Coincidences? Maybe So, Maybe Not…

The Phish experience always reminds us that we are part of something far greater than ourselves.  Uniting with thousands of others to immerse ourselves in universal spirituality can be a powerful process.  Often we have left shows in awe of life, its wonders, and its possibilities- all sparked by three hours of music.  It is this life-affirming quality, the glow deep down inside radiating through us, that separates a Phish show from most other events in the world.  People often connect Phish and religion, citing the parallel qualities of connection to a higher power, a portal directly to the divine.  While grandiose, this statement rings true for so many of us that we can not deny the overarching fact that Phish represents the universal spirit.  Can this spirit be accessed in other ways?  Sure, but never as routinely and consistently than at a Phish show.

Robert Mayer

Big Cypress- photo: Robert Mayer

Connections to the metaphysical realm often appear when stars align and things occur at Phish shows that seem too perfect to be a coincidence- but similarly impossible to control.  While Phish did their best to respond to natural situations with specific songs (e.g “Drowned” during a rainstorm at Darien’00),  this synchronicity between Phish, the natural world, and ourselves has at times been striking, even eerie.  When we inspect these rare “coincidences” that have taken place so many times at Phish shows, one begins to wonder- “Is something else at play here?”


Big Cypress Sunrise - photo: Mike

Many of the significant “coincidences” throughout the band’s career have involved weather.  Let’s look at some examples.  Would we have witnessed that surreal uber- psychedelic sunrise in Florida if Phish hadn’t just finished the most magical journey of our lives?  During the legendary 7.22.97 Raleigh show, was the band orchestrating the storm or the storm orchestrating the band?  Either way, there has rarely been such a congruency between stormy conditions and equally stormy music, with the highlight of this confluence being the lightening strike at the peak of the first set “Taste.”  Similarly, at Nashville ’99, the rainstorm that had been holding off all night burst wide open with the onset of the monumental YEM jam.  At the IT, as Phish improvised a blissful afternoon “Reba ” and began to explore a more abstract texture, simultaneously, a cool breeze blew across the crowd in unison with the musical vibe.  During the summer of ’99, a tour that featured a lot of dark music, many times Phish pulled into a new city and like clockwork, clouded darkness and inclement weather would envelop the area.  An obvious parallel between the natural world and Phish was the flooded, muddy quagmire that surrounded a particularly gloomy final weekend in Coventry, VT.  On the contrary, what artist painted the sky a thousand hues ranging from royal purple to majestic orange on the second night of The Went before the band and their massive crowd had a magical peak experience together?  One of these incredibly surreal moments took place in Japan.

John Greene

6.11.00 - Hibiya Park: photo: John Greene

Throughout the one outdoor daytime show in central Tokyo, the weather was gray and rainy all day long, yet as the band peaked the uplifting “Harry Hood” jam to close the set, the heavens parted giving way to a brilliant rainbow over the stage.  Colors in the void.  Coincidence?  I’m not so sure.

8.17.97 - Great Went sunset

8.17.97 - Great Went sunset

Transcending mere weather, another facet of Phish’s connection to the higher plane often involve our own personal experiences and thoughts.  We have all experienced a time- mine was at Deer Creek ’96- when the band steered a scary, menacing jam into lighter waters just as you were about to lose your grip on reality.  Did they do that just for me?  It always seemed so.  After a 30 minute Mike’s, in which the drum beat was speaking in tongues and the music was overtaking my sanity, “all I needed was a little Weekapaug,” my friend told me afterwards.  Could the band read our minds?  How did they know what we needed?  And what about all those times you knew what song was coming before they played a note?  Some sort of connection of consciousness was certainly present.  In fact, when my brother called that they would open the last set of The Went with NICU, I corrected him saying, “They won’t open with it, but may segue into it.”  Then boom- the set opens Buffalo Bill > NICU.  Bizarre?  I think so.

