BLOG POSTS WHERE USERNAME IS ICCULUS

Saturday 11/30/2019 by Icculus

PROVIDENCE1 RECAP: BETTER THAN TERRIBLE

IT has been almost twenty-five years since Phish first played the Civic Center in Providence (12/29/94), and sixteen years since a version of a song performed on November 29 made the jam charts. But then again, it’s been ten years since Phish last even performed on November 29 (in Portland, ME).

Did Phish perform a 59 minute “Runaway Jim” last night, like they did at the Worcester Centrum twenty-two years ago on November 29? (Of course not, WTF is wrong with you.) But did they play a lot of songs that “Trey’s Notebook” predicted they would play? (Remarkably, only a few!) Ok, but did they perform any versions of songs that were so unquestionably “above-average great” and noteworthy that the jam charts team will undoubtedly vote them onto the charts in due course!?

© 2019 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2019 Phish (Rene Huemer)

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Wednesday 08/21/2019 by Icculus

PLAGUE-CARRYING FLEAS CLOSE SHAKEDOWN ALLEY

ICYMI: Given the discovery that some black-tailed prairie dogs in and around Commerce City, Colorado, and in and around Dick's Sporting Goods Park, are still infested with bubonic-plague-carrying fleas, PHISH has announced that overnight camping near Dick's has been cancelled. In addition, given that it typically sets-up near the venue on a dirt plain, our beloved "Shakedown Alley, the traditional Phish tailgating spot, has also been shut down," and thus both wook and non-wook vending will be on asphalt at Dick's this year. When asked for comment, forty-four-year-old Phish fan Marco Esquandolas said, "The boys open Dick's with the first-ever 'Plague-Carrying-Fleas Harpua,' or I will never forigve them. Well, at least not until the Leprechaun bust-out."

In other news, there is a fall tour, and even though it's really a winter tour and not a fall tour, everyone is still invited and expected to attend... especially West Coast fans who not only feel slighted, but also aren't going to Dick's given the possible plague outbreak.

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Sunday 03/24/2019 by Icculus

TREY SITS IN WITH MIKE GORDON

It's not every day that Trey sits in with a band in a small club. But last night, Trey sat in for more than half of Mike Gordon's show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA. It was the first time in years--since 4/4/14--that Mike got to play with both Scott Murawski and Trey, the two guitarists he's gigged with the most over the last 30 years. What was obviously a treat for Mike was also a treat for everyone present last night.

© 2019 Mike Gordon (Jake Silco)
© 2019 Mike Gordon (Jake Silco)

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Sunday 11/18/2018 by Icculus

KASVOT VAXT: I CAME, I SAW, I ROKK

[The following does not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) of anyone who works for, or who has ever worked or volunteered for, Phish.net or The Mockingbird Foundation. It is dedicated to @RSTurner, who requested it. So blame him. It's entirely his fault. -Ed.]

“ÍT comes in threes,” some say about bad news.

First, there were several vicious, cowardly attacks on a few fans at the Gorge in July, possibly by one or more white supremacists who were apparently in attendance. Then there was the seemingly last minute cancellation in late August of what was promoted to be, and likely would have been, Phish’s greatest festival ever, Curveball, which led (among other things) to “Curvivors” commiserating for weeks about their (and our) unfortunate—and for many, truly heart-breaking—curveballing. And, now, there is the fake-covering of a fake album by a fake band with a fake backstory, in the all-hallowed second set of Halloween: a set with a legendary history, a history replete with Great Performances that are still wondrous to this day, years —even decades— later.

© 2018 Phish (Jake Silco)
© 2018 Phish (Jake Silco)

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Tuesday 10/23/2018 by Icculus

ROCK BOTTOM CHICAGO FUNDRAISER FOR MOCKINGBIRD

Rock Bottom Chicago is once again fundraising for Mockingbird, this time in connection with this weekend's Rosemont shows:

© 2018 Rock Bottom Chicago
© 2018 Rock Bottom Chicago

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Thursday 07/26/2018 by Icculus

BGCA2 RECAP: 6.5/10

IT’s not every day Phish offers a free webcast of a show to their fans. Their motives are unknown, but it’s possible they decided to thank their fans for their outpouring of love and support for the minority victims of violence at the Gorge over the weekend. It’s rare to see violence at Phish shows, at least in my experience of them (which admittedly only goes back THIRTY YEARS). And it’s unfortunate that such an extreme, vicious, attack was committed not against the drunk frat-hat who’d just vomited on your girlfriend, but rather fans simply enjoying themselves and the music like the rest of us. We’re also a homogeneous fan base; it’s heartbreaking to see such grotesque, racist assaults, when I'm certain the vast majority of us welcome greater diversity at shows.

© 2018 Scott Marks
© 2018 Scott Marks

In any event, on to the recap of BGCA2. I'd planned to offer you separate Noob, Vet, and JadedVet takes, since when I’ve done so a few times before, many of you were offended, but I don’t have the stomach right now for pandering to various audiences. I cannot pretend that my experience of Phish’s music in 2018 is even vaguely akin to what it was in 1989 or 1995 or 1998 or 2004 or 2009. Whether you first started seeing Phish recently or decades ago, we’ll see eye-to-eye on some things and not others about last night’s music, and your mileage should, and likely does or will, vary.

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Sunday 04/08/2018 by Icculus

APRIL 8 PHISH SHOWS NEW TO CIRCULATION

Thrilled to announce that thanks again to Niel Ringstad and Jeff Goldberg (Principal/Owner of The Audio Specialist), there’s new Phish available for downloading: April 8, 1990, and April 8, 1992.

Jeff’s exploration of the work involved in releasing this material to you is detailed here, and it includes information on the equipment and software used to bring this music to the community for the first time in the highest quality possible under the circumstances. It’s a fascinating read, particularly given the damage to the April 8, 1992, tapes that Jeff spent many hours endeavoring to repair. If you have any questions for Jeff, or want to wish him a happy 40th birthday, don’t hesitate to email him through Phish.net (user @Jeff_Goldberg) or email him (jeff at audiospecialist.net).

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Wednesday 02/28/2018 by Icculus

ICYMI: LAUNCH OF OSIRIS

Tom Marshall and RJ Bee have teamed-up to create the Osiris podcast network, which currently involves more than fifteen podcasts, including HF Pod and Under the Scales. Relix recently interviewed the duo about the new network.

Note also that HF Pod recently recapped Trey's acoustic tour, and you can listen to that recap here.

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Friday 02/23/2018 by Icculus

COLORADO '88 PHISH NEW TO CIRCULATION

You’re probably already familiar with LivePhish’s Colorado ‘88 release, which includes a significant number of songs performed by Phish on their first trip out to Colorado in the summer of 1988, nearly thirty years ago. But you haven’t heard those shows in full, because none of them ever circulated in full. Thanks to Niel Ringstad (who attended several of the Colorado ‘88 shows), 7/29/88, 7/30/88, 8/4/88 and 8/5/88 will now circulate almost in full for the first time. They were taped by Niel’s friend Mike Lynch.

You heard that right: among hours of other Colorado ‘88 music, the so-called “Jazz Odyssey” set----when Fish was uhm unavailable, and Mike and Page accompanied Trey on drums for a few jazz standards----is now about to circulate for the first time. (There is must-hear banter from Trey in the “Antelope” about Fish’s unavailability earlier on in the evening.) And if you’re wondering where the tapes of 8/3/88 are, well. They have yet to be located, but might turn up in another 30 years, who knows. Enormous thanks are also due to Jeff Goldberg, who did the transfering from Niel’s analog masters, as well as the restoring and mastering work to make these recordings sound as good as they possibly can. Jeff’s words are below. -charlie

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Thursday 01/11/2018 by Icculus

ICYMI: "FOCUS" SHORT FILM

The latest from Be MORE Now Films, "Focus" is a short film set to the music of "Everything's Right" from the Baker's Dozen. (And you'll likely recognize some folks in cameos!)

Friday 12/29/2017 by Icculus

MSG14 RECAP: [INSERT TEXT HERE.]

Phish.net is a project of The Mockingbird Foundation and is run by volunteers. If no one volunteers to write a recap, it is not written. No one volunteered to recap last night's show. We encourage you to visit Jambase and read Andy Kahn's recap. My two cents? A fine start to the run, with some tasty improv in "Tube" and "BOTT" in the first, and substantial, exploratory, at-times-magical improvisation in the ~40 minute "NMINML">"Twist" that's worth your time to check out. And everyone wins with the first-ever "Wedge" "Slave" encore (and first "Wedge" encore since 1995), a wonderfully unpredictable conclusion to Phish's 14th show at MSG this year. Stay warm out there, and please support LivePhish, as Phish donates a portion of its profits to Mbird.org. -$0.02

Photo © PHISH (Rene Huemer)
Photo © PHISH (Rene Huemer)

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Sunday 08/20/2017 by Icculus

PHISH TO SUPPORT MOCKINGBIRD GOLF TOURNAMENT

The Mockingbird Foundation is pleased to announce that at the Second Annual Runaway Open, a charity golf tournament exclusively for Phish fans on Saturday, September 2nd at Buffalo Run Golf Course in Commerce City:

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Wednesday 08/16/2017 by Icculus

CHARLIE MILLER'S AUD RECORDINGS OF BAKER'S DOZEN

FYI, you can download Charlie Miller's aud recordings of the Baker's Dozen shows in one (1) giant etree torrent. Charlie taped every show from the same spot, Section 2 Row 1 Seat 20 with the mic stand 9 feet high beside CK's booth, using Schoeps CMC6/MK4's.

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Thursday 08/03/2017 by Icculus

ICYMI: PHISHY BAKER'S DOZEN PERIODIC TABLE

A Phishy Baker's Dozen Periodic Table has been making the rounds, and the version current through 8/2/2017, created by Tyler Kreshover (user @phuck_you_22), appears below. The inspiration for it came from The Elements of Phish poster, created years ago by El Del Ink, and still available for sale, here.

Photo © Tyler Kreshover
Photo © Tyler Kreshover

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Wednesday 08/02/2017 by Icculus

MSG9 RECAP: STEEPED IN MAPLE

[We would like to thank Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, Ph.D., a professor of Phish, for this recap.]

Since the announcement of the Baker’s Dozen residency dates, Phish fans have speculated about ways the band might pay homage to the Grateful Dead during last night's August 1st show, which fell on Jerry Garcia’s 75th birthday. The revelation of Tuesday’s maple-flavored donut did not diminish fans’ hopes that their more than thirty-year wait for Phish’s next “Scarlet Begonias,” or debut of “Sugar Magnolia,” would come to an end. Some argued that the maple composition of Jerry’s Wolf guitar would elicit early 1970’s-inspired Dead covers. Rumors that Bob Weir was in the building also spread like wildfire before the show. Instead, with their ninth of thirteen shows at Madison Square Garden, Phish offered fans two Maple-themed debuts, an unprecedented "Steep" jam, and a comparatively mellow, yet crowd-pleasing, set list. Nine shows and 161 songs into the Baker’s Dozen, Phish continues its “no repeats” streak in a historic residency that has been un-jading vets one night at a time.

Photo © Stephen Olker
Photo © Stephen Olker

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Saturday 07/29/2017 by Icculus

MOCKINGBIRD'S BAKER'S DOZEN #7

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.

I picked the 12/31/95 show in New York, NY, but not because it's my "favorite." The Mockingbird Foundation is sending a $1,500 grant check to nearby Education Through Music, and I hope they appreciate the funds.

Plenty has already been written about the 12/31/95 show, including by me (my old review from early '96 is here, on the site, along with my Phish Companion review as well). I don't actually have a "favorite" Phish show, even a favorite show seen, because I can't rank my most transcendent musical experiences above each other. I'm also THRILLED with Phish RIGHT NOW, ON THIS TOUR, and eager to hear what they'll do next, and just don't have the patience to revisit a show that's been legendary for decades already, when I believe we're in the midst of a legendary run, not only in Phish history, but possibly in rock and roll history as well, RIGHT NOW. $0.02.

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Friday 07/21/2017 by Icculus

MORE FROM KELLY MORRIS AT PHANART

In case you missed it, Kelly Morris of THE MORE VIDEO fame was recently interviewed by Tom Marshall on his Under the Scales podcast. I enjoyed the podcast and wanted to learn a bit more from Kelly about what she was up to this summer.

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Wednesday 07/12/2017 by Icculus

NEW TO CIRCULATION: EARLIEST KNOWN "DIVIDED SKY," "HARPUA," AND "BUNDLE OF JOY" (5/11/87)

A number of versions of songs performed on 5/11/87 at Nectar's, likely in the second set, including the earliest known versions of "Divided Sky," "Harpua," and "Bundle of Joy," were recently unearthed, and are available here and now for free download.

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Wednesday 06/28/2017 by Icculus

MEET UMPHREY'S KEYBOARDIST, AND PHISH FAN, JOEL CUMMINS

[Caught up with Joel Cummins, keyboardist of Umphrey’s McGee. Have a great holiday weekend! –charlie]

CD: How and when did you become a Phish fan?

JOEL: My first Phish show was 6/18/94 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. I’m pretty sure I went by myself and I of course witnessed what is still one of my favorite shows. I was sitting Page side in the first few rows of the stands, probably mid-way back in the arena. There couldn’t have been more the 6,000 people there. I don’t think the upper part of the arena was even open for that first show there. I believe I got *IT* about Phish before I even attended a show. I remember getting the 12/31/92 Matthews Arena show on tape from a buddy and playing that “Mike’s Groove” over and over again. I really loved the studio work too and felt like there was so much to dig into in those first four albums, Junta, Lawn Boy, Picture of Nectar and Rift. I had acquired all of them and listened to them ad nauseum by the time I hit that show in June ‘94. I remember walking out of the arena feeling like my mind was about to explode. The band was so good and I didn’t even understand half of what had just happened.

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Thursday 06/08/2017 by Icculus

PHILOSOPHY SCHOOL OF PHISH IS BACK!

[The following is courtesy of Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, of the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion of Oregon State University. -charlie]

Tired of chalk dust torture? Sign up for this year's Philosophy School of Phish course! Class begins June 26th.

The Philosophy School of Phish is a special online section of PHL 360: Philosophy and the Arts, which uses Phish’s live performances as “field sites” for exploring the philosophy of art and music. The class is offered online through Oregon State University’s Ecampus. This makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to register; you do not have to be a current OSU student to take the class. The online format also permits each student (and the Professor) to travel to Phish concerts, instead of requiring physical attendance in an OSU classroom.

For the third year in a row, students will complete the term-long Artist Interview Project with artists from the Phish community. As part of their course work, students will interview the following artists:

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Friday 05/19/2017 by Icculus

WHAT WAS THAT GREAT MUSIC PLAYING AT SETBREAK?!?

FYI, the setlists available on Phish.com also include information about the house music playing as fans walked into the venue, at setbreak, and as fans exited the venue. For example, at Wrigley Field on June 25, 2016, fans heard the following:

Walk-In Music
Ralph Stanley – Best of the Best
Hopeton Lewis – Take It Easy with the Rock Steady Beat
Allen Toussaint – Southern Nights
The Avalanches – Since I Left You

Setbreak Music
The Funkees – Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77

Walk-Out Song
Steve Goodman “Go Cubs Go”

In addition, Julia Mordaunt of Phish Inc. has very generously created a breathtaking spotify playlist of the music performed during walk-in, setbreak, and walk-out (that's available on Spotify). Check it out here.

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Wednesday 04/12/2017 by Icculus

"HARRIS PHEST" APRIL 20 IN HOUSTON

The sister of Harris Wittels is hosting a benefit in his honor on April 20 in Houston to support a scholarship fund. The benefit will take place at 8th Wonder Brewery, and a Phish cover band ("A Live One") will be performing. Event proceeds will benefit the Harris Wittels Fund at Houston's High School for the Performing Arts. Visit here for more information.

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Thursday 03/09/2017 by Icculus

NEW HF PODCAST: TWEEZER + DATA = BLISS

[The following is brought to you by the team behind the Helping Friendly Podcast, dot net users @swittersdc, @mdphunk, @rowjimmy, and @brad10s. -charlie]

For many (most?) fans, there’s no greater gift at a Phish show than a "Tweezer." Phish experiences are formed and strengthened based on single performances of this song. Shows can be saved by its appearance, soaring out of the speakers with Superman cape and all.

To do an episode about "Tweezer" seemed at the same time overwhelming and almost unfair, because there’s just so much to it. But our friend and collaborator mdphunk took us deep into "Tweezer," in the most ambitious way possible—with data. This week’s podcast is part 1 where we discuss and listen to versions of "Tweezer" from its debut in 1990 all the way through 2000. We will pick up part 2 in the next month or so.

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Saturday 01/14/2017 by Icculus

JADED CLOWN RECAPS FRIDAY'S RIVIERA MAYA GIG

IT appears that many of our site's users were angered by Trey's golden, flowing hair, no... Fish's fierce Lucha libre wrestling mask, no... by @SausageMahoney's recap of the December 29th MSG show. A comment from user @CoryRoc reads: "nothing annoys me more than these reviews, yet i keep reading them to remind myself to never become as jaded as the clowns who write them."

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

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Wednesday 08/24/2016 by Icculus

LARS FISK IN THE NYT

Don't miss this wonderful article about Lars Fisk and his work in the New York Times, which includes some words from Trey about Mr. Fisk's work at Superball IX.

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Tuesday 07/26/2016 by Icculus

INTERVIEW OF CHRIS KURODA ON JAMBANDS.COM

Don't miss Mike Greenhaus's interview on Jambands.com of Chris Kuroda, which discusses the ideas behind the use of video screens this summer, and Chris's other work.

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Thursday 07/21/2016 by Icculus

BGCA 3 RECAP: THE VERY LONG RUSE?

IT does not happen often: a Phish set with "bustouts" so plentiful that as each one begins, the excited utterances of fans intensify, fostering a revelry of Dionysian proportions. Although it was only a month ago that Phish performed a show with many bustouts (6/22/2016), shows like this are still rare. And when in the course of such phishy events it becomes necessary to SCREAM FEVERISHLY, in a room ablaze with vibration, at yet another song you never believed you’d see Phish play, you realize you are at THAT show. Phish reminded each one of us in attendance last night at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco why we fell in love with them, and why we continue to see them whenever life permits.

Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish, used with permission

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Saturday 06/25/2016 by Icculus

WRIGLEY1 RECAP: THE BAND IN SANTO'S LAND

IT is summer tour again, thankfully, and Phish is once again riding the bus and running the bases. For the first time, Phish played last night at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest ballpark in the majors, wherePage's the beloved Cubs have been playing for 100 years. And also for the first time, Phish performed on a day when global stock markets plummeted, causing countless millions--including those we love--to lose trillions of dollars in retirement and other investments. But enough about Britain's calamitous, sublimely asinine vote to leave the EU. After all, without searing pain and tremendous suffering, there can be no transcendent JOY, and we are blessed to be able to hear Phish's music once again.

Photo by Scott Marks

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Friday 12/18/2015 by Icculus

PHISH SYMPOSIUM AT CITY WINERY

In or near NYC? Looking for something phishy to do in the brief hiatus between the NYE run and Riviera Maya? Consider heading to the City Winery on Saturday, January 9.

Writer Wally Holland, with whom I recently spoke about his new book, will be discussing Phish's music with journalist/artist Mike Hamad and musicologist Jake Cohen. Phish's music will also be played at the symposium, and Mike will even be "live mapping" some of it.

