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:

    Speaking of neemor…any of you CT guys heard from him lately???

    @dude…ya gotta start somewhere. Dreams have guided many a man…

  2. El Duderino Says:

    @ spasm

    The source looks frickin’ awesome too!

    Valley Road is a great Bruce tune

  3. lastwaltzer Says:


    he did say free though.

  4. El Duderino Says:

    Y’all should be downloading that Denver GD show by the way!!!

  5. willowed Says:

    No sir Leo.

  6. SillyWilly Says:


    emailed you back.

    I think Friday might be the way to go.

    Thursday’s looking pretty hectic.

    Let people settle in. Meet their non-BB friends.

    I just don’t want to cramp anyone’s vibe with an extra social commitment, ya know?

  7. lastwaltzer Says:

    So while it would be cool if the remaining beach boys got back together anyone else think some of those lyrics will sound down right creepy coming from three senior citizens (thats right bruce you don’t count).

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    Nobody likes cramps…………..

  9. gratefulcub Says:

    Leo, don’t worry about the neemor. Even though he seems lost, it is just a matter of time before he knocks on your hotel door at 1 a.m. trying to get you to go to the next show with him. No rush, he leaves in 5 minutes with or without you. Dancing while driving, or the other way around, the entire time.

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    didn’t the beach boys recently tour with the smile album?

  11. sven Says:

    Northerly is kinda free. Seen many shows there from the beach. Sounds good enough and you can see the screens through the bandstands. Wish there were some good shows there this year.

    But, yeah, probablynot what he meant.

  12. spasm waiter Says:

    Dude-I don’t know how many times they played it but it couldn’t have been many. I read somewhere that Bruce got frustrated that they wouldn’t put in time to practice more of his tunes. That one was pretty beautiful though.
    Willowed- Good call on the DWD jam… synched up!

  13. Leo Weaver Says:

    Nice @cub…and you’re right. He’ll probably post here in the next couple of hours. Always seems to know when, where, and how to present himself.

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    @willowed…thanks for the link…me likey

  15. willowed Says:

    I love that jam. I know it gets lost in the shuffle with the # Line and Camdust but boy thats a catchy little ditty!

  16. lastwaltzer Says:


    I don’t know when the last time you did that was. I thought the cops started kicking folks out in 08.


    nah that was just brian and some excellent studio musicians they go by “something” Mints, maybe wonder mints or some shit. Its the same cats brian has been playing with for last ten years.

    I saw that tour, which was phenomenal, really cool to finally hear all that material and then even played some rare stuff like the instrumentals from Pet Sounds.

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Is it sexual harrassment if you arrange a co-worker’s kids’ Bakugon into an workspace orgy, if the only thing you do is switch character positions?

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    of course not PB

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    I think the signs should stop for a bit IMO – there have been some cool sign requests, but I don’t know how I feel about the signs as a whole. On one hand you can have really cool bustouts (FYF), on the other it might affect someone else’s show experience. I guess I’m leaning towards “no signs” as of now.

    I guess we’ll have to see

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    no signs allowed sign

  21. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Nobody likes cramps…………..”

    Bikini Girls with Machine Guns is a great tune!

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    After watching that DWD from Comcast I watched the Sand as well, sounds like a Billie Jean Tease right at the very end.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    sounds like a Billie Jean Tease right at the very end.

    I think that tease is called “The Horse” 😉

  24. SillyWilly Says:


    I was reading back and you asked about what Kerouac I had read:

    On the Road
    Dr. Sax
    The Subterraneans
    Book of Blues

    Would it surprise you if I said Im not a big Kerouac fan?

    It’s not just a hipster impulse in me not to love Kerouac.

    Kerouac hits too close to home for me. He grew up devoutly Catholic, and all his works are intensely Catholic.

    There is definitely non-Catholic elements and themes in his work, but to someone like me who’s life so far has been defined by my struggles with Catholicism, I simply can’t ignore his endorsement of Catholicism.

    Dr. Sax is a great example.

    I LOVE the blend of media he attempts in this book. The different scenes and genres he uses to construct this tale are wonderful. Genius even.

    But in the end the novel is about the Redemption of Christ.

    and it just bothers me.

    This is purely personal and subjective. It’s just hard for me to read without being distracted by his religious messages.

    Kerouac also died a tragic death to alcoholism, and in his final days he was cursing the beat project from a rightist and reactionary political standpoint. He actually became a fixture on the conservative talk radio scene. Too much for me.

  25. Luther Justice Says:

    Could you please add me to the mail for Close By meet-up? sbreckel @

    Thanks in advance!

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