Adam Foley

1.1.00 - photo: Adam Foley

These random synchronicities that involve our own lives remind us that Phish is something so much more than music.  The stories go on.  A friend lost her hoodie during the 4.3 show, and after searching feverishly for it, decided to “let it go” only to find it at her feet when the set break lights came on.  In the days before cell phones, we would randomly meet up with our friends at the most bizarre points on the road, only to be heading to the same place.  And, this post can’t conclude without a mention of my prophetic “Bohemian Rhapsody” dream.  I wrote an entire post on it early on, but many of you probably never read it.  It was one of the most metaphysical occurrences of my life.  Check out the story right here!

We all know that Phish brings power greater than four musicians to the stage every night.  Harnessing the energy of the galaxy through their minds and instruments, the band are prophets delivering the word of the universe directly to our imaginations.  Privileged to be part of such mysticism, many events prove too powerful and parallel to ignore.  It is these mysteries, these small synchronicities, that often remind us we are part of a greater web of life, our existence unquestionably tied to those around us.  Some people call it magic, some people call it religion; we call it Phish.

What are some “Maybe So, Maybe Not” coincidences” you remember form your time with Phish?  Respond in Comments below!


8.3.03 IT – photo:



11.26.97 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT < LINK

Hartford Civic Center

Hartford Civic Center

Let’s keep the Fall ’97 train rolling.  Here we have one of my favorite shows from the tour. The second set opening segment of “Character Zero > 2001 > Cities > Yamar > Punch” rates right up there with anything from the run.  A sinister trip into the dark side, this Zero evokes the spirit of Jimi as Trey guitar screams in honor.  An often overlooked first set contains a chunky show-opening “Tweezer,” a thick “Gumbo” and a twisting “Split.”  Enjoy this gem from the fall that never stopped giving.

I: Tweezer > Sparkle, Gumbo, My Soul, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Dirt, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Taste

II: Character Zero > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cities > Ya Mar > Punch You in the Eye > Prince Caspian, Poor Heart, Tweezer Reprise

E: Cavern

Tags: ,

37 Responses to “Coincidences? Maybe So, Maybe Not…”

« Previous12Next »
  1. Gr8fulJoe5 Says:

    I remember this show well. Got stuck in traffic and barely made it in before Tweezer…

  2. mittens Says:

    Does anyone remember the summer tour opener right outside Kansas City? It was raining all day and just before showtime it stopped. About 30-40 minutes after the show it started pouring again. Im not saying it was the Gaia that stopped the rain or anything but it was nice that the rain stopped for the show!

  3. mittens Says:

    It was the 99′ Summer tour.

  4. Stephen Says:

    This isn’t about phish, but your story about your friend who lost her hoody reminds me of the time I lost my ID and credit card midway through the second set of a Panic show at The Big Kahuna in Wilmington, DE. I frantically searched as much of the floor as I could, retracing my steps from the bar to the bathroom to where my friends were dancing. Panic set in (no pun intended) as I debated the merits of driving after the show with no ID, lest I get pulled over by one of Delaware “finest,” and I had no money (sans credit card) to get a hotel.

    Towards the end of the set I gave up and decided I’d come all this way to enjoy a show so I might as well enjoy it, so I went back to my friends shrugging my shoulders. When the house lights came on my friend looked down at my feet and sure enough, my ID and credit card were peeking out from underneath my shoes. Lot beers and grilled cheese on me before heading home!!!

    Love your reading your blog every morning, keep it up!

  5. pyite Says:

    There are two tours that stand out for me. 12/1995 and 11/1997. That Hartford show gets swept out with the current of Hampton the previous weekend. I think it was extra cool not only because of the Tweezer opener and the entire second set, but it was right before Thanksgiving, kind of the New england homecoming everyone has that night before. Crazy fun. And it was in a shopping mall.

  6. Dannyboy Says:

    Can’t believe you didn’t mention the divided sky sunset at the Clifford Ball…that was quite a moment. Maybe you did mention it, its early and I read fast. Either way…great post. Phish was filled with magical moments like that all the time. Its what made Coventry so weird…for the first time, everything was working against them.

