Phish.net: a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation


Intro - Methods - Abbreviations - Song Notes - Tease/Quote/Jam - Deviations - Releases - History

Introduction

The setlists, show notes, and other similar show-related information you see on Phish.Net are the product of several decades of work by countless people, including Mike Gordon and Phish Archivist Kevin Shapiro. The vast majority of this information was taken from the second edition of The Phish Companion (“TPC2”), but there have been thousands of additions and revisions made to that data since TPC2 was published in 2004.

The creation and entry of the setlists, show notes, song notes, soundcheck, and venue data, and the revisions and additions to the data, were achieved in 2009 thanks to Scott Marks, Steve Paolini, Marco Walsh, Ellis Godard, Jeremy Welsh, and Charlie Dirksen. Very special thanks are due to Craig DeLucia and Adam Scheinberg. Craig’s work on the setlists over the years, and Adam’s work to breathe new life into Phish.Net, has been invaluable and substantial.

Since The Phish.Net Setlists File is largely based on the setlists file of TPC2, the following explanatory information about the setlists is primarily taken from TPC2 as well. Craig DeLucia is the principal author of most of these words, but they have been revised as necessary to reflect recent changes that have been made to the setlists file, including that it is now being published online rather than in print.

We hope you find the following information helpful. Our goals have always been, and will remain, clarity, completeness, and accuracy. The setlists file will forever be a work in progress. Please let us know if you see anything you believe is incorrect.

–Charlie Dirksen

Setlists Methodology and What Counts as a “Show” for Stats Purposes

The setlists are an effort to document all instances of Phish playing together as a band. Fans are continuously unearthing new recordings of some older performances and confirming and revising details about others. Also, because some fans still retain copies of older Phish shows with incorrect date and venue information, we have tried to identify such improperly labeled shows where possible.

Of course, not all of the documented Phish performances are “shows.” Singing the national anthem at a hockey game, or playing a song or two on the Late Show with David Letterman, is not a “show.” Soundchecks are not “shows.” For this reason, for statistical purposes, not every performance that is described in the setlists file counts for stats purposes as a show.

A Phish performance counts as a “show” for stats purposes if it was public and so long as more than a few songs were performed. It does not matter whether tickets were sold for the show or not, or how many fans were present. So, for example, even an unannounced show like The Third Ball on 6/6/96 counts, as do the gigs in KFOG’s studio on 5/18/2000 (tickets for which were won in a contest) and at the Key Club on 5/19/2000. If the performance was for a by-invitation-only audience, or a small, private audience, it also still counts for stats purposes as a “show,” if it occurred in 1991 or earlier. This is simply for historical reasons, because these early shows were still gigs for the band, even if they were for very small audiences.

What do not count for stats purposes as “shows” are:

Use of Abbreviations

The default Phish.net setlists avoid abbreviations, for maximum clarity and so as not to confuse newer fans. (Show notes and song notes do, however, use abbreviations.) This was done even in print, for the same reasons, despite the space that could have been saved. Sure, it is easy to deduce that “YEM” is the same as “You Enjoy Myself.” But not everyone would recognize PYITE, BBFCFM, MMGAMOIO, WMGGW, or SOAM - and SOAM might be :Scent of a Mule" or "Split Open and Melt".

However, many users will find that abbreviated setlists are both easier to read and more like a conversation about a show. When was the last time you used the full song title “Run Like an Antelope” or “You Enjoy Myself ” in a conversation? The abbreviations “Antelope” and “YEM” have become more conversationally common than the original song titles, and fans rarely take the time to write out full titles.

Song Notes

We also use abbreviations in the “song notes,” which are basically “footnotes” that appear next to the songs in a particular setlist. They are used to denote guest musicians, teases, and any other information of special interest concerning the version of the song in question. Although song note information is duplicative of information that appears in the show notes, the song notes quickly provide information about a particular performance of the song.

Two Kinds of Segues

For the purposes of this file, there are two different segue notations: -> and >. The former refers to an actual segue, or when one song jams fluidly and without interruption into another. The latter is used when:

  1. One song stops and another immediately starts, but there is no fluid jamming between songs (e.g., Landlady > Destiny Unbound);
  2. One or more band members begin a new song as the previous song is ending, and there is no transition;
  3. Two songs are played that are usually played together, but may not actually segue (e.g., Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, or The Horse > Silent in the Morning); and,
  4. A song that is typically a “lead-in” or “exit” song is played (e.g., The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony, Buried Alive, HYHU, Cold As Ice). For example, you will see the > symbol used between the songs performed during the Henrietta portion of a show, even though there were likely “gaps” in the music between such songs (e.g., HYHU > Terrapin > HYHU).

