, attached to 1997-08-17

Review by Philbombs77

Philbombs77 Just out of curiosity, what happened to the "headphones" for this show? This is the greatest second set Phish has ever played with a Top 5 Disease, Top 2 Gin, Top 5 2001, and Top 10 Hood. Not to mention the sick SOAMule->DDLJ->SOAMule in the third set.

Now that I have that out of the way, I want to weigh in on the not-so-new Phish.net format. I refused to unleash my frustration at the time that the change was made (I believe it was something like last August or September). As a rule of thumb, everybody hates webpage revamps. The ensuing changes to the aesthetic of my favorite website cleaved very closely to this rule. But there have been other webpage revamps that grew on me - some pretty quickly (Slate, Deadspin) and others more slowly (NYTimes). But Phish.net shares the following ignominious honor with Archive.org: both sites were sheer perfection in simplicity, aesthetic appeal, and navigability. And by the superfluous need to constantly "update the look" and tamper with a layout that required no tampering, I am now loath to visit either one of them.

Of course I do...how would I be writing this otherwise? But instead of checking out Phish.net once every day for a few minutes, I now take the same amount of time once every 1-2 weeks. The following is a list of the main reasons I hate the new look for Phish.net (I don't have the will, at least not today, to get into the ancillary details):

1. I loved the old setlist format and fonts. It was riveting to explore Phish's setlists and come upon a show like this one (08/17/97), or 11/16/95, or 04/03/98 and see tons of songs in bold green lettering or highlighted in a perfect yellow hue. It let me know that this show had to be listened to at all costs. At one point, they put "quintessential" versions, like the 12/29/95 Gin->Real Me->Gin and the 11/12/94 Hood in bold red as to say "If you don't listen to this version, you're missing out on true ecstasy!" I fucking loved that shit, but of course it was nixed about 2 weeks after it started.

There's the seemingly eternal quest to make the copy on each page "clean" and effortless to read. Hence, the headphones. The headphones did not break up the text or call attention to any given song because they were, like the font color of every single song, completely black. Does this make the text "flow" better? Sure. But flow is something we seek when listening to the music, not perusing setlists. I would argue that people loved and very much miss the disjointed nature of the old format when looking at setlists like 12/31/99, 12/31/95, 11/27/98, or 08/13/93 from a purely chromatic and entropic standpoint....haphazard made me happy!

2. Why are the setlist years now scrolling from NYE down to the first show of the year? There's no fuckin' reason for changing that up. It's like you start with some sort of NYE show and scroll back in time when it's far more logical to scroll forward in time and end on NYE. Who wants to check out the amazing shows from November and October '94, only to see some fizzled, light-weight material from April '94 at the end. Speaking of, this site is so currently fucked up (02/25 @ 23:43 MST), it doesn't list anything from before the Bomb Factory show in 1994. WTF is going on?

3. I know this whole web redesign was supposed coincide with the new Phish Companion and the font, setlists, etc... are the same. But that makes me less likely to BUY THE BOOK. Of course, the essays and photos are the real reason Phans bought TPC3. But it didn't have to align with the website and we still would have bought it.

4. There's no heart or passion in this redesign. It seems like a kitchen with 1 chef, 2 sous chefs, 4 line cooks, the owner, and the owner's girlfriend all pushing for their paradigm of soup. Eventually, the most anthemic parts of the soup are watered down and, at the behest of the owner's gf, they add the most banal veggies and spices to make it appealing to the largest, dullest possible audience. In order to please multiple people, too many compromises were made and we get this vapid, uninspired revamp. I still have some screen grabs I took in the early and mid-'00s of shows that I hadn't yet explored and wanted desperately to get my hands (ears) on. I had no idea how much I would cherish them now that I have to put up with this drivel.

I waited a good 6 months before imparting Phish.net's community with my opinion on the matter. I waited and did everything I could to Let It Grow on me (wrong band, I know). But it hasn't. Nobody outside of this community, Deadheads, Spraedheads, Cheeseheads, and (it's weird, but true) Bruce Springsteen fans understand how riveting it can truly be to flip through setlists and see what was played on a given night and what the band played the shit out of on other nights. I imagine I haven't been the only one nearly hypnotized as I scrolled through August '93, December '95, and all of Fall '97. I know we live in a great fucking world when I sit down and spend 30 minutes to write a harangue about the insipid visual quality of the new Phish.net site. But I have a feeling that, despite the paucity of comment-section caviling or outright oppositional exegeses on this matter, a lot of people agree with me. And I also needed to add my two cents...it feels good to vent. Thanks for listening.
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