Tuesday 06/21/2011 by tmwsiy


No other band on the planet has had their music dissected, catalogued, reviewed, and archived as extensively as Phish. There are scores of resources fans can use from Phish.net’s setlists, to zzyzx’s Stats, to the famous Spreadsheet, to phish.com’s own setlists, to LivePhish downloads. But what about searching for the treasure chest of fan videos available on YouTube? Daniel Saewitz has an answer for you: PhishVids.com. He was gracious to answer some questions about Phish.Vids, the inspiration behind the site, a little technical babble and some general thoughts about Phish.

So, in a nutshell, who the heck are you?
I’m a student majoring in Computer Science (see: nerd). I love all things Philadelphia and, of course, Phish.

How did PhishVids come about?
When I finally got home from 12/31/10, I was just getting over the whole night when I saw that mkdevo had uploaded a video already. I was in shock and awe. I wondered who else had uploaded anything and something just clicked in my head...

What if I could search for Phish Videos by setlist?

How many individual videos are indexed?
If you look at the bottom of the website, there’s a little line that says (as of June 30th, 2011) “There are currently 9927 videos uploaded by 1509 people for 484 shows by 1 band.”*

Wow! Nearly 10,000 videos, after a few more shows of this current Summer Tour are added, clearly there will be well over 10,000.


What percentage of shows have at least some songs?
There are 484 shows that have video. So bare with me while I do some simple math: According to Phish.net there are 1526 shows that Phish has played. 484÷1526=31.7%*

Does the site use the phish.net api? What other tools are used to build the site..feel free to geek out a bit if you want.
PhishVids would not exist without the Phish.net API. Everything is loaded dynamically through AJAX and jQuery which is why you never see the page reload. The videos are stored in a database and ran through a PHP backend. In fact, PhishVids is very overloaded with technology because I partially built this to beef up my resume. Since PhishVids launched I have had five interviews along with five offers.

How have you enjoyed working with the phish.net api?
It’s really been a breeze. Adam did a great job and made it very easy and very intuitive. All of the show dates and setlists are pulled directly from Phish.net, so every time you load PhishVids we’re stealing bandwidth from Phish.net (Thanks!).

What vids have most surprised you upon discovering?
The oldest show that I’ve found on YouTube is 5/20/87 at The Ranch in South Burlington. It’s a very mysterious looking video that gives you a window into life before big venues and HD video. You can see people walking around and laying down in a very casual atmosphere while Phish rips apart ‘Run Like an Antelope’ and other favorites like ‘Lushington’.


Any new favorites you have discovered?
I’ve always loved older videos as they are pretty rare and really show you that while the size of the crowd and venue have changed, Trey is still up there with his big goofy smile. A great example are the videos from 1989 Halloween at Goddard.


Whose your favorite uploader?
Something that might be a bit hidden is the uploaders page on PhishVids. Probably because I haven’t designed anything and it’s just plain text, but if you want to see all 1509 uploaders and how many videos they’ve uploaded check here: http://www.phishvids.com/uploaders.php

My favorite overall has to be silverchair97. He has 863 videos on PhishVids and numerous others that haven’t hit the website yet.

How many hits are you getting?
We average a couple hundred visitors a day.

What are your future goals or features you'd like to add?
Keyboard navigation
Seamless video song->song (when one video ends for a song, it will jump to the next song)

How are videos added?
I built an entire PHP backend that manages the website and allows me to automatically grab videos. Eventually the whole system will be automated, but for now it suffices. First I choose a date and the setlist is loaded from Phish.net. It then scrapes YouTube for any videos in this format, “Phish [Song Name] [Month] [Day] [Year]” The videos are then dumped into a Review database and are each hand selected to ensure accuracy.* Users can also go to any song and hit Add Video and paste the link in. After it is reviewed and accepted it will be thrown directly onto our site. Follow @PhishVids on Twitter to keep up with new videos. (We’ll never send out an automated tweet within a half hour of our last tweet to avoid spamming your feed)

How would you describe the Phish fan community?
Go to a show and hang out on shakedown. I’ve tried to explain the scene to my non-Phish friends and no one can understand it. I love seeing the look on a person’s face after their first show.

Besides phishvids, what are some of your favorite phish related web sites?
Obviously Phish.net
Yem Blog
Hidden Track
Phantasy Tour
Funny thing is, my least visited Phish related website is probably Phish.com

If you had to list a couple all time favorite shows, what would they be?

