that this band that started here at our little University was so popular. After all, 70,000 people made their way to The Great Went in Limestone, Maine, not exactly one of the population centers of the Northeast. Recently I watched the DVD of Bittersweet Motel and was struck by the absolute joy of the audience-joy in each others’ company and joy communicated by the music of Phish. Regardless of their enormous success, the guys haven’t changed very much. I love the picture on the cover of the March, 2003 Rolling Stone - Phish on ice skates, dressed like drag queens, with my friend Trey in a tutu over his jeans and with a bare chest. Happy people make other people happy.
In August 2000, Jay Kahn (RIP) and Ellis Godard interviewed Aaron Wolfe. The following exerpts were published in the first edition of The Phish Companion.
EG & JK: What do you remember most about Princeton Day School and the folks you went to school with?
Aaron Wolfe: Princeton was a pretty quiet, homogeneous place. But even then we knew that the suburbs created the best rock and roll. That's why we all took up the air guitar with such dedication.
Tom and I formed an air guitar band called, unbelievably, "A Dot Tom" – decades before the Internet and the assault of the "dot.coms." The songs were mostly adaptations of other people's songs. Neil Young's “Cinnamon Girl” was remade – without reason whatsoever – as “Michaelson Girl.” Some were inspired by things we saw outside the windows of our Latin class.
EG & JK: What's your first memory of Tom Marshall?
Matty and Caitlin are auctioning yet another beautiful Phish-related pin with 100% of the proceeds going to the Mockingbird Foundation. This one runs until the morning of Tuesday the 7th, and features a roadkill'd possum - the perfect Valentine's gift, perhaps?
As were began planning for what would be come The Phish Companion, one of the stumbling blocks was a title. Personally, I wanted something a little more encyclopedic-sounding than what we ended up with, but here is a list of other 134 other titles considered...
The following is the text of Page's senior study from Goddard College. It was first "kindly made available to readers of the net" in 1992 by then-fan (later employee) Shelly Culbertson, who posted it to the then-nascent Phish.net mailing list, and is now reposted 19 years later in celebration of the 24th anniversary of its submission.
THE ART OF IMPROVISATION
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts at Goddard College
December 19, 1987
At the age of four I began taking piano lessons. For the next twelve years I studied with four different teachers. They attempted to teach me to read music, a skill I never fully developed. My dyslexic tendencies made the process very difficult and a good ear made it easier for me to play by ear. In my early years of lessons I had no problem playing the pieces that were assigned to me as long as I had heard my piano teachers play them for me. As the level of difficulty in the pieces I was playing increased, I was forced to learn how to read. I struggled with the process and didn't entirely enjoy it, though the ones that I did learn stretched my technical abilities. The most difficult piece that I learned was Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."
During my ninth grade year I stopped taking piano lessons. It was during this next stage of my playing that I began to really enjoy playing. Obviously this was because I was playing for myself, not for my piano teachers or parents. I spent much of the next year listening to rock albums, playing what I heard, and taking my improvisation more seriously. Often I was just improvising the voicings to the songs that I was playing, but my ability to do blues improvisation increased also. My first introduction to the blues was a book I received in first grade called Jazz and Blues for Beginners. This book introduced me to blues progressions. These are progressions that alternate between the 17 and the IV7 chord and generally end with a V7-IV7-17 progression. Both rock and jazz find their roots in the blues, and in fact rock has never really left. The majority of rock songs written are a variation on the 17-IV7-V7 progression. Many do not vary at all.
I suppose that my main motivating factor for practicing during my high school years (other than the fact that I enjoyed it) was that...
Fan website CashorTrade.org has had an incredible year developing a "face-value community", with nearly 12,500 members and 26,000 posted trades of tickets, rides, lodging, artwork, and handmade goods. To show their gratitude, founders Brando and Dusty are running a massive New Year's Eve ticket giveaway: 2 tickets to 7 different bands playing on New Years Eve 2011, including Phish, Furthur, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Moe.
The site continues to develop, including a new API program that allows users to import their Face Value Trades directly into any website, blog, or Facebook. All Phish.net members can now access CashorTrade.org posts directly in Phish.net by visiting The Phish.net Trades page! CashorTrade.org has integrated the Phish.net API into their site as well: Phish.net recent setlists, reviews, forum, and personal show lists are directly presented under the Phish.Net tab on the CashorTrade.org homepage. CashorTrade.org members can feel free to add shows to their list as well as post directly to the Phish.Net forum while remaining on the CashorTrade.org website.
Trey Anastasio, 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman (though note that setlists have not been pre-written since prior to summer 1997)
I'm the chooser of what we're going to play. I wonder how it got to be that way. I guess it's just my personality. To me, it's like composing, and I really like composing and I don't get to do it when I'm on the road, so it's my little way of making little suites every night. I usually plan something out before we go on stage, and then we change it when we get on stage. It's very rare that we stick to the whole songlist. Or any of it, for that matter. But I choose it, partially by what we haven't played for a couple of nights before.
Trey Anastasio, in a 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman
We consider the community aspect and the communication aspect of what we do to be the whole point of it, the whole fun of it. That why we like playing live so much better than making albums. Though I do like making albums a lot, I could see myself getting to a point in my career where, if we could get to a situation where we had a studio near our homes — which we’re working on, we’ve actually built the building, and we’ve started buying equipment — it won’t be long until we have a studio in Burlington. At that point, I could see going much more into the album end of things. But the communication thing is definitely where it’s at.