This event, sponsored by Blank Space Media, will also be webcast by Relix, and Wyllys will perform a short DJ set. In addition, Wally will be signing copies of his book, and Mike will have setlist map prints of MagnaBall's "TweezerPants" available for purchase as well. For more information, please see:

FB Event Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1043674135683604/

City Winery Ticketing Link: http://www.citywinery.com/newyork/blank-space-presents-a-live-one-an-interactive-musical-discussion-w-author-walter-holland-1-9.html

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Wednesday 11/11/2015 by Icculus

"A LIVE ONE" THE BOOK

A Live One cover
A Live One cover
I ran some questions by Wally Holland, the author of “A Live One,” published by Bloomsbury as part of its 33⅓ book series. “A Live One” is a book about A Live One (“ALO”), Phish’s first official live album, as well as Phish’s music and fans. What you may not know about ALO is that online Phish fans had some input into what the band ultimately decided to release on the album. On February 5, 1995, Shelly Culbertson posted this invitation to Rec.Music.Phish:

“...I just had a long phone conversation with Trey. ... he'd like to ask the net to do him a favor...

So, the favor is this: if you have the time to do it, please consider constructing the Phish double live CD that you would like to hear. Please bear in mind that this CD should be interesting to people who have never heard Phish before, as well as those who have been listening to them for years. Please remember to consider that versions of songs from lesser-known shows may be as good as, or better than, versions of the same songs from well-known shows such as Halloween and NYE.

The format is two 70-minute CDs ("CD1" and "CD2"). Consider the transitions between songs, and the pace and dramatic flow of the order in which the songs occur on each CD. ... We're not saying that the net's compilation will become the live CD, by any means; but the band will listen to it with open ears, and if they like it, they will seriously consider the suggestions it makes. –Shelly”

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I have been reading Wally’s musings on Phish and music and other topics since the 1990s, and to this day I’m still in disbelief that the band released the Bangor Tweezer on ALO. I am not a disinterested spectator. –charlie)

CD: What in particular about Phish inspired --and continued to motivate-- you in writing this book?

WH: Love, right?

I've been obsessed with different music before: Herbie Hancock, Ornette and his descendants, tango music (and dance), electric Miles, film scores, Kid A, Andrew Bird, Achtung Baby, They Might Be Giants. I've gone through periods where I couldn't live without particular musicians -- John Coltrane especially, and a period where I listened to almost nothing but the Dead.

But I've only ever loved a small number of musicians. What I feel for Phish, beyond what I feel about their music, I can only call love.

That's half of it. But then because the center of our shared fandom, the music itself, is so particular -- the improvisatory method so finicky, the compositional voice so admirably catholic, the humour (still) so absurd, the band/audience connection so deep, the worldview so specific yet so open and welcoming -- I still find writing about Phish a compelling challenge. There's this specific thing they do that no one else has ever done in quite the same way, and even now they're exploring new areas of that art! That's so rare. I keep wanting to write something that's equal to the power of their best music.

Oh! Also the thought of making MOUNTAINS OF MONEY.

Did you learn anything new about Phish's music, or even your own musical perspectives, in writing “A Live One”?

WH: They were even better in the mid-90s than I remembered -- and I had some pretty great memories.

The project was a huge learning experience -- that's one reason I took it on. As personal as it necessarily is, there's a lot less of ME and MY story in there than there might have been.

I learned a bunch about the roots of the band, their inspirations. Only recently have I begun to appreciate how Weird (and disreputable!) some of Phish's early influences were. I'd barely heard any Beefheart before starting my research listening for the book, for instance, and didn't realize how much his painstakingly detailed private visionary weirdness anticipated Trey's and Phish's, though Trey was savvy and sociable enough to build a democratic band, which cuts against his privatizing impulses.

I learned a lot about punk and postpunk, in passing. I don't enjoy punk rock, but what I think of as the postpunk 'fusion' moment generated a ton of really interesting music. Trey's beloved Talking Heads, for one thing...

I realized that there's a (short) book to be written about the mid-80s Burlington music/arts scene and its relationship to other countercultures; I'm definitely not the person to write it, of course.

The biggest realization might be this: the music is way bigger, truer, more beautiful, than anything I have to say about it. You can see how that'd be a blow to a writer's ego, especially one with messianic pretensions. But maybe it's the start of a new, deeper understanding. I hope so.

Would you have written any sections of the book differently now that you've had time to reflect on the process after publishing?

WH: Most of it (sigh) -- but I can't trust my assessment of the book at this moment. I've been reading a lot of Greil Marcus lately, finally, and his approach to rock writing, in which every aesthetic gesture (however small) is understood as a weighty exchange in an ongoing Great American Mythic Conversation, is dangerously contagious, though wearying in large doses. It makes me want to go back to chapter 2, the long forerunners/contexts chapter that sets the stage for everything else in the book, and try to weave it together into something more continuous. Closer to the version in my head.

I'd definitely spend more time fine-tuning the chapter about 'whiteness.' (There is indeed a chapter about 'whiteness.' It's that kind of book. Why bite off only as much as you can chew, after all?) At the moment it veers a little too quickly to a defense of Phish's 'syncretism,' as opposed to 'appropriation,' and I'd wanna take more time before doing so -- think more about the roots of Phish's cultural politics. Well: I blinked.

Who are your favorite authors?

WH: John Crowley, Russell Hoban: fantasists at home with the heightened abstractions of myth-history and the most painfully intimate domestic portraiture -- and Crowley (who wrote Little, Big, an all-time great portrait of lifelong married love) works on a scale approaching that of...

...Thomas Pynchon: the best we've got, isn't he? He commands more registers, and engages with his material at more scales, than any other writer I know. Byron the Bulb? Jessica and Roger at the church? Oedipa putting on all those clothes in the hotel room? 'They fly toward grace'?! He can do everything, and is willing to try.

Douglas Hofstadter, Kenneth Hite: idiosyncratic practitioners of a kind of speculative nonfiction who demonstrate (in maximally different registers and domains) how to turn private obsessions into tools for playful creative thinking. Hofstadter is a CS/cogsci guy; Hite writes roleplaying games.

James Merrill, E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda: Merrill's Sandover is a 600-page visionary poem about talking to W.H. Auden and a host of angels through a ouija board. Harrowing, melancholy, regally ironic -- and incidentally a moving portrait of James and David's long marriage (in all but name). Cummings wrote maybe the funniest erotica I know -- and he was more concise than Christgau, for Christ's sake. Neruda's introduction to his 100 Sonnets is one of those perfect things; the rest of the book has seemingly limitless freedom-within-formalism that I hear in Piazzolla.

Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, P.G. Wodehouse: two angry sages and an elf.

Christopher Hitchens: My favourite pugilist. His dialectical arguments on behalf of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- from first principles which his colleagues at (e.g.) The Nation theoretically shared -- are still unsettling, even now. A signed copy of his book Letters to a Young Contrarian, which a fan of my old blog(!!) once sent me unprompted, is one of my prize possessions. And it's a beautiful, stirring book about thinking freely and enjoying life.

David Milch: One of my heroes. He has Hitchens's encyclopedic recall, Pynchon's ear for voices, Joss Whedon's command of dialogic rhythm, and Rumi's joyful spirit -- not to mention an improvisatory spirit worthy of, lemmeseehere, Trey Anastasio himself. Deadwood's dialogue is the best ever written for TV, which wouldn't matter if its characters weren't fully realized human beings. Sidebar: his Idea of the Writer lectures are available online, and -- forgive my evangelical zeal -- they can change your life.

All men, I know, on this list at least: one of my shortcomings.

Are you (considering) writing more books about Phish?

WH: Two's enough, I think! Even my 5-year-old son makes fun of 'daddy's Phish books.' Though Phish'll make a cameo in what I think/hope is my next project, which builds on chapter 2 of the 33-1/3 book. It's not primarily about music.

If you could ask a band member any question, who and what?

WH: I'd want to talk to them all about their practice regimen, how that's changed over the years; and about their understanding of changes in the band's music in the late 90s and early 21C. And I have a lot of questions for Page about how he understands his role in the band, since he's the one whose expertise is least obvious.

Will you be at any of the MSG shows?

WH: Doubtful. A nice thought, anyhow.

Thank you for your time, Wally! For more information about the 33⅓ book series, please visit Wikipedia. And to order Wally’s A Live One, please visit Amazon.

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Sunday 05/17/2015 by Icculus

THE PHISH "HALL OF FAME"

A little over a month ago, PhishNet user @TheRealBurnham (Matt Burnham) began polling Phish fans in order to compile a list of Phish's "Hall of Fame" jams. The results of Matt's survey are below, written in his words, and we hope you find them both useful and entertaining. We also urge you to "Comment" thoughtfully, to help create a record of why you believe particular jams belong in certain "tiers," and to draw attention to why your favorite improvisational versions of Phish's songs matter so much to you. Please, share your Phish story, as it may also be "Hall of Fame" material. -charlie

Thanks to a great user response, I received 291 legit ballots for the Hall of Fame. Some ballots were excluded (were not "legit") due, for example, to people just voting for “YEM” with no date (or refusing to list any version of anything), but overall there was such a great turnout that it lends credence to this being a real, quasi-statistically valid poll.

Were I to design and envision the Phish Hall of Fame, a Phish museum would be on the the first floor. The first thing that you’d see is the Hot Dog from the 1994 New Year’s Eve Show, because we would of course get that back from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The floor would be littered with information on New Year’s Eve and Halloween shows, famous sets and band synopses. There would be information about Jeff Holdsworth, Marc Daubert, Tom Marshall, The Dude of Life, and Chris Kuroda. But interspersed among all this would be snippets about the Hall of Fame voting.

In those 291 ballots, 2769 song versions were voted for (e.g., 12/9/95 YEM), which equates to an average of 9.5 song versions (entries) per ballot. Among those 2769 ballot entries, 494 unique versions were voted on. And 269 versions were voted for only once, illustrating the wide and varied tastes of Phish fans.

Unique versions of songs voted for:

Song

Number of Unique Versions

Tweezer

16

Mike’s Song (Groove)

12

Ghost

11

Bathtub Gin

8

Reba

8

Down With Disease

7

Harry Hood

7


For the purpose of the Phish HOF, I made the decision to essentially count Mike’s Groove and Mike’s Song interchangeably. This may be controversial, but it is what it is. Thankfully, this didn’t have much impact on the overall song versions being entered.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Tweezer was the most voted for song in the group of songs where fans voted for specific versions. Tweezer also received the most votes overall. (If only based on this relatively small poll, Tweezer appears to be the most popular Phish song.) Given Tweezer's popularity, the results of this poll will necessarily be Tweezer-heavy.

Overall votes for songs:

Song

Total Votes

Tweezer

373

Bathtub Gin

243

Ghost

237

David Bowie

141

You Enjoy Myself

127


After the first museum floor (so to speak), the remaining three floors of the Hall of Fame represent three levels or tiers of Phish jams. The top floor (the fourth floor) hosts the top overall vote-getters (the first tier), and all of them were on over 20% of the total ballots cast. Baseball may use a 75% threshold, but no songs were near that total, and 20% works for a good top level and keeps it being the cream.

The third floor is the 2nd Tier, and the selection process used song eras in order to elect the song versions for this tier. These “third floor” songs were inducted based on having greater than 9 times as many votes as the average song from their given era. That may seem (and may be) kind of convoluted and arbitrary, but it is based on the fact that the songs selected for this tier had a large percentage of overall votes from a given time frame. Counting them in this manner also leveled the playing field when one compares, say, 1997 vs 1993.

The second floor, Tier 3, features songs elected on the basis of their individual merit: if a song had greater than 30% of the total votes cast for all versions of that song (and all versions of the song had greater than 40 total votes), then they qualified for this third tier.

All of this information isn’t critical to know, but I wanted to be transparent about how I decided to split them up given the diversity of votes casts. I’m sure that others could come up with different ways to slice-up the data, which I am willing to share with anyone who requests it.

Importantly, the top tier (the first tier) was calculated first and its song values were not factored into the second and third tier calculations. (And the second tier calculations were not factored into the third tier.) This was done to model that the top tier was voted in first, then the second, then the third. Without further ado, here are the results!

TIER 3

Songs

Song Vote %

Tier

1995-11-14 Stash

67.1875

3

2004-06-19 Piper

57.40740741

3

1997-11-29 Runaway Jim

55.81395349

3

1997-12-30 AC/DC Bag

43.58974359

3

1999-09-14 AC/DC Bag

41.02564103

3

2014-08-29 Simple

40

3

1994-06-18 David Bowie

37.5

3

1994-06-11 You Enjoy Myself

37.28813559

3

1995-12-29 Bathtub Gin -> The Real Me -> Bathtub Gin

33.33333333

3

1998-07-06 Ghost

32.96703297

3


The third tier has some of my favorite versions of songs in it, including my all-time favorite, the June 11, 1994 You Enjoy Myself. The giant Orlando 95 Stash had 67% of all Stash votes in the poll, which is a huge number, but indicates that other (spectacular) versions were overlooked (Paradiso 97, for one). The two versions of AC/DC Bag noted above were almost 85% of all AC/DC Bag votes cast. The longest singular Phish jam to date, the Worcester 97 Runaway Jim, is in this tier, as well as the “MLBowie” and “Real Gin.” Very few 2.0 and 3.0 songs made it into this tier: the SPAC ‘04 Piper and the Dick’s ‘14 Simple (coincidentally, the only two versions of songs in the HOF that I’ve seen). And, technically, the last song in this tier, and thus the HOF, is of course the Prague Ghost. I’m not sure I’d want to visit a HOF that didn’t have the Prague Ghost. On a personal level, this may be my favorite tier. My favorite YEM, Bowie, Piper and Ghost. Not bad for being third tier.

TIER 2

Songs

Era % Vote

Tier

2003-02-28 Tweezer

14.53367876

2

1997-11-22 Halley’s Comet

10.86065574

2

2000-06-14 Twist

10.10752688

2

1995-12-31 Mike’s Groove

10.04098361

2

1993-12-31 Harry Hood

9.863945578

2

1999-07-10 Chalk Dust Torture

9.677419355

2

1993-08-13 Bathtub Gin

9.523809524

2

2000-05-22 Ghost

9.247311828

2

1997-12-06 Tweezer

9.221311475

2


As you can see, there are many fan favorites in the second tier. The two oldest versions of songs in the HOF appear in this tier: the NYE93 Harry Hood and the Murat Gin (8/13/93). Two versions of Tweezer appear as well, the Nassau Tweezer (2/28/03), the highest voted version in this tier, and Tweezabella (12/6/97), the lowest voted version. The NYE95 Mike’s Groove did include both Mike’s Song and Weekapaug votes, but that’s ok. One cool thing to note is that most of the songs in every tier have been released on LivePhish or circulate in SBD. I’m not sure if these songs were voted largely because they circulate widely in high quality, or if they’re released because they’re widely loved, but there seems to be a strong correlation one way or another. I was surprised that the Fukuoka Twist (6/14/2000) didn’t make it into the first tier, but it came very close.

TIER 1

Here it is, what everyone came here for. I'm listing each of the versions in descending order, from seventh place to first place, based on the total number of votes cast for each:

7) 1995-12-09 – You Enjoy Myself (68 votes, 23.4%): The Albany YEM, the most cherished version of Phish’s most played song. Thirty-four minutes of great grooving with multiple jam segments and movements. Some of my favorite Phish jamming happens at 12 minutes, and this YEM probably has the finest silent jam in it (which may be damning with faint praise) that is followed by a triumphant return to the groove. It’s amazing that footage of this exists on YouTube, and it is definitely worth checking out. Seeing a silent jam in person seems like a real trip.

6) 1998-04-03 – Roses Are Free (82 votes, 28.2%): Interestingly, the only standalone version of a cover song in the Hall of Fame. This Roses kicks off the most celebrated set in arguably the most celebrated run in the band’s history. It is a monster and is probably the darkest of the Tier 1 songs. More groove-centric than Trey soloing, and its peak is a perfect example of how Phish can stretch and extend any song in their repertoire. Other than the Big Cypress version, this version is the only truly jammed-out Roses to date, and it is easily the more loved version of the two.

5) 1998-07-29 – Bathtub Gin (86 votes, 29.6%): The Riverport Gin. Probably the best first set opener in history and if that were put to a vote, I bet it would be a landslide victory. Just a transcendent version that starts strong and doesn’t stop until it finishes its 24 minutes. Page shines here in all facets. Remarkably, this amazing version of Gin isn’t even the highest voted Bathtub Gin overall.

3b) 1997-08-17 – Bathtub Gin (95 votes, 32.6%): And that’s because the Went Gin ended up with 9 more votes than the Riverport Gin. (It also tied with the Providence Bowie, hence why there is no “4)”, no fourth place, in this list!) In my opinion the voters got this one right, because the Went Gin is probably the best example of high energy, frenetic HOSE that exists [Editor’s Note: other than the New Haven Tweezer, which did not even make the “Hall of Fame," but apparently just missed Tier 2. –charlie]. From about 9 minutes until the end of the song, and especially at 12:30 onward, is why I listen to Phish and why I go to concerts. The fact that the band can turn on a dime and develop multi-faceted jams that are so melodic they sound like you’ve heard them 10,000 times before. It’s something that not many other bands can do.

3a) 1994-12-29 – David Bowie (95 votes, 32.6%): The Providence Bowie is the earliest song historically in Tier 1, and it’s clear why. Many people view it as the culmination of 1994, which was the first real exploratory year for Phish. This jam has multiple deep movements. Dark, but still oddly compelling, the playing is superb. It really illustrates the band’s yearning to push musical boundaries and psychological limits. It is also the only song in Phish’s history that I know of that has “Lassie whistling,” which is nice.

2) 1997-11-17 – Ghost (103 votes, 35.4%): The lynchpin of what is among the greatest first sets in Phish history, the Denver Ghost is a funk machine that is the perfect example of Winter ‘97 Cowfunk. I was honestly a bit surprised that this was so highly rated, but I can’t find fault in its position either. It is yet another relentless masterpiece with multiple hose peaks. If it is really Trey’s favorite part of the Phish Destroys America tour, then it definitely belongs in the 1st Tier.

1) 2013-07-31 – Tweezer (124 votes, 42.6%): The famous, the infamous, Tahoe Tweezer. The birth of Phishmaps. The highest vote-getter of any song in the Phish Hall of Fame. The creator of the start/stop Woos. Probably the most loved by some and hated by some (somehow) version of any Phish song, but the people have spoken. It is definitely worthy of Tier 1, as it is a great journey into different sectors of music which is unique in many ways. Particularly of note is the post-Woo section at 27:20, where Trey plays with such ferocity, clarity, and joyful exuberance that I’d put it on par with any 1.0 peaks.

So there you have it, the Phish Hall of Fame. Will songs from 2015 make it in one day? Since one song from the last two years made it in, there’s certainly hope, and I should note that the Dick’s Light (9/1/12) was one of the closest songs to not make the HOF. Most years were represented from 1993 on, too, which shows the consistency that the band has, and fans’ appreciation for that consistency as well. We do not forget! The best thing overall about an exercise like this is that it illustrates the great diversity across all levels of fandom.

Thanks very much to all of you who participated in this survey, and if you like what you’ve read, be sure to check out other things I’ve written about at http://soundandphission.blogspot.com.

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Thursday 04/30/2015 by Icculus

"PHILOSOPHY SCHOOL OF PHISH" COURSE

Registration is now open for the “Philosophy School of Phish,” a special section of PHL 360: Philosophy and the Arts, at Oregon State University. The class merges the experience of Phish’s live performances with the study of theories about art, aesthetic judgment, community, and more. It is designed as a philosophy of music class, and will incorporate live Phish performances as case studies.

Along with readings from philosophers such as Kant, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche, students will be required to attend concerts during the band’s 2015 summer tour in person or via webcast and analyze their experience in written assignments. Class begins on June 22nd and runs for eight weeks. It is a distance education course offered online through Oregon State University Ecampus, and enrollment is not limited to Oregon State students. Phish fans from all over the country can participate in the course.