(I really like 1994)

Thanks Daniel for taking the time to chat, I've really enjoyed using PhishVids and good luck with it.

*When I initially created the website, a large portion of videos were added automatically. If you see a video that doesn’t match up properly, then that’s why. Just click on the little circular x in the video list and we’ll review it. If it doesn’t match up, then we’ll remove it from the site. The same goes for videos that never made it to the site. If you find a video not on the site, please add it! This could skew the stats a bit, but I figure it evens out to and extent. It’s a community effort!

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Phish.net. Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by phishtastic420
phishtastic420 Oh wow I love this site, thank you so much man!!!
, comment by finch460
finch460 Great job. Thank you so much, my phriend.
, comment by JTodd
JTodd Very nice! Also an "All things Philadelphia" guy.
, comment by wolfsbro
wolfsbro Great job gathering vids from all the different UL'ers. However, the site is not very efficient as a search tool. You can't even search by song or search by UL'er. You also can't see which videos are actually popular and which ones probably suck. It's also just plain clunky; it takes a lot of clicking and backtracking to navigate to different shows.

MKDEVO's Google Spreadsheet is a much more powerful search tool. Check it out: http://bit.ly/phishhd

You can search by show, by song, by venue, or by city. Editor's picks are in bold, and videos over 10K views are highlighted. There are also vids of some other bands in there too, all sorted nicely.

If PhishVids just copied this spreadsheet format it would be an amazing resource! Would love to see that!
, comment by jackl
jackl Thanks for the interview, @tmwsiy! Nice to see what Adam's great APIs can do to extend the Phish.net setlist databases to other cool Phish fan sites like Phishvids.com.
, comment by 2010P
2010P Wow...never knew that existed. Very, very cool.
, comment by tmwsiy
tmwsiy @wolfsbro said:
You also can't see which videos are actually popular and which ones probably suck.
Agreed, mkdevo's spreadsheet is another great tool of the many that are available as the opening sentence said. But not true at all about not being able to see which ones popular. In the list of search results, in the column all the way to the right is how many views. So I can see for example at the Bowie in Hampton '09 there is a video viewed 30,000 times and one several thousand, and one several hundred. Yet, that doesn't necessarily tell me which one was the best.

And as far as seach suggestions, I'd definitely drop a line to Daniel with the contact button at the bottom of his page, he seems very eager to improve the site and very approachable.
, comment by MrMinersBrother
MrMinersBrother This website is awesome...I hate using youtube and this is a great solution
, comment by switz
switz Hey guys,

First off thanks to Parker for taking the time to do this interview.

I hear all of your suggestions. There is actually a plain text version of the site which you can view by disabled Javascript. I'll also build one that you can access if you have a slow connection. I am in the process of building a more advanced search/presentation.

@wolfsbro -- We use an algorithm to detect which videos are the best. 9 times out of 10 it works well. It will order them from top to bottom.

If you guys have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to email me at d@phishvids.com

Thanks for using it and please share it with your friends!

, comment by switz
switz P.S. Most of the videos are indexed in Google so if you can search google by doing "site:www.phishvids.com QUERY" in google.
, comment by wolfsbro
wolfsbro Thanks Daniel. It's an awesome project you've got going on. Keep up the great work! I am not good at making suggestions sound nice when I'm writing online, so sorry if they come off mean. The site is already very good and is on the cusp of being awesome with a few more things. Thanks again!
, comment by mccordo
mccordo Looks like I'll have some viewing to do this evening!
, comment by toddlevy
toddlevy Great site and admire the ambition and (burgeoning) automation.

There are some issues with mis-categorized videos, like this...


...but overall very solid effort.

Also thought I'd take a second to plug my own Phish video page...


... which doesn't catalog individual videos* but features the best playlist for those shows that have them.

Continued success Daniel,

* Except for TV appearances, interviews, etc which are at the bottom of the page.

, comment by RobesPierre
RobesPierre just looked at 7/4/00 TMWSIY... and it was clearly a 3.0 show. probably great woods 09.

ive been to this site 3 or four times now and every time i watch a few vids realize none of them are what they say they are than i go to youtube and find something i want to watch.

the site is more frustrating than anything....

its a good a idea but it needs some serious work...

one vid of YEM turned out to be a vid of some kids covering it in there basement.
, comment by Gandalf
Gandalf fluffhead from 6/19/11 has a video from 6/19/09
, comment by swimtofirenze
swimtofirenze @robesPierre @Gandalf @toddlevy please read the asterisk in the blog post
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