Mike Gordon, Detroit Free Press, 12/5/97
It’s kind of silly when [fans] are making pie graphs about set list openers. But then, I always liked a good graph.
If you're doing your holiday shopping online with Amazon, start with these links and as much as 15% of your net purchase will go to the Mockingbird Foundation, including Amazon's Cyber Monday Week and Toys' List (both good until Dec. 3rd) and their Holiday Toy List (good until Dec 24).
Even if you buy nothing from those lists, at least start there to support music education for kids, and your own Phish.net.
Les Claypool, to the audience at the 11/6/01 Oysterhead show
I pull Trey to the dark side, he pulls me to the light side, and Stewart says, 'Hey, you guys, work it out.'
A story from Trey about meeting Lou Reed, from the 10-31-98 Phishbill
We did this gig with Lou Reed in Germany. I was getting ready to go on, and I was walking across this field behind the stage. It was this kind of cool outdoor venue, and there was Lou Reed sitting there. So I went up to talk to him, introduce myself and everything, he was really nice, and I asked him a couple of questions about what he’s up to these days, blah-blah-blah. And then he was standing there and we went to go onstage, and as I was walking onstage he said, ‘Show ‘em how to rock and roll. After all, we invented it.’ I said, “Oh, okay,” and walked onstage. And as we started playing I got really confused and couldn’t tell if he had meant Americans or the Velvet Underground. I thought both statements could be true. So I spent the whole set trying to figure that one out. I still haven’t figured it out. I still sit there scratching my head every night while we’re playing: Did he mean Americans…?
Trey Anastasio, The Detroit News, 10/26/95
Music can’t lie — it really is the universal language. People can hear your intent. If your intent is to sell records and make money, people will hear that, and it blackens the music. That’s why the live thing has been so exciting, and so spiritual for us. Once the fans are in the room, there’s nothing we can do on-stage that will bring us any more monetary gain. So we’re then free to explore and celebrate the spiritual aspect of the music.
New York Times ‘Pop Review’, 10/24/96
Bluegrass topped by a Klezmer tune, mock-classical counterpoint dissolving into free-form a capella vocals, pop lounge songs and light funk, blues guitar licks and bombastic rock vamps — Phish’s [concerts have] all that and more in nearly three hours of benignly virtuosic music.
Phish lyricisit Tom Marshall has been tweeting up a storm, featuring the release of unheard cuts including the original Backwards Down the Number Line, the original Silent in the Morning, and the original I Am Hydrogen.
Mike to The Onion, 10/15/97
Phish has performed in 775 venues thus far. Many have come, many have gone - and this chart summarizes them all, with the total numbers of venues played for the first and last time in each year. Venues were of course heavily "gained" (played for the first time) during the band's 1990-1994 growth - though many were "lost" (played for the last time) in each of those years as well. Indeed, more were lost than gained in '91 and '94 - and then in every year from '97 onward, with the decline in the number of shows and the resurgence of multi-night runs at the same venues.
Trey to CNN, 9/27/02
Anytime somebody joins the [Trey Anastasio] band I try to get to know everything about them. What's their favorite run, what keys do they like to play in, are they a natural soloist or natural support person? And then create a space in the band for them to be themselves.
Phish.net folks Brian Feller and Charlie Dirksen are guests tonight on the Type II Cast podcast - available for streaming during or after the broadcast and for subscription via iTunes - discussing the Tahoe and Outside Lands shows. "Songs were played, and then the next songs were played," Brian Feller.
The following excerpt from The Phish Companion is shared not only to encourage you to explore the book, but in light of concerns on the forum about jaded vets. We’re of course thrilled that so many people continue to discover (and rediscover) Phish, and welcome you to a site where connoisseurship sometimes puts praise in the context of historical variance. Previously posted in the earlier (Tumblr) version of this blog, it's now posted here...
There has been such extensive discussion about Phish’s high points that there are common suggestions for best performances (esp.12/31/95), strangest setlists (esp. 2/20/93), and most cosmic experiences (esp. 1/1/00). Much less attention is paid to the “bad moments” in Phishtory. You can find critique (and anything else) in excess in some places on the Internet, but it’s taboo in some circles. Many fans wear rose-colored blinders, or even nay-say about the possibility of mishaps, following the neo-hippie mantra that “it’s all good”. But it isn’t, even with Phish, and discussing that is a necessary responsibility in comprehensively covering their history and music.
Trey Anastasio - "Back to the Phuture" article in July 2000 SPIN magazine
I went online in a Phish chatroom once. I logged on as Crackhead and was talking about smoking crack with Trey backstage. And they were like, 'Bullshit! He doesn't do that!' and I was like, 'Yes he does.' And they were like, 'What was Brad Sands, Phish's road manager wearing?' and I said 'Red Shirt, black tie, standing over by the hors d'oeuvre tray.'
The second Phamily Poker Classic is ON, right now, at Harvey's Resort and Casino. To celebrate, we're auctioning off nine (9) numbered and signed posters from the original event, last Halloween in Atlantic City.
