We now sit on the brink of Summer Tour, with just over three days left until we congregate in Boston, and interestingly enough, this will be the second consecutive summer tour that is starting at a baseball stadium. Phish has been called up from Keyspan to Fenway this year, due to their super agent, Coran Capshaw, and they are primed to make their major league debut. Forging two subcultures of America- Phish and baseball – the Fenway opener may be more appropriate than meets the eye. While Phish’s psychedelic scene and baseball’s mainstream crowd may seem on different ends of the spectrum, the two cultures are far more similar than they appear.
A striking connection between the Phish fans and baseball fans are their love of statistics. What songs were played; how long since the last version; how long was the jam; how many shows have you been to; what songs have you seen and how many times? The list of numbers goes on and on, not so different than the national pastime’s fanatic following of home runs, RBIs, ERA, batting average, on-base percentage, strikeouts,WHIP, and what not. Yet it’s not just how these numbers accumulate, but how each group obsesses over them like fiends. Fantasy baseball leagues thrive on people’s desire to follow the numbers over the internet, and, ironically, this was the same original premise of Phantasy Tour. In each scene, fans will both glorify or criticize their heroes, depending on their performance on a given day, and they’ll make damn sure their voices are heard by someone. Grateful Dead aficionado, David Gans, once made a coherent analogy “Why Grateful Dead Shows Are Like Baseball Games,” and I’ve always thought the comparison to be spot on.
Both cultures come from rich traditions whose participants value and honor their past. The Boys of Summer, speaking of either Phish or baseball players, come from a lineage who forged a path for them to follow. Whether referencing former heroes of the diamond or the stage, the best became cultural icons of their era. Jerry Garcia, Joe DiMaggio, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Mays, John Lennon, Jackie Robinson, Miles Davis, Babe Ruth- these people were larger than life, transcending their sport or art and defining a place in time. With a certain charisma and flair for the dramatic, sectors of society gravitated around these symbolic figures who pushed their art forward.
The season of summer is a centerpiece for both Phish and baseball. Tours and games, reassuring fixtures of every year’s middle season, are always there to provide us with that fountain of youth; that magic reminding us of how life used to be. A double-header in the sun or a psychedelic adventure under the stars- both are spiritual endeavors that remind us of an innocent place inside of us; that kid who just wants to have fun all day. And so we go- to shows and to games- to feel that idyllic innocence and to discover what will happen, again and again, for a lifetime.
Both Phish and baseball are ways of life with their own rites, ceremonies, and innate, underlying credos. Steeped in history, fans of each like to sit around and talk shop all night, while time stands still. Debates, arguments, and smack talk are the fabric of both conversations; but in the end it is the process that is remembered rather than the results. Eternal bonds that could never be broken are formed within each culture-friendships- companions on this ride.
And the funny thing with both Phish and baseball is that some just don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Why the obsession? If people aren’t into them, they couldn’t care less, and sometimes, therein lies the beauty. Often thought of as mere concerts and games- nothing but recreation- the magic in both Phish and baseball lies within the hearts of those who believe in their ethos.
These timeless entities will converge in only three days, when we migrate to Fenway to see Phish battle The Green Monster in a showdown that is guaranteed to be an instant classic!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.22.95 Finger Lakes PAC, Canandaigua, NY < TORRRENT LINK
Often referred to as simply the “Fleezer” show, this second set is downright nasty. In a summer of experimental jams, this “Tweezer” ranks right up there. Dominating the entire second set aside from an opening “Theme,” this “Tweezer” winds through many stages of improv, including a section of The Who’s “My Generation.” A true beast in every sense of the word, this one holds a special place in Summer ‘956 history.
I: Sample in a Jar, Scent of a Mule, Ha Ha Ha, The Divided Sky, Guelah Papyrus, It’s Ice, Strange Design, Maze, Cavern, Sweet Adeline
II: Theme From the Bottom > Tweezer > My Generation* >Tweezer > Tweezer Reprise
E: Acoustic Army, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
*The Who- first time played
Source: DAUD/OTS Schoeps CMC5/mk4 > Aerco > Casio DA-R100 @ 48k