How Do Audiences Get Involved At Shows?

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Phish fans have become part of the show in a number of ways, some solicited by the band and others of their own accord:

clapping - singing - waving - dancing - chanting - "language" - flyers - "wars" - misc. - chess

Language Signals: The most obvious example of audience participation solicited by the band is the "secret language" of musical cues. On 12-31-92, the band augmented these with additional cues; later, the audience responded with it's own flyers.

FAQ webmaster and his wife, leaving the Excalibur dressed as chess pieces to attend 10/31/96

Clapping: The band encourages clapping, in particular rhythms, along with "Mound". (Although that's reportedly to help Fishman get and keep "the beat", Orko pointed out (12/13/97) that "he changes the rhythm around the beat, so what the audience is doing is keeping the beat around which he does drum-acrobatics"). During the evolution of "Stash" a five-beat riff by Fishman was originally mimicked by audience members, then supplanted by a four-beat clap by the audience; this sounds to many like two claps on A Live One, and so many only clap twice here now. Clapping during other songs happens, some feel too frequently -- sometimes they (esp. Trey) play along with it and seem to enjoy it, but other times it clearly causes tension with Phish's intense compositions and their changing rhythms. (For instance, clapping works better in "Dog Stole Things" than in "Character Zero", although clapping during the former conceals the groovy lyrics.) But they're certainly not (or at least haven't always been) anti-clapping, as Trey told Guitar Player magazine (vol 28 no 9), "There's a song we did last night, Stash, where the audience does this clapping thing. They just started doing it one night and it worked its way into the song. The audience wrote it. No matter where we go, our audience knows to do that." Thanks also to Brandon Greenberg

Swaying/Waving Arms: The audience typically sways arms, held high, in time to the last chorus of "Contact", which the band used to lead the audience in doing.

Singing along: As at concerts by many acts, singing aloud with songs at Phish concerts is generally frowned upon by other fans -- it not only interferes with hearing the band and distracts from the show itself, but in some cases might get picked up by mics and alter the show for hundreds or thousands of people who'll hear it later on tape.

  • However, audience members have on occasion sung along, particularly with "Wilson" beginning in 1994, e.g. 4/9/94. (Martin Acaster 2/15/99) Following the "Wilson Prelude" from TMWSIY, Trey/Mike play a pair of two-beats -- duh-dun duh-dun -- and the audience responds with "Wiiiiil-son", drawing the first syllable out.) The singing with Wilson reached a strong peak 12-30-94 with Trey's on-stage encouragement (throwing his fist into the air and bouncing around). (Note that that version was included on A Live One.)
  • "Meatstick" includes lyrics the audience sings while dancing - as they did a capella on 9-22-00.
  • And the crowd has sung "Happy Birthday", most notably to Trey on 9/30/30 (34-second Mp3 clip).
  • Also, thanks (?) to Darius' flyers, there's an audience response part in "Harry Hood" now, too -- in the "Harry... Harry... where do you go when the lights go out?" part, many folks now yell "HOOD!" after each "Harry...". Some folks feel that this is an abomination that must be stopped, and some of the opposed have tried to shift the "fun" to something more likely to die out, creating the call-and-response "Harry ... BALLS!".
  • "Bathtub Gin" garnered some interaction during the Spring 1999 Trey solo tour. For example in Indianapolis, "Trey was playing Gin and during the background humming part, the whole audience spontaneously started doing it. Trey liked it so much he repeated that part of the song. Then he went into the rest of the song for a while and at the end he played a similar part and everyone in the audience started whistling along. It was all very spontaneous and I'm sure I'm not doing it justice. Check out the tape of it. After the song Trey proclaimed that he'd have to come back in like four years and play bathtub gin again." (Gary L. 5/6/99)