Additional information, including instructions for registration and details about last year’s class, are available on the course’s public website. And for information about OSU Ecampus, please visit http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/. (From Professor Stephanie Jenkins)

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Wednesday 04/22/2015 by Icculus

WHAT ARE PHISH'S "HALL OF FAME" JAMS?

Phish.Net user Matt Burnham (@TheRealBurnham) is in the process of taking votes from fans on Phish's "Hall of Fame" jams. Surely you've listened to a lot of Phish over the years, yes? They're a highly improvisational band, as you are well-aware, and their versions of certain songs (as attested to ad nauseum in this site's Jam Charts) can differ in spectacular ways----harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, hilariously----week to week and tour to tour. You probably wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already have thoughtful opinions on The Greatest Jams In Phish History, right? Here's more information about what Matt is up to, in Matt's own words, and how you can help determine which jams should be in the "Hall of Fame":

"A Hall of Fame is a symbol of a truly upper echelon of achievement. I love all sorts of Hall of Fames because they separate the dichotomy of 'best' and 'favorite.' For instance, I've grown up a Red Sox fan and, as a 31 year old, I can say that (until last year) Derek Jeter has pretty much been my nemesis in all things baseball-related. However, if I had a 'Baseball Hall of Fame vote,' Jeter would have to be in the first ballot easily. Although he's not my favorite, he was clearly one of the best of his time period. And if I was being truly honest, I'd have to select him over anyone other than Pedro Martinez on those fun Red Sox teams, even though they were filled with some of my favorite players. But that's me. Others may choose to just select their favorites, and that's fine too.

"So,naturally, this led me to start thinking about a Phish Hall of Fame. Specifically, for all versions of songs, are there any jams that are so universally acclaimed that they would be elected on a first ballot? And would those jams reach a 75% threshold like there is in baseball? What other fair ways are there to slice the data to try to determine what jams (and to what extent) are loved by everyone? Are there any jams that are incredbly underrated? How many jams from 2.0 and 3.0 should be included? Is everyone going to vote for only 1997 songs? What attendance biases will be put into play?

"Personally, I don't think that using that high of a bar (75%) will allow for any songs to get in. But how low does that bar need to be in order to let in 10 songs? Or 15? To be elected into the inaugural class, a high criteria should be met, of course, but no-one likes a Hall of Fame with no members. So to that, I created a simple poll for the voters (that's all of you) to fill out with up to ten (10) songs/jams that you feel are Hall of Fame worthy. If you don't have ten songs, that's fine. Just leave the remaining spots blank. Here's the link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1R-6lltffyHvx_Mib0W8jzaVNpldLO5YRPCA8nytvNYg/viewform?usp=send_form

--Matt Burnham

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Wednesday 03/04/2015 by Icculus

PHISH AND YOGA: A DISCUSSION WITH CHRIS CALARCO

Chris Calarco (www.chriscalarcoyoga.com) has been practicing yoga for over a decade. He recently began incorporating Phish’s music into some of his classes, including classes for the benefit of The Mockingbird Foundation, and we wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge him for his work, and learn more about his inspiration.

Can you explain how or what inspired you to create Phishy yoga classes? Does your experience with Phish's music inform your practice?

When I first started practicing yoga, I would feel exhilarated and exhausted following class. It was a truly beautiful, wonderful feeling, and it felt really familiar. Pretty quickly it came to me that the feeling reminded me of the post Phish show feeling. So, in that way, Phish informed my yoga almost immediately. I had always said that I learned the most about myself dancing at Phish shows. But that was before I found yoga, which insists that one be willing to skillfully and honestly stare yourself in the face, and be self-reflective. Yoga isn't simply a physical practice. It’s a way of looking at yourself and the world. So much of the yoga philosophy that I studied and continue to study is a sort of “homecoming,” in that I first learned it all through the creative inner exploration at Phish shows. It was a beautiful confirmation to "re-learn."

When did you get “IT” with respect to Phish?

I was a later comer to the Phish game. I initially ignored them. I didn't understand them, and even pushed them away as my friends got into them. My brother started getting into them in 1995, but I was not down. But I eventually got “IT” in 1997. In summer 1997, after my freshman year in college, I was living in London. Phish was on their European tour. My brother told me Phish was playing Royal Albert Hall (6/16/97), and that venue was literally like three blocks from my house. So I walked there with a couple friends, and saw my first Phish show. I was hooked, immediately. I freakin' loved it! I called him up and told him to get me tickets to Star Lake and Darien. Needless to say, I loved those shows as well, and then decided on a whim to drive to Limestone for The Great Went. It was all over from there.

What are you up to yoga-wise these days?

Well, I am involved in a big project here in Portland, and that has been taking up most of my time and energy for the last year. For the last two years, I have been building a green building. I've never been in the construction business before. But practicing yoga in good company at Yoga Union in Portland, Oregon (www.yogaunioncwc.com), has been central to my personal growth over the past eight years. I am good friends with the owners of Yoga Union, and because of the growing community there, we decided together to expand the studio. I found an old building just a block and a half away from the current studio and purchased it. We entered into a long design phase in order to renovate the building and to build it in the most sustainable way possible. Little did I know the adventure I was getting into! More than two years later we are deep in the throes of construction with a finish line in sight in mid-June of this year.

The project has taken a lot of patience and forced me to look at myself and my habits like nothing I have done before. Basically, it has challenged the effectiveness of my yoga practice, and been an amazing learning experience. The building is called The Breathe Building and will house an expanded version of Yoga Union with two studios, locker rooms, sauna, larger retail space and gorgeous roof top deck for gathering and outdoor yoga classes. There will be a full service holistic wellness center on site called Prema Health, as well as a healthy cafe called Fern Kitchen. We've got a lot going on in a 10,000 sq. ft. space!

Christ, you do sound busy!

The Breathe Building will truly be the most sustainable built community wellness center in the country, and I can't wait till the doors open. You can find out a little more here https://www.facebook.com/breathebuilding and www.breathebuilding.com.

So, in light of this work, I personally didn’t teach much Phish yoga in 2014. But in May 2013, I held the first Phish Yoga Teacher Training in New York. Five people -- all of them Registered Yoga Teachers (a requirement) – attended the training, and we discussed the in’s and out’s of teaching yoga with Phish music. It’s a unique and super fun way to practice for sure. So, in 2014 those guys held it down big time on summer and fall tours. Big shout out to them: Tracy Stonaker, Kerry Contini, Michael Levin, Sara MacConnell and Brooke Carlson.

What was the playlist of the last Phish-themed yoga class you taught?

The setlist from the last Phish class I taught is:

Soul Shakedown Party 7/3/11

Cities 8/6/10

Carini 7/12/14

Roses are Free 4/3/98

Brian and Robert 7/31/13

Fee 7/1/12

Harry Hood 7/3/13

I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see that you played the Berkeley Cities. That’s up there with my favorite Phish improvisations, frankly. When did you first begin practicing yoga?

I started practicing seriously in 2005, when Phish was on their second hiatus, of course.

How would you describe your yoga practice to someone who's largely ignorant of yoga, e.g., someone like me, who has only attended three or four Vinyasa classes?

Well, yoga has come to be understood by many in this country as a purely physical practice, and really modern yoga has even become synonymous with the postural practice. But while this is a huge part of the practice to be sure, in my view it’s not all of it. I truly see the postures as a way of gaining self-understanding. The poses are blank slates; they have no inherent meaning in them. They are shapes we take to see how our bodies, mind, and hearts react. In some way, like drugs. It’s like, "Try this pose on. This is the shape. These are things that might help. Do your best. Get a good teacher and stay strong when things get hairy. Rest when you need to. And keep practicing." You can learn a lot about yourself when you are dedicated to a repetitive discipline.

The postures bring us increased strength and flexibility, as well as the ability to find some form of calm in intense situations. An endless exploration of lessons learned on the mat has a lot of relevance to how we are off the mat. There is a whole world of meditation, of learning how to breathe more effectively, of philosophical teachings that can help inform how we approach ourselves, others, and the world around us. Yoga can become something you do for exercise, or it can become a way of living. Either is great.

Do you have any advice for people just beginning to take yoga classes or who haven't yet taken one but are interested? For example, is there a certain beginning style of yoga class, like Vinyasa, that you would recommend that someone take before getting into other styles?

I would recommend starting with a "Yoga Basics" type class. Generally, this would be called a "Hatha" Yoga class, which in reality is a very general term for the postural practice, but has become a way of saying "slower, more mindful yoga." I believe it’s necessary for beginners to take it slowly, and learn the shapes and the alignment of the body, their body, before taking a Vinyasa class. Vinyasa is certainly the most popular form of yoga in the modern world, because it is often fast, athletic and a great workout. Unfortunately, however, I think there is a lot of bad instruction out there, and beginners should really begin at the beginning. Some might move on more quickly than others to be sure, but a basics class, or even a private lesson, is ideal.

Phish-themed yoga classes are now taking place in cities nationwide, right? Where can one go for more information about them? Is there an email list or Twitter account to follow for updates on the locations and dates/times of classes?

Yes, Phish yoga classes do happen nationwide. The best place to look for information would be both our Facebook group page www.facebook.com/phishyoga for all of the latest announcements, as well as our website www.surrendertotheflowyoga.org.

Proceeds from the Phish yoga classes benefit two organizations. Because both Phish and yoga have given me so much, it was natural for me to use this platform to give back to kids who need music and yoga, so we give 50% of our proceeds to The Mockingbird Foundation (which Phish fans are very familiar with). The other 50% goes to Living Yoga, an amazing non-profit that provides yoga and meditation to children and adults in schools, prisons, drug treatment facilities, and more.

What music do you listen to other than Phish? Have you thought about using other improvisational rock music during yoga classes and, if so, what?

I listen to all kinds of music. Truly. Far too much to start listing here. I do teach other music themed classes. People seem to really dig em. Often I'll even use live DJs for my Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Madonna classes. Those are a blast. My friend and I do a Pink Floyd class with video projections, a light show, and more. I've also done a Soul Music class with a live DJ. I stick with the artists that have moved millions of hearts, ya know? It’s a great time.

Thank you for your time, for your practice, and for your support of Mbird.org, Chris!

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Friday 02/13/2015 by Icculus

REMEMBERING ERIC VANDERCAR

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, the improvisational rock community lost a brilliant and generous man in Eric Vandercar. While commuting home from work to his wife, his teenage son, and young daughter, Eric’s northbound train hit a car at a crossing in Westchester County, NY. It was the deadliest train crash in the history of the Metro-North line, which is the second most-ridden commuter railroad in America (second only to the Long Island Rail Road).

For several decades, Eric taped and circulated the shows of many bands, including Phish, Grateful Dead, moe., Spin Doctors, The Radiators, and others. Copies of several hundred of the shows that he taped circulate on the Live Music Archive, for example. His love of the music so many of us share in common cannot be overstated. And his generosity in circulating that music was, and continues to be, both magnificent and inspiring.

Sue Weiand, one of our community’s most well-known (and beloved) photographers, first met Eric online through the newsgroup Rec.Music.Gdead. “We finally met in person at a Radiators show in San Francisco in 1996, and then again at High Sierra in 1998,” Sue recalls. “Eric was a world-renowned taper and, in early 1997, he advised many of his California friends to check out a band, moe., who would be playing their first west coast show soon at the Great American Music Hall. About 25 of us went on Eric’s recommendation alone. Eric was a great friend to musicians and fans alike, and he will be sorely missed.”

A well-known taper in the Phish community, Lenny Stubbe, was a friend of Eric's for many years, first meeting Eric on Rec.Music.Gdead in January 1996, and in person for the first time at the Clifford Ball, where he patched out of Eric's fantastic rig for the recordings that can be found here and here. Lenny writes: “ev was my taping mentor and a long-time friend. He set the example of how to live life while doing it to the absolute fullest. His wit, humor, generosity, and passion for anything he did, and his loyalty to everything important, was like no other. With ev, anything was possible, and he made you feel that way. He taught me a ton and challenged me to set the bar very high. From meticulous tape lists to raising kids and everything in-between, he did it all to the highest level. I will never forget my friend, and the huge impact he had on me as a person, in and outside of music. Peace, further my brother.”


Photo © Stephanie May, with thanks to The Capitol Theatre and Mike Winters

Eric taped many shows at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, not far from his home. Eliot Byron works as the Stage Manager and Crew Chief at the Theatre, and knew Eric well. “Eric was a part of my GD and Phish taping family as long as I can remember,” Eliot reflects. “We had such great conversations throughout the years... Gear, family, travel, SCUBA. I was so excited to see him every time he and Jill came to the Capitol Theatre. We all love the venue so much, and I am blessed to be a part of It, and to have Eric refer to it as one of his favorite spots was just a bonus.”

Craig Hillwig, who taped many Phish shows with Schoeps mics, including 12/31/95, also remembers Eric fondly. “You hear a lot about Eric and his taping and his relationships with moe. and the rads. But first and foremost, Eric was a Deadhead. He absolutely loved Jerry. His first show was 11/5/79 at the Spectrum, and if he ever got jaded at the end, he didn't let on. When I saw him at his last Dead shows in Albany in June ‘95, he was looking forward to getting that ‘Help on the Way’ (and we got it - the very last one). He was just getting into taping in 1995, and right before he bought his B&K's, Jerry died. Eric took Jerry's death hard. Most people don't realize it or remember it today, but Eric helped organize the Central Park memorial for Jerry, posting to Usenet and the Berkeley listserv (you can see some of the posts here http://hake.com/gordon/latest.html). We became pretty good friends after that event.

“Eric had this tag line that he used to close his correspondence: ‘peace, further ...’ It was his nod to the spirit of Kesey and Cassidy and the Grateful Dead - that life is a journey, and something to be explored, and we just have to choose to get on the bus. He used it in emails and in Rec.Music.Gdead posts. He even had cards made. Please visit his memorial page on FB: http://www.facebook.com/EricVandecarRIP."

Taper Scott Bernstein also knew Eric well. "Eric and I met back in 1995, after I'd seen an announcement on the Rec.Music.Gdead usenet group about an offshoot email listserv being started specifically for NYC area Deadheads (which was apparently started after a conversation between Eric and Rod Nayfield, who still maintains the list to this day). Shortly after joining the NYCHeads list, I'd see his email address pop up in my inbox frequently as he was voluntarily maintaining a subjective 'NYC Concert Calendar' of what he judged to be good upcoming shows and he would distribute it on the list each week. He created that calendar not because anyone had asked him to, but because he wanted to help build a community, and help promote good music. It was a time when we were all hurting from the loss of Jerry Garcia, and it felt great to feel like part of a community to enjoy great local live music with. Very quickly I started emailing him to add good shows that I knew about that he hadn't listed in the calendar.

"Our first meeting in the flesh came when I had a videotape that I needed dubbed (someone had lent me a VHS master of G. Love & Special Sauce from Tempe, AZ) and I sent out a kind of 'Hail Mary' email to the NYCHeads list, because I figured some Deadhead must have had 2 VCRs to dub tapes. Sure enough, Eric selflessly volunteered. He had no desire to make a copy for himself -- he just that had the ability to help, so he did. After that, we became very close very quickly, starting by trading lots of Grateful Dead DAT tapes in a short period of time. Both of us were always trying to collect the best sources with known lineage for our favorite shows.


Photo © 1996, Courtesy of Scott Bernstein (ev and Scott packing up ev's car at The Clifford Ball 8/16-17/1996. Note ev's GD tribute vanity license plate.)

"I had the distinct honor of introducing Eric to what would eventually become his favorite band -- moe. After getting bitten by the moe. bug myself on 7/8/95 at Wetlands (thanks to gentle pressure from their FOH soundguy at the time Brendan O'Neill -- also a major Dead/Phish head), I was really trying to spread the word. So come 12/21/95, I convinced Eric to join me at Wetlands for an Al Schnier solo show, and he wasn't especially impressed. Fortunately just a few months later Eric happened to be with friends in Jackson Hole, WY, for a ski trip and moe. just happened to be playing at the Mangy Moose that weekend (https://archive.org/details/moe1996-03-15), and they went just to have something fun to do. Since they had not planned on attending any music, Eric didn't even have his taping gear with him. Sure enough he came back from this trip raving and was now sold, attending the Irving Plaza moe. show (https://archive.org/details/moe1996-04-06dnk.shn) just about a month later! Over the years, Eric and his wife Jill became such a presence at moe. shows, they grew to have a strong personal relationship with all of the band members, their crew, and their management (not unlike their close personal relationship with the Radiators).

"We had a grand old time sharing music with each other. Eric got me to see many more Radiators shows than I would have seen otherwise, got me to join him for a number of They Might Be Giants shows around NYC (another of Eric's favorite bands), and gave me my first introduction to Anders Osborne when he put Anders' set from High Sierra '96 as filler on a David Grisman DAT from the same festival that he was trading with me. We shared a love of funk (especially of the New Orleans variety), but Eric also loved Neil Young, and indie rock like Lou Reed, The Meat Puppets, and most recently, Snow Patrol.


Photo © 2014 Erick "eaphoto" Anderson (ev, and Scott Bernstein, with Bob Mischka in the background, setting up to tape in the "FOB section" at Randall's Island, 7/13/2014)

"From that point on we attended show after show together -- moe. shows all over the northeast, Spin Doctors shows (another band that we both shared a love for), Phish concerts (including heading to the Clifford Ball and Red Rocks together in 1996), hippie music festivals, the New Orleans Jazz Festival (which he and Jill attended religiously), and numerous shows of bands like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Medeski Martin and Wood, Ani Difranco, Dan Bern, Galactic, George Porter, The Meters (+ Funky Meters), Ivan Neville and his band Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds (which I introduced Eric to early on by scheduling my bachelor party at one of their very early NYC shows), Guster, Dave Matthews Band, The Allman Brothers, Soulive, anything Warren Haynes related, and many more. The list goes on and on of the shows we saw and taped together over the years. We were also partners in crime in the occasional 'stealth' taping job at shows we were not permitted to tape or share around openly. One of the more surprising, highly sought after, and rarely circulated recordings of Eric's was from a very late night Prince show at Irving Plaza!

"I also give credit to Eric for twisting my arm in to give Phish another chance after I'd put myself on a self-imposed hiatus from seeing them after I'd been severely let down at the 2 Radio City Music Hall shows in 2000. Eric presented me with an impossible-to-get ticket for their return show (after their first hiatus) on 12/31/02. I had no intention or desire to attend (and in fact already had tickets to both the early and late Karl Denson shows at BB Kings Blues Club here in NYC), but yet he persuasively convinced me to attend after someone in his group backed out. I still didn't feel connected to the show, and it did not pull be back into the Phish sphere. It took my wife Jen to pull me back in at Jones Beach in 2009 before I decided I liked seeing them again.

"Eric's generosity and love for the music is obvious by how much music he shared on the Live Music Archive, in addition to all of the trading he did on cassettes, DATs and CDs over the years. Eric and I were instrumental in setting-up an efficient method to distribute a LOT of music quickly via the NYCHeads PTT (Permanent Tape Tree). In the old days, 'tape trees' were the most efficient way to get music out there. Someone would 'seed' the tree by sending out one DAT tape to the person at the top of the tree. Then that person would make 3 copies and send them out to people on the next level of the tree. Then those 3 people would make 3 copies each and send them off, etc., until very quickly hundreds of copies were out there. Making it 'permanent' made it much more efficient for folks to get the music out because we didn't have to waste the time elicting signups and putting the tree structure together each time after it had been set up. He and I would often alternate in seeding those trees with cool stuff that we had recorded or received in trade. I especially recall Eric being very enthusiastic about seeding a Radiators show from Irving Plaza 4/12/97 where Warren Haynes had sat in. I also recall us making a ton of copies of the famous Phish Crest Theater 3/22/93 Gamehendge show (which had already been treed elsewhere) for the NYCHeads PTT.