These are beautiful 11x17 digital prints on 100lb felted cover, all hand drawn and hand done type, signed by fabulous artist Erin Cadigan, featuring a mockingbird dealing four Aces representing Phish's instruments, while the Phamily watches from the background, and a whirl pool of fish bones and eyeballs swirls about.
Then-Manager John Paluska, 7/30/95 New York Times
It took a lot of convincing, but Elektra finally came around to the idea that Phish is not a hit-single-and-MTV kind of band. We could stop putting out records and continue to grow.
Annual counts of Grateful Dead and Phish shows form a similar shape in some regards: early rapid rises, a sharp cut after 8 years or so, and relative continuity for the later 15 or so years. The Dead's curve does have twice as many sudden drops, indicating years with shorter or fewer tours. But their "hiatus" didn't even last an entire year (1975, which also included several shows), while Phish have had more years with no shows, and latter years with half what surviving Dead members peformed. Moreover, excluding their festivals, Phish tours typically hit arenas and sheds, avoiding the stadiums that became a key element of Dead tour.
(Note: An earlier post included incomplete Dead data.)
Carlos Santana, in All Access
When you get inside the music, like musicians do, gravity disappears.
Dylan at SeatGeek sent over an analysis of top venues to see Phish during their 2011 summer tour, based on average ticket prices. The results as of 6/15/2011 are as follows:
1. Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, NV - 8/9 & 8/10
2. Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA - 8/8
3. UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL - 8/15 - 8/17
4. Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, OH - 6/5
5. nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA - 6/19
6. Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, OH - 6/4
7. Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO - 9/2 - 9/4
8. Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien, NY - 6/8
9. DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - 6/3
10. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Charlotte, NC - 6/17
SeatGeek - a search engine that allows comparison shopping across major secondary markets including StubHub, TicketsNow, and TicketNetwork - shows that of Phish's 30-show summer, the overall average price is $92.47 (excluding Super Ball IX).
Trey, 6/5/04, Billboard
There comes a point where everybody's got an opinion, and they're all valid. You have to do what's true to your heart.
The iPhone app iDidn'tKnow has been updated to v3.0. With new features and content, the app now has over 1,000 questions, puzzles, and factoids - to test your knowledge of the Phish, and/or pass some time in show traffic. As always, a portion of all sales go to the Mockingbird Foundation., with whom app producer TourBuddySystems is a partner.
Scott Anderson is leading an effort to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to Mike when the band walks on stage for the first set of the 6/3/11 show, his 46th birthday. Check out the Facebook page and flyer.
Next Monday, May 30, Si Twining and Bruuuce.com will host Daily Dose Day, giving away 125 hourly downloads (25 each from Phish, Bruce Hornsby, Dave Matthews Band, the Grateful Dead, and Bela Fleck) to raise funds for the ALS Assocation (fighting Lou Gehrig's disease) and NSPCC (fighting cruelty to children).
Issue #29 of Surrender to the Flow will hit the lots at Bethel with 64 pages of fun. Later issues this year include #30 (eight-page mini-issue) @ Superball IX, #31 (56 pages) for the second leg of summer, and #32 (eight-page mini-issue) for Colorado. Each includes news, reviews, venue info, essays, articles, games, statistics, and more.
Yesterday, GlowStickWars.com debuted a new "Pick Up Sticks" program. Fans attending Bethel Woods can place an order online for concert-friendly glow sticks (Show Sticks) and pick up their order at the concert. Just buy 2 or more tubes at GlowStickWars.com using promo code BETHELPUS; your order will be discounted by 10% and free shipping, and all orders will be available for pick-up each day on the lot, from the time the gates open until show time. Each day they will tweet, email, and post to Facebook their exact location. The second best part is that, if you miss your pick up, or even miss the shows for any reason, GSW will issue you a 100% refund - no questions asked. The best part is that 10% of every purchase is donated to The Mockingbird Foundation.
Mike Gordon's 11/16/10 show in Minneapolis is available for free download from LivePhish.com. Remixed and mastered from the band's multi-track recordings, the show features Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes", JJ Cale's "Ain't Love Funny" and Alanis Morisette's "Hand In My Pocket".
Phish is in the running in ESPN Radio personality Colin Cowherd's Best Rock Band contest. "Herd" put 64 bands into four regional brackets (ala NCAA), with Phish as 10th seed in the Midwest (behind the White Stripes at 9, and ahead of the Beastie Boys at 11). They are currently in the running against The Ramones, and losing. If that bothers you, go vote.
A rambling Huffington Post post blames Mike and Jon for the "statistic out there, unverified as it may be, that roughly one third of the audience at any Phish show is Jewish." The rest is a mix of rehashed tripes and stretched imagination.
Jon Fishman, 4/22/92 interview with Shelly Culbertson
We won't record any covers. ... I don't think that most of the covers we do are in an original enough fashion to merit putting them on an album. .. Its something we just don't put that much energy into. The covers that we learn, we learn because they're great songs and we play around. ... It's kind of more like educational material than it is something that we want to ... put our stamp on.
The Mimi Fishman Foundation just launched a new charity auction, closing Sunday, February 27. The auction features posters from the 2010 Phish Fall tour as well as their New Years run, all numbered and signed by all members of Phish, as well as two String Cheese Incident 2011 Winter Carnival packages with tickets to all three SCI March 2011 shows as well as a signed poster from the band.