  • The only common en masse chant is the set of lyrics to Destiny Unbound, a popular rarity (not played since 11-15-91). Trey has reportedly said that if the entire audience sang the song as the band came on stage, they'd play it. There was a movement (via flyers) to get the audience singing it at the '96 Red Rocks show. The loudest spontaneous (perhaps the loudest) such en masse chant was probably 8-16-98 at the Lemonwheel, where it was loud enough to be picked up by the mics and broadcast across the event, though Trey only grinned and the band played the Beastie Boys' "Sabatogue" instead. (Thanks Luke and Diana Hamilton) But Jesse Alderman posted (11/24/97) this account of another strong attempt: 11-22-97
    • We made a really valiant effort to get the boys to play Destiny on Saturday [] at Hampton. My friend printed up flyers and got the first 5 or 6 rows prepared to sing the first line to Destiny. We waited since 3:30 and landed some great front row seats. We befriended this great security guard who was a great help in organizing the chant at the set-break. Once they came the chant was loud and audible to the band. Fishman had a look of surprise. Mike was very stoic and was not at all amused. However, Trey and Page were loving it. They were both cracking up. Hence, the "human sacrifice" and "death chant" comments from Trey. Trey and Page proceeded to discuss something ... and they were still laughing. Then they looked over at Mike and he shoke his head and started up Halley's by himself. Trey, unaffected by Mike's unwillingness to play his song, shrugged his shoulders and busted out an amazing and long Halley's. Ostensibly, it seemed that we should not give up and that Mike is the one who is very objectionable on the Destiny issue.

    new effort
    • Note that as of 6/10/2000, there is a to revive the Destiny chant.
  • The only other chant was "Cheesecake" at 12-31-99.



  • Marshmallow: There was a marshmallow war in the audience prior to the Alpine show 8/9/97, started by some folks with reportedly 20 bags of the white treats (Eric Oberbroeckling). They surfaced again a year later -- 7-?-98 (which Mark Hale suggested was more of a "storm" than a war), 8-1-98, 8-2-98, and 11-8-98. Rob Barret noted that these are all in or near Chicago. (Thanks also to Vic 12/8/98.) More recent appearances include 7-24&25-99, nearby. However, Lance Reed reported (1/10/2000) that the first mashmallow war was Red Rocks in 1996, and that the practice follows from Grateful Dead shows in the 1980s at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in New York, where there marshmallow feuds between the lawn and balcony. (Thanks also to Bob Sullivan 2/9/2000)
  • Glowstick: What were once known as glowstick wars are being confronted by a movement in favor of glowrings, but the image persists.
  • Tortillas: At the fall '99 Gorge shows, 100s of Tortillas were thrown into the air, gliding on the wind currents that roll through the venue. Tortillas reappeared several times during the first set of 12-30-99. Lance Reed reported (1/20/2000) that the first were thrown on the last night of Red Rocks in 1996.


  • An Uno craze is spreading.
  • Incense:At the outdoor festivals (e.g. Clifford Ball and Great Went), some thoughtful fans have taken to stocking the port-a-johns with incense. (If you leave one burning, make certain to bring and leave something safe and stable to hold it, please.)


  • Preshow Shenanigans: Phans have taken to having Phish-related characters paged in public facilities. For example, Rob posted 12/98 that Suzie Greenberg was paged in Penn Station prior to an MSG show; Eric also heard Harry Hood and Colonel Forbin paged.
  • Talking: oooh... please not during the music, is the overwhelming consensus.

Flyers: Taking the band's lead with their 12/31/92 flyer, a few attempts have been made to surprise the band with en masse activity.

