Fuck Your Face
Historian: Mockingbird Staff
Last Update: 2016-02-28
The Phish song with the flexible expletive, this hilarious creation belongs to the versatile young mind of Mr. Michael Gordon. The tune appears on The White Tape, and is a curious nugget of wailing coprolalia. Mike plays all of the instruments and supplies the angry rocker-boy vocals as well, singing meanly about forcing his screaming guitar to painfully fornicate with the poor, unsuspecting listener’s facial area. For over twenty-three years, it remained a (relatively obscure) part the band’s past… lurking near the bottom of the Phish tar pits somewhere between “Dear Mrs. Reagan” and “Lushington,” keeping close company with “Anarchy” and “Revolution.”
Anyone who's listened to Mike's recent solo work knows that the bassist is a fan of odd time signatures. "Fuck Your Face" shows that this is hardly a new development. The song begins with "Frankenstein"-esque opening riff in 17/8 time (one measure of 8 beats followed by a measure of 9); the verses that follow are in 15/8 (an 8-beat measure followed by a 7-beat measure). As is often the case with Phish, it all adds up in the end, even if the journey is a little off kilter.
"Fuck Your Face" – 7/2/10, Charlotte, NC
As if to prove that no Phish song is ever truly dead (especially a song as intrinsically tenacious as "Fuck Your Face"), Phish resurrected this relic on 7/2/10 after 23 years and 1,413 shows in hiding, among the longest gaps ever between live performances of a Phish song. "FYF" entered semi-regular rotation after the bust-out, again stiffening at the regular Phish haunt of Alpine Valley on 8/14/10 (appearing on Alpine Valley 2010) as well as opening the second set on 10/19/10 in Augusta, ME, subsequently weaving its way in-and-out of a powerful “Mike's Song."
If there was any doubt about the important legacy of this song, that was decisively erased on 8/31/12 at Dick’s, when Phish played what is among the most universally praised shows of the 3.0 era, and the face-fucking lasted for the entire gig. The first letter of each song played that night spelled out “FUCK YOUR FACE,” before the song proper closed out the second set (followed by a “Grind,” “Meatstick” encore… get it?). That the show also included stellar versions of “Carini,” “Undermind,” “Runaway Jim” and “Chalk Dust” only served to ensure its legendary status.
Dick’s satisfied Phish’s face fucking for the entirety of 2013, right up until New Year’s Eve. On top of the JEMP truck, the band celebrated 30 years together in a set where the famous mockingbird took flight in the middle of Madison Square Garden, Mike said yes, and the past and future collided in a simple yet profound embrace between the band and their fans. Thank you for your support… and fuck your face! Phish’s Thrilling, Chilling visit to Las Vegas witnessed the most recent face fucking on 11/1/14.
The only known performance of the tune prior to 2010 took place on 4/29/87 at Nectar's, a point that was in some dispute among fans until recently. The sound quality on the only circulating recording is different from the rest of the show, leading some to believe the song was performed at a different gig and added to the 4/29/87 tape as filler. However, when Phish officially released their setlist file in 2010, Kevin Shapiro and his team asserted that "Fuck Your Face" was indeed the encore to 4/29/87 and was simply cut into the circulating tape out of order in the first set (likely explaining the difference in sound quality with the taper simply changing levels mid-show).
Regardless of the exact details of the debut performance, it's somehow reassuring to know that two generations of fans have now been subjected to this truly wonderful, face-fucking aural monstrosity.