"Notably, Eric was one of the main contributors to the moe. DANK project. This was a project in the semi-early days of the Live Music Archive to try and get the best quality, lowest generation versions of all moe. shows in circulation up on the archive. While they didn't manage to get EVERYTHING up there, they did manage to get a nice swath of shows from the early days transferred and posted for everyone to enjoy.

"In recent years, Eric had mostly been in taping 'retirement', only pulling-out his mics and recorder when he knew that there would be no other tapers there, or when he had easy access to the soundboard feed to hook up his deck and leave it at the soundboard. I don't think it was because his love for taping had abated, but he simply didn't have time and energy for all of the 'post production' work now required of tapers: the whole process of mastering, tracking, uploading, etc. to share shows. With his busy home life, time was tight.


Photo © 2007 Sharon Shiner (ev with Scott and Jen Bernstein on the 2nd moe. cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel 1/7-13/2007)

"The last time we saw each other was for a trip with moe. to Jamaica as part of their 'Tropical Throe.down' January 8th to 14th, 2015. Eric, Jill, and Jen (my wonderful wife) and I got a TON of quality time together on the beach: sharing dinners, relaxed time on the beach (with each-other, other moe.rons, and the band and crew), diving (well, Eric and Jill dove, anyway) and, of course, rocking out to moe. with about 300 other people! We were truly blessed to have had so much time together in a beautiful environment. While it's impossible to say goodbye to one of your best friends -- we were so close, he was one of the groomsmen in my wedding party -- my grief is soothed at least somewhat by the incredible final blowout that we had together. More than just music buddies, Eric was always there with exactly the right words of advice when something went wrong in my life, words of congratulations when things went well, and a great sounding board for sensible advice when I needed it.

"I will miss him intensely, and am so thankful for the nearly 20 years of friendship that we did have together." -- Scott Bernstein

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Tuesday 12/16/2014 by Icculus

MIAMI POSTER AND PIN SHOW: JANUARY 2, 2015

PhanArt Pete Mason is once again raising funds for The Mockingbird Foundation (the sponsor of Phish.net and a 501©(3) nonprofit) through a poster and pin exhibition, this time in Miami on Friday, January 2, 2015, the third day of Phish's four day/show run there. The show takes place from noon to five p.m. at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. The Center is only five blocks away from the American Airlines Arena, so be sure to hit the poster and pin exhibition pre-Phish.

Exhibitors include Ryan Kerrigan, TRiPP, Isadora Bullock, Michael Boyer, StuPINdous Creations, Pompeii Prints, Fred Sutter, MYFE. Designs, Party Time Pins, Noah Phence, Pin me Down, Cactusbomb, Pinsanity Designs, and Ant Pharms Pins, Sweet Melis, Branden Otto, Brooke Appelman, Brian Bojo’s Phifty-Two Weeks, Golden Road Gallery, Jampanties, Ebbleberry Designs, Super Rad Cape Co, Highly Concerned Enterprises, Brendan Nicolan and Phish Shades. San Francisco-based pianist Holly Bowling will also be playing performances on the hour from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Her sets will feature arrangements of Phish songs, as well as several “jam transcriptions,” including a complete rendition of the "Tahoe Tweezer" during the final hour, beginning at 4 pm.

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Wednesday 11/26/2014 by Icculus

"WE'VE GOT IT SIMPLE" DOCUMENTARY: POLLOCK PRINT ANNOUNCED

Recently we interviewed Mike Lawrence, the director of the Phish fan documentary We've Got It Simple, and he mentioned that a very special Kickstarter reward was looming: their official movie poster, a limited edition print by Jim Pollock. That print has been announced and it is now available as one of the rewards on the "We've Got It Simple" Kickstarter page. So not only do you have the satisfaction of supporting a film about Phish fans, but also your backing may get you a Pollock Print!

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Thursday 11/06/2014 by Icculus

PHISH FAN DOCUMENTARY: WE'VE GOT IT SIMPLE!

There is a fan-driven documentary, We’ve Got It Simple, in pre-production. Michael Ryan Lawrence, quite a Phish fan himself, is directing and producing it. It is about fans and the Phish community, especially our artistic community, and Mike’s efforts inspired me to ask him some questions about the film, as well as the Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. Speaking personally, the beautiful and positive aspects of our community are usually not noticed or appreciated by non-fans. I believe this film has at least the potential to enlighten and inform in a profound way, and I hope you support it. -charlie

What was your inspiration for "We've Got It Simple"?

When I began my film career, there was not much “work for hire” out there, and so I became an independent documentary filmmaker by directing a film about a subject I was and continue to be very passionate about, craft beer! BEERADELPHIA - The City of Brewery Love was that film, and the reason it was so successful was that it truly was a labor of love for me. As a home brewer, bartender and self-appointed Beer Ninja, I was a part of a sub-culture that existed and, in my opinion, not enough people were informed on just how amazing it was. So Beeradelphia was my own way to creatively share the world of craft beer culture to those that were on the outside looking in, and to celebrate that culture for those of us on the inside.

Beeradelphia was lucky enough to screen at festivals in Europe and across the United States. When it eventually was picked up for distribution by Hulu.com, it was time for my next film. Initially, I had no idea what that would be. One night while sitting in a bar in Philly, having some beers with friends, a buddy joked that I made an entire movie about beer, and followed with, "the only thing you like as much as beer is probably Phish. So what's next for you Mike, a Phish movie?”

The thoughts that followed that lone comment were nothing short of an epiphany! I knew immediately he was right. I was going to make a Phish film next! I didn't know how, and I didn't know the angle of the narrative, but I knew in the bottom of my soul that he was right. I Love Phish and have since the first time I heard them in the early 90's. They have basically been the soundtrack to my life and have directly helped shape and sculpt not only whom I have become as an artist myself, but also really whom I have become as a human being. The sub-culture of Phish and its fans has made such a powerful impact on me and on my life that it is hard to even remember what I was like before I had Phish. So once the thought was there in my consciousness, this film became a no-brainer. I was going to make a Phish film. But we have all seen Bittersweet Motel and there was no need for a sequel documentary about the band. What I wanted to do was tell the true story of us, their fans, and the amazing world of art, culture and never-ending creativity that seeps out of us all. That was all I needed to move forward, I was going to make a film about Phish fan culture.

How and when did your small indie film company get started?

After serving five years in the United States Marine Corps, I used the GI Bill and moved to Hollywood for film school. While there I focused my studies on writing and directing film, and knew one day when I graduated that I would need my own company to create what I wanted to create. Being a very proud lifelong Philadelphian, and knowing I would take my Hollywood education and experience and eventually head back home, “Philly Philms” was born. My thesis film at the Los Angeles Film School, Jack in the Box, was a Jack Nicholson kidnap comedy, and would be considered the first “Philly Philms” project. So, 2009 was when it technically all began for “Philly Philms.” After I graduated and moved back to Philadelphia, I brought in a partner, Kelly Jobes, to help produce Beeradelphia. Philly Philms has basically been the two of us, along with some freelance artists, ever since.

How many hours of film footage have you collected, and when/where is the footage from (shows/tours)?

While I have been seeing Phish since 1994, I knew I wasn't "known" in the scene as a professional filmmaker, so I spent the Summer Tour of 2013 with Dave Cohen (my sound guy and tour brother), basically promoting the idea, getting to know the various artists and people from the scene on a personal level and really trying to spend as much time on tour finding the narrative thread that was going to run through the film. We first started shooting on Fall Tour of 2013, and we continued through both the Summer and Fall Tours of 2014. All in all, I'd say we have about 50 hours of footage, and much of that is from lot …and some is NSFW!

Have you already started editing the footage and creating the film? Is there a central theme or concept that you're using to focus the editing of the film?

We're starting to go through the footage, yes, but we are not going to begin the edit until we have all of our key interviews in the can, which will come after the Kickstarter campaign ends. As far as a concept and theme, I really wanted the film to be about the amazingly creative and unique world of the Phish fan with a strong focus on the art that fans create, which is inspired by the band and their music. Furthermore, realizing that I’m slightly biased, I can't think of a more energized and absolutely loyal and passionate fan base than Phish fans. So not only do I want the story to be about the fans, but I also want the fans to be a part of the story. We're currently accepting submissions of photos and videos from fans’ own "Phishtory" that will be used in the film. All of our art for the film, from our posters and tee shirts to our end credits and motion graphics, are being created by fans. We also have a contest coming soon on PhanArt.net that will provide cash prizes to various artists who help design our film's logo.

Even the title of the film was one of about a 100 titles that was submitted by fans via Twitter to @WeveGotItSimple, and once narrowed down to a dozen finalists, we held a survey with the help of Surrender to the Flow magazine to pick the winner. After over 5,000 votes, “We've Got It Simple” was the runaway winner taking nearly 75% of all first place votes. So everything from the title to the content to the end credits is being sculpted in real time by the fan base. I think the idea of a Phish fan film being about Phish fans and created and made by Phish fans is really a microcosm of the communal spirit of the entire scene and the unique angle a Phish fan film deserves.

I couldn’t agree more!

We want you to be happy: this is your film, too! (sung to the tune of “Joy”)

Any sense yet of how long the film will run (or at least what you're shooting for assuming you get all the funding you need)?

Well the story of us is definitely too massive for this to be a short film, so we are shooting for feature length. While that will be officially determined in the final cut, I'd hope we end between 70-90 minutes.

Is there anything you can share that might “whet the appetite” of fans for this film, e.g., interviews with anyone notorious or noteworthy in the Phish community?

We have some surprises in store for sure, and we are trying to represent each and every area of Phishtory so there will be plenty of variety in the film. Some noteworthy people that have agreed to take part in the film are Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, Phish artist Jim Pollock and, from the very beginning in Burlington Vermont, the legendary Nectar Rorris! Also, one of the coolest things is that our “official movie poster” will be a limited edition print by the one and only Jim Pollock! Having been witness to his artwork for decades, and with his strong connection to the earliest days of the band and the fan base, I couldn't think of a better artist to design the poster that will represent the film!

That’s awesome and exciting! If you could speak directly to someone in a position to really assist this project, either with dollars or distribution, what would you tell them? What's your “elevator pitch”?

First, this is not only a story that I believe needs to be told but a story that personally I need to tell. I'm 38 years old and my first Phish show was at the Philadelphia Civic Center on 12/28/94.

That’s 20 years ago, meaning I have been listening to, seeing live, and living in the Phish community for over half of my life. If there ever was a labor of love project for me to create, it is this one! Plus, a film like this serves two purposes. It celebrates this world for those of us in it, but more importantly, it sheds a much-needed light onto our culture for those who are not. There are not many things in my life as positive as Phish, and the people I interact with, because of the band and the music. With so many stereotypes and misinformation out there, I think this is a great chance to not only tell a great story but also to record for the annals of history a very important part of Americana. Phish is and will always be one of the most successful American bands in history, and their fans are such a huge part of that. They need their story properly told from someone on the inside.

But aside from the warm, feel-good aspect of this film, from a business point of view, there is much to be excited about. Phish, without any proper advertising, music videos, radio airtime or anything that resembles a normal musical business model has quietly become one of the top grossing musical acts of all time. This is largely in part to an excessively loyal, dedicated and extremely passionate fan base. This is the same fan base that the film is about, and the same fan base that will support this film once it is finished. Plus, with significant funding, the film can only get better with the ability to use post production houses to finish the film and have a distribution reach that would far exceed anything we could muster on such an indie level. Having said that, Phish fans are as resourceful as they come, and we WILL make this film, regardless of the assistance we get from the outside, although it certainly will help! A lot!!

Is it true that new Kickstarter rewards will be added closer to the funding deadline of Dec 5 (or whatever the deadline is)?

Yes! We have two very exciting rewards that are coming up that are directly related to the art-side of Phish fans, one I mentioned above will be the Jim Pollock Print. This will be a very limited edition print, created by Jim in the spirit of the fans and will serve as our official poster. So, in the spirit of fairness, we will announce a date and time that this reward will be posted, so that everyone, regardless of time zone or location will have a fair shot to get one of these prints. I've said it a thousand times over, but having Jim on board as both a participant in the film and a creator on the project as well means the world to me as I have been a fan of him and his art since I first saw his work. It’s impossible to think of Phish art and not think of Jim. There is nobody else who could have filled his shoes.

The other reward I am excited to announce is a "mega pin drop" reward, which will feature 10 unique pins designed by some of the top pin artists in the scene, all created for the film and inspired by the fan base. As a "pinner" myself since they exploded on the scene a few years ago, I knew I not only wanted to feature the pins and their artists in the film, but I also hoped to find a way to directly support those artists themselves. What we came up with is very unique in the Kickstarter world, as these pins will serve two purposes: they will not only support the film but also kick-back to the artists who made them. Using the Kickstarter to spotlight fan art and support small independent artists is easily the part of our Kickstarter campaign that I am most proud of.

That said, our base reward in the Kickstarter is only $7, which makes it affordable for everyone to participate. For the cost of a decent pint of beer, you get a few stickers, access to our production blog, and the satisfaction of knowing you were part of crowd-sourcing (or shall I say Phan-Sourcing) the film.

And if in the end we can raise a proper budget for the film, bring some extra attention to the amazing artists in the Phish scene, create art inspired by the fan base, and support the artists in our community, then I think that this demonstrates the very cyclical energy that keeps our entire scene together, and I couldn't be more proud to help facilitate it!

Thank you, Mike, and I hope you win an Academy award!

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Thursday 10/23/2014 by Icculus

GORDON BIERSCH RAISES FUNDS FOR MOCKINGBIRD IN VEGAS

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on Paradise Road in Las Vegas will be raising funds to benefit The Mockingbird Foundation, the non-profit whose volunteers help run this site, from October 30 through November 2, about two miles from the MGM Grand where Phish is playing three shows on 10/31, 11/1 and 11/2. Gordon Biersch has brewed a special beer dubbed the "Dubbel Sample in a Jar," which is a "complex, malty ale with hints of spice and licorice, and a balancing hoppiness on the finish," that will be served in a mason jar with the Gordon Biersch and Mockingbird Foundation logos on it.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the "Dubbel Sample" will benefit Mockingbird. The mason jars are great for storage (not just drinking), and you will be able to purchase them at $5 apiece, too. You can also get one of the mason jars complementary if you order the "Farmhouse Special," a half pound steakburger topped with bacon jam, tomato and arugula, with a fried egg, served with garlic fries and a pint of the "Dubbel Sample" in the specially-branded mason jar. ($18.95)

Those of us at Phish.Net and Mockingbird urge you to support this fundraiser, as it not only raises funds for music education, but it also increases the likelihood that fundraisers like this one will occur in the future in other cities where Phish plays. Thank you!

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Thursday 09/04/2014 by Icculus

ON THE "PHILOSOPHY SCHOOL OF PHISH"

You may have heard about the Philosophy School of Phish, which is directed by Professor Stephanie Jenkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University. She is also co-director of the Phronesis Lab for Engaged Ethics, which concerns communicating with each other about ethical questions and issues in a pragmatic, active, and civil way, in order to foster greater experience and understanding of the human condition. See, e.g., this article from April 2014 about Dr. Jenkins’s work with high school students regarding whether whites owe blacks reparations for slavery.

Dr. Jenkins also recently invited Dr. Ellis Godard, Ph.D., the executive director of The Mockingbird Foundation and an associate professor of sociology at California State University Northridge, to answer questions from her students, and he did so in a post in July to this blog.

I asked Dr. Jenkins and a few of her students about the “Phishlosophy” course, and how it went.

Dr. Jenkins answered my questions as follows:

How did the course go?

From my perspective, the course was fantastic! This was a class that I’ve daydreamed about for years, but I never thought it would happen. I’m thrilled it came to life in this way, honored to have been a part of it, and grateful to those whose support made it possible. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement, but we had a successful start.

How many enrolled students were there, and where were they from (if you know)?

There were 15 students enrolled in the course. I really enjoyed the size. It was large enough to generate a lively conversation with different perspectives, yet small enough to get to know individual students. In addition to students from Oregon, there were students from across the country, including Illinois, Washington, and New Hampshire.

How many of them did you meet face-to-face and when/where?

I met three enrolled students in person at SPAC, Chicago, and MPP. I also had the opportunity to meet many philosophy majors and professors, as well as scholars from other fields, throughout the summer.

What are your favorite aspects of how the course went?

In no particular order:

  1. MPP2’s magic: During the set break, I struck up a conversation with the phan sitting next to me, only to discover that he was taking the class! After this improbable meeting, we were gifted with an equally surprising Tweezerfest and Jennifer Dances!
  2. Student emails: I always try to make my assignments engaging, but it can be hard- especially in courses that meet general education requirements- to make homework fun. This summer, I received regular messages from students telling me how much they enjoyed the assignments and a few even said they looked forward to writing their essays each week!
  3. The Phish.net threads: One of my goals for the course was to create opportunities for interested phans to participate in the on-going philosophical dialogue, even if they weren’t enrolled in the course. Thank you to Phish.net, forum participants, and especially Dr. Ellis Godard (aka @Lemuria) for making the event possible and generating an interesting series of posts about Phish, music, and community. I still smile every time I think about @Lemuria’s comment, “I'm pretty sure that this is the first time Phish.net has ever had homework.”

What did you learn (from your students or otherwise)?

I learn from every course I teach through students’ questions and assignments, rereading the material, and the unpredictable back-and-forth of philosophical dialogue. It’s hard to summarize these findings, because they consist of ideas for future research and pedagogical strategies. The students introduced me to new perspectives, shows, case studies, and examples that will help with these future endeavors.

My favorite philosopher, Michael Foucault, wrote with the goal of creating “experience books.” He wrote to transform himself. What, after all, is the point of writing a book, if you’re the same person you were before you started, after it is finished? And, hopefully, readers of his books become different through their encounter with the text. This course affirmed my goal to create an experience classroom.

I can lecture to you about Nietzsche’s discussion of music in The Birth of Tragedy, but you’ll probably forget the content fairly quickly. If I pair the reading with a concert and you take Nietzsche’s conceptual tools with you, you’ll be able to test those ideas for yourself and apply them to a concrete situation. That’s the kind of learning that sticks.

What will you change about the course?

A few of the changes I plan on making include:

  1. Content update: Some of the course content is specific to the 2014 Summer Tour, so I will update or modify those sections of the course.
  2. Schedule change: The course ran during Oregon State University’s summer session 3, which is 8 weeks long, instead of our usual 10-week terms. Next time, I will opt for a full quarter over the accelerated session, which means some of the content will need to be reorganized to account for the slower pace.
  3. Formalizing “Hangouts”: In addition to required assignments, students were able to participate in “Google Hangouts” with guest speakers, including authors of some of our readings. I interviewed the guests using questions generated by the class. Students were able to participate in the Hangouts themselves or watch the recordings at their convenience. This is the first time I have used this Google feature with a class, so it was a bit of an experiment. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so I will incorporate “Hangouts” more in future sessions of the course. Some of the Hangouts are publicly available and can be accessed at philosophyschoolofphish.com.

Will you be teaching the course again, and what are the details of when you'll be teaching it again, e.g., how can one enroll?

I will definitely teach the course again, most likely next summer. Once the course is officially on the course schedule, I will announce the details via my website and Twitter (@scjenkins).

For now, potential students can watch the course announcement video, check out the syllabus (subject to change), and find additional resources (including the Google Hangouts) on the course website.

