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. Leo Weaver Says:

    Mornin’ folks! Enjoyed some deelish grilled chicken, ‘taters, and cold beers with Dude and Guyute last night…perfecting the recipe and technique for some tasty wings at the Closeby shindig.

    Re: signs…I’m in the camp that couldn’t keep up with one if I tried. And the thought of lugging one around is kinda foreign to me. I don’t mind them as long as they’re not in front of me. Someone at the Charlotte TAB show had a sign for f-ing Tweezer…right in the middle of the crowd. And they held the damn thing up constantly through the first couple of songs. I think the “put your damn sign down” chant made ’em rethink things. But a sign for Tweezer at TAB??? Really??? I think the intentions for Wilsonthedog’s Waste sign were in the right place (didn’t he propose to his special lady friend during or something?)…but it certainly opened him up to some good ol’ fashioned ragging.

  2. El Duderino Says:

    Risky job?

    There’s an entry level position here in Charlotte that I’m seriously thinking of applying for.

  3. zzyzx Says:

    sven – actually all of my ways start out, “Assume it’s 1993…” so they’re not very helpful anymore…

  4. voopa Says:

    Event reminder: Phish

    Hey thanks for that, Ticketmaster! I completely forgot!

  5. albert walker Says:

    It’s trading with the banks $$

    Trading a prop desk at a big bank used to be where all the big $$ was made

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    @AW…thanks for the tunage.

    @T3…Auntie Em’s around, I’ve been in contact with him via email. He’s been pretty busy lately I think. Trying to get all his work done before he hits DC…he’s got a big trip to Europe after that. And his job requires him to pull wires through houses under construction, which isn’t conducive to keeping up here.

  7. fat bastard Says:

    its not too risky for me…and you. worst case scenario, you get fired. it’s their money. of course they also get the lion’s share of the profits. go for it. doesnt take a genious (sp) ya just gotta show up every day and try to take good risks.

  8. El Duderino Says:

    @ gcub

    Lawn/GA – Free or cheap = Priceless

  9. bouncin fan Says:

    Trading with a banks $$ el dude

  10. El Duderino Says:

    @ FB

    Did you make anything in your first months on the job while learning the craft?

  11. sumodie Says:

    @t3: ha! i almost added ‘in a space outta sound’ last nite -way to go the xtra mile!

  12. sq3.0 Says:

    Saw many Lizards and FYF signs in Raleigh and Charlotte. I’m in agreement w/ Miner. I don’t mind it if people are holding up signs for great tunes or bustouts, but you don’t need to hold up a YEM or Fluffhead sign in front of me for the entire show. Hit 3 shows in a row, and you’re guaranteed a YEM or Fluffhead.

    Can’t wait to get indoors for Fall Tour. Is is just me, or are the crowds much more respectful and into the music at arena venues?

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, and I am about to start a little project of getting all of DJ Kicks series that I have access to uploaded as well (Nightmares one is superb). these times between tours are good for remembering that there actually is a lot of fantastic music that I sued to listen to!

    also, interested to hear your thoughts on the Larrson trilogy (offline, of course) when you finish that up.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    *used to
    (not sued to)

  15. fat bastard Says:

    well i started as a “runner” its way different now and esp. in charolette because of a lack of a trading floor. i did have a small salary when i started. what would ya be trading?

  16. El Duderino Says:

    @ FB

    There are no specifics of what will be traded. Like I said, thinking of seriously applying for it though. Compensation is based on trading performance…

  17. El Duderino Says:

    Brand new C. Miller source:

    Grateful Dead 12/13/90

    McNichols Arena – Denver, CO

    Recording Info:
    SBD -> Dat (48k)

    Transfer Info:
    Dat (Sony R500) -> Sound Devices 744T -> Samplitude Professional v11.1 -> FLAC
    (3 Discs Audio / 2 Discs FLAC)

    All Transfers and Mastering By Charlie Miller
    June 27, 2010

    — Set 2 is seamless
    — This source has no diginoise or flaws and needed no patches like other sources

    Set 1:
    d1t01 – Tuning
    d1t02 – Jack Straw ->
    d1t03 – Sugaree
    d1t04 – Wang Dang Doodle
    d1t05 – Friend Of The Devil
    d1t06 – Me And My Uncle ->
    d1t07 – Big River
    d1t08 – Ramble On Rose
    d1t09 – Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
    d1t10 – Valley Road

    Set 2:
    d2t01 – Tuning
    d2t02 – Help On The Way ->
    d2t03 – Slipknot! ->
    d2t04 – Franklin’s Tower
    d2t05 – Saint Of Circumstance
    d2t06 – Eyes Of The World ->
    d2t07 – Drums ->
    d3t01 – Space ->
    d3t02 – The Other One ->
    d3t03 – Morning Dew
    d3t04 – Box Of Rain

    d3t05 – U.S. Blues

  18. angryjoggerz Says:

    Hey all,
    Nice playlist, AW, will check out later when I get home.

    Last night amongs the philosophy/graf/books convo I posted that I upped two new things to my mediafire, click my name. Enjoy!

    Luis Gasca – Light for Those Who Chant
    Said to be the lost Santana LP (he plays on it), also has heavy Miles Davis vibes, very cool lp.

    DJ Shoes – Eccentric Beats
    This dj did this amazing edit mix with all samples from the Numero Group, then they found it, were gonna sue him, but dug it so much that decided to go and seize the masters at the plant and put it out themselves. Kinda gangsta move. Super fresh, for beat heads, soul heads, heads.

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    It is nice to get new music when you are starting your phiatus.

  20. BingosBrother Says:


    Very clever.

    miners sign : GREEK JAM

  21. Beantownhead Says:

    I’ll give a little shout out….You can thank my boy Ev and his girl Lauren for that first set Funky Bitch first night up at SPAC. She had a well crafted sign. The front simply read “I Did Fishman” and the back read “Funky Bitch”. Obviously hearing your requested song can totally add to your shows experience, and make your night, but I agree that if you go through the trouble of making a sign, carrying the thing through the crowd, and then holding it up in between every song (this better be the case otherwise I may chuck a glowy at you) then it damn well better be for a song that hasn’t been dropped in a while.

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    I still like catus’ sign idea of “be patient” because it is just all around good advice for both band and audience.

  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    Oh, and I also want to note my agreement with jdub from earlier this morning…

    Take Posterkid’s (i.e. Mike’s) suggestion for a sign – “BE PATIENT TREY”

    (if ya gotta have a sign at all)

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    Hahaha…great minds and all @aj

  25. Jtran Says:

    Morning everyone

    Signs annoy me if they’re around my area, but whatever.

    @T3, if you’re still around

    Don’t know if you saw my post about the It 46 Days last night, but I was listening for the first time as I read your comment about it. Weird synchronicity, weird/good jam.

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