  1. The first flyer was, according to Andrew Croke, "done at the [11-13-]94 Erie show. (On the tape of the second set, you can hear the crowd doing a 'tomahawk chop' before the second set). ...the idea was concieved by a few folks lying on a floor in Kent, Ohio the morning of the show (and after Kent), and it's a damned good thing Kinkos was open in Erie and they took credit cards...
  2. Darius has led an effort to distribute flyers of additional ideas, with impressive results. Darius Zelkha (12/15/95) sent the text of the flyer he handed out at the fall '95 Cleveland show. Says Darius: "it fits nicely (with the Phish logo graphics on the top) on an 8 by 11 piece of paper. Of course in the real version I used fancy fonts and cool spacing, but you get the idea. I just want to say that, again, the ideas are not solely mine (though some are) but a compilation of me, my friends, and people on (thanx to Jake Morrill) coming up with some ideas." Here is the text:
    • Some of the us on have come up with some GROUP CROWD IDEAS to get the crowd, AS A WHOLE, involved in the show. If EVERYONE participates, it will really make for a cool and different show both for us AND the band. Here are the ideas: - If they play DIVIDED SKY, during the part where Trey is silent and stares at the ceiling, *instead* of yelling mindlessly, it would be really cool if everyone were to just SIT DOWN and quietly say "ahhhhhhhhh...." Imagine that; Trey would totally *LOVE IT* and it would be really great if we could pull it off. - If they play WILSON, instead of chanting the standard "Willllsonnnn", everyone should chant "Cleeeeevelannnd." The band would think it's HILARIOUS and really appreciate the group effort that went into it. - If they play STASH, instead of clapping twice during each drum break (which is standard), ONLY CLAP ONCE. Again, Phish would love it. [Lemuria note: Fishman used to play between two and five beats during this break. For years, phans clapped four times. En masse, and therefore on A Live One, it sounds like two, but two is not the way it was originally done.] - And of course, PLEASE BE QUIET during the acoustic/accapella numbers and the quiet jams. Please please please!!!!! If the person next to you is yelling during a quiet part, PLEASE tell him/her to be quiet - if everyone did this then it would be REALLY cool for all of us AND the band. PLEASE TELL EVERYONE you run into about these ideas! SPREAD the word! LET'S TRY TO MAKE THIS WORK! Just think if we DID pull it off - the band and the crowd would be SO psyched. So, if they play Divided Sky, SIT DOWN AND SAY AHHHHHHH during Trey's long pause. If they play Wilson, chant "CLEVELAND". If they play Stash, ONLY CLAP ONCE during the drum breaks. C'MON, it could happen! Let's TRY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!
    Darius added this PS: "After the Cleveland show I talked to Page for about 15 minutes, showed him the flyer, and asked him what he thought. He really liked the idea, and said that he appreciated the group effort that went into trying to make it work - and if you haven't heard, the Acoustic Army that night was the quietest I've EVER heard a crowd be for a quiet tune, and I think my flyers had something to do with that."
  3. Darius also organized a different flyer for the Red Rocks '96 shows (four in a row). Darius emailed (6/26/97) to point out that, "These ideas were much cooler and (some of them) actually worked this time around :)." Among the most successful, or at least the most entertaining to Lemuria :), was that audience members shout ""Hood"!" after the band sings "Harry" each of the two times before singing "Where do you go when the lights go out?" in "Harry Hood".


    • Some of us on Phish.Net have come up with some GROUP CROWD IDEAS to get the crowd, AS A WHOLE, involved in the four Red Rocks shows. If EVERYONE participates, it will really make for a cool and different run of shows both for us AND the band. Here are the ideas we're trying to coordinate:
    -- If they play DIVIDED SKY, during the part where Trey is silent and stares at the ceiling, *INSTEAD* of yelling mindlessly, it would be really cool if everyone were to just SIT DOWN and quietly say "ahhhhhhhh......" Imagine that; Trey would totally *LOVE IT* and it would be really great if we could pull it off.
    -- If they play YOU ENJOY MYSELF, during the funky "Wash Uffitzi drive me to Firenze" segment, INSTEAD of singing it with them, ECHO them instead (i.e. sing the line the over the FOLLOWING two measures). Example:

    • Band : "Wash Uffitzi drive me to Firenze..........." Crowd: "..................................Wash Uffitzi drive me to Firenze.........etc."
    -- If they play "Harry Hood", when the band sings "Harry", we will YELL "Hood!" on the next beat (it works perfectly with the music). Example:

    • Band: "Harry!.............Harry!..............Where do you go when.." Crowd: ".........Hood!...............Hood!........................."
    These would sound really cool, and the band would really appreciate the group effort that went into it.
    -- When Phish comes out to start the 2nd set (of the first night, and every night until it works), we'll lead the whole front row (and the rest of the venue, if possible) in singing the first line from DESTINY UNBOUND, which is: "Highway Bill's on a rotary still, and he can't even feel the pain"
    Apparently Trey said that the only way that they will bring that song back is if the entire front row sings that one line, so it's worth a try!
    -- And, of course, PLEASE BE QUIET during the acoustic/accapella numbers and the quiet jams. Please Please PLEASE!!! If the person next to you is yelling during a quiet part, PLEASE tell him/her to be quiet. If everyone did this then it would be really cool for us AND the band.
    Again, the secret to getting these to work is cooperation and WORD OF MOUTH! Pass this flyer on and please recycle it!
  4. Not anti-related, but Todd Kennedy put together the Helping Phriendly Flyer to help the growing efforts to improve and protect the scene at Phish shows. The "Harry Hood" chant response has continued, through the end of 1997.



"Those things developed from a general desire to merge with the audience as much as possible. It know that a lot of times I find myself , if a set's been going on for a while, that I might suddenly feel, 'Too much', we've gotta make some really organic connection again, at which point -- one thing that's rarely been planned out is those a capella things, when we go out front -- and that, to me, is usually just a time to get the bearings straight again, let the ears rest, and -- 'cuase when I'm standing out there, I can really make eye contact with people, see who's out there in the audience and what not.""
-- Trey Anastasio, 12/10/94 interview with Steve Silberman" Login

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