Really cannot thank you enough, Dr. Jenkins, for this information, and for the idea of this course and your work in pragmatic philosophy! As you know, I also touched-base briefly with some of your students, and here is what they had to say.

How did you learn about the class?

[Michael Mason:] I heard about the class via a Google news alert for Phish-related news. Since I got my B.A. in philosophy and religious studies, I was instantly interested.

[Christopher Prinos:] I first learned about this class through a press release that hit my inbox via JamBase. Within 20 minutes I found out what I had to do to enroll in OSU's e-campus, and had filed the $20 application. Before I knew it I was enrolled and officially part of the course. I really had no idea what I was in for. I have a pretty demanding work schedule and this class hit me at a time when I was getting ready to start a stretch of Summer tour, 4th of July vacation, and a number of work-related trips. I dove right in and worked hard to stay on top of my work in the class, but, that said, I quickly found myself behind on a few assignments. After week three I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to withdraw because I didn't think I could dedicate the time that the class, in my opinion, deserved. Thankfully, Stephanie worked with me and convinced me to stay in the class and I'm happy to say it was one of the highlights of my year. It was an AMAZING, fun, and rewarding experience for a 37-year-old Phish fan.

What did you like most about the School of Phish course?

[Michael Mason:] I most enjoyed getting to read other students' thoughts about Phish and philosophy; particularly the students who had not heard of Phish.

[Christopher Prinos:] I loved how Stephanie organized the course into weekly "themes." It was really very easy to roll week-to-week knowing you were focused on a particular topic -- whether it be aesthetics, the sublime, or community. The "structure" of the class was very well done.

Stephanie also blended classical and modern texts in a way that kept each week interesting. At times, reading some of the classical work from philosophers like Kant and Tolstoy was difficult, but it actually got me to approach reading in a more deliberate way -- something I hadn't been used to since my last trip to college.

The live hangouts with characters like Jesse Jarnow, Professor DeChaine, Dr. Ellis Godard, and Dr. Jeanette Bicknell (our text book author) were great. The Jarnow session was especially memorable, as his enthusiasm and perspective were infectious.

I also got to learn how college works TODAY. The whole concept of Blackboard, online discussions, and filing work electronically was really interesting. As someone who graduated in 1998, it was really amazing to see how things have changed.

The class and our coursework was in my head constantly throughout the 8 weeks. The class was in the middle of summer tour, so I would always be telling my friends what we were doing this week, etc., and sometimes I'd even share some of the readings with them. I remember whipping-out some of my Week One reading assignments late night after SPAC night one. I thought it was great that I was able to showcase what Stephanie was doing to a host of other people -- both phans and non-phans alike.

I also loved the fact that we were able to integrate field studies and actually meet our classmates. I met another student at MPP2 and ran into Stephanie at SPAC, Chicago and Merriweather. I feel like the class, in addition to offering a great experience, introduced me to some new friends I'll have forever.

What did you learn about Phish, or your appreciation of Phish, and/or Philosophy, in taking this class?

[Michael Mason:] In examining my own thoughts and feelings about phish during the course, I realized that the experience of the event itself is of the highest value. I recognize that a lot of fans enjoy recording the event and analyzing and critiquing the performance and keeping track of how many shows they've seen; and prior to the course, I was a bit envious and felt a little left out that I couldn't really get into it. After the thoughtful consideration of the course, I feel a degree of validation of my more existential focus.

[Christopher Prinos:] I learned / confirmed that, for me, Phish is truly about music, community, and experience. I also learned that even if you don't like Phish per se (like some of the students in our class), you really can't ignore the fact that the band and its fans have something special going on. As far as Philosophy is concerned, I learned a lot about looking at perspectives from all angles. I constantly found myself formulating my own opinions only to change them, and often change them again. I think the class did a great job of making you think at every turn with material that was fun, engaging, and -- of course -- Phishy.

Thanks very much to Dr. Jenkins, Michael Mason and Christopher Prinos for your time and effort on this piece! -charlie

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Thursday 08/14/2014 by Icculus

COVENTRY: TEN YEARS LATER

It was ten years ago, on August 14, 2004, when Phish began one of the most anticipated and emotionally-charged concerts of their career. The very word “Coventry” is a deeply meaningful, if not painful, trigger among fans, given the festival's extraordinary and tragic circumstances. Coventry’s music is full of staggering contradictions, in that it is at times ponderous and exciting, dour and joyful, miserable and soul-expanding. The art of Coventry is revisited here not only in honor of its 10th Anniversary, but also out of love for Phish and their music, warts and all.

In the event you don’t know the background of Phish’s shows in Coventry, here’s the short version: The shows were billed as the last shows that Phish would play. Ever.

Take a moment to breathe that in.

Imagine how you’d feel if Phish announced that the Vegas shows over Halloween weekend would be the last shows that they would ever play. That’s it, no more shows after Vegas! No NYE run, nothing next year, no more shows. Period. Would you try to go to Vegas, even if you hated extremely-large crowds, or Nevada for that matter? Would you view the shows—before they were even performed—as potentially the most important rock concerts you may ever experience in your life, what with your favorite band declaring them to be their LAST SHOWS!? And during the shows, whether you were watching the webcast or present in the flesh, would you try to keep in mind that every version of every song you were hearing and seeing would be it—the very last version of that song that would ever be performed by Phish?

Now, in the weeks before their final shows at Coventry, how do you think the band felt? How do you think Trey, Mike, Page and Fish were feeling on August 14, ten years ago, when they took the stage well-aware of their fans’ incalculably-great expectations? As Trey even claimed during the 8/15 show, he had never been nervous at a Phish show before, but that night he was “a little nervous.”

Months before it had occurred and sold out, and even before it was announced that the shows would be broadcasted live to a number of theaters across the country, the Coventry festival already was, and would be, a profoundly sensitive event for fans and the band. And then the rains came. And came. Coventry was inundated in the weeks before the shows by so much record-breaking rain that the grounds were terribly muddy, even disastrously so in some areas.


Photo © Nick Ninfa

If you weren’t there, imagine the worst mud you’ve ever been stuck in. And then smear it all over yourself and your loved ones, and lose your boots in it, and then go somewhere to wash it all off, and seemingly wash it all off, but then somehow you still manage to vaguely smell it lingering somewhere, but you’re unable to put your nose on where, and it still unsettles you, several days later. Coventry’s mud was like that.

The grounds were in such poor shape that fans on the road—while en route to the shows—had been asked repeatedly by the band via the Bunny to return home! When fans showed up to park, RVs and cars got stuck left and right, traffic backed up for many miles, and thousands of fans abandoned their vehicles and hiked (carrying, dragging their stuff) to the venue. A venue whose grounds were so muddy (with dollops of manure) that expansive areas were simply uninhabitable.

Before the band had played even a single note, Coventry was about far more than just the music. To this day, the love exhibited by the fans for the band, having walked all those miles into a literally-shitty venue, is inspiring. And, despite the literally-shitty scene, Phish nevertheless managed to be musically intimate, and memorably so, with tens of thousands of their fans.


Photo © Nick Ninfa

It’s arguably unreasonable to compare Coventry’s music, like that of Big Cypress, to the music of other shows. These two monumental events in Phish history really do seem “beyond compare,” given the emotion that they involve, which dwarfs that of the typical show, and even that of the typical three set festival show. Coventry was billed to be the final Phish festival, and to include the final Phish shows, nearly four years after Phish had played—for more than six hours straight on a reservation in Florida at the dawn of a new millennium—what is still considered to be one of the greatest concerts in rock and roll history!

That said, it’s impossible for some of us to avoid comparing and contrasting jams and versions of Phish’s songs with each other. And making comparisons arguably becomes a Moral Imperative when, for example, someone speaks about Coventry’s music in a manner that is either outright false, or at least demonstrably ignorant. Sure, there was plenty to be upset about at the shows, musically and otherwise. Those of us who were there were active participants in what was likely among the largest wakes held in U.S. history. The "vibe" at times was cheerless, and even grave.

From the mud or the theater, we were effectively witnessing the death of a legendary band, and it is challenging to be joyful under such circumstances even if accompanied by angelic music. When four of your most beloved musicians who love each other very much are in mourning as they perform, you’re predictably melancholic. And the technical mistakes that were made during the shows were so clear that even the deafest among us can hear them. But in context, are they not understandable, if not forgivable, in the light of the love explicitly expressed by the band for us fans?

Some would say “no.” Trey, or the band, should have done this, or done that, instead of this, or that, given X, or Y, and because of A, B and C. But can any among us say that they have performed a concert before over 70,000 of our fans that was billed to be the last concert? Imagine the weight of that. Of course, if you’re the sort of fan who mostly cares about whether the composed sections of songs are played well, and don’t care much for improvisation, it makes some sense that you dislike Coventry’s music—if you’ve even made the effort to hear the shows at all. But there are too many wonderful, even transcendent, musical performances by the band to ignore or forget. When Trey, Mike, Page and Fish were “on” that Coventry weekend, their music reached as majestic a peak as it ever has.

“That’s bullshit,” you might be thinking.


Photo © John Crouch

If you’re thinking that, or even if you’re not, please take a mere thirty seconds—even if you think you remember them all—to skim some of the musical highlights of August 2004, listed for your convenience here. And then do yourself a favor and actually (re)listen to some of them.

Don’t be surprised if, when you hear them again, some of Coventry’s highlights stand-up in comparison with the most spirited and thrilling improvisation of the last decade, including masterpieces like the Tahoe “Tweezer,” the Gorge “Rock and Roll->Meatstick,” the Pine Knob “Down with Disease,” the Randall’s “CDT” (or Dick’s, of course!), Hampton’s “Carini,” the Greek “Cities,” and so on and so on. Most recent versions of “CDT” have been exceptional, as you know, but don’t overlook Coventry’s, not to mention Hampton’s, which are also well above-average versions with stellar improv throughout them.

As grueling and disturbing as the Coventry weekend was, many positive, life-affirming and soulful events still occurred not only on stage, but also in our lives as fans of Phish. Some of those highlights include the following, and please add to this list in the Comments—or “Remembrances,” if you prefer—below:

  • Trey’s melodic soloing in “Jibboo” (compare this version to the one in Portsmouth a few weeks ago; I’d be surprised if you didn’t like Coventry’s a lot more);
  • Trey’s hinting at “Manteca” during the jam segment of “YEM,” after they had given away the trampolines;
  • Tom Marshall’s “Rye rye rocco. Marco Esquandolas. Been you to have any spliff man” during the “Antelope,” which is one of the more chaordic versions on record, and is more intense than nearly every version performed since then (but don’t take my word for it; listen to them all, or at least those on the jam chart, and hear for yourself); and notably, at the end of "Antelope," Trey sends "our deepest love" to the fans who had managed the traffic and then walked to the venue;
  • The soupy, cacophonous, blazing haze in “Fire,” shortly before they returned to the theme and closed the version and the first set strongly—an unusual and all-hallowed version of “Fire” for sure; in fact, this first set, despite Trey’s flubs, given its massive quantity of improvisation, is among the most improvisationally-almighty first sets in Phish history;


Photo © Seth Blankensop

  • A magnificently melodic (for a spell) “AC/DC Bag,” which is among the finest versions in history, helped bring IT to start the second set on August 14, and has diverse improv illustrating the fascinating evolution of this tune’s jam segment over the decades;
  • The on- and off-the-rails, dark and terrifying-at-times, 20+ minute “Stash;”
  • An extremely-atypical “Free,” where Trey and Mike were in a duet for awhile (had this version been performed this summer, it would be a highlight of 2014 for sure);
  • The jamming during the “Drowned” around the 21-23 min point, when Phish hoses everyone down and the jam reaches a transcendent peak; improv of this caliber is why Phish is an incredible rock band, and the fact that in 2014 they can still jam like this makes them worth seeing over and over and over again (especially for only $60 a ticket);
  • 8/14’s “Harry Hood” encore that the band obviously did not want to end (it’s still among the longest versions ever, even after those this summer), and that, despite its many imperfections, is still unforgettably moving, fragile, and heartfelt, particularly when the audience sings the “You can feel good” closing lyrics unaccompanied by the band;

  • The vigorous playing in—and brevity of—the “Weekapaug Groove,” which is reminiscent of many 1990s versions in its twists and turns (and if you compare Coventry’s version with recent efforts, I’d be surprised if, like me, you don’t strongly prefer Coventry);
  • A stupendous “Reba” jam, easily among the most stirring and dramatic versions in history;
  • Trey’s mom and Mike’s mom on stage during “Wolfman’s” (as Page rages on clavinet), doing “the bump” with Trey and Mike, Trey’s yelling “MOMS!!!” as they leave the stage and, of course, the “double team” by Trey and Mike of Phish’s long-time manager, John Paluska;
  • The mind-blowingly sick ending of the jam segment of the first-set-closing “Taste;"
  • DWD” is a roller coaster, with a hilariously and consciously chaotic and dissonant jam that leaps into the triumphant return of the “DWD”-theme but, instead of concluding, the band then segues into a steady, fervid improvisation marked by Trey playing a bit like early 1970’s David Gilmour (a bit);
  • Page during the “Velvet Sea”;


Photo © Jason Kaczorowski

  • After the wretched “Glide,” the band beautifully thanking us, and speaking to us for several minutes tearfully, and Fish’s remark that everyone who had walked to the shows had paid the band “the greatest compliment that we could ever have…unbelievable” (it’s a shame that this banter, so to speak, isn’t on PhishTracks, if only given its historical importance; these powerful sentiments of the band should be mandatory listening for every fan);
  • The spacey psychedelic haze during the spectacular, 30 minute, blowing-off-steam "SOAM" (don’t miss the SBD version on LiveBait Vol. 5 (Track 31), as it’s much more clear than the auds);
  • The novelty and nerve of opening the final set of Phish with “FEFY,” and its poignancy (“…You wouldn’t pile another stone upon me, and I’d be happy just to watch you age.”);

  • An unbelievably ferocious “Piper” (a version that, had it been performed in the last few weeks, would be considered among the fiercest in recent years), and Page’s prominent soloing before the song the band set to "Cool Jerk" with lyrics referring to Bruno, their monitor engineer;
  • A loose, but still bedazzling, “Slave;” and, of course,
  • The Curtain With” encore, which, though obviously flawed, is nevertheless as moving as this marvelous song can be, given its significance to the band, and to many fans as well, as it had helped turn me and many others into Phish fans decades ago.

We cannot thank Trey, Mike, Jon and Page enough for opening their hearts to us so passionately at Coventry, and for all of the other experiences and friendships their music has created over the last 30 years. For them, and for ourselves, why not act always as though the show we're seeing will be our last show? $0.02.

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Thursday 07/31/2014 by Icculus

PORTSMOUTH2: OLD SCHOOL SWAGGER CONTINUES

IT thrills you, IT inspires you, IT enthralls you, IT fulfills you! IT flowns your balls! When a Phish show does IT for you, you experience a joy so profound that most if not all of your life's most significant events seem small by comparison. You may even consider changing your life to prioritize music, or at least your love of it.

Phish's music had this power for many fans in Portsmouth, and it continues to have this power right now, even after several decades and over 1600 performances—particularly as those of you fortunate enough to be at MPP four days ago know! For those whose love of Phish includes an appreciation of Phish’s most widely-acclaimed shows, and an interest in why one seemingly-amazing show gets more praise (or less praise) from some fans than another seemingly-amazing show, this post’s $0.02 are for you. Because in light of your 100+ wonderful comments to Jeremy Goodwin’s excellent MPP2 post, it’s apparent that many of you aren’t too upset when “recaps” are about more than just last night’s show.

Photo © Parker Harrington

It is precisely because every Phish show is GREAT, on multiple levels for many reasons (e.g., your usually kind fellow fans; band<->fan interaction; number of songs played over multiple sets; the lights, sound and "vibe;" the volume of drug smoke), that the "average" show is necessarily GREAT. Indeed, all or nearly all of the Phish shows you have attended have had good if not excellent sound, stupendous lights (Kuroda’s light-designing is genius), as well as an energizing "vibe" preshow, if not also throughout the set break, second set, and encore. And over the course of their history, Phish has performed well together routinely from the start through the (e).

Differentiating one show's characteristics and highlights from another, and positing one show over another for whatever reason(s), is thus an easily-criticizable, intensely-subjective, often silly hair-splitting exercise. Every Phish show is GREAT in often many ways, and even in COUNTLESS ways if you incorporate the depths of the souls of those forever inspired by the music. Think about that for a second.

Every show. Every show moves SOMEONE in a transcendent manner, at least in part if not for several hours. But, at the same time, the music of any given song, when compared with versions previously performed, is not always as “great” as it has been. It may even be flawed in ways that are objective, and not subjective (such as missed lyrics, notes, chords, changes, etc.).

What constitutes an above—or below—“average Phish show” in your view?

Photo © Andrea Nusinov

Some fans prioritize tightly-played, mostly-if-not-wholly composed songs over songs that improvise and the improvisation that they contain—improvisation that can either "click" and "gel" like melodious, composed music (see, e.g., the jam in the 7/26 MPP “Ghost”), or aimlessly meander, as if in a fetid pool, teeming with faeces of unusual size. In fact, some fans couldn't care less if a song that doesn't jam is played well or not, because they claim not to care for such songs, and it's only Phish's improvisational risk-taking that matters to them, even when the jams do NOT "click," because the band still deserves immense respect for taking the risk. Indeed, some fans don't even "count" Phish's first sets at all, unless something noteworthy occurs, because they view only second sets as typically containing any music worth hearing again in them.

Is the fan who prefers tight songs to improv wrong? Is the fan who largely disregards first sets wrong? Is the fan who only cares about jams wrong? Is the fan who loves everything unconditionally in the moment at the show—who couldn't care less about ever hearing the show again—wrong? Of course not! We love what we love, be it Phish-related or not, and all that matters is what music means the most to you. And as for me, I'm somewhere in the middle, or under, or above, all of those viewpoints, more or less. Why?

Because an "average-great" Phish show to me is one that is generally well-played start-to-finish by all four band members. They are brilliant, extremely experienced musicians, and near-perfection is "shooting par" for them if you examine their history performing together (even their performances together in any given tour). Differentiating the “below-average” from the “above-average” GREAT Phish shows, for me, really comes down to answering the questions:

(1) is any song's jam truly "must hear" or at least highly recommended, when that jam is compared both with that particular song's improvisational history, and with Phish's glorious improv historically;

(2) are there any songs that have jams that compare favorably with the so-called “top versions” of those songs historically (say, top 20%, unless the song has a short history, in which case, maybe that percentage is higher or lower, as you deem fit);

(3) how are the segues, since they're the most obvious characteristics of Phish sets that demonstrate potentially excellent "flow";

(4) what is the show’s “average song gap,” an objective measure signifying the average number of days between when every song performed had since been performed (the higher the number, the more likely there were significant “bust outs,” regardless of whether you like the songs that were busted out, or not); and,

(5) are there are any other unique characteristics of the show, such as guest musicians, three sets, stage banter, nudity, or Gamehendge?

Analyzing shows in this manner is subjective and imperfect, of course. We can't conjure up every minute of Phish's improvisation over 30 years. But everyone taking the time to read this has at least some sense of the terrain, having explored it before. You may be the “Phish expert” among your friends, or one of them. And all one need do to find an excellent example of why the foregoing guidelines are imperfect is to check out 7/27/2014 MPP: an exceptional, well-above “average-great” Phish show with a strong first set and a spectacular second set, with tight playing and flow (number 3 above) and a few bust-outs (number 4 above) that is also extraordinarily entertaining, but arguably has no “top” or “must-hear” versions of songs (numbers 1 and 2 above), except perhaps the third “Tweezer” jam and the jam out of “NICU.” Yet the entire second set is nevertheless “must hear"!

