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. zzyzx Says:

    Right now is a track from the Jam Room… lots of GD gets played.

  2. fat bastard Says:

    palmer & others…Time Zones tonite. blast off!

  3. El Duderino Says:

    @ Gcub

    Maybe joining you guys at DC in a couple of weeks!

  4. gratefulcub Says:

    That’s what I heard from Leo. I told him he was like Bebe’s kids, he multiplies. Last I heard it was him and Marshall, now it’s a carload. More the merrier.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    where the heck has auntie em been? don’t tell me he actually works for a living.

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    El Dude you know you are going.

  7. Little Buddy Says:


    I was kidding. As my previous posts would indicate, I’m not into telling or asking the band to do anything, since it’s selfish to do so IMO. However, if I did make a selfish request – it would be to jam.

    However, I am completely comfortable telling fans what they should or shouldn’t do. 😉 JK, of course!!! The kids can do whatever they want. Just get the hell off my lawn!

  8. gratefulcub Says:

    Exactly LB. Everyone can do whatever they want to do. Just do it OVER THERE!

  9. Luther Justice Says:

    I hope you make it to DC @Dude. Get there and we’ll help you figure out the rest. I know you, like I, have so much history at that venue. Don’t know why shows kill there, but they do.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    uh oh. looks like we are close to finding out what happens when you mix the largest oil spill man has yet propagated upon this planet with the power of nature.

    let’s hope that storm off the bahamas stays east.

  11. zzyzx Says:

    Littlebuddy – hard to tell because a lot of people have suggested doing that for real. 🙂

  12. gratefulcub Says:

    Dude, you have tickets? I am 95% sure I have 2 pavs for Friday night that are about to become extras.

  13. fat bastard Says:

    its all about the corn fields lj

  14. El Duderino Says:

    Does anyone know anything about Proprietary Trading?

  15. El Duderino Says:

    @ gcub

    I do not have tix.
    Finances are extremely tight.
    Not sure what’s gonna happen.

  16. fat bastard Says:

    thats what im doing right now el dude

  17. El Duderino Says:

    @ gcub

    Leo, NTM have ga/lawn tix.
    Hangin’ in the lawn is cool with me especially at DC

  18. El Duderino Says:

    @ FB

    your doing P-Trading???

  19. fat bastard Says:

    and gc i will gladly buy those pavs. jwbengert at yahoo dot com

  20. fat bastard Says:

    yeah, for 10 years at the cbot. i trade treasury options.

  21. Little Buddy Says:

    I hear ya @zzyzx.

  22. gratefulcub Says:

    Then definitely don’t buy tix. Lawns at DC are free. Just show up.

    I’ve always been a lawn boy at the creek, but we decided for something different this year. 14th row night one, a few rows behind the soundboard night 2. A little excitement is starting….

  23. sven Says:

    @ yzx – “I know the myriad number of ways of pissing off the band from the front row” What are some other ones? Just curious as I never get close enough for the band to see me anyway.

  24. Luther Justice Says:

    Corn does seem to play a role @fb. Even w/reduced corn, due to development, the venue’s powers remain strong. I will say the walk back to Close by Campground is much easier w/the new sidewalks. You don’t have to walk down country roads or get chased off property by gun toting country folk when you try to take a short cut.

  25. bodi Says:

    how about they play a 3 minute bridge jam featuring Fatboy Slim’s Palookaville track that samples “Signs” lyrics over Low Rider: “And the sign said, ‘Long-haired freaky people need not apply'”… over and over and over. you know, just to fuck with people’s heads, which they should do more often.

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