Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs

Merriweather 2010 (T.Wickersty)

Song requests via signs has always been a part of Phish show culture. But ever since Trey adopted the moniker of the “all-request band” early this summer, honoring more than a few audience member’s calls, the number of personal billboards has grown exponentially. Standing at the back of the floor in Alpharetta, as Phish took the stage for the first set of their final show, the sheer number of signs was absurd. What has always been a fun band-audience interaction has caught like wildfire this summer, causing seas of cardboard cavorters.

This 2010 craze started in Portsmouth, Virginia, when Phish came out on a sunny evening and a “Tube” sign immediately caught Trey’s eye. Everyone in the intimate amphitheatre saw Trey’s shifting attention, and began to chant, “Tuuuuuuuuube!” A minute later, an asteroid crashed into nTelos Pavilion, and “Sign-Mania” officially began.

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

Two shows later in Hartford, Trey preceded the “Sleeping Monkey” encore by announcing that they were playing it for a guy who held the sign throughout the previous night. After this second vocal acknowledgement that Trey is reading these signs, fans began flocking to the front holding placards of all shapes and sizes. Varying from the standard Sharpie-on-poster-board to elaborate, cut-out and painted wooden song titles, Phish fans unleashed their renowned creativity in this renewed endeavor.

Without hanging out up front at every show, it is impossible to know how many setlist choices were actually influenced by fans signs, but there were certainly more than a few. In fact the central theme of Merriweather’s second night – summer’s most well-loved set – was sparked, believe it or not, by a sign. A group of fans had traveled for multiple shows carrying a “Saw It Again” sign on wooden dowels, and finally, on Sunday night in Columbia, Maryland, their wish was granted in the biggest way. Segueing from one sign-inspired song to another, Trey brought the band from “Meatstick” into “Saw It Again,” the latter becoming the well-known foundation for a Phishy escapade.

This tour-long interaction between Trey and the audience came to a peak in Alpharetta on July 3rd. Not only did Trey respond to a sign calling for “McGrupp,” he reached down, pulled the sign on stage, and held it high before starting the rarity. After watching Trey egg on his fan base, and the ludicrous amount of signs on the 4th of July, something tells me this trend isn’t coming to a screeching halt. But just think, every time Trey responds to a sign, he could have been on the verge of dropping “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” So there are two sides to this coin.

If fans are going to continue bringing signs to Phish shows en mass, we might as well set some guidelines for this fanboy behavior. If you’re going to be that guy or girl who jumps up and down trying to catch Trey’s attention with your artwork, here are three things to consider.

"Tela" Sign During "Tela" - 6.27 (G.Lucas)

1. Don’t mess with peoples’ experiences. – If you’re sign takes four people to hold properly due to its outstanding craftsmanship, maybe it’s not the best idea to bring it onto the floor at a GA show. Additionally, until they make transparent poster board, if Trey doesn’t choose your song, put down your sign and try harder next time!

2. Consider the entire audience. – Bring signs that will benefit everyone! For example, a “Crosseyed and Painless” or a “Cities” sign could payoff for the entire audience, because if Trey chooses to recognize either, the show will immediately elevate. On the flip side, don’t bring a sign for “Waste” just because it’s your girl’s first show and it’s her favorite song off Billy Breathes. Trey is so happy these days, it could catch his eye and make him ditch “Ghost” for his heartfelt ballad. Seriously.

3. Know what’s going on. – With a little setlist research, you can avoid looking like a total noob. Dial up your trusty Phish website to see what the band played at least the night before, and leave those signs at home. Make sure the over-sized cardboard you choose to carry to the show, through the lot, by security, and around with you all night at least has some relevance.


Jam of the Day:

David Bowie” 6.19 II

This “Bowie,” in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above all other 2010 versions.




6.19.2010 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Torrent

6.19.2010 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Megaupload

6/19 SPAC Pollock

The opening night of SPAC, featuring one of the “Rock and Rolls” of Leg I, and the freshest “Bowie” to hit the streets in some time.

I: Tweezer Reprise, Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, Axilla, Fluffhead, Bathtub Gin, Suzy Greenberg

II: Rock and Roll > Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Halfway to the Moon* > Prince Caspian, Joy, David Bowie, Show of Life

E: The Squirming Coil, Character Zero, Tweezer Reprise

Source: Neumann U89i > Grace Design Lunatec V3 + Neumann KM184 (DIN ) > Grace Design Lunatec V2 > Oade Concert Modified Edirol R-44

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798 Responses to “Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    I think I first heard Primus in like 5th grade – wild stuff. I think I like Pork Soda the best – definitely their darkest album in my opinion. I dig their live shows too – they can pack some dark improvisation into their shows – especially like 2004 when they played Frizzle Fry/Sailing The Seas in full

    (I’ve just heard bootlegs, have never seen them)

  2. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    i didnt give great insight into my punk-self but that really was and still is a huge part of my life. probably my closest musical obsession after Phish. every once in a while i’ll still spin some bad religion or sex pistols or something just for fun. its hard though, listening to that stuff, after knowing what Phish has done with their career…

  3. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    yea primus was actually my first escape from punk. i liked phish but i wasnt a PHISH HEAD till probably 6 months to a year later

    primus completely filled up my time between punk and phish.

    and you should have sen my face when i first heard that oysterhead existed!

