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.
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 glowstickwars 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:
Verbal support: There was a glowstick "war" during the second set of 8-17-97 during "Harry Hood", after which Trey yelled, "Go get some more of those things, man!.".
Passive environment: At several shows, Trey has called for Chris kuroda (aka "Topher") to cut the lights off during "Harry Hood" (e.g. 12-30-97), presumably so that the glowsticks are easier and more fun to see.
Active participation: Trey has often caught glowsticks in mid-air (encouraging other folks to throw them in his direction), and has on occasion gathered up couples or handfuls and tossed them back into the crowd. And, much earlier, the band apparently tossed "glowsticks" into the audience at the 1994 Thanksgiving show, although that was a much smaller crowd. And for 12-31-98, (tens of) thousands of glowrings were distributed to the audience.
Public pride: The 1997 Christmas card from the band and its management company featured a photo of the Harry Hood glowstick war at the Great Went (mentioned above).
However - and this should be obvious but apparently isn't - you shouldn't throw anythingat the band! Here, let Trey tell you...