Our National Pastimes

4198_1152308280374_1007653377_30464754_3849393_n-21We 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.

fenway_park_home_plate_and_green_monsterA 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.

Phish @ Keyspan Park - 2004 (MSJ)

Phish @ Keyspan Park - 2004 (MSJ)

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.

phishfenwayThe 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.

Stage at Fenway

Stage at Fenway

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!



6.22.95 Finger Lakes PAC, Canandaigua, NY < TORRRENT LINK


Summer Tour '95

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

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240 Responses to “Our National Pastimes”

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  1. ColonelJoy Says:

    When the uninitiated ask me about being a Phish fan, I nearly always bring up the sports fan analogy. Beyond the stats, there is even the rivalry between jambands (not the bands so much, but their silly fans)…your band sucks, mine is god, that sort of thing…..Kang swallows

  2. Rutherford Says:

    See Y’all in Camden!

  3. yisseroff Says:

    “…and they’ll make damn sure their voices are heard by someone.” So true. I had this idea last year, wondering why you don’t find any closet sports fanatic- all the people obsessed with statistics need to find someone to listen to them. I concluded that the whole statistics thing is merely formed to boost fans’ egos- the more statistics you know, the bigger of a “fan” you are. Is there inherent pleasure knowing how many times a certain player hit to left field off a certain pitcher at home when it’s 63 degrees and slightly cloudy? Hell no, but it sure seems impressive to the guy next to him, which in turn boosts the ego of the statistician.

  4. harpua77 Says:

    Nice analogy w/ Baseball, Miner. To take it a step further, it so appropriate that Phish is opening at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, and therefore Red Sox nation. If the whole baseball/music fan analogy holds true, what better team to represent Phish, than the Red Sox? Aside from the obvious New England connection, the Sox are a team with such a rabid fanbase they travel across the country, following their team. On many occasions Red Sox fans been known to out number the home team while the Sox are on the Road. What better place for Phish to set up shop than in the Sox center field, right next to the green monster and the 420′ deep center field? 3 days to go!!!!!

  5. ColonelJoy Says:

    @ yisseroff:

    Statistician ego is a precious thing.

  6. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Why do my Fenway tickets green and look generic compared to te ones Miner posted?

  7. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Still no PTBM for my PItts. Deer creek and Alpine. I haven’t evan got a tracking email yet. Should I panic yet?

  8. HarryHood Says:

    Yet another great post Miner! The baseball analogy is very appropriate and very true. As a longtime Sox fan, I can tell you that the only comparision that you missed was the fight to obtain tickets! I’ve sat for hours in front of the computer in my cozy little “virtual waiting room” watching game after game sell out. Sox tickets have gotten nearly impossible to obtain through normal outlets. StubHub, along with other “legal” scalpers, make a killing off of the resales just like they do for Phish shows.

  9. T.S. Eliot Says:

    The real question is if the boys will reserve a trampoline for John Henry to make up for their Hampton YEM gaff.

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    just got asheville tix yesterday, and knoxville confirmations have just come, tix due tomorrow – I wouldn’t panic yet. I’m surprised they won’t have everything out by this weekend, though .. that’s quite an inconvenience for anyone doing the whole tour.

    huge baseball fan here – I had gotten away from the sport during the steroid era and while I pursued my phish obsession .. phish went away and I rediscovered baseball (thanks to a rigorous testing process pitching and speed rule again!) .. and now the two vie for my attention on the internet.

    It is cool how much the fanbases dovetail – it seems like the need for a long attention span, appreciation of small details (a tease in a piano solo or a strike 3 curved in over the outside corner) and the love of stats are some of the big reasons. Oh – and Lets go Mets! (don’t blow it in sept again!)

    One thing I wonder though – is phish themselves baseball fans? Seems Trey is more into hockey or basketball ..

  11. Dbone Says:

    @ yisseroff
    on one level you are right and I agree with you. However, any half-way obsessed stat junkie of Phish or baseball would argue that its not necessarily about the ‘pleasure’ of knowing these intricate and arcane details about our passions, its about a deeper and more nuanced understanding of what’s going on which allows you to enjoy it that much more on another level.

    to keep the analogy going. a casual baseball fan can have an awesome time going to the park, getting some hot dogs and beer, spending the afternoon with friends in the sun and watchin the ball game. A stat junkie or even someone with a bit of a deeper understanding of what’s going on still gets all the same joy that the casual fan does, he also finds the game much more interesting because he knows that this batter tends to hit this pitcher’s fastball hard and there’s a guy on first with some wheels so you have to wonder if they’re going to call off-speed stuff and risk the stolen base at the risk of getting hit hard. Then you look at the other fielders to see if you can read anything by the way that they are shifted, etc. etc.