Christwire - a religiously toned Onion-like site - takes tongue-in-cheek swipes at The Phish from Vermont.
This image has been used on Phish.net, in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) file, for many years. Now, by popular demand, get it on a shirt, sticker, or mug, and 5% of the purchase price supports music education for children, going directly to the Mockingbird Foundation (www.mbird.org)
In an Artsblog post, Annie Burkhart writes, "Phish has a fanatic following, so much so that it’s normal for tickets to sell out three minutes after they go on sale. The possibilities to mobilize the massive community are awesome, and that is just what the founders ofThe Mockingbird Foundation have done. A foundation organized by Phish fans, The Mockingbird Foundation, funds music education programs for children, especially in communities touched by Phish tours. This past weekend, the foundation donated $1000 for instruments to the Atlantic City High School. It’s their mission to grant access to music, but they strongly support programs that integrate student interaction with music. Music is a Phish fan’s fuel; it would be silly to keep it confined to music halls and venues.
Even though we get really pumped over songs with lyrics about running antelopes and possums, we do what we can to spread the groove into communities, and I couldn’t be happier to be a morsel of that culture."
The current Weekend Poker Update for Atlantic City's Real Deal includes the Mockingbird Foundation's own Phamily Classic among the events to witness, and notes both that it's sold out and that it's for charity.
Statement from Billy, Jerry, Phil, Mickey, Bobby, Vince [The Grateful Dead; c. 7/2/95]
If you don't have a ticket, don't come. This is real. This is first a music concert, not a free-for-all party. ... Many of the people without tickets have no responsibility or obligation to our scene. They don't give a shit. They act like idiots. They think it's just a party to get as trashed as possible at. We're supposed to be about higher consciousness, not drunken stupidity. ... They can only get away with this crap if you let them. The old slogan is true: if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. ... Listen to the rules, and pressure others to do so.
Page, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3/25/92
It's the information age, these days. And the Phish.net has really changed the face of the band, because anytime anything happens that's out of the ordinary -- which is practically every Phish concert -- everybody on the network knows about it the next night. We recently premiered six songs -- songs that didn't make our new album -- in the first gig of this tour. A bunch of people taped the show. That night, people put the descriptions of those new songs on the Phish.net -- and [information on] how you could get a copy of the tape. So within days, you've got tapes of these new songs all over the country, which is exactly what we'd want. That way, when we go out on this national tour, people are going to have heard of the new songs, and even heard tapes of the new songs, before we get to the different towns.
The (Springfield, MA) Republican, from an article titled "Phish Fans Back Up Road Traffic" noting that previous police press releases this week said "Amherst police...would have additional officers on patrol working traffic and crowd control, and looking
Hadley police report that fans headed to the Phish concert at the University of Massachusetts Mullins Center caused heavy eastbound traffic along Routes 9 and 116 Saturday night. The Hadley dispatcher reported there was "tons of traffic" along the main road through town, which has caused things to be a little chaotic. There were no problems other than the bumper-to-bumper line of cars, she said. Amherst police reported no problems.
Go figure. Phish plays a solid show last night with songs many fans, in many eras, longed for - NICU, Carini, 2001, Mike's & Weekapaug, Funky Bitch, Fluffhead, Loving Cup. But many fans, particularly a number of the lot of you here within our (multiple and overlapping, but ultimately notable if not distinct) bubble of Phish veteranism, complain that it lacked anything notable, and didn't justify Miner-level praise (all due respect to his vocabulary and skillful phrasing).
Sure, I'm a fan of the weirdness, too. I'm honored to have been at the 2/20/93 Roxy, for example, among others. (Not that last night was that. The Roxy was miles, and locked smiles, beyond last night.) And I've of course made sure to hear everything from the early embarrassing-in-retrospect bar shows to the later embarrassing-in-most-ways Coventry shows. But I've aggressively cut back on what I listen, particularly, post-breakup, to perhaps only a show or two each tour that I didn't actually attend, because the jadedness was ruining it for me. And it may be ruining it for you.
By the "breakup", I'd stopped going for the music. I was going to see friends, and to experience the aura - and those, too, were of course changing. The music's now back for me, and not just because it's gotten better, but because I'm not mired in it.When I head to AC next week, it won't just be exciting because of the imminent Halloween show, or the 120-seat Phamily Poker Classic at the Tropicana. It'll be because friggin' PHISH is playing. And they play great shows. Like Providence, last night.
The reliable stuff, the solid stuff, the strings of good songs with no flubs or meanders or distractions or oddities, the straight-ahead "this is our stuff" Phish? That's the show last night, getting 2 of 5 stars because it came too soon after Uttica, and verged too little from the compositions.
Trey Anastasio, Rockline, 3/22/94
For this album we wanted to something new and somebody closer to our age. There's always this feeling with each album that, what have we done before and what's a direction that we haven't gone in? The album before Hoist [Rift] was really conceptual. It was kind of a concept album, and the whole thing was strung together. We wanted to just go swing to a whole different direction, and [Hoist producer] Paul Fox is somebody who... I think the biggest thing that appealed to us was that his records sounded so good.