In any event, this depth of experience with Phish’s music doesn't make you or me "better" at exploring this terrain than anyone else, but it does give us a perspective on it that isn't necessarily "average," or even "great"—except perhaps in terms of years. The “average” Phish fan has seen the band multiple times and is generally knowledgeable about the music, and is at least somewhat opinionated about it, too, in that they probably have certain musical preferences. It is remarkable and to our credit as a fan base that while, on the whole, the band’s most mind-blowing performances over several decades tend to be widely lauded, it is nevertheless true that fans with very similar Phish experience can disagree strongly when it comes to which shows, or which versions of songs (often among the “best” or “top”), they prioritize over others.

Photo © Phish

Last night’s Portsmouth show featured no covers at all, and six tour debuts (“Guelah Papyrus,” “Mountains In The Mist,” and “Meat” in the first set, “Billy Breathes” and “Seven Below” in the second set, and “Lizards” (e)), as well as a fair amount of improvisation, perhaps a bit more than the “average” show when you consider them all over the course of 30 years.

“Gin” opened the show quite well, with Trey leading the way through the jam segment (as he typically does), and with Mike employing a tone with some extra-Lesh in it. Other first set highlights included the jam segment of “It’s Ice,” a Page-driven clavinet-heavy groove; a soulful “Mountains in the Mist,” which had not been performed in nearly four years; the tour debut of “Meat” (requested by a number of fans Page-side who held a variety of creative meat-signs); and a fairly tight “Bowie” set-closer. I say “fairly tight” because, for those who care about such things, Trey was not nailing every note all night. He was batting about .947, which is to say, still pretty good.

Summer '14, like fall '13, has been very strong on the whole, with many recommended jams (see, e.g., the 7/1 Great Woods “Hood,” 7/8 Phili “Fuego,” 7/13 Randall’s “CDT>Light>Tweezer,” and both 7/26’s and 7/27’s second sets). Nearly every show this tour has had something worth hearing from it. Last night’s second set only improved on this remarkable record, with inarguably the third most improvised “Fuego” in history. It is yet another “must-hear” version, and it opened Set Two masterfully, thanks in no small part to Fish and Page.

Following a timid “Jibboo,” a John-Holmes-sizedMeatstick”—easily the funkiest version since the Gorge in 2011, and NYE 2010 for that matter as well—bedazzled the crowd. It is a “top five” version (up there with Cypress and 12/5/99 Rochester, for example), that you should download and listen to as soon as you can, even if you’re not a fan of the song, to hear it for yourself. “Piper” was similarly quite good, before it was abandoned somewhat abruptly into the first “Billy Breathes” since Bader Field in 2012, ninety-five shows ago.

Photo © Andrea Nusinov

The second set concluded with a “solid” 4th Quarter: “Seven Below” (tour debut), “Waste,” a pleasant “BDTNL” (definitely check this version out if you’re a fan of this song!), and a typically good “First Tube” closer. The “Lizards” encore was an old school (and Gamehendgian) treat, much as the “Timber Ho” opener in Portsmouth had been on Tuesday night. Only a sociopath would be disappointed by a “Lizards” encore.

In short, both Portsmouth shows had plenty to love and enjoy, and for those of you who quickly skimmed to the bottom of this piece: check out the “It’s Ice,” “Fuego,” and “Meatstick” from last night's above "average-great" show. $0.02.

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Tuesday 07/15/2014 by Icculus

ROCK BOTTOM CHICAGO CELEBRATES PHISH WITH A FUNDRAISER

Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago is once again fundraising for The Mockingbird Foundation!

If you're planning to attend one or more of the shows this weekend, or even if you're not, we hope you're able to support this fundraiser by visiting Rock Bottom and drinking some fine ales. They will be serving a strong, hoppy red ale, called "Sample in a Jar," throughout this weekend, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale will benefit Mockingbird. This ale has a "pungent heady hop aroma from loads of Citra and Simcoe hops," and it will be sold in mason jars with the Foundation's logo (as well as Rock Bottom's logo) on them.

Here are the details:

Thursday, July 17th: Summer Honey Tapping Party beginning at 6pm. $1.00 from every "Sample in a Jar" that is sold will benefit The Mockingbird Foundation! There will be live music from Whiskey Jezebel.

Friday, July 18th through Sunday, July 20th: The party at Rock Bottom continues... $0.50 from every jar of "Sample in a Jar" sold goes to The Mockingbird Foundation.

You can purchase the mason jar for just $2.00 from your bartender, server or host! Feel free to stop by to pick up your jar after the show as well for the same price.

The brewery's hours are 11 am until 2 am, and all ages are welcome. There are two main bars, as well as a rooftop beer garden. Please hit them pre and post show, if you can, and support this effort. They are right off the Grand stop - CTA Red Line, at One West Grand. From the venue, you walk about twenty minutes to the Red line at Roosevelt (the closest stop to the venue) and then head towards Howard. They're 5 stops away (7 or 8 minutes).

Phish.Net and The Mockingbird Foundation cannot thank Rock Bottom Brewery - Chicago enough for their generosity. This is the second year that they have hosted this fundraiser, and we are blown away. We hope you all support this effort. Thank you!

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Sunday 06/29/2014 by Icculus

WHY IT'S OK TO SUCK AT THE PHISH

IT doesn’t happen often enough. Phish takes the stage, begins playing, and you’re grateful and fortunate to be seeing them once again. Whether it’s your first tour opener or your thirtieth, Phish is smiling, everyone around you is THRILLED—even vibrating with anticipation—and the encircling energy fills you with profound joy.

“I wish I could see a Phish show every day,” you might think to yourself, grinning. “All aboard for the tour”!

But you can’t see Phish every day. Even on tour there are days off. You have seen Phish before, though, likely quite a lot, and you’ve heard enough of their music to have strong opinions about it. You probably also know that Phish shows can be, have been, and continue to be overrated now and then beyond all possible bounds of decency, because they’re so AWESOME to begin with. It’s easy to do and everyone does it, including those who listen to Phish all the time, and have heard everything that Phish has ever performed (that circulates).

Phish puts on a GREAT show as compared with other rock concerts. The “average” or typical Phish show is GREAT as compared with other rock concerts. But when comparing Phish shows against each other, the typical or the average show is great, and inevitably one show is overrated by some and underrated by others in your opinion (and in the opinion of the many other fans who share your view as well). Thankfully, we don’t all share the same views, and it’s fun to read the sometimes radically-divergent opinions of fellow fans about shows. And if I’ve learned anything in life, including after having discussed improvisational music with people for decades, it’s that context is critically important: positivity begets positivity and—you guessed it!—negativity begets negativity. Focusing on the negatives about a show in a review is certain to bring negative comments and “flames.” It is inevitable. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. Or do they?

It came as somewhat of a surprise to learn today that during one week in January 2012, Facebook manipulated the “News Feeds” of nearly 700,000 of its users, in an “experiment” such that some users primarily saw “positive” messages and others primarily saw “negative” messages in their feeds. The manipulation by FB of the feeds in this manner unsurprisingly led to the posting of (a) generally “positive” or “happy” messages by users whose feeds contained primarily “positive” content, and (b) generally “negative” or “sad” messages by users whose feeds contained primarily “negative” content.

Seriously? FB decided to manipulate the feeds of hundreds of thousands of people to reach an obvious conclusion about human nature? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure what FB did was legal, but setting aside the ethical issues that FB’s “experiment” raises, why did they need to do it? It’s common sense that attitude has a profound effect on living, on experience. “Life is a state of mind” may be a quaint expression, but it’s also inescapable for anyone alive with a mental state intelligent enough to be self-reflexive.

Anyone who reads anything online about Phish’s music knows a thing or two, or three, about this. For example, if you were to read a review of the upcoming tour opener in Great Woods that contained two or more of the following statements, even if you agreed with them, you’d likely post a negative Comment, or at least consider doing so, whether or not you finished reading the thing:

  • First set opened with a "Runaway Jim" so perfunctory that it made me want to punch myself, and Trey, in the face.
  • “Ocelot” was so boring that I imagined putting one in a cage, and poking it with sticks, in a futile effort to entertain myself.
  • It’s a shame that Fish loves "Rift" so much, because it doesn’t jam and has been performed ten thousand times already. Christ.
  • Imagine that, “Moma Dance” and “Funky Bitch” being played nearly note-for-note like you’ve heard them many times before, despite having enormous potential to jam.
  • With the sun setting, and the lawn alight in dusk’s warm glow, the evening’s “Stash” went where you’ve heard it go a number of times in the last decade, i.e., nowhere.
  • While "Bouncin" is among Phish’s most popular songs, with a catchy melody and chorus, it’s not quite long enough for a reliable bathroom trip, and must be endured, as painful as this may often be.
  • Oh, hey, an "Antelope" first set closer! I wonder where Trey got the idea for such an ingenious set placement? Sadly, even Marco Esquandolas himself won’t want to listen to this weak version again.

And that’s just the first set… still reading?

Negativity sucks, especially when it comes to the music of our favorite band (or at least one of our favorite bands!). But that said, there’s nevertheless a place for it. It would be beyond dull if all of the show reviews you read are only smiles und sunshine. If you read a show review and you like it, wonderful! Think about sharing it, or letting the author know you enjoyed it. Don’t like what the review said? Don't share it. Or perhaps write your own or just Comment. But did it challenge any of your assumptions, or make you think even a little deeper about something, anything, e.g., how not to write a Phish show review, or what you dislike the most about music criticism? And don’t be shy about explaining why you think a show didn’t meet Phish’s typical, average-great (high) standards. You’re not a “h8tr,” you’re a human being and entitled to your opinion, even if it's "negative" and therefore likely unpopular. Our online community benefits from a diversity of opinions, no matter how ignorant and full of haughty BS you might believe them to be. Our common bond is Phish's music and our love for it, even when we think it's below "average-great."

So, here’s to hoping that as great as Phish’s music will be this summer, the commentary on Phish’s music—yours included!— is more thoughtful and crazy and senseless and creative than it’s ever been, “positive” OR “negative,” “happy” or “sad!” $0.02.

NOTE: The Monday Mystery Jam will return on Monday, July 7.

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Tuesday 06/24/2014 by Icculus

HISTORY OF "MIKE'S SONG," REVISITED

There's been some chatter online recently about "the second jam in Mike's Song," because in the radio interview that Fish conducted in Maine last week on June 20, 2014 (see JamBase article), a caller asked Fish why the band was no longer playing the second jam in "Mike's Song."

Fish was rightfully confused by the question, in part because the caller said the second jam hadn't been played since ~1998 (incorrect), but also because he didn't articulate to Fish what he meant by "the second jam in Mike's Song" in terms that Fish understood. But, in a similar vein, last year, Andrew Hitz (a professional tubist, Mockingbird Foundation Board member, and Working Group member of this site), had a chance to ask Trey about the "second jam in Mike's Song," around the time when Drew played tuba with Trey and the National Symphony Orchestra on May 22, 2013, and even Trey seemed baffled by the question, possibly since they've been playing "Mike's" a particular way, with one jam segment, since 1.0. (Listen to Drew discuss this experience with Trey and the NSO, here.) So, what do fans mean when they refer to the "second jam" in "Mike's Song"?

Well, you may already know, but if you don't or aren't sure, you can read the song history on this site. But here's a different version:

After "Mike's" more or less became the song you know it to be today, Trey and Mike used to play the first section or segment of the opening jam of "Mike's" on trampolines, while fog poured forth over the stage, and Chris created ominous and wild lightscapes. It was a pretty cool effect, especially in a small room. This section of the song became known among some fans as the "tramps segment" or "tramps jam," and even after Trey and Mike ceased to jump on tramps during this "segment," the name stuck, in no small part because the fog sometimes appeared during the segment and/or the jam took on a dizzyingly-dark and dissonant character. (The last time I recall seeing Trey and Mike on tramps during "Mike's" was 7/2/94, though I was emailed in the mid-1990s by people claiming to have seen them on tramps in "Mike's" after that date...so I am not sure when the last time was that Trey and Mike were on tramps during "Mike's" -- do you know? -- but it would be entertaining to see the tramps return.)

After the (tramps) jam section of "Mike's" occurs in the typical version, the improv continues, of course. It was and still is usually led by Trey, soloing melodically on his custom Languedoc guitar. This opening jam segment often ended, and still ends, with a few composed measures of notes and chords that would either (a) conclude with a set of descending chords, a chromatic walkdown, that sounds like part of Rush's "La Villa Strangiato" (watch and listen at both 6:36 and 6:47 at that link), as all of the recent versions of "Mike's" have done; or, (b) conclude with a key (F) modulation and the first note of what came to begin "Simple" in some versions, but, in other versions, instead of playing and jamming on "Simple," the band would begin :::drum roll::: A SECOND JAM. Allow me to explain with help from PhishTracks (but FTR, I am 100% certain that PhishTracks song-in-progress times/timings change slightly when I go back to them, even close-in-time when I re-check them out, and so please consider the following timings with a two or three second error factor):

For example, open up 5/28/89 Ian's Farm in another browser:

3:03 Jam segment begins (no tramps in '89)
4:18 Trey teases the old HBO movie theme
4:54 Trey teases something I should know but am forgetting
5:37 Jam segment closing chords begin
5:58 Second jam begins (but not with note that eventually started "Simple")
6:48 Jam segment closing chords (again)
7:07 Chromatic walkdown begins (descending chords a la "La Villa Strangiato")
7:12 Final closing chords
7:33 Mike's Song ends, Hydrogen begins. (Total time is 7:33 or so.)

Similarly, open up 11/19/92's "Mike's" in another browser:

3:09 Tramps Jam begins
5:54 Tramps segment closing chords begin
6:11 Second jam begins (with note that eventually started "Simple")
9:00 Tramps jam segment closing chords (again)
9:17 Chromatic walkdown begins (descending chords a la "La Villa Strangiato")
9:22 Final closing chords
9:42 Mike's Song ends. (Total time is 9:42 or so.)

So 5/28/89 and 11/19/92 both have two jam segments, but 11/19/92's second jam segment opened up with the same note that eventually started "Simple" in many versions of "Mike's Groove," unlike 5/28/89's second jam segment.

And now, compare those two-jam-segment versions with the following:

7/24/1988 Nectar's:

2:13 Jam segment begins
7:05 Page plays the chromatic walkdown
7:09 Final closing chords
7:28 ends.

3/12/89 Nectar's:

2:27 Jam Segment begins (approximate time given tape cut)
5:40 Jam segment closing chords begin
6:19 Chromatic walkdown (Trey only)
6:25 Final closing chords
6:46 ends, Hydrogen begins.

7/12/96 Milkweg, Amsterdam:

2:36 Jam segment begins
{no closing chords at all}

9/12/2000 Great Woods:

2:41 Jam segment begins
6:45 Jam segment closing chords begin
7:03 Note that starts second jam
{extremely brief jam into "Hydrogen," so no real "second jam"}
{and no chromatic walkdown and final closing chords}

9/20/2000 Riverbend (SIIICK version, by the way):

2:37 Jam segment begins
9:35 Jam segment closing chords begin
9:53 "Simple" begins

9/25/00 Bonner Springs:

2:47 Jam segment begins
7:46 Jam segment closing chords begin
8:04 Note that starts second jam
{brief jam into "Hydrogen," so no real "second jam"}
{and no chromatic walkdown and final closing chords}

9/30/00 Thomas & Mack, Vegas (very strong version!):

2:44 Jam segment begins
8:26 Jam segment closing chords begin
8:45 "Simple" begins

10/7/2000 Shoreline:

2:41 Jam segment begins
9:03 Jam segment closing chords begin
9:21 Note that starts second jam
{extremely brief jam into "Hydrogen," so no real "second jam"}
{and no chromatic walkdown and final closing chords}


6/17/04 KeySpan Park, Brooklyn, NY:

2:52 Jam segment begins
8:25 Chromatic walkdown begins
8:29 Final closing chords
8:51 Total time. {there were no jam segment closing chords}

And, of course, the most recent "Mike's", 12/30/2013 MSG:

2:45 Jam begins
6:15 Jam segment closing chords begin
6:52 Chromatic walkdown begins
6:56 Final closing chords
7:39 "Mike's Song" ends with sustain before DTAD.


In other words, 7/24/88 and 6/17/04 basically have the same structure as each other, as do 3/12/89 and 12/30/13. Phish has thus been playing "Mike's Song" in the last decade largely the same way it was commonly played in its first five years as a song, but not as it was most often played in "1.0" during the 1990s.

Of course, many versions of "Mike's" don't follow the above structures. "Mike's" is so improvisational that it's had multiple jam segments and single jam segments, and sometimes there haven't even been "closing chords" for the song at all. See, e.g., the magnificent 12/31/97 version, when, at 9:18, Page sustains the chord that typically begins the "Mike's Song" closing chords and chromatic walkdown, but the jam continues, and continues in a gorgeous manner, and there are no closing chords at its end; it's just one jam segment. And two-jam-segment versions of "Mike's Song" from the 1990s that you should hear, if you haven't already, include: 12/30/93, 6/22/94 (three jam segments??), 12/1/95, 12/7/95, 12/31/95, 11/6/96 (!!!), 11/13/97, and 12/31/98.

And here are two odd versions from 1989, when the structure of "Mike's Song" was still in transition:

2/7/89 at The Front in Burlington (only one jam segment):

2:23 Jam segment begins
6:59 Page starts jam segment closing chords while Trey wails away
7:05 Page plays chromatic walkdown while Trey keeps wailing away
7:17 Final closing chords
7:38 "Mike's Song" ends, "Hydrogen" begins. (Total time is 7:38 or so.)

3/24/89 Paradise (recording fwiw is from my first live (mixed) Phish tape):

2:28 Jam segment begins
5:04 Jam segment closing chords begin
5:23 Second jam begins (but not with the note that starts "Simple")
(the second jam lasts only like 20 seconds!)
5:43 Jam segment closing chords again
6:21 Chromatic walkdown begins but it's Trey only
6:27 Final closing chords
6:48 "Mike's Song" ends.

Some of the greatest versions of "Mike's Song" also only have ONE jam segment, like 2/7/89, noted above, which is a very fierce early version. It is therefore False that a two-jam-segment "Mike's" is necessarily better than a one-jam-segment "Mike's." See, e.g., the must-hear one-jam-segment 12/16/95, 7/22/97, 12/2/97, 12/31/97, and 12/30/99 versions. And, frankly, I couldn't care less if they ever play another two-jam-segment "Mike's," because what I crave is simply any version, with any structure, that competes musically with the finest in Phish history.

The last time Phish peformed a two-jam-segment "Mike's Song" of consequence, I believe, was at Polaris Amphitheater on 7/14/2000. (Correct me in the Comments if you believe I'm wrong and that there's one in 2.0. As noted above, 9/12, 9/25 and 10/7/00 had brief, arguably inconsequential, "second jams" that segued into "Hydrogen," and so I'm not counting them. And while the 1/4/2003 "Mike's" has no closing chords but does feature the "note" that ordinarily begins a second jam, the second jam is just a long, mellow segue into "Mountains in the Mist.")

If you're interested in timings for the structure of 7/14/2000, here you go:

2:50 Jam segment begins
8:59 Jam segment closing chords begin
9:17 Second jam segment begins
{no further closing chords at all}
16:35 Jam dissolves and is over. "Mike's Song" (unfinished) ends.

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Saturday 06/21/2014 by Icculus

NOOBSKOOL LESSON ONE: PHISH SHOW DO'S AND DON'TS

IT is an exciting time! With Summer tour about to begin, one can't help but wonder what Phish will bless us with this time around.