    Same goes with the phish fan. You can go to the show, hang out before and after, do your thing and hear some cool music if you are a casual fan. A more hard-core fan gets all that stuff too but also goes in knowing what’s been played the days before, what hasn’t, wondering if there will be any break outs, if they’ll go into simple, H2 or something else after Mike’s, if trey was teasing moma during tweezer and if he actually was, does that mean they’ll go into or will it come back in the 2nd set, etc. etc.

  12. PB Says:

    Miner – well done with the analogy. As a huge baseball fan, I completely relate.

    I have to say though, as I scrolled down I was hoping that you would post a link to the only “ballpark” show I ever saw, and perhaps the only ballpark show Phish played prior to Keyspan Park,

    The Ballpark, Old Orchard Beach, ME 7/3/94

    Just a complete rager of a show. Nothing particularly stands out from a setlist perspective. But the boys had the fire in their bellies this night. One distinct memory was freaking out in left field as fireworks were literally going off during an Antelope that tore my head apart. Probably one of my all-time favorite shows that I ever attended. I have never been able to nail down a great sounding copy of this show, if you come across something, please link up.

  13. PB Says:

    @ DBone – Well said. As a huge National League fan, there is nothing I enjoy more than a team that knows how to play small ball…hit and run, steal, bunt runners along. These seemingly little things add up to runs.

    With Phish or the Grateful Dead, it’s not so much about the “Big Song” for me, but it’s what happens in the segues between songs or the interplay between Trey and Page or Mike and Jon. Listening for the subtleties that make this band unique.

  14. PB Says:

    @CowFunk – Lets Go Mets! Right now I have Metsblog open in a tab and of course I regularly follow Miner.

  15. bhizzle Says:

    from PTBM:

    “Dear Phish Fans,

    Tickets for the first leg of the summer tour (May 31 – June 21) will begin shipping as early as May 15th, 2009 via UPS to the shipping address on your order. You can expect your tickets to ship approximately 2 weeks prior to the first show on your order. “

  16. bhizzle Says:

    Also I am calling Harpua at some point at the Phenway show with the story of Jimmy making the Bigs with a “Centerfield” soundtrack.

  17. Chalkdustin Says:

    Just got tracking email for my Knox today. Haven’t gotton one for DC or Alpine.

  18. MW Says:

    “…Steeped in history, fans of each like to sit around and talk shop all night, while time stands still.”

    Miner…didn’t you mean

    “…Steeped in history, fans of each like to sit around and talk shop all night, while time turns elastic…in and out of focus…”

    this may of been touched on, but i haven’t had time to read all posts but it’s the environment, the vibe, the sunshine, the smell of the grasses…these are things that are embedded in my brain from both phish shows and baseball games…those priceless moments that stay with you forever…i mean who doesn’t vividly remember their first baseball game or phish show like it was yesterday>

  19. ColonelJoy Says:


    Gordon for sure is at least a casual Sox fan. He made a bizare Carl Yastrzemski reference at a Coppenhagen show in 98’….he is originally from Mass, too.

  20. nonoyolker Says:

    Another perfect write-up Miner!
    @ Harpua77 – Exactly! What better team to pair w/ Phish, the SOX! The anti-establishment heroes. Shit is peanut butter and jelly…

  21. Little Buddy Says:


    Good call. Phenway is ripe for a Harpua.

  22. ColonelJoy Says:

    Or Maybe a Forbin’s….it definately has major narration potential.

  23. HarryHood Says:

    This may have been discussed before, but does anyone know exactly why they are starting the show so early??? At first I was thinking that they might be planning a surprise 3rd set or something of that nature, but I’m guessing that it’s maybe due to a noise curfew. Anyone know for sure?

  24. ColonelJoy Says:

    Probably just rules put down by the ballpark ownership.

  25. R1 Says:

    does anyone out there know if it’s easy/plausible to walk from Back Bay station to Fenway?

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