  7. dvsgel Says:

    How about the Divided Sky at the Clifford Ball? They nailed “The Pause” exactly as the sun was perfectly divided in half along the horizon. Never seen anything like it before or since.

    The intense Bathtub Gin jam in Camden during the intense rainstorm in 2000 was also a weather highlight.

    Great site. Keep up the good work!

  8. Jeff Says:

    Mr Minor – the spiritual connection you speak of is truly deep. While some of the coincidences you speak of are led by psychadelics, some others are the roots of the band being entertwined with the soul. On the psychadelic side of things, they always had a knack of answerering “questions” from darkness to light. For me the Mist that followed Mike’s in Hampton 03 was just what I needed to set me straight. I was begging for help in my head, and they gave it to me. But the spiritual connection is something much more real. I always knew how much the band meant to me, and how much it guided my life. they were my escape for 10 years. But the truth of that connection hit me during the Coventry Reba. I know many bash Coventry, it wasn’t perfect, but that Reba touched me deeply. It all hit me, growing up, getting old, moving on, endings and beginnings, everything that Phish was going through, I was going through and that’s the way it had been for the past 10 years. That realization made me cry like a baby during Reba, something I had never experienced at a show. (until Page lost it later on). So the spirittual conenction is so very real for me and many others. this is your best post yet. I can’t wait for them to come back!

  9. Powder Lips Says:

    On the dark side, my friend Linsey and I saw ‘Bob’ (twin peaks) durind a the first set of 9/29/00 vegas show. Creepy set all the way around.

    Even scarier Trey broke into “Saw it again” at Worchester 97′ when Fish was clearly not wearing anything under his dress.

    Also anyone ever notice how storms seem to follow tours?

  10. Matso Says:

    I think there are actually two types of mystery here, although both are about the way that something deeper than the material seems to break through with regularity at Phish shows.

    The first are the maybe so, maybe not coincidences, or divine randomness. For me, that was finding one of my boys in the crowd at Big Cypress 20 minutes before the show started (no cell phones, a naive plan to meet the night before scuppered by the traffic) – huge teary bear hug ensued. Also: crossing the tarmac at IT to head into the show, not knowing where my sister was, whether she’d made it, and walking head on into her car as she was arriving on the grounds. In both cases, I thought, surely, that just had to be. Maybe so, maybe not… These moments generally, however, don’t arise out of the music itself. They might complement the music, but they’re more along the lines of beautiful patterns that emerge among the general chaos of a show. Sometimes they’re personal (lost hoodies), sometimes they’re public (sunsets).

    The second, which Jeff is talking about, is less about coincidence than about something in the music taking on such deep personal significance that it seems to open up a part of us that was otherwise inaccessible (people who do yoga or meditate sometimes talk about randomly starting to cry during a session because some internal door somehow became unlatched). Again, this feels – and is – nothing less than a mystical experience.

    Salvation along these lines – and more tears – came for me during the Merriweather 98 Sweet Jane, during the Lemonwheel Fluffhead, and during the Oswego Have Mercy. These weren’t big jams to get lost in, but times when I gained some insight into an unsettled aspect of my life that made it feel different, and usually better. Someone the other day mentioned making life decisions while getting down to a 2001, which I think falls into this category. I think this is distinct from the heart bursting ectsasy of a great jam, which is probably the third and most addictive type of Phish spiritual experience.

    Anyway I haven’t found anything since Phish that has had the power to do any of this for me. To quote a certain pig, “I hope this happens once again”.

  11. Mathew Says:

    i had never seen a wedge come the creek in 2004, i think i had seen like around 27 or 28 shows at the time and after the antelope one of my friends asked what i thought they would play next and i said “something they don’t play often, something like the wedge,” and just seconds later they dropped into it. My friend just turned to me and said “Isn’t this the Wedge” and i just smiled and nodded and kept dancing on that nice deer creek lawn.