Will this tour's shows feature original set openers and encores, e.g., a set-opening "Fuego" or "Devotion to a Dream" or "Leprechaun?" Or a set-closing "Tweezer -> Waiting All Night" or "555" or "Leprechaun?" Or a 25-minute "Halfway to the Moon -> Leprechaun-> Halfway to the Moon" encore? Will Phish jam-out versions of songs that ne'er have been jammed-out before, like a 10-minute "Sample" or "Lifeboy?" Will we bear witness to improvisation that attains the titanic peaks of the Tahoe "Tweezer"? Will the shows this Summer bliss us out with bust-outs, and will we merrily sing their praises for weeks, even months, to come?

Or will Great Woods open on July 1 with versions of "Chalk Dust Torture" and "Wilson" so plebeian, and so meh, that All Hope Will Be Lost, and living while young and still having fun seem pathetically ironic, and you spill beer on yourself and others as you grab your head, collapse and sob inconsolably?

Who knows, but it's entertaining to think about, and will be far more entertaining to soon experience. And, frankly, I cannot be more grateful that in my 25th year of seeing this band, they're continuing to play well enough and passionately enough that it's worth the time and coin to hear every note, be it LIVE, be it on COUCH, or be it by DOWNLOAD.

And it's in this gracious, and readicculus, spirit that I offer the following list of show-going "Do's and Don'ts" for your consideration, whether you're about to attend your first, your tenth, or your whateverth show:

DO:

  • APPLAUD for the opener, at least while the band gets on stage, and then for the first measure or two of "AC/DC Bag;"
  • CLAP during "Mound" and "Stash" (only at the appropriate times);
  • RUN to the bathroom ideally on the first note, but at least within the first two measures, of "Alaska;"
  • WHISTLE along with Trey during "Guyute;"
  • DANCE without hitting anyone around you (unless your name is "Greg Phelps," in which case you get a free pass for being a rail-riding-flailing antelope for an embarrassingly-long time);
  • SHOUT-OUT the name of a song within its first measure, and smile broadly and wide-eyed at those around you, so they can admire how awesome and clever you are;
  • SCREAM at the top of your lungs during the dramatically-ascending chords in the measure before "BOY!" during "YEM;"
  • STFU during the jam segments of jamming songs, especially "Reba" god damn it;
  • SMILE as much as possible, even during your sixtieth version of "Cavern" or "Rift" (think of how Fish LOVES "Rift"!), and be kind to and considerate of your fellow fans, unless they're drunk, deaf, noob fratboys who blow smoke in the faces of those around them and whose favorite song is "Picture of Nectar" (scorn them-- with extreme prejudice).

DON'T:

  • THROW glowsticks anywhere near the band members, unless you are a jackass;
  • CUT in front of other fans in a bathroom, poster, merch, beer, or other line (unless you want bad karma, and eternal damnation);
  • SCREAM during the quiet acapella tunes, or the serene parts of songs like "Hood" and "Slave;"
  • VOMIT on your fellow fans or anything they own (at least have the decency to vomit on yourself and your friends first);
  • SPILL a fellow fan's beer without immediately apologizing and offering to buy him or her a new one;
  • YELL "Hood" back at the band after Trey sings "Harry" (this asinine practice was started at Red Rocks in '96 in part thanks to yours truly, and I will never forgive myself...or its creator, Darius Zelkha);
  • CRASH the stage, especially if you're a naked man, unless you want everyone to think you're mentally ill;
  • RUN to the bathroom after the first few measures of "Alaska" (you missed your chance, and will just get in everyone's way, and the bathroom line will be too long by the time you get there, loser);
  • POP balloons willfully and with malice, you god damn sociopath;
  • PUSH your way through other fans in an effort to collect and hoard glowsticks (a classic, albeit hilarious, Noob-Wook maneuver);
  • SHOUT-OUT the name of a song that Phish just began playing if someone else beat you to it, UNLESS it is the first time it's been played in 50 or more shows, in which case don't stop shouting-out the song's name until one of your friends grabs you and shakes you and slaps you across the face;
  • YELL the name of a song as it begins when it's an obvious song that everyone around you knows, like "YEM," even during Trey's 1-2,1-2-3-4 count off, noob;
  • SIT or STAND or DANCE in the aisle, unless you're highly skilled at considerately avoiding getting-in-the-way-of your fellow fans, especially those carrying $16 beers;
  • SAY condescending, douchebaggy things that your fellow fans around you can hear, including (in addition to the above remarks) "You are why I don't go to shows anymore," "3.0 is so 3.0," "I miss versions of 'Mike's Song' that are worth hearing more than once," "I can't believe I paid for this shit," "Everything was better pre-hiatus," and "Set was good, but there wasn't the feeling that you had a good chance of catching 'IT,' or that 'IT' could happen at any moment."

Next time, when NoobSkool continues, you'll learn how to identify a "Below Average-Great Show," and how to best articulate to your friends why they're deaf and suck at the Phish.

Future NoobSkool Lessons May Include:

  1. Proper, And Grossly Improper, Showgoing Attire
  2. How To, And How Not To, Use The Bathroom At A Show, Including How To Find It When You're Blind-Drunk
  3. The Differences Between Bowie's Hi-Hat Intro And Maze's Hi-Hat Intro
  4. When To, And When Not To, Applaud After A Painfully-Ordinary Version Of A Song
  5. Communication With Wooks
  6. Finding Your Seat When You're So High You Can't Read Your Ticket, Assuming You Still Even Have Your Ticket, Holy Shit Where's My Ticket
  7. Getting Arrested, And Avoiding Life In Prison
  8. Was That Set Average-Great, Merely Solid, Or Something Else Entirely
  9. How To Carry Four Beers, Several Sausages, Three Waters, A Poster, And Your Ticket Stub (In Order To Show The Aisle Nazi To Let You Get To Your Rightful Seat) At The Same Time, Without Spilling A Beer Or Soiling Your Poster
  10. How To Differentiate Type 2 From Type 1 Jamming, And Vice Versa
  11. Advanced Communication With Wooks
  12. Drug Etiquette, Including What Not To Do With The Joint You Were Just Passed
  13. How To Politely Tell Your Neighbors To STFU During The Jam Segment
  14. Best Places To Pass Out At A Show
  15. Telepathic Communication With Wooks
  16. Recovering From The Ripcord (In Twelve Steps)
  17. Cash Or Trade? Know The Market!
  18. Navigating Shakedown: A Survey Of Merch Options And Prices
  19. The Art Of Dancing Without Touching Anyone Around You Like An Inconsiderate Asshat
  20. To PT Or Not To PT
  21. Ways To Enjoy Yourself During "Wading In The Velvet Sea"
  22. Hotels: Checking In Through Checking Out, With Tips On How Not To Lose Money, Friends
  23. Sitting In Someone Else's Awesome Seat And Getting Away With It
  24. The Seven Types Of Fan, Including Their Diet, Size, Habitat, And Range
  25. A Survey Of North American PhanArt From The 20th Century Through The Present (With Co-Instructor Pete Mason)
  26. Babysitting Your Friends When They're Dosed Beyond All Comprehension
  27. Over-The-Counter Medications That You Should Never Tour Without
  28. Glowstick Handling, Avoiding
  29. Where To Find Your Lost Backpack
  30. Tips For The Designated Driver
  31. Calling Whales: Using Your Pitch Shifter To Make A Jam Sound Atrocious When You Don't Want To Play The Beautiful Melody That Almost Everyone Really Would Prefer To Hear You Play
  32. Lot Food: Steals And Deals
  33. Touring With Diarrhea
  34. Touring With An Asshole
  35. Touring With No Money
  36. Touring With An Asshole With No Money And Diarrhea
  37. "Fuego:" Great Album, or Greatest Album?
  38. ...[see Comments below]

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Wednesday 12/18/2013 by Icculus

NEW AND IMPROVED PHISH JAM CHARTS

We are pleased to launch a dynamic and robust new search feature for the Jamming Charts. You can check it out here (or via the main home page nav bar, Music>Charts>Jamming Charts). In the past, the ability to search the Jam Charts was limited to scrolling through the chart, a Google Doc, for a particular song. Now, you will be able to search the charts by 18 different methods, including by song, by year, by city, by venue, and by tour. You will even be able to search by shows that you have attended in person.

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Wednesday 12/18/2013 by Icculus

LARS FISK IN THE NEWS

Former creative director for Phish, Lars Fisk, was recently interviewed about his cross-country exhibition entitled, "Self Storage." You can read the interview here, but get far more than you bargained for, for your self, here.

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Saturday 10/19/2013 by Icculus

HAMPTON 1: PHISH SCARES SHIT OUT OF RAM

IT never gets old. Nothing quite like the thrill of a tour opener before its opening notes. What will they play first? Will it be a debut? An original? A cover? Will it jam in a style complementary of the summer’s highlights? How will the set go?!? Will it simply continue their rehearsal, their soundcheck!? Will it hint at the album to be covered in AC on Halloween? Simply put, will the tour begin with music as equally legendary, and historic, as the Coliseum? As Phish?

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Monday 09/23/2013 by Icculus

TUESDAY ON TURNTABLE.FM/THEPHISH: JUNTA

This just in from Myke "@LawnMemo" Menio:

The third installment of our weekly Phish studio replay is on Tuesday, September 24, at 9pm e.t. at turntable.fm/thePhish. We will be replaying Junta from start to finish and will be including the outtakes (available on etree here). Come join us for a couple hours and re-live one of Phish's greatest albums!

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Sunday 09/15/2013 by Icculus

TUESDAY SEP. 17: WHITE TAPE ON TURNTABLE FM

Myke "@LawnMemo" Menio reports that the replay of Phish studio albums on Tuesdays continues at 9pm EST at Turntable.fm/thePhish.

Myke writes: "This week we will play The White Tape from start to finish. Boasting exceptional versions of 'Alumni Blues' and 'Slave to the Traffic Light,' and many rarities, The White Album is a lot of fun. Last week we replayed TMWSIY and had a great turnout and excellent conversation about the album. Many people checked out Turntable for the first time, and can't get enough of it. I hope you will join us this Tuesday!"

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Sunday 09/08/2013 by Icculus

TUESDAY SEP. 10 TUNE IN TO TURNTABLE.FM

Myke Menio (@LawnMemo) will be playing Phish's albums consecutively on turntable.fm each week, beginning with TMWSIY on Tuesday, September 10th.

Here is a message from Myke:

"Hey everyone! As many of you know I hang over at turntable.fm/thePhish quite often. It is a site where you can listen to Phish 24 hours a day and interact with people doing the same.

After talking with some fans recently, I was shocked by how many people have never heard some of the studio albums. So I got the idea to play every studio album from start to finish, one per week.

On Tuesday, September 10th at 9:00PM EST, we will play TMWSIY from start to finish, and then we will play one of Phish's albums every week thereafter (in the order of their release date) until we're through them all. TMWSIY will take about an hour. On Tuesday, Sept 17th, we'll play The White Tape, thenJunta (pronounced HUN-tah!) the next week, etc., until we finish with JOY. We will also be playing the outtakes from Billy Breathes, Ghost, and Round Room.

I am going to make sure for the hour or so that the replay is going on, the chat is about the music. With the knowledge base a lot of you have, I am sure we will all learn something, or at least have fun sharing memories!

So come out this Tuesday, September 10th, to turntable.fm/ThePhish, listen to TMWSIY and have a great time!"

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Wednesday 08/28/2013 by Icculus

"WHY DID HUMANS INVENT MUSIC?"

National Geographic published an interesting article discussing why humans may have invented music, and it includes a reference to Phish concerts. An astute Phish fan, Blanca, brought the article to our attention and you can read it here.

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Friday 08/23/2013 by Icculus

PHISH'S SUMMER TOUR 2013 IN REVIEW: WOO!

IT is not a science. The exquisite transcendence that one can experience when moved by music, such as during the concluding sections of the July 31 Tahoe "Tweezer” for example, is not quantifiable. But whether you enjoy music with, or without, analytic doses of dates, timings, ratings and stats, Phish's Summer Tour gives you plenty to ponder, and even more for which to be enormously grateful.

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Saturday 07/20/2013 by Icculus

PHISH FANS EVACUATE IN CHICAGO

IT appeared at first that things would be horrendous on Northerly Island Friday night. The weather reports ominously foretold thunderstorms, and the venue reports (especially about the lawn) in the weeks before the show were bleak. But as Phish opened with “Suzy Greenberg,” the crowd roared with glee.

The weather was as gorgeous as gorgeous could be, with an intermittent breeze cooling down the 90+ degree ambient temperature under a largely blue sky. The set featured a funkalicious “Wolfman’s Brother,” and Fish dazzlingly engaging the audience on the Marimba Lumina during “Scent of a Mule.” There was also a memorably must-hear version of “Limb by Limb,” masterfully crazy-fingered by Trey. Fans danced-off calories left and right, including calories earned pre-show drinking copious amounts of “Sample” ale in mason jars at Rock Bottom brewpub’s wonderful, all-weekend fundraiser for The Mockingbird Foundation, whose volunteers manage this site.

It was easily among the tour’s finest first sets. What would the second set bring? Would we get yet another powerful second set of tour, fans wondered as the sky steadily darkened, and lightning began to twist and pounce on the horizon, both Page, and Mike, side.

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Friday 07/12/2013 by Icculus

TYPE II CAST EPISODE 72: THE TOUR SO FAR

I had a discussion last night about the summer tour so far (Bangor, SPAC and to some extent PNC) with Stephen Olker, the producer and host of TypeIIcast, and Dave "Miner" Calarco of PhishThoughts. There are clips of some of the tour's jams (e.g., Bangor Golden Age, SPAC SOAM, Carini, Light), interspersed within the discussion. You can listen to our two cents here.

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Thursday 07/04/2013 by Icculus

BANGOR RECAP: THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR BEGINS

PHISH began their 30th Anniversary year by opening their Summer Tour with a three hour show for over 16,000 people on a muddy field in Bangor, Maine. Fortunately for attendees, the thunderstorm never came, and the gorgeous weather, with its blue sky and cool, periodic breeze, accompanied the music quite well, as the mighty Penobscot River flowed adjacent to the venue, stage right. Most of the songs performed were debuted by the band before 1996, giving the show a profoundly retrospective (if not nostalgic) flavor, a flavor only enhanced by a “Golden Age” second set opener and an excellent performance of “Backwards Down The Number Line.”

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Saturday 06/29/2013 by Icculus

CASH OR TRADE NEEDS YOUR HELP

Over the past 4 years CashorTrade.org has been completely free. Dusty and Brando have spent hours upon hours coding the site, working with members to solidify trades, building the mobile app, setting up the trading tent on tour, and so much more. As the community reaches 25,000 members, it has become difficult for them to progress it on their own and without funding.

Brando says, "We see so many ways in which we could advance the program and supply more tickets to more events, yet time and money is limited. In an effort to keep CashorTrade alive and to bring it to the next level we need your help. We are just now releasing our new Gold Membership to help fund the launch of our new trade tools."

Gold Membership will hopefully revolutionize the way fans communicate about tickets, while making it social. With the donations, COT will be able to finish the development of useful tools, such as mobile notifications, buyer/seller protections, and suggested trades. For example, you could be sitting on a beach, and receive a text message alerting you to the availability of a ticket to a sold-out show -- a ticket you'd been dying to score for weeks!

Along with the Gold Membership tools, COT is offering limited edition merchandise, too. They have a CashorTrade Pin, T-Shirt, and Hat only available to the backers of their project. You can back their project by clicking here: http://cashortrade.org/donate

If you are a fan who believes in face value tickets, please support this idea. Tell your friends by posting their donate page in your social networks. The more we help each other with the supply of face value tickets, the more we strengthen, and benefit, as a community. As they say at COT, #EmbracetheFace!

Thursday 06/06/2013 by Icculus

REVISITING BANGOR

PHISH will open the Summer Tour on July 3 in Bangor, Maine. It has been almost twenty years since they played there, and in anticipation of the upcoming tour, we at Phish.Net will endeavor to revisit past Phish performances in cities and towns that the band will play this summer. In this first installment, I revisit the November 2, 1994, show in Bangor, the “Tweezer” of which was the first “experimental” version to both exceed 30 minutes and conclude with a return to the "Tweezer" theme. The highlights of that day and that evening I have not forgotten, and shall not soon forget.

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Sunday 05/19/2013 by Icculus

REVISITING THE 2012 PHISH NYE RUN

IT can be good to take a break. You catch your breath, relax your limbs, clear your head... feed your soul. Five months into 2013, as we near July and Phish's impending Summer Tour, the highlights of their 2012 MSG New Year's run still sound fresh and fantastic, even if my $0.02 about them are not.

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Saturday 12/08/2012 by Icculus

MOCKINGBIRD'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IN THE NEWS

The Executive Director of The Mockingbird Foundation, Ellis Godard, who co-founded the Foundation in 1997 and who helped to start Phish.net in the 1990s, is featured in an article in the December 7, 2012, edition of the Daily Sundial, the newspaper of California State University, Northridge, at which Professor Godard teaches. You can read the article and listen to an interview with Ellis here.

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Wednesday 12/05/2012 by Icculus

PHISH SUMMER 2012 "LEG TWO" IN REVIEW

IT did not take long for the powerful energy from Phish's SPAC shows in July to juice "leg two." In August and in early September, 2012, Phish once again performed several shows, and a host of improvisations, that are as "must hear" as the highlights of their 1580+ show career. While there were a few performances that were seemingly through-the-motions, the brief tour concluded incredibly well in early September at Dick's in Colorado. Fans have every reason to be optimistic about the music of the New Year’s Run at Madison Square Garden (12/28 - 12/31/12).

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Saturday 11/24/2012 by Icculus

PHISH BOOK REVIEW: A TINY SPACE TO MOVE AND BREATHE

A triumph of moronism, the book A TINY SPACE TO MOVE AND BREATHE (notes from the fall, 1997) compiles a series of essays about Phish and their fall 1997 shows so profoundly asinine that they undermine the foundations of pedagogy, betraying the futility of educating idiots like author Walter “Waxbanks” Holland in the first place.

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Wednesday 11/07/2012 by Icculus

DELINQUENCY QUIZ FOR PHISH FANS (OR OTHERS)

Phish fans frequently get generalized-about, ignorantly, by the media. Are we a bunch of delinquents? Take this basic 15-question quiz to see if the media is right about YOU.

If appropriate, select multiple answers, because you get points for each answer choice other than (A).

If you cannot truthfully answer any of a question's answer choices, because you can't recall or otherwise, you get ZERO points for that question.

Please COMMENT with your (honest) scores so that we can demonstrate convincingly to all readers that at least online Phish fans are law-abiding, conscientious, and courteous citizens, who genuinely care about the public welfare.

A = zero points.
B = one (1) point.
C = two (2) points.
D = three (3) points.
E = four (4) points.

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Saturday 09/08/2012 by Icculus

RIP GREG STARKS

The Phish Companion. Please consider making a donation in any amount to The Mockingbird Foundation in Greg's honor, as such donations will be matched up to a total of $250.

John Ferguson eloquently wrote these words about Greg:

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Friday 07/27/2012 by Icculus

SUMMER 2012 PHISH LEG ONE: $0.02

IT can take you by surprise, changing your entire worldview in moments, making you a true believer. Music with transcendent power is addictive and bliss-inducing, and those obsessive enough to listen to every note of Phish CRAVE IT. Sometimes a show is so breathtakingly excellent that it literally drops your jaw in silent awe as you stumble, in an enthralled daze, back out to the lots. But even if the show you just caught didn’t do IT for you, part of the attraction of highly improvisational music, like Phish’s music, is that it was likely just such a show for someone. And Phish’s shows on Leg One of this Summer tour have done IT for quite a lot of folks.