Sometimes, the difference between a > and a -> seems arbitrary or a matter of opinion. For this reason, we considered using only one type of segue notation to cover any instance where a song immediately follows another one, whether there is jamming in the transition or not. We decided to use two types of segue notations because, first, on many recordings (especially older, pre-1992 tapes), traders traditionally noted segues without distinguishing between the two types. However, differentiating fluid, improvisational transitions (the -> symbol), which are often among the highlights of a show, from routine transitions (the > symbol) gives fans a true feel for what was played, and ably communicates the significance of a transition. Second, in the days when analog cassette tape trading was common, demarcating routine > segues from improvisational -> segues aided traders in determining tape flips. No harm occurs in breaking up an uneventful, purely routine transition between songs. But an improvisational -> segue should never be carried over from side A to side B of a tape, lest the integrity of the segue be destroyed.

Teases, Quotes, and Jams

A “tease” occurs when a band member briefly plays or hints at a part of another song, usually the melody. A good example is Page’s teasing of the signature “Drowned” riff several times on the piano during the July 21, 1997, “Bathtub Gin.”

A “quote” occurs when a member of the band vocally or verbally quotes another song, or familiar saying, or anything along those lines. For example, see the April 15, 1992, “You Enjoy Myself” vocal jam, where band members quote “Proud Mary,” but do not play it. Another popular example are the quotes by Trey and Fish from “The End” (The Doors) during the March 1, 1997, Hamburg “Mike’s Song,” which was released on Slip, Stitch and Pass.

In technical music terms, a “quote” occurs when a musician plays a particular song’s melody line on his on her instrument -- what we define as a “tease.” In the Phish community, the terms “tease” and “quote” are thus used interchangeably. For clarity within the setlists file, though, we have reserved the use of the term “quote” to mean vocal or verbal quotes only.

We use the word “jam” conservatively. In our opinion, Phish is a jamming band and, by their nature, several songs at a show will jam out in some way. Any song is potentially subject to jam on any night. It would be silly to label every “You Enjoy Myself” as “You Enjoy Myself ” -> “Jam” because, quite frankly, they all do. And it would be too discretionary to label the “best versions” as “You Enjoy Myself” -> “Jam.” So, for the sake of brevity and accuracy, we have limited the use of the word “jam” to three specific occasions:

  1. A substantial part of another song is played and, usually, some lyrics are sung. For a good example, see the “Cannonball Jam” in the May 7, 1994, “Bomb Factory” Tweezer, or the “Wormtown Jam” in Amsterdam in 1997. These jams are considered so substantial that they are listed in the setlist itself.
  2. A jam of another song is so true that it deserves to be mentioned. Often, it involves multiple band members locking-in on a common theme for a short period of time. Basically, this is a tease taken to another level. Examples include the “Birdland” jam in the July 21, 1997, “David Bowie” and the “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” jam in the December 3, 1997, “Drowned.” These types of jams are mentioned in the show notes, and not the setlists themselves.
  3. A jam is initiated on its own, as if it were an individual song. These types of jams became more frequent in the summer of 1997. See the “Jam” -> “Cities” on June 20, 1997, or the “Jam” -> “Timber (Jerry)” in the popular July 1, 1997, Amsterdam show. Of course, there is an inherent degree of subjectivity involved as well. Fans have differing opinions on what constitutes a noteworthy segue, or whether a particular song was jammed, quoted, or teased. We have diligently attempted to use the lexicon and standards that are most accepted in the Phish community and among music scholars in general.

Noting Deviations

In the setlists at Phish.net, the show notes only reference characteristics of a show that deviate from the norm. For example, it is not mentioned in any of the notes that "Carolina" or "Hello My Baby" was performed a cappella, because these songs are always performed that way. Similarly, it is not noted when versions of "Foreplay/Longtime" are performed acoustic, because almost all versions of this song have been performed in that manner. Instead, the Great Woods 1999 show notes mention that the song was then played electric. Similarly, unless otherwise mentioned in the show notes, every version of "Guelah Papyrus" contains "The Asse Festival," "Punch You in the Eye" contains "The Landlady," and "Alumni Blues" contains "Letter to Jimmy Page." To list these songs as, for instance, "Guelah Papyrus" -> "The Asse Festival" -> "Guelah Papyrus" is redundant. Far more detailed information regarding such songs is contained for each song in the song histories on Phish.Net.

Released Performances

All shows, or portions of shows, that were made available for official, widespread release before December 31, 2002, are noted as such in the show notes. This includes actual Phish albums, as well as compilation-type albums on which select tracks have appeared. As all Phish shows from December 31, 2002, forward have been made available for download via LivePhish.com, we have not noted each post-hiatus show as a release. We have, though, documented shows prior to the hiatus that were made available for download as a LivePhish Archival Release.

Origins and History of The Phish.Net Setlists File

Documents detailing the setlists of Phish shows have been around since the early 1990’s. One such document, “The Helping Phriendly Book” (the “HPB”), was originally compiled via the Internet by Phish fan Shelly Culbertson. This name was inspired by the “Helping Friendly Book,” referred to in versions of “Icculus” as containing all of the knowledge in the universe – everything the Lizards ever wanted or needed to know. The setlists project was undertaken for the free use of fans and out of love for the band. Shelly’s HPB was compiled with assistance from John Friedman, Richard Stern and other friends.