  12. Chris Says:

    8/6/96 Red Rocks was one of my more mystical Phish experiences. The energy during the first set was crackling. During the Rift, while the entire venue is totally getting down, Trey points to the crowd during the pause and says “this is red rocks, this is the edge”, and the place explodes. The band feeds on it, going into Suzy, then Simple. As Simple rolled out and Theme rolled in, the sunset was absolutely spectacular, a huge roll of puffy clouds lit up with orange, red, purple, and blue. These clouds brought us a treat in the second set.

    It started raining during tweezer, a gentle rain, enough to keep you cool, but not get you uncomfortably soaked. As they went into a Day in the Life, the rain was joined by perfectly placed thunder and lightning, lighting the sky up during key moments. It continued during Purple Rain, then through one of the best Hoods I’ve ever heard. It felt like we were all part of a singular organism, and the world was our oyster. The rain ended right before the encore

  13. Chris Says:

    On this topic, i caught this hartford show on a whim

    turned out to be the best show i saw out of the nearly 100 i would get to over the years 96-2004

    the thing that not a lot of people talk about was the themed “Jam” that trey plays in the tweezer opener is repeated many times throughout this tour. Most notably at the 12.13 Ya Mar opener. Its a melodic theme led by trey that crescendos multiple times and is basically a loosely composed piece that really knocks people out from the jump. I thought for a while that it might get transformed into a song or part of a song the way reba did in its early stages.

    If you havent listened to it please do. I stealth taped this show and when i went to college found some one with a real recording of it. It was like someone opening a window on a summer day. Truly majecstic and mind blowing. And thats just the 1st set. Set 2 is off the chain in every way. Another one of the weird 1997 tour things was trey playing a lot of Hendrix style riffs ala Foxxy Lady. Listen to the end of the Character Zero and you can hear it as well. At the tour closer Fishman actually starts singing Foxy Lady over one of the little ditty’s.

    Also, this show features the alternative lyrics to Cavern.

    Just a special show all around. great memories

  14. themanatee Says:

    Matso said : “Salvation along these lines – and more tears – came for me during the Merriweather 98 Sweet Jane, during the Lemonwheel Fluffhead, and during the Oswego Have Mercy. These weren’t big jams to get lost in, but times when I gained some insight into an unsettled aspect of my life that made it feel different, and usually better. Someone the other day mentioned making life decisions while getting down to a 2001, which I think falls into this category. I think this is distinct from the heart bursting ectsasy of a great jam, which is probably the third and most addictive type of Phish spiritual experience”

    this is so well said…and i agree wholeheartedly. the moments when our personal lives and the music so perfectly coalesce to bring about , salvation, in your words. one of the most significant times for me was at my third show…and it cemented the fact that Phish was it for me. Darien Lake 97 Hood. I was there with one of my best friends from high school, my older brother (some dude named Miner) and a few other friends. I had been in a fog of depression for the first time in my life probably for over a year at that point, maybe even 2. As the notes to Hood drop I hear my brother whisper to his buddy next to him his opinion about the Hood jam mirroring the path of birth through spiritual enlightenment (or something like that)….as in after “thank you mr. miner….”, we are “born”…it was like this moment was set up for me to be “reborn”, to be purged of the negative energey and gloom that had enveloped my mind and my thoughts…as the jam hit I have never had such a chill run through my body and up my spine as the wail of the crowd hit at the same time …. i literally awoke from my slumber … and that moment forever changed my life. I decided then and there there was no way I wasn’t driving 18 hours to Limestone and it was the best decision.

    Then, it was all confirmed during the second set first day Slave at the Went when I lost all connection to my brother and people I came with and found myself in the middle of the audience , fairly close to the stage, believing with every inch of my being that i was the luckiest person in the world to be standing in that field in Maine. Later, in the third set I was introduced to the dark side during the Halley’s jam …. and things became a bit more complicated as I began to understand that it was not all joy in the mudville…but that is the beauty – the whole spectrum is there in the void of phish.

