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Why Are Glowsticks Dangerous

In Brief: Phish fans have become part of the show in a number of ways (including clapping, singing, chanting, flyers, and more). But one of the most interesting, vibrant, continuous, and controversial aspects of audience participation are the "glow wars". (There have also been marshmallow "wars".) Thousands of phans throw glow-in-the-dark objects (sticks and rings) into the air in incredible arcs, across the crowd, during jams while the lights are dimmed. This came about spontaneously. Much speculation has taken place about the band's attitude towards the now not-so-spontaneous glowstick wars, but the message by now is clear: we like the glowing, but rings are better than sticks.

Caution: Please be very careful throwing things at show. There have even been extensive concerns, at least one lawsuit, and debates on about whether the band even likes them, given the risks involved. Glowrings are better than glowsticks, and while the band likes the glowing, they've sent clear signals in favor of the rings. And marshmallows are even lower risk. 

Origin and History: The original glowstick war was during Harpua at 11-25-94, UIC Pavillion, Chicago, II Tim Wade , but then there was a long lapse until they began to appear during "Harry Hood", where they now appear consistently and predictably. During the Harry Hood on 8-2-97, Trey askes Chris ""Topher" Kuroda" to cut the lights, so the band could play while watching the stars. At the Great Went, 8-17-97, Trey again asked Chris to cut the lights, but this time the audience began tossing glowsticks. Soon hundreds of glowsticks were flying through the darkness. The band clearly fed off of this, a fine example of the mix of band antics, jamming, and audience interaction. Trey threw some of the glowsticks that landed on the stage back into the audience. After the Great Went, Harry Hood and glowstick wars went hand in hand. By the end of 1998, they were also appearing in such songs as "Down with Disease" and "Piper". (See Harry Hood entry for longer history.) And now their placement is nearly random -- such as a 7/4/99 glow event during "Silent in the Morning"!

The band likes the glowing:

However - and this should be obvious but apparently isn't - you shouldn't throw anything at the band! Here, let Trey tell you...


Moreover, sticks are problematic. The 4"-6" sticks with tapered ends, usually dayglo lime, pose several problems:

And glowrings are better: Look for the 6"-10" diameter rings (really a long thin tube, the two ends of which connect inside a small clear connector), with these advantages:

The band prefers rings:

"A great spontaneous event is happening. The feeling is, we're all in this together. It's different from being entertained by us." -- Trey Anastasio, The Associated Press, 7/3/94


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