Tiger, Spokesman for the Seminole Tribe
"My biggest concern was they were going to trash the place up," said Tiger, who had a change of heart when Great Northeast promised a rigorous cleanup and numerous announcements for concertgoers to respect the land. "They didn't leave a cigarette butt," he said.
Billboard.biz article “Live Phish Clinches Best Touring App Award at Billboard’s ‘Music Entertainment Live’ conference by David Downs (10/5/10)
A mobile phone app to stream and download Phish concerts after they happen received the Best Touring App award during the Billboard Music App Awards at the Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live! conference today in San Francisco. Up against Bonnaroo’s festival app by Aloompa and the R5 music venue app from Ticketfly, Live Phish clinched the award with a series of key features that’s driving sales.
Brad Serling, CEO of Live Phish builder Nugs.net said more than 10,000 fans of the touring jam band downloaded the app during its first week, and 17% of those downloaders went on to purchase concert audio as well as Phish back catalog items through the app. “
Phish has of course debuted more songs in October than any other month (130). While only 71 of those were on Halloweens as part of the band's "musical costumes", leaving 59 other October debuts, November comes in first (with 70) if Halloween is discounted. June's right behind (with 69).
Interestingly, October is the month with the most lost songs - the most songs last played during that month and not played since - and, moreover, with more songs than debuted on Halloween: 100 songs were last played in an October, 86 of those prior to the "breakup".
CNN's put together a nice set of "how-to" guides for doing on-the-street/at-the-scene interviews and reports. If you have a decent mobile video solution (iPhone, Droid, etc.), consider posting iReports from fall tour. And if you do, let us know so that we can relay them here!
Trey’s beloved dog Marley passed away ten years ago this month. In her memory, we share these words from the second edition of The Phish Companion, written by Brian Feller:
I am not sure when it was that I first met Marley but it had to be somewhere around late 1992 or early 1993. Once Phish upgraded their touring gear to include a full size tour bus in 1992 it enabled Trey to bring Marley along more often. After that point and for the next few years she was a regular part of the backstage scene. For as much noise and strange people that were always around, she was a calm and friendly dog, very much at home on the road with the band. She mostly kept to the hidden areas of backstage but you would sometimes see her darting around or even playing if there was enough space. In the time before Trey had children it seemed like it gave him a feeling of having some of home with him on tour. I know he loved that dog with all his heart, and I was indeed sad when I realized she was missing from backstage and would not be returning. She will forever remain as one of my fond memories of the earlier days of Phish.
Paul Asbell, Trey's guitar teacher at the University of Vermont, in a foreword to the second edition of The Phish Companion
Making music has always been the single most important, enduring obsession in my life. I’m truly grateful for what music has given back to me in return for my attentions. Teaching others often reminds me how much i long to live in a world that values music as i do. I was raised in a “real folk” household where I saw music played regularly by my Dad and his friends… it helped me to form the understanding that music was created by real humans with practiced skills, as opposed to originating from the radio. Our culture often seems to send the message that the importance of music is found in the grandeur of the spectacle, the celebrity of the performers, or the number of units sold. I think this unfortunate message can be offset by passionate music professionals and teachers who kindle the flame, “pass the torch” to others to follow, and in the process build more discerning, “tuned in” audiences to play for. Here’s hoping it continues!
I'm just hoping it'll last another year, or however long it'll last -- as long as we keep getting along and stuff.
Now that it's April, with love in the air and winter's soreness in your shoulders, we know you're ready for this: Mockingbird-branded mini vibrator massagers.
Get 'em soon; at 2 for $5, they won't last long. Mockingbird Massagers. For those average-great shows, when you just need a little more pizzaz.
-- The Press-Enterprise (Riverside CA), 12/8/09 http://tinyurl.com/yb4ynwq
"The Empire Polo Field in Indio, home of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Stagecoach Country Music Festival and this year's Phish Festival 8, is nominated for "Best Major Outdoor concert Venue." [by Pollstar].
Coachella also got a nod in the "Music Festival of the Year (non-touring) category.
The 2009 Pollstar Concert Industry Awards will be held Feb. 17 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles."
Originally published in the second edition of The Phish Companion, this is a list of the 22 most statistically unusual Phish shows. Determinations were made by the highest “Last Time Played” averages (the average, for each show, of the number of shows since each song in that show was played). Only shows in the previous ten years were considered (to prevent bias from spottier records for earlier years); and Halloween, television, and radio shows were excluded:
Originally published in the second edition of The Phish Companion, this is a list of the top 24 shows as determined by “Gotta Have It” rankings submitted by hundreds of volunteers. The list starts with the show with the highest ranking average, and excludes some shows that had been ranked by fewer than five volunteers:
From a “newsmakers” interview with retiring Indio (CA) Councilwoman Melanie Fesmire, from the Palm Springs, CA Desert Sun published 12/7/09 at http://tinyurl.com/yflbb7w
The Coachella (Music and Arts) Festival, Stagecoach and Phish festivals have helped put Indio on the map as a first-class entertainment venue.
aul Caine, “Phish at Madison Square Garden” (A.V. Club NY review, 12/4/09), http://tinyurl.com/y96hx6r
One of the most impressive elements of a Phish concert, aside from the crackerjack light show, is the degree to which fans personally invest themselves in the music. When a song is performed sloppily or a solo doesn’t last as long as it could have, there is an odd sort of familial disappointment, like a son’s embarrassment at his father’s shortcomings. But when the music is strong, it’s like a feedback loop that drives the band higher and higher. You can see it on stage and you can see it in the crowd.