  15. Gr8ful_PH Says:

    So there were many moments of wow during the years of Phish. To start, Raleigh was my back yard, so Ral. ’97 stands out as an OH MY! in my head. That storm with the lightning almost insink with the jams. But another memory was Burgetstown’s Star Lake in ’00. Me and 2 buddies drove 13 hours that day from eastern NC to get there an hour or so before show time. Just in time to get the head right before entering the show. Liquid does wonders for the head. Part of the way into the first set, I decided to go to the pisser, only to realize that I was too spun to find my way back to my buddies in the lawn. No worries…its all PHamily right? As much as I fought it through the show, I lost it a couple of times, imagining not finding my friends, and them setting out after the show without me. Throughout the second set, I was sure they were leaving without me, probably already gone for all I knew. So encores over, I head out the front gate to head back to the parkinglot hoping my buddies would still be around, and there is a line of cops keeping all the PHans from heading to the parking lot. As you know Star Lake, one of the lots is down a gravel hill and back up. The line of cops were backing everyone up and stopping everyone from walking that direction. I was sure my friends were going to be gone by the time I got to the parking spot now. Every few seconds , someone would test the cops and run through the line heading to the parking, and the line of cops would laugh but keep the line held anyway. This sent me for a loop. What the **** is going on. And all of a sudden, I heard someone yell, “Make way for the band!!!” A gate opens, the bands bus pulls out, down the hill, the cops clear, and PHans eveywhere chase the bus down the gravel hill. In all the mayhem, I am standing there in AWW….one of my buddies says next me, “You going to run or what?” They didnt leave! As my head cleared that evening, I realize how crazy my thoughts were…but still ending with some fond memories of the evening.

    Love the posts Miner…they are really bringing back old memories. Keep it up, I read your stuff daily.

  16. Rutherford T. Brave Says:

    I remember the sun finally shining through the mucky clouds at the Went right at the precise moment of a peak in Theme during the first set. That was pretty powerful.

    My favorite moment would have to be when me and a couple friends were exiting Lakewood after the phenomenal 7.4.99 show (I could write an entire memoir about my experiences over those 2 magical days in Hot ‘Lanta). Making our way through a sea of blissed out heads just outside the gates, I thought “A nice bottle of ale would be perfect right now.” About twenty steps later, we came upon a man with a tiny cooler standing beside our good friend Dave. Before we even said anything, Dave looked at us and said, “Gentleman, you look thirsty. Would you boys like some beers?”

    It was perfectly zen, which seemed to fit the mood of the entire time over those two days: PERFECT. Newcastle Brown has never tasted as good as it did that night, i’ll tell you that!

  17. Mrs. Miner Says:

    …or how they always seem to open a set w/ “My Friend, My Friend” just to mess with you at those times when you are questioning if you really should have taken more. Not just a dark song but usually followed by a set full of dark jams- it’s as though your ability to keep things centered is being tested by the band.

  18. Jerrydamule Says:

    Enlightenment, unchecked spirituality, ethereal connection… from my perspective, all of these things interwined themselves during 7 hourse of pure, non-stop raging that special, oh so special, millenium’s eve. Of course, there was that beautiful sunrise, as the PA bathed us ever so softly with “here comes the sun.” I am confident that there were numerous other celestial events of first impression, prompted by nothing other than the moltenous energy originating from that field in the everglades. But I would not have noticed them. I was so focused, so in the moment, for 7 hours straight! I witnessed it from about 30 yards out, stationed below the first speaker tower (page side). I did not leave the platform for 7 hours, not even to use the john (how I managed that, while maintaining top sanitization for everyone and everything around me is a story for another day; but it is amazing what the desire not to miss a single note, moment, or breath will permit). During the years since, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to convey what went down that night/morning. Something tells me that no explanation is necessary to the author of this site nor those reading it.
    great post, Miner.

  19. Matso Says:

    @Rutherford T Brave: that Theme is a great example! Thanks for reminding me about it. I think its the best version I ever heard. If you listen to it now, you can tell when the sun came out as Trey’s soloing becomes so much more purposeful and thematic.

  20. Chin Says:

    Gorge 97 it was like 115 degree’s and everyone was dying. Just as they got to the pause in divided sky the sun went behind the mountains and it cooled down like 20 degree’s. The place went nuts!

