Crowd Control

Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
VocalsTrey (lead), Page (backing)
Phish Debut2003-11-28
Last Played2016-07-02
Current Gap25
HistorianMockingbird Staff
Last Update2016-03-07


The deceptively uncomplicated lyrics of “Crowd Control” at first glance give the impression that Phish is getting political on us – that the song is a message for individuals to improve the current situation in our time. However, the lyrics also can also be taken to allude to the ongoing dialog between a band and its audience. The intertwining of the very evident sociopolitical message about trying to “change the world” with leanings toward commentary on the band / crowd dynamic reflect a complexity far deeper than the simple melody would have one imagine. Needless to say, these two themes were widely speculated upon after it’s debut on 11/28/03 at Nassau Coliseum, prior to the release of Undermind. “Crowd Control” made three more mid-set appearances in 2004, barely enough time to ponder these questions before Phish called it quits. 

Oh Ke Pah Blog's #OWS Video to Phish's “Crowd Control”

In the fall of 2011, oh kee pah blog incorporated the song into a video depicting scenes from the Occupy Wall Street #OWS movement across the country, fully implicating “Crowd Control” as one of the very few overtly Phish political songs. This inspired Tom Marshall to release an original demo of the song from 2003, with an explanation and with somewhat of a concession that even though the lyrics were never intended to be political, the fact that they fit this OWS video so well, they in fact may be just that.

Upon their return to the stage in 2009, “Crowd Control” opened the show for the first time on 8/15/09 at Merriweather. This show opener role fit the song so perfectly – especially the “So show us why we came here / Before we lay on the ground / Give it to us loud and clear” lines – that every subsequent appearance to date has been in that capacity. The song was exclusive to Merriweather in 2009 and 2010. Following an 88-show gap that ended on 6/29/12 at Deer Creek, “Crowd Control” has been a regular if infrequent kick-off tool in Phish’s arsenal, averaging two appearances per year.

”Crowd Control” – 10/28/14, San Francisco, CA. Video by LazyLightning55a.

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