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Wednesday 03/21/2012 by Icculus

LA PHILHARMONIC VIOLINIST ON PERFORMING WITH TREY

Be sure to check out the article written by the Associate Principal Second Violinist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mark Kashper, about performing with Trey, that is available on Relix, here.

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Wednesday 02/15/2012 by Icculus

Q&A WITH YEMBLOG'S SCOTT BERNSTEIN

Ever wondered about the background of “YEMblog,” perhaps the most widely used Phish blog on the web? I did, and I asked Scott Bernstein (“SB”), the man behind the site, to chat about it and he graciously obliged:

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Wednesday 12/14/2011 by Icculus

Q&A WITH MR. MINER OF PHISH THOUGHTS

David Calarco, a.k.a. “Mr. Miner,” is perhaps the most well-known Phish blogger. Since 2008, Dave has been blogging about Phish on his very popular Phish blog, http://phishthoughts.com/, though he got his start writing about the band in 2000, reviewing Phish shows from Japan (and elsewhere) for JamBase.com. Dave's opinions on shows are highly regarded by many fans and, whether you enjoy reading his work or not, "Mr. Miner" knows his Phish, having seen hundreds and hundreds of shows since his first show in 1995. As you likely have already heard, Dave has published a 600+ page book, Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts, and he agreed to speak with me about it. It is available for purchase here, and it would make a great gift for the Phish fan(s) in your life. Happy holidays. -charlie

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Saturday 12/10/2011 by Icculus

PHISH ARCHIVIST ON WIZN BURLINGTON TOMORROW

On WIZN's "Blues for Breakfast" program on Sunday, December 11, 2011, Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro visits the WIZN studio to spin tracks from the seven-cd box set Hampton/Winston-Salem '97. Tune in from 9:45am-11am EST. Live stream at: http://www.wizn.com/wizn_live_stream.html.

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Wednesday 11/16/2011 by Icculus

"CONTACT" AS TEACHING TOOL

We received a wonderful email from a student teacher named Jennah Mazour about her use of the song "Contact" with her students and, with her permission, now share it with you:

My name is Jennah Mazour and I am a student teacher from the University of Northern Iowa. I teach Elementary ESL (English as a Second Language) and Middle School Spanish in the District of Columbia Public School System. I am an active Phish fan, but beyond that, I am a passionate supporter of The Mockingbird Foundation's cause, and of the integration of Arts and Music into mainstream curricula. Although my field of language teaching is not mainstream, I believe that music is a language all its own. When a common tongue is not shared between people, music can be that meaningful, communicative medium in which to convey, teach and elicit authentic language. I just wanted to share how I put my philosophy into classroom practice.

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Saturday 11/12/2011 by Icculus

FYI: SPREADSHEET PROBLEM

The master of the Spreadsheet, Kevin Hoy (@Hoydog23 on both Twitter and Phishnet), has alerted us that because Mediafire upgraded their site yesterday, the links to most (over 80%) of the folders hosting the audio files are currently broken. The audio files themselves are fine, it is simply the links to many of them that are currently broken.

It is unclear at this time if the links will need to be manually fixed, or if this problem can be reversed or repaired in an automated way. Kevin will keep people apprised of the situation via his Twitter account, and an update also will be posted here when more is known.

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Wednesday 11/02/2011 by Icculus

CORAN CAPSHAW RECEIVES HUMANITARIAN AWARD

Hats off to Phish's manager, Coran Capshaw of Red Light Management, who is the first artist manager ever to receive the Humanitarian Award from Billboard.

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Wednesday 09/28/2011 by Icculus

SUMMER 2011: SBIX -> ESSEX, IN REVIEW

IT did not last long enough! Phish played quite well at SBIX and on the second leg of their Summer tour, and it was tough to see the tour end in Colorado. But Vermont’s misfortune from Hurricane Irene inspired Phish to play a benefit show in Essex on September 14, a webcasted show that raised over $1.2 million for flood relief efforts, and also gave fans, particularly those in Vermont, a special performance. It was Phish’s first Vermont show since Coventry, and one of only a handful of benefit shows that Phish has ever performed. It was also an appropriate way to conclude the Summer’s impressive musical achievements: generously, warmly, and with a familial vibe near the green mountains where Phish began.

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Monday 09/05/2011 by Icculus

SAY IT LOUD, SAY IT PROUD: PHISH LOVES DICKS

After two excellent performances at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Friday and Saturday, Phish played long and hard at Dick's last night for the third, and final, show of their first -- and now legendary -- Labor Day Weekend run. Before Friday, who would have thought that Phish would take Dick's for strong, playing song after song, show after show, largely with passionate precision, bringing multiple jams (regardless of length) to often spine-tingling climaxes? Masters on their instruments, and accompanied by a genius light designer in Chris Kuroda and a top-notch crew, Phish rarely cease to amaze their fans. And amaze, for the most part, they did.

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Sunday 08/14/2011 by Icculus

RETHINKING COVENTRY

Phish's festival in Coventry, Vermont, took place seven years ago. The shows were billed as Phish's final shows. They were enormously emotional for a host of reasons, particularly because many fans were turned away, and others had to hike miles upon miles simply to reach the grievously muddy grounds. Several years ago, during the "breakup," and a few years after Coventry, I wrote an essay about the positive aspects of the shows at Coventry. I did so because I felt I owed it both to Phish, and to myself, to find a way to view Coventry in a positive light. If you care to read part of what I wrote back then, and perhaps to rethink Coventry yourself ...

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Saturday 08/13/2011 by Icculus

OUTSIDE LANDS RECAPS

IT has been said that one should know one's audience before addressing them. After you have said your piece, ideally, your audience will appreciate your words -- assuming you still have an audience at all. But when offering up $0.02 on a rock concert, particularly one attended by tens of thousands of people, many of whom were seeing or hearing the band for the first time, your words will disappoint someone. Phish, fortunately, did not disappoint many last night. They rocked Golden Gate Park in a way that few (now legendary) bands have ever done. In deference to the variety of perspectives of fans who witnessed Phish’s two-set headlining show at the Outside Lands Festival, though, I offer you three "recaps."

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Friday 08/05/2011 by Icculus

CHASING THE DRAGON... OR AN UGLY PIG

IT never ceases to amaze you. The first taste fills you with a joy so supreme, you want the experience to last forever. The moment of discovery is pure and beautiful. As it happens, there is nothing more important, nothing more meaningful. Your heart races. You forget to breathe. Your soul is blissfully overwhelmed. You cannot get enough of it. You had never met before, but you had known it all your life. It has found you, and you, it.

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Wednesday 07/27/2011 by Icculus

REVISITING "JAMMING TYPES"

Mike Gordon’s “hotline” voicemail (212-330-9092) currently jokes about various jamming types. It begins, however, with “type 3,” and explains a variety of jamming types up through “type 17,” which no band member will discuss “in public or even in private,” and “type 18,” which of course does not exist.

Since Mike does not discuss them, you may be curious about “type 1” and “type 2.” These jamming types were first discussed on Rec.Music.Phish by a fan named John Flynn in January 1997. You can read a great deal of information about them here in the FAQ file. These terms have been in use by many Phish fans for over 14 years, even though perhaps you couldn’t care less about them. What do they mean, again?

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Monday 06/27/2011 by Icculus

SUMMER TOUR MAY/JUNE 2011: HIGHLIGHTS AND NOT-SO-HIGHLIGHTS

IT is not always easy to review a Phish tour. You are not going to please everyone all of the time, or perhaps even most of the time. The stronger your opinions, the hotter the heat. And “capsule reviews” of shows rarely do them the justice that they deserve. Even weak Phish shows -- or “below average” as compared with other Phish shows -- are still great rock concerts, involving a super vibe, excellent musicianship, and sensational lights and sound, particularly on this tour, which featured new, and amazing, light and sound systems. We have a blast at Phish shows. Period. That’s why we bother to attend them, at significant expense, often on multiple nights on any given tour. And, thankfully, Phish’s Summer tour ain’t over yet.

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Saturday 06/11/2011 by Icculus

TWO CENTS ON CAMDEN

DISCLAIMER: I have had very little sleep in the last three days and I appear to still be a bit inebriated from last night. If any of the words or opinions that follow seem asinine or otherwise moronic to you in any way, shape or form, please do not doubt that they are. Thank you.
*****************************************************************

You’ve seen the setlist. And if you’ve seen even a few Phish setlists over the years, you may be wondering, “Seriously!? A “Rocky Top Mike’s Groove” first set opener, a “Curtain With” first set closer, a “JOY” second set closer!?” WTF!? “Curtain With” has never closed a first set, of course, and “Rocky Top” has not opened a show since 12/2/96. And closing a second set with an emotionally intense (if not ironically depressing) ballad like “Joy” just seems batshit f’ing crazy.

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Sunday 04/24/2011 by Icculus

6/30/99 BONNER SPRINGS, KS, IN REVIEW

Every so often, something Phish-related surprises me -- even though it shouldn’t. The other day on Twitter, the 6/30/99 tour opening show at Sandstone Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, Kansas, came up. I couldn’t recall a single note of the show. But two veteran Phish fans, one with an enormously popular Phish blog and the other a member of Phish.Net’s working group, both of whom I often agree with about things Phish, uttered dramatically opposed opinions about the show’s music. The esteemed blogger called the show “awesome,” and the other said it “sucked.” This intrigued me, and inspired me to listen to the show again.

Now, “sucked” is a strong word. I think the fan in question likely meant something more akin to “below average-great.” Because, frankly, even on their worst night, Phish just doesn’t suck. In fact, even when they suck here and there during a show, they can pull-out some transcendent, spectacular jams (e.g., Coventry’s Drowned). I can’t name a single Phish show that I believe “sucked,” and I say that even though I’ve come close to walking out of a few during the second set. (The only show I recall ever actually leaving I left due to reasons unrelated to the music.)

To put 6/30/99 in context, it was Phish’s first public show since the ‘98 NYE run, and those four shows were Phish’s only shows in December 1998. Trey had toured earlier in 1999, but as fun as it was, it wasn’t the same, and even before June 1999, fans were chompin’ at the bit for Phish’s return. (They may have been especially eager to hear Phish again, of course, if they’d already heard the spectacular mid-April 1999 Phil Lesh & Friends shows, featuring Trey and Page and Steve Kimock.) This June 30 show would start a serious 20+ show tour, concluding with four gigs in JAPAN, one of which has just been released by the band to benefit the Japan relief effort.

My $0.02 on this show will probably come as no surprise, given that I must have liquidated my 6/30/99 tapes (CDs?) 10+ years ago. But I actually feel pretty strongly that this is, at best, an average-great Phish show from the late 1990s, and that’s giving it some credit. It’s a mixed-bag, and a show I would never have recommended anyone check out at that time, when acquiring tapes/discs would cost time and effort. Nowadays, of course, since it’s easy to download a show off Kevin Hoy’s Spreadsheet and listen for oneself, I encourage you to do the same, if you’re so inclined, if only in light of the staggeringly different perspectives (apparently) of some vets about it. To go out a bit on a limb just to make things more interesting: musically, I think this show -- as a complete show -- offers little even when compared with Phish’s best shows in 3.0. I’d recommend that a fan check out 10/20/10 Utica, for example, and hundreds of other Phish shows, before I’d recommend 6/30/99.

The first set opens with a 19 minute Gin, with “Type 2” improvisation a-plenty. A Gin opener is always welcome and I love Gin. Love it. It’s up there with my favorite Phish songs and I just never get tired of it. This version, albeit lengthy and exploratory, is often aimless and even flounders at times with no clear direction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the jam floats like a turd for awhile. It’s not that bad at all. It’s just when Trey does solo/noodle melodically, at times it seems to lack much of a purpose. I’m thus not surprised that folks have very different opinions about it. I’d sooner recommend that, for 1999 versions that are more or less equally as long, but much more glorious (as I hear them), one check out 7/18/99, 9/12/99, 9/22/99, 12/2/99, and 12/7/99. Also, I’d sooner recommend the 2/22/03, 2/28/03, 7/9/03, and 8/9/04 Gins (to name four from 2.0) and even the 8/7/09 Gorge Gin. (Comparing this 6/30/99 version to the 7/29/98 Riverport and other “best ever” versions perhaps isn’t very fair.) In any event, hats off to Phish for opening with this 6/30/99 Gin, since it took some nads to open a tour with so much “Type 2.” That is certainly not common! And I love Gin, and I enjoy this version, too, even if, among versions over 15 minutes, this wouldn’t come to mind as one to recommend highly.

The rest of the first set, which isn’t all that long, is solid, i.e., “typically great Phish.” The Maze is pretty good, but Maze is usually pretty good. Maze is one of those amazing Phish tunes that, like Julius, can be difficult to call “above average” unless it’s obviously over the top, like say 12/31/94, or 2/26/03 Worcester. And this set features the first Back on the Train (another tune I love), and a fairly good LxL (love it). A Golgi set closer, even if perfectly performed, isn’t going to get a jaded vet too excited, but whatever, this is still a fun set of course. The Gin was a cool opener, with some beautiful improv, but not “must hear.” As compared with all other first sets in Phish history, this is a “typically great,” or “par” set, IMO. (i.e., no rush to send B+P)

The second set opens with Squirming Coil. Let me say that again. The second set opens with Squirming Coil. And it’s not too bad, as far as Coils go. But I can completely understand and forgive the jaded vets in attendance in Bonner Springs that day who, after a Golgi first set closer, upon hearing Coil, thought, “Are you f’ing kidding me!?” It’s just not that strong a set opener. It’s too darn pretty and mellow. I love Page, and I especially love his recent offerings, “Halfway to the Moon” and “Beauty of a Broken Heart,” but a song whose coda is a piano solo isn’t a strong set opener for a rock show.

The set then goes weird with a slow, somewhat plodding, eerie version of “Free,” one of the most unusual versions in Phish history. It doesn’t really go what I’d call “Type 2.” It rather just has an extended jam segment that gets dark and twisted at times. An atypical version for damn sure and one of the longest versions, even though, frankly, I can see how some might not appreciate it. I’d recommend it highly, though, to any fan of “Free” looking to hear a remarkable version of the song.

The “Birds” > “Simple” that follow “Free” aren’t shabby. Late 1990s versions of “Birds” are pretty much all worth hearing (assuming you like the tune), and frankly, versions of “Simple” that don’t appear in a Mike’s Groove sandwich are often worth a listen as well. That said, I wouldn’t call either of these versions well above-average. But these are enjoyable tunes, and the “Swept Away” and “Steep” and “Piper” that follow, while perfunctory, are entertaining.

The “Bug > My Left Toe” is, well... I like these tunes, don’t get me wrong. But I can see how they may have bored some in attendance big time. (“My Left Toe” was also a debut, and I’m sure some at the show probably thought it was just part of an extended “Bug” jam.) The improv in these songs is very textural and chord-heavy, of course. There’s no melodic noodling or “rock star Trey jamming” or “glorious mellifluous transcendent hose” etc. Lots of big, phat, sustained chords. I enjoyed listening to this quite a bit, but likely still would have sat down for it at the show. The set then concludes with a “Stash” that, frankly, has a jam that I find directionless, obnoxiously dissonant, and largely meh. It doesn’t climax at all well, and Trey seems to lose his way during it. Not a version I’d recommend. I’d have been disappointed to hear this close a set, even though I typically love this song. This “Stash” is disappointing compared with versions from any era, in my view (e.g., the 10/31/10 Stash blows it away, though to be fair, it’s jam segment is much different).

The 6/30/99 show encores with “Bouncin” and “Sample in a Jar.” Now, these tunes are quite popular, of course, and encores are always “icing” on the delicious cake that is a typically great Phish show. But after an unquestionably below-average Stash second set closer, I can see this encore disappointing some jaded vets in attendance. In any event, you’ve heard these versions/songs before many times.

All this said, I can empathize with why some fans aren’t too keen on this show, or even its second set, particularly when you compare it with the most recent second sets from the two-set shows on the ‘98 NYE run, which were great: 12/28/98-2, 12/29/98-2 and 12/30/98-2. While mileage certainly varies, vets tend more often than not to agree about what versions and shows qualify as “top versions” and “must hear” shows, if not “above-average-great shows” etc. This 6/30/99 show is thus a testament to how opinions even among vets can differ immensely. As I hear it, it’s very much a mixed-bag. I’d recommend the “Free” for sure, but as far as the show as a whole goes, I’d call it less awesome than a typically awesome 1999 Phish show... an opinion that may annoy just about everyone, but it’s just my $0.02. -charlie

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Sunday 02/20/2011 by Icculus

SOME THOUGHTS ON TREY IN ALBANY

Just a few thoughts on last night’s Albany Trey show. You can get the setlist here on Phish.net or on Hidden Track. And you can download the show from etree.

1.  The entire acoustic set is beautiful, in part given the audience sing-alongs. Also, the arrangement of Guelah Papyrus in particular is unusual, surprising and charming. I had no idea what song it was before Trey began the lyrics. It has an almost spell-bindingly repetitive riff during the verses, and the chorus ain’t shabby either. If you’re a fan of this song, it’s worth downloading this show to hear it. And it doesn’t hurt that Trey plays Buffalo Bill, of all things, on his acoustic next.

2.  Trey -- after explaining why Wading in the Velvet Sea means as much to him as it does (hear the banter for yourself) -- dedicates the song to Tom (with whom he wrote the song) and even bromantically sends his love to Tom, thinking that Tom wasn’t at the show, and then Tom (I think) yells “I’m here!” which leads to some amusing words from Trey. Gotta love intimate small-venue shows if only for exchanges like this. And I also heard (I think via Eric Wyman on Twitter) that the Drifting that Trey played last night was in response to a 5-year-old girl with a sign for it. Precious.

3.  Devil Went Down To Georgia with the horns in a bluesy-klezmer arrangement is wonderful, just a riot.

4.  The electric set is tight. It made me realize how much I missed Trey band. Jaded Trey-vets probably won’t be blown away by any of the jams, but I just love the horn arrangements, and I don’t think I ever want to hear Ocelot sans horns again. It adds so much to the song. I was never much of an Ocelot fan, but this is easily my favorite version. Hear Ocelot with horns. (And hear Alaska with horns, too, from the Portland 2/18 show!)

5.  I am not embarrassed to admit that I was unfamiliar with the “Gorillaz” until Trey’s cover of Clint Eastwood, and think it’s awesome that he covered this song (which I’ve downloaded from iTunes, and am listening to now). If you are familiar with this song, Trey’s homage to its greatness is entertaining, but be prepared to be surprised. Trey’s arrangement is about as true to the original as Phish’s cover of Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky.

In any event, if you’re still on the fence, check out what Trey’s doing this tour -- if only to hear the horn arrangements and unique acoustic arrangements of your favorite Phish tunes. I’m only seeing the tour closer at the Fox, and now wish I were seeing a lot more shows. $0.02.

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Saturday 02/19/2011 by Icculus

JONES BEACH POSTER AUCTION

Phanart Pete Mason and various artists in the Phish community are once again fundraising for The Mockingbird Foundation (the sponsor of Phish.Net). PhanArt Pete is auctioning off posters from four artists, including Erin Cadigan, on eBay: http://tinyurl.com/4dgcyes. You can read more about the poster auction here: http://www.phanart.net/?p=4961.

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Sunday 01/30/2011 by Icculus

WATKINS GLEN OVER JULY 4TH WEEKEND?

The band has not confirmed that they are playing Watkins Glen over the July 4th holiday weekend (June 30 - July 3), but there's been a lot of chatter about a potential festival there for weeks now.  A story on "bandsthatjam.com" claimed that a contract had been signed, and it appeared to be credible -- until another story from stargazette.com reported that the President of the Watkins Glen racetrack has denied that any contract with a promoter had been signed.  He confirmed, however, that they have been "working with a concert promoter."

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