Portland, ME, newspaper, 12/2/99
Simplicity is the new mantra for Phish.
Trey Anastasio, New York Post, 1/1/99
I'm the overbearing leader type, although I sometimes shy away from that. If Page is the father, I guess I'm the mother.
The following was posted to the Mockingbird Foundation website on October 9, 2008:
Stat Analysis Suggests Bust-Outs at Spaceship Hampton
Hardcore Methodology has Hardcore Phans Excited
Phish’s return to the stage next March is destined to involve screams of joy, lots of press, and several new songs. The band will perform three shows atHampton Coliseum in Virginia, after more than 4.5 years since its then-permanent breakup. A statistical analysis of information about it’s previous 12 shows at that venue, 34 shows in that state, and 1440 shows in history demonstrates that Hampton performances stand out. Specifically, it suggests that the band will perform Sample in a Jar, Harry Hood, Mike’s Song, Weekapaug Groove, Bathtub Gin, and Cars Trucks Buses (in order of the strength of expectation), as well as at least three new songs.
Starting around 1996, Phish's print advertisements for their shows began to get strange. But 1998 was a banner year for it.
Spring 1998 ads featured a Kung Fu character and proclaimed "Phish Destroys America".
Summer 1998 ads announced that "in addition to their other amazing expoits, the band will perform in a temple of fire", possibly referring to the "ambient fourth set" of the Lemonwheel. (Concerts LA by Casenet actually listed Temple of Fire as the opening act for Ventura!)
Fall 1998 ads (e.g. for the Greek Theatre) read "ROAD SHOW '98 ... They drive FASTER & play HARDER ! ACTION... PHISH.... Their GUTS are as hard as the STEEL in their ENGINES." The ads showed a demolition-derby-type car with a number 72 on the side.
Written by Dan Hantman 6/16/04; posted with his permission 11/5/12...
So, I've obviously been thinking a lot about The End of Phish. I realized today that the last show will be almost exactly 10 years after I first heard Phish -- a moment that itself will end up marking roughly the midpoint of the Phish timeline. In that vein, I've been thinking about the portion of Phish's career I've watched unfold in real-time...and all the "big thoughts about music and bands" that Phish has put into my head. I always tell people that Phish taught me how to listen to music. And they certainly taught me what music could mean.
I knew from the moment I heard it that the Announcement was okay, even good. It just felt right in my gut. As I said on this list before, I don't mean to say at *all* that I knew this decision was *coming*, but I definitely was wondering where the band was *going*... and in that context, it all made sense.
So intuitively, on the "heart" level, I was with Trey as soon as I got the news. But I've been trying to put it together on a "head" level. And I think I just got it:
If "Phish" (the idea, the phenomenon) was about one thing... it wasn't about intricate fugues or key changes. It wasn't about sick jamming. It wasn't about drugs or dreadlocks. It wasn't about wacky covers or about cultivating a new Grateful Dead for the suburban-scape. It certainly wasn't about "songwriting." All those things helped shape the band's personality, but they weren't at the core of it.
Rather, Phish was about hard work.
Phish proved, more than any other band, that rock and roll greatness can be archived through sheer, unflinching effort. Phish won because they practiced. Because Trey spend weeks on end writing up the score for crazy wacked-out sonic gymnastics. Because they brought *teachers* out on tour with them to school them in new genres. Because they were constantly forcing themselves to invent: 'Hey' exercises, Oh Kee Pa ceremonies, Big Ball Jams, secret language, hot dogs, musical costumes, macaroni maracas, playing through the night... They never stopped.
Aside perhaps from Fish (who I suspect was born pounding out a rhythm on his round little tummy), I don't think any of the boys is a raw, natural musical genius. There was no Dylan, Hendrix, or Garcia here. They just wanted this so bad, they saw the possibilities, and they went out and fucking did it. That's why when you see Phish at their best on stage, you can see each band member looking around going "holy shit, this is actually fucking happening to me"... no sense of entitlement or expectation, just the joy of somebody who hauls ass and watches it pay off.
And that's why, with the hiatus, and the waning of the desire to bust ass, Phish just had to end.
All bands "stray" from their original genius (use the word "decline" if you want). The Stones are still rocking, but it's just not possible for them to convey the blues-soaked sex romps that defined their glory days. In that way, to the extent that all rock and roll bands are about youth, decline is inevitable. But that's not the point with Phish. Phish *could* have gone on forever, if the impulse to work were still there. If Trey were still calling the other 3 to hop out of bed on a Friday morning and hustle down at 10:15am to work through a set of needlessly difficult exercises -- Phish could go on like that forever. But once they stepped back, took the hiatus, dramatically scaled back the number of shows... it was a foregone conclusion. Phish can't exist at 20, 50 or 75%.
Phish was a 110% operation. The minute it went to 99%, it might as well have been 0%. And I can only say one thing to Trey for having the foresight to see that: Thanks, man.