    Or at the Gorge 03 during the first set of the first night a cloud over the venue was in the perfect shape of a fish. My friend saw it first and within seconds eveyone was pointing up to it. Did Phish make the cloud change……..I think so….

  21. ben f Says:

    at IT, a friend got hit in the eyeball with a glowstick during the bowie peak at the end of the 2nd set. he left & we didn’t see him til the end of the show, back at the tent. his eye was all nasty & bloody, and the next morning he could barely open it. he went with 2 people to first aid (which was inside the concert area). got cleaned up, & then the 3 of them were allowed to stay inside the concert area & just hang out. so, they got center rail for the whole 2nd day of IT (and helped our whole crew get a spot dead center between soundboard & stage).

    so, busted eye & all, they’re on the rail, and the first 3 songs of the set are: daniel SAW the stone, i SAW it again, PUNCH YOU IN THE EYE!

    coincidence? maybe so, maybe not 🙂

  22. Denny Says:

    Great post Mr. Miner.

    11/26/97 was my first show, so keep the synchronicities coming, love the Jimi themes he was using that fall, all over the place.

  23. bingosbrother Says:

    First off, let me say that story about Bohemian Rhapsody is totally fantastic. You must have been truly in the zone, Mr. Miner. I have been waiting for this topic to come up for some time while hovering around this great new site so I could share this story with like-minded souls who can truly appreciate and possibly believe it. This is a story about my brother Jake, a special person who loved Phish. I will deal with this story and the necessary coincidental details only, as there is only so much time. My brother died just a few short hours after Phish played Farmhouse on the Conan O’Brien show.(“Woke this morning to the stinging lash, every man rise from the ash. Each betrayal begins with trust, every man returns to dust.”) Though we were many miles apart at this time, I choose to believe we shared that performance together as I was never able to ask him. The day after his death one of our close friends gave me a kunzite gem as a gift, as it supposedly promotes inner peace. Fast forward to seven years later and Phish announces that they will be no more. My remaining brothers and I decide that Deer Creek will be our final goodbye to the band, mostly because Jake and I experienced so many great memories in that venue.(Justin and Jim were too young to have raged that venue with Jake and I back in the day.) Justin could not go the first night so Jim and I rode together and would meet up with him the second night. And what a ride it was. What should have been about a 3 and a half hour drive from Chicago turned into a 7 hour trip. We walked straight from the lot into the show and had enough time to find a spot on the lawn and spark a much needed J only to have the boys bust into Llama before we could even finish. Shit was ON! Great first set, but the second set is when things got weird. Second set Halley’s opener(very important) and we are groovin. But throughout the set a girl keeps walking by very upset and looking on the ground for something. So finally we ask what she is looking for and she says she lost a piece of Kunzite that was very important to her. So we tell her we’ll keep a look out and get back to dancing. So later on, about a split second after they bust into Cavern(where crystals grow) I take a step back and feel something under my foot. I reach down and pick up a crystal of Kunzite about the size of a light saber! I tap Jim and he yells “holy shit! You found it! So we take turns dancing with this monstrosity just cracking up at the absurdity of this thing. So we wait in our lawn spot until the lights go up after the Waste encore(Jake and I shared this debut at Deer Creek 96) knowing she will be back again. So we see her walking towards us with her eyes to the ground and I walk up to her with the crystal behind my back and say “missing something?” and whip it out. This woman jumps on me and nearly chokes me to death with the ferocity of her hug and starts screaming her thanks. Then she says is there anything you want, any thing I can do for you? I tell her, “I just want to know your name.” She says “you’re not gonna believe this, but my name is Halley.” By the way my brother was born 1-18-79 and died 11-8-97. He was very special and we love him.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ wow. just wow.

  25. elenadance Says:

    the first phish song i ever heard was cavern.
    they played this for me at my very first and only phish show, atlanta 03.

    i also woke up with tweezer in my head that morning, and went ahead and said, “you know guys, they’re gonna play tweezer”…..not only was i right, but they closed the encore with a killer reprise 🙂

« Previous12Next »

Leave a Reply