Saturday 01/17/2015 by Lemuria

PHISH IS OLDER THAN THE GRATEFUL DEAD

Though a summer event will celebrate "the music of the Grateful Dead" (emphasis added), the last Grateful Dead show was 7/9/95, 30 years and 65 days after their first. Phish reached that age February 5th of last year, will be a year older than that in less than three weeks, and arguably* became the longest-performing jamband when they took the stage 4/26/14.

Though they are said to have expanded rapidly (even exponentially), Phish's growth was far more gradual than that of other bands, including the Grateful Dead. It wasn't until Phish was perhaps** 7 years old that they played 100 shows in the same year, something that the Grateful Dead did in their 2nd year - and that Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey's McGee, for example***, all did in their 4th. (The fastest growing of these was SCI, who played 226 shows in 1997, their sixth year, after two spare ones - though they've played relatively few shows since their 15th.)

And while Phish is thought to have stopped suddenly, their decline was also more gradual: The Grateful Dead's performance frequency peaked (at 150 shows) in their 5th year then dropped (to 4) in their 10th, whereas Phish didn't peak until their 8th year (at only 143 shows), followed by a relatively slow decline until their 18th. Yes, the Grateful Dead (lost and) replaced some personnel, an approach sort of built into the band's music, mystique, and even name. But they also played every year for 31 years, bounced back with abandon after their pause (in 1975), and played more shows per year than Phish in each of the bands' respective 16th through 31st years.

Phish, meanwhile, actually came to a full stop, twice, for almost two and then more than four years. Only WSP has had a (single) sharper drop - but with the exception of that one, WSP has been far more prolific: Only 17 months younger than Phish, they grew almost as quickly as SCI (and in line with both the Grateful Dead and Umphrey's), have typically played more shows at any age than any of these bands, and have played the greatest total number of shows, almost twice the number SCI has played (not Everyday, but the closest to it, at about 24% of the days since they started.)

For their age, Umphrey's McGee wins for consistency and stamina. The band has played more shows at any age than Phish or the Grateful Dead, played more shows in its first 15 years than Phish has in 31, and show no signs of slowing. By 2018, at only 21 years old, they'll have had more stage experience than the Grateful Dead.....though not Widespread, seemingly destined to outlast them all.*

Methods Notes:

Annual counts were drawn from DeadNet, Phish.net, Cheesebase, AllThings, and Everyday Companion.

* The Allmans started earlier, and only recently stopped, so maybe they're the oldest - if they're a jamband? And iterations of "the Dead" continue. Don't over think it; just look at the pretty lines and smile. :)

** We are aware of 94 shows in Phish's sixth year, but recognize that there may be others, long forgotten.

*** Don't be offended that I didn't include moe., Wilco, U2, Celine Dion, or anyone else. Some didn't have data; others didn't add value.

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Comments

, comment by Midcoaster
Midcoaster Love me some comparative stats; it smacks of spring training.
, comment by fluffdaddy
fluffdaddy I realize you did acknowledge the Allmans, I was thinking about them the entire time I was reading this. I think they do count as a jamband, and would very curious to see where they fall in this comparison.

I have to wonder how moe fits into this as well?
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy I would really love for this kind of analysis to have some kind of forecasting power. But is that even possible? Can you extrapolate and predict, say, the number of shows Phish is likely to play in 5 years? My guess is that you could say something about a trend here but, as we learned in 2004, you never know.

Just thinking out loud. Once again, @Lemuria blows minds!

Image
, comment by FUCKphish
FUCKphish So you count the 4 years Phish broke up as years they were still a band?
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @FUCKphish said:
So you count the 4 years Phish broke up as years they were still a band?
All bands have stopped at one point or another, and Phish took several ~6-month breaks prior to the "hiatus". Measuring continuity (e.g. "most continuous) would require either some arbitrary threshold for max allowed break, or some moving average based on a window of arbitrary length. Meanwhile, the it's not a "still a band" dichotomy, but a count that assesses difference from zero.
, comment by FUCKphish
FUCKphish So you did count the break-up years as years they were still a band. Gotcha

@Lemuria said:
@FUCKphish said:
So you count the 4 years Phish broke up as years they were still a band?
All bands have stopped at one point or another, and Phish took several ~6-month breaks prior to the "hiatus". Measuring continuity (e.g. "most continuous) would require either some arbitrary threshold for max allowed break, or some moving average based on a window of arbitrary length. Meanwhile, the it's not a "still a band" dichotomy, but a count that assesses difference from zero.
, comment by Cerias
Cerias I agree that the break-up years should not be counted. As the article/blog states, when referring to the Grateful Dead, "But they also played every year for 31 years", which Phish did not. To the author's credit, he did say "arguably"...
, comment by fluffdaddy
fluffdaddy Maybe its time for Nate Silver to do a guest spot on phish.net.