Brad Serling of nugs.net/LivePhish.com (7/28/03)
The idea behind Live Phish downloads is to get as much music to as many fans as possible as quickly as possible. With that thought in mind, I am confident that Phish will continue to embrace technology as a means to achieve this goal. The sky is the limit in terms of potential applications and I am definitely excited to see how things evolve.
"That's how our whole career has been - stupid ideas that work."
- Page in Rolling Stone, 3/6/03, p. 42
Mike, in interview with Jonathan Cohen, Billboard, 12/21/02
First band practice. Let’s see. What did we play? I think I remember the Talking Heads’ song “Pulled Up.” There was probably an Allman Brothers song like “Whipping Post.” Maybe even a Grateful Dead song. Actually I think we played “Midnight Hour.” This was in Trey’s dorm lounge. The complex at UVM was Wing, Davis, and Wilks. He was in Wing. It was the fourth floor of Wing, in the dorm lounge. There is no tape of that, but there were 25 people dancing in the lounge. We also played some originals that day. Trey had some songs, like “Skippy the Wonder Mouse” [and] “Fluorescent Gerbils.” It was all sort of rat and mouse related [laughs]. Maybe “Fluffhead.” That was pretty early. If not then, it would have come soon after.
Mike, in Billboard, 12/21/02
Well, the funny thing about styles is that we used to dabble in a lot of different bags. I think as we matured a bit, there was an effort to try to be a rock band and not be something we're not. We wanted to get better at one thing rather than trying to do a million different things, like jazz, or bluegrass, or other things we have tackled.
Trey to CNN, 9/27/02
The biggest sacrifice to me is to not be in an atmosphere where I can keep writing and moving forward. I tend to move forward fairly quickly and I enjoy that. I feel like there’s something out there and I have felt that way for a long time, that involves all those elements that is very inclusive of the audience but also very deep.
Jonathan Keifer, The Moment Ends?, Gadfly Online, 6/02
Phish is not the next Grateful Dead, but the Phish scene is to the Grateful Dead’s something of what Volkswagen’s new Beetle is to the old: obedient but hardly servile; bolder, with more horsepower; slicker seeming, yet goofier when you think about it; a good idea to some, a bad one to others; an idea whose time has gone, or come. But not merely a replacement. Such things, to the people who hold them dear, the true groupies, are irreplaceable.
Trey Anastasio in Rolling Stone, 7/19/2001
We always knew we'd be a cult band. People who liked us really liked us, right from the beginning, from the first show. But we would just do this stuff, and have these rituals where we would play all night long, and it was amazing. It just was amazing, it really was. Right to the last minute, we ended this last show in San Francisco, and we were doing 'You Enjoy Myself,' which was always, we felt, the song. It ends with a vocal improvisation, and it was just so emotional. I felt such a huge wave just to think that for seventeen years we were focused on this thing. It was overwhelming. And we just went backstage and sat there for hours.
Trey, quoted in 7/3/00 SonicNet
I felt at Big Cypress so relaxed and so much part of a thing much bigger than us. This amazingly cool group of people in the audience, and hooked up on the Internet. It was a turning point in my mind about this potential that had just appeared. This community that has been created around the four of us. That's why my mind is on this type of music that is a positive community-building activity. I feel the cool thing about the Internet is the availability of all kinds of music in the world. I hope a new kind of music will come out of all this. I hope that some form of non-commercial, ritualistic, spiritual music is the end product.
Phil Lesh, quoted in the June 2000 issue of Bass Player Magazine
I did a bass duet with Mike Gordon when I sat in with Phish [on 9/17/99]. I generally abhor bass duets, but it was marvelous. It was actually beautiful. …we just played it by ear. He knows how to get out of my way, and I know how to get out of his. It was like two hippopotami humping!
Mike Gordon, Outside Magazine, June 1999
Once I was driving three cats to the vet. They were loose, running around my feet, and since I'm allergic, I needed to get out of the car fast. But then 'Nellie Kane' by Hot Rize came on, so I just went around and around the cul-de-sac in front of the vet's office until the song was over.
Trey Anastasio, Providence Journal, 6/1/99
When we play an arena, we cover up all the ads as much as we can -- the corporate sponsorship thing has nothing to do with music. We've had offers, but forget it. I know when we tour we're going to have to play SFX buildings, because they can control everything. But our goal is to take more and more in-house by promoting our own shows and releasing our records through our own mail-order business, and move in exactly the opposite direction that everyone is moving.
Trey Anastasio, on CNN 2/13/99
I genuinely believe that you can't fool people with music.
Trey Anastasio, New York Post 1/1/99
Phish and the Grateful Dead are not the same band. It must be said they were and remain one of my favorite bands. In fact, the Dead are one of the most important American bands, if not the most important. To me, the Dead are a genuine link to traditional American music. They moved music history forward. Jerry Garcia was as important a figure in this country’s music history as Bill Monroe or Elvis. Phish has learned a lot from them. They are an influence. But, that said, we are also very different. The most important lesson we learned from the Dead was how to be a live band.
Trey Anastasio, New York Post 1/1/99
I'm the overbearing leader type, although I sometimes shy away from that. If Page is the father, I guess I'm the mother.
Trey Anastasio, New York Post 1/1/99
My three all-time-favorite guitarists are Jerry [Garcia], [Jimi] Hendrix, and [Frank] Zappa. They are all totally unique from one another, yet oddly similar. They were all striving for this depth where a solo would take you on a journey. But the journey was their own vibe: Zappa was sarcastic, Hendrix was bluesey, Jerry was downhome. I guess I have a suburban vibe. But I still want to get to the places that they got to.