Lee Silverman took over the editing and compiling of the HPB for about a year in 1992. Richard “Chip” Callahan, with the help of Shelly and Sean Kennedy, helped to collect setlists for 1992 and the summer of 1993. In the fall of 1993, Ellis Godard, also known as Ellis of Lemuria, made significant revisions and additions to the document, and began to manage the online version of the HPB. Updated setlists and show dates, along with corrections and show notes from scores of helpful netters, were added to the file. Special notice should be given to Brian Bettencourt, Mike Pollack, Ben Miller, Harry McQuillen, Joe Rioux, Chris Bingham and Patrick Sprowels, who all made considerable contributions. After Ellis began concentrating on developing other areas of Phish.net, Michael Weitzman and Dan Shoop began to administer the online HPB.

In 1994, Charlie Dirksen began to use a copy of the Godard-edited HPB, dated January 17, 1994, for his setlist information. Charlie sought out tapes of every show, and he revised and appended the document using setlists for the tapes he acquired. With the assistance of setlists distributed by Mikey Perrott, which were obtained via a mailing list run by Shelly and Sean, Charlie continued to add more shows to his setlist file. This file was compiled separately from the online HPB. Charlie passed out several dozen printed, three-hole-punched, binder-clipped copies of this file for free to fans at the Sugarbush shows during summer 1995.

Late in the fall of 1996, when the Mockingbird Project was in its earliest stages, Dan Purcell assisted Charlie in making significant changes to the document he had compiled. These changes were based on hundreds of Phish tapes gathered primarily from the collections of Dan, Charlie, and Bill Bowman. Also, several rare setlists were gathered from fans Dean Budnick, Matthew King and Jason Rose. It should be noted that the setlists obtained from Dean were from Dean himself, and were not taken from the setlists listed in his book, The Phishing Manual.

In January 1997, Charlie’s setlist file was sent to Craig DeLucia. This document became the base for the setlists that eventually appeared in the first edition of The Phish Companion in 2000. Craig spent hundreds of hours editing and appending Charlie’s setlists file into an original format, making song names and abbreviations consistent, and developing show notes. What Craig created bore very little resemblance to the file that Charlie had originally given to him. When Craig felt that the document was consistent in presentation and ready for other eyes, he and Charlie assembled a group of eleven fans to further update the document. This group consisted of Craig, Charlie, Benjy Eisen, Charles Franz, Herschel Gelman, Matthew King, Phil Nazzaro, Dan Purcell, Jim Raras Jr., Dan Seideman, and Darius Zelkha. These eleven fans remained in constant contact and performed massive and continuous updates to the document, including the verification of older shows and the addition of many show notes. Dan Hantman, Keith McCrary, and Phillip Zerbo also contributed substantial information to the setlists file. The second edition of The Phish Companion was published in 2004.

The Phish.Net Setlists File is based on the setlists within the second edition of The Phish Companion, but it includes thousands of revisions and a lot of new information. This setlists file would not exist but for the work of countless fans over almost twenty years. Deserving special mention, in addition to those individuals already mentioned above, are those who helped to enter setlists data into the 3.0 version of the Phish.Net site, and to revise and append the setlists file, in 2009: Scott Marks, Steve Paolini, Marco Walsh, Jeremy Welsh, Ellis Godard, and Charlie Dirksen.

Why Not Call This Setlists File The Helping Friendly Book?

Why is this particular setlists file not referred to as “The Helping Phriendly Book” or the “HPB”? Aside from the fact that this online setlists file is not a “book” at all, to call it the HPB would be historically inaccurate. Ellis’s online setlists file from 1994 continued to undergo revisions and additions under the guidance of Michael Weitzman and Dan Shoop during the 1990s. Their file continued to bear the name “The Helping Phriendly Book;” therefore, the name became synonymous with that particular online setlists file. While the embryo for The Phish Companion’s setlists was a January 1994 version of the HPB, and the embryo of The Phish.Net Setlists File is the second edition of The Phish Companion, the setlists you see online today on Phish.Net nevertheless bear little resemblance to any other setlists file. However, the underlying spirit of The Phish.Net Setlists File and the HPB remains the same: making setlists available as a reference tool for all fans, with no fan profiting from their distribution.

Work In Progress

This setlists file is not complete, and never will be. Because so many early shows went undocumented, the assumption that any setlists project ever was or will be complete is mistaken. The setlists file will continue to undergo revisions through corrections and additions with the assistance of fans like you and volunteers from The Mockingbird Foundation. We want this file to be the most accurate setlists file available. Please assist us in this effort. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and critical in making this file as complete and accurate as possible.

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