@Just_Ivy said: [quote]I would really love for this kind of analysis to have some kind of forecasting power. But is that even possible? Can you extrapolate and predict, say, the number of shows Phish is likely to play in 5 years? My guess is that you could say something about a trend here but, as we learned in 2004, you never know.

Just thinking out loud. Once again, @Lemuria blows minds!

http://img.pandawhale.com/post-28553-Steve-Jobs-mind-blown-gif-HD-T-pVbd.gif[/quote ]
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy @fluffdaddy said:
Maybe its time for Nate Silver to do a guest spot on phish.net.

@Just_Ivy said:
I would really love for this kind of analysis to have some kind of forecasting power. But is that even possible? Can you extrapolate and predict, say, the number of shows Phish is likely to play in 5 years? My guess is that you could say something about a trend here but, as we learned in 2004, you never know.

Just thinking out loud. Once again, @Lemuria blows minds!

http://img.pandawhale.com/post-28553-Steve-Jobs-mind-blown-gif-HD-T-pVbd.gif[/quote][/quote] />
Ha! I have to believe that somebody at 538 is a Head :)
, comment by phishiNYG
phishiNYG Would like to see where dark star compares to these bands. They are always on the move playing great shows.
, comment by ArtieKay
ArtieKay Hmmm. I expected more John Mayer stats...
, comment by gratefuldave
gratefuldave Umm....Max Creek has been playing for 42 or more years now.
, comment by Lemuria
Lemuria @gratefuldave said:
Umm....Max Creek has been playing for 42 or more years now.
Santana for almost 48...
, comment by SymphonicDelight
SymphonicDelight Buy! Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell! Sell!
, comment by gtrips
gtrips The only problem with the statistics is that they don't reflect HOW these bands played over the respective years. Does Phish 2.0 have the equivalent value of The Grateful Dead's last few years as some would suggest these were these bands 'less provocative' years?
How about consistency within these years? I've seen lots of Dead shows; some incredible others forgetful. I've seen lots of UM and moe. shows and none were ever as bad as the worst Dead show I ever saw; and none were better than some of the best Dead shows I have seen. Phish has their lulls (ie 1/1/15) but I have never seen a totally sucks Phish show.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert pretty sure the Biscuits dropped 100 shows in year 3/1997
, comment by Hood91
Hood91 Allmans are not a "jamband." It doesn't matter that they played legendarily long and improvisational versions of their songs on stage. The definition of a "jamband" - at least to me - is a band where most fans go, "you can probably gloss over the studio stuff." No one with a functioning brain stem has ever said "you can probably gloss over the studio stuff" about the Allman Brothers.

Now, I don't want to instigate an argument, because The Dead (and even Phish to a lesser extent) have great studio material, *but the reputation of these bands still relies mainly on their live prowess.* This is simply not true of the Allman Brothers. They are legends of their time and genre independently of the 40 minute "Whipping Post" from the Filmore. (The term "jamband" itself actually ignores "style"; all it tells us is that the band likes to play long and instrumentally. So if we're even going to buy into that term and its associated meanings, @Lemuria was absolutely correct to exclude the Allmans.)
, comment by vinniebart
vinniebart Has anyone thought about The Radiators?
, comment by hefty
hefty Thanks for adding moe. In the consolation message...... I'm pretty sure they would make a major impact on this thing. Not offended, just curious why not put out our there for people to see.
, comment by sequoiadean
sequoiadean The Radiators - good choice to add.

And what about Los Lobos - I would bet they've easily played more shows than any of these bands, just check their setlist database:

Los Lobos setlists
, comment by thinktankted
thinktankted @vinniebart said:
Has anyone thought about The Radiators?
http://www.ancientfurnace.net/ />
33 Years 4410 shows
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