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    I never really went through a legit “punk phase” persay, but that and Slayer and the like was generally my skateboarding soundtrack in like 6/7th grade. 😉 (laugh, you know you want to)

    Then I found Ween in 8th grade, Phish the summer before Freshman year, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. And Phish I’m sure has led me to TONS of other music (jazz, bluegrass, funk, etc) that I probably never would’ve found if not for Ween/Phish. Funny how those things turn out – it really is the little things a lot of the time.

  5. vegas wolfmans Says:

    T-Ghost- Friday and Saturday for Greek, DC>Alpine. You?

    Mr Bungle is hard to listen to and I love the freaky cacophonous more than most. Mr Bungle= Carnival Ska Metal on Promethazine.

  6. Corey Says:

    @vegas wolfmans, Are you the Bike sign guy? Dammit. I believe willowed mentioned he’d be making the Summer of ’89 sign for his wife. That job is now taken. I don’t even know what that other song is. 🙂

    Seriously though, I can’t stand the signs. I’ll just have to keep the faith that Manteca will ooze out of Stash in Grecian style.

  7. BrandonKayda Says:


    That sounds about right haha. Mr Bungle – California, to me, sounds like what would happen if David Lynch and Hunter S Thompson took a bunch of speed and tried to write a Motown/Beach/Jive/Jazz album. It is completely insane, but some part of me loves it.

  8. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Doing all the Greeks, then back for couch tour. I’m not worried though cause fall tour NW run is a lock 🙂

  9. Corey Says:

    @BK, ever hear Kevorkian’s record with the Morpheus Quintet, a very still life?

  10. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    And the mariners, who just ended a 28 inning scoreless streak, just scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th against the red sox.

    That’s about as likely as going to a phish show and catching a fuck your face. Roughly.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Greek is going to be fantastic – I mean just the energy alone will be worth the trip. I’m psyched for you @Tzara’s and all other BB’ers who are hitting it up – there are a good few of you. C, Sumodie, AW, who else?

  12. BrandonKayda Says:


    No I have not. Is it worth checking out? I’ll have to look it up.

    There are so many good recs on here that sometimes one doesn’t know where to start! 🙂 Keep in mind that is a good, good thing.

  13. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Have you ever heard of Secret Chiefs Three? I saw them open for Claypool in Seattle last year and they were as super freaky as they wanted to be- downright creepy. When informed they were produced by Trey Sprunace with other members of Bungle it all made sense. Fuckin’ weirdos.

  14. Corey Says:

    I leave on Sunday to drive west to SF, meet up with my wife after two months and see the 5th/6th Greeks, hence the Grecian reference earlier.

    leg II: Greek5/6>vacation>Alpine14/15>vacation>BeantownendofAugustish(ME)

    Can’t wait.

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    T Ghost- I’m gonna be in and out like Sugar Ray- direct from Bellingham Friday Afternoon and returning Sunday, but it would be cool to hook up.

    Bedtime for this guy.

    Go M’s!

    Corey- I am the Let Me Lie sign guy. Get it straight.

  16. Corey Says:

    @BK, Merely mentioning it for shock value, as you mentioned quite a mash up of mucical approaches .

    The Kevorkian record is a bizarre soundscape. He’s an intelligent man, with an uncomfortable sense of humor, from what I’ve gathered, and this just makes me more curious about him. There’s that movie that’s been out recently (I think, but can’t remember the title) that is similar in its strangeness to the music he’s created.

    He paints too. Out there stuff, for these eyes. He’s definitely an artist of many a shape and certainly led an interesting life.

  17. Corey Says:

    @vegas, Wait, that songs about a Bike!?!? I’m on to something here…

  18. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    @vegas, yeah man. Let’s do cellphones before. If not, that marymoor furthur show might be fun.

  19. BrandonKayda Says:


    I just looked up some of his art – very interesting, to say the least. Strange, which I like.

  20. The Light Between Says:

    Just got the email. Trides have shipped. But not Greeks yet? Curious.

  21. ELLJEFE Says:

    WAIT. Mr Bungle! One of the best bands ever. Mike Patton is a small g god. One of the most versatile vocalists ever. Sorry,Long time lurker 1st time caller. I heart this board. You peeps make me tingley. Thanks.

  22. ELLJEFE Says:


  23. 757phan Says:

    Great rules on the signs Miner.

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