J.D. Considine, Guitar World, 12/98
Listening has been at the heart of the Phish aesthetic, almost from the start. Part of what differentiates the band's following from the Dead-heads to whom they are regularly (and unjustly) compared is the intelligence and intensity of their listening habits. Not only are Phish-heads voracious music fans likely to know anything from Count Basie to P-Funk to the latest house records, but they're uttery discerning, actually following the music instead of simply bobbing along in a state of mood-altered bliss.
Jon Fishman, quoted by Gemma Tarlach in the 12/25/98 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
There are two ways to create original music: You can lock yourself in a closet and not listen to anything, and whatever comes out will be something that sounds like nothing else; or you can immerse yourself in every traditional way of making music, and then what comes out of you is your own personal, unique blend of the best.
"We're increasing our visibility right now, or it's increasing itself a little bit. Things are just surfacing in the public perception a bit for us, and it's been nice. It's not out of control or anything. We're still not pop stars . Our career, it's still gradual." -- Mike Gordon, jamtv.com interview, 10/30/98
Trey to David Byrne, Sessions at West 54th (10/20/98)
We spent a year inside your head.
Trey to David Byrne, Sessions at West 54th (10/20/98)
We spent a year inside your head.
Doug Miller, Oakland Tribune, 10/17/98
The Phish sound is closely related to the rambling mind of maestro lead guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, who has the ability to play any distinct guitar style he chooses. At the turn of a Fishman time change, Anastasio switches gears from obscenely fast classical scales to straight-up bluegrass fingerpicking, from gentle, liquid rock ballad lines to throw-down funk.
Mike Gordon to the The Onion, 10/15/98
How our albums are going to turn out is never conscious for us. But we do sort of go in with certain goals in mind, and whatever comes out, comes out. And the goals this time were, first of all, to make a shorter album than A Live One — which was real long — and try to make an album that was vinyl length, the length of a record, because we thought that sort of matches people’s attention spans better. And then, another goal was just to really experiment a lot without bringing in a lot of influences — no guest musicians, no record company people walking around the studio. And just to really experiment.
Rolling Stone review of Lemonwheel by Matt Hendrickson, pp.20-22, 10/1/98
Given their sense of community, their ambition and their challenging, generous performances, Phish have become the most important band of the Nineties.
Trey Anastasio, in the 1/1/98 New York Times
To me, historically, there's always been so much art going around on big periods of change like this. At the end of the 19th century, there was so much important art and literature. So I'm looking forward to it, and we've been throwing ideas around to do something. Who knows, maybe we'll play the space shuttle or have concerts in four different time zones. I want to do a 30-hour show. People need to be able to cut loose for many days.
Mike Gordon, 12/96 Bass Player Magazine
Jamming is definitely the most important thing for me ... all I really care about is going on these musical journeys.
Trey Anastasio, Microsoft Music Central interview, 9/96
I like the fact that now, people come expecting what we do. They know we want to take you higher, that we are going to search for something. It won't be the same old thing. That's refreshing. Not too many bands can say that. And as a result, the material keeps going through these changes. I think a few songs from Hoist, like 'Down with Disease', have just reach maturity. It's really exciting to play those, because you get involved in the way it feels good, how you can make it feel better.
Trey Anastasio, Guitar Player Magazine, 5/96
We're very fortunate. We're sitting in a lucky place. We've got an audience that listens critically to our music. And to me, it's a great thing having people complaining about certain things, but who will also notice when we do something particularly good.
Trey Anastasio, The Detroit News, 10/26/95
Music can’t lie — it really is the universal language. People can hear your intent. If you intent is to sell records and make money, people will hear that, and it blackens the music. That’s why the live thing has been so exciting, and so spiritual for us. Once the fans are in the room, there’s nothing we can do on-stage that will bring us any more monetary gain. So we’re then free to explore and celebrate the spiritual aspect of the music.
Addicted to Noise, 6/9/95
"We never get any press or anything. We're like an ugly little secret on the side that nobody wants to talk about." -- Trey Anastasio
Trey Anastasio, to Addicted to Noise
We get along so well, we work so hard at communication, playing together is really like an incredible journey or something. By keeping the same members in the band, you can get deeper and deeper without having to change the personality balance.
Trey Anastasio, to Addicted to Noise
Richard Gehr, Village Voice, 5/16/95
Phish offers something rare in pop: a long, complex, and completely different show every night. Musically competent without fetishizing technique, Phish embraces a broad spectrum of rock, jazz, bluegrass, twentieth century compositional techniques, blissful extended jams, African groove experiments, psychedelic game playing, and absolutely Dionysian moments of free-form guitar ecstasy.
Trey Anastasio, 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman
...by the end of a tour, everybody starts to get a little bit beat. Except for maybe Mike, who's been real careful about making sure he gets eight hours of sleep and runs every morning.
Billboard Magazine, 4/16/94
Vermont's finest band delivers an astoundingly good album that promises a feast for modern rock, album rock, college, album alternative, and pop outlets, provided they're willing to bend...
Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.
This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $2 million to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.