Vocals: Trey (lead), All (backing)
Albums: Party Time
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2014-01-21
"It's party time, people!" was a mantra for most of the western world in January 2009. Barack Obama had just been inaugurated as President of the United States of America. Seemingly, the bleak darkness that hung over the planet for the previous eight years was fading as the Bush-Cheney Cabal withdrew from their seat of power.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, a similar darkness was receding from the Phish world at the same time. Discounting the ill-fated "mid-term election" that Phish 2.0 and its subsequent implosion and impeachment represented; Phish fans had suffered through a similar interminable wait in the darkness for eight long years. About a month before Election Day 2008, the due date for the birth of Phish 3.0 had been announced. Scarcely a month after President Obama's inauguration, wherein the "Party of the People" were back in the highest office, the party people of Phish emerged from the mother ship to begin their campaign toward new heights with a newfound spirit of "Light." During the time between, the band hit the studio.
Phish – ”Party Time” 12/31/09, Miami, FL
The studio version of "Party Time" was recorded at The Barn in January 2009, but it took thirty shows to make its debut at Merriweather on 8/15/09, the day the party people of India celebrate their independence from our common former imperial masters. Following up on another Fishman lyrical tour de force, "Ha Ha Ha," extensive research (no, not really) reveals this as the non-instrumental Phish song combo with the fewest words – "Ha," "Party" and "Time." The other three appearances in 2009 were all in prominent set-opening spots, inaugurating the best party of the touring year at Festival 8 (10/30/09), opening the show with the best-regarded jam ("Seven Below" -> "Ghost") of the year at TAFKAK (11/28/09) and providing the "Auld Lang Syne" intro at the Miami NYE gig to ring in 2010.
It's first appearance of 2010 (6/17/10 Hartford) seemed innocuous enough but served as the launchpad for a thrilling "Down with Disease" -> "Sand" combo, arguably one of the best jams of early summer '10. For the two subsequent 2010 appearances, Phish would declare it was “Party Time” to open the second set of the 8/10/10 Telluride show and as a celebration of Higher Ground owner/GM Kevin Statesir’s birthday (10/23/10) at the Mullins center. Three of the four 2011 performances also served as second set openers with the most notable if not obvious assignment as a prelude to the 12/31/11 NYE revelry at MSG. The lone outlier from the second set opener pattern (7/3/11 at Superball IX) was far more confusing. Seriously, who thought jamming “Party Time” between “No Quarter” and “Ghost” was a good idea?
Phish – ”Party Time” 12/31/12, New York, NY
“Party Time” distribution during 2012 was identical to the previous year, with three summer shindigs (6/19/12 Portsmouth, VA with Carl "Geerz" Gerhard on trumpet; 7/8/12 SPAC; and 8/19/12 BGCA) and a featured slot on NYE. The 12/31/12 MSG performance saw “Party Time” elevated from second set to third and in keeping with the golf theme, may well represent the song’s pinnacle as far as pin placement goes. A singular 2013 performance (10/26/13 at the DCU Center) further supports the idea that the party may soon be over.
The same could be said for the Obama administration, which despite its best efforts has been unable to make real the wholesale “change” for which so many had hoped. Wars and terrorism continue unabated, the NSA is still listening, environmental catastrophes are increasing in number and severity, economic malaise persists under a false mantle of “recovery,” and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is hamstrung by technological failure. The new boss and his approval ratings, are unfortunately essentially the same as the old boss as we enter the administration’s sixth season. Though time remains and much work is left to be done, our eyes and ears are already turning toward the future.
Jon Fishman en “Fuego” in 2016!