Almost two years since their fan base called for simulcasts of their Hampton reunion shows — some of the toughest tickets in history — Phish has finally answered them, offering live pay-per-view webcasts of their upcoming, sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. Easing the pain for thousands of fans around the world who can’t make it to the Big Apple, everyone will be able to listen and watch the climactic New Year’s celebration as it unfolds over three nights.
Without packaging downloads with the webcasts, Phish is creating a completely separate revenue stream selling online access to their shows with little extra effort from their crew. In a win-win situation for all, people will surely gather for listening parties and the price of $15.99 per show ($19.99 for NYE) will dissolve into nothing once a few friends come over to share in the groove. Much like “No Spoilers” listening parties popped up around the nation for Hampton’s comeback, now real-time, New Year’s parties are sure to materialize — with soundboard feeds, nonetheless! Upping the ante for all fans with other plans this holiday season, I wonder how many people have now canceled their New Year’s Eve plans to virtually rage it with Phish?
Revolutionizing “couch tour” for these MSG shows, the question that now begs to be answered is — “Will webcasts be the norm moving forward?” Is this the future of Phish tour? Several community members have already offered free and illegal live streams of every Phish show this year, though the quality of these feeds have, allegedly, varied from unwatchable to fairly perfect. Might this move be the band’s response to their fan base’s successful pirating efforts? If continued on conventional tours, people would be more apt to order shows individually, at home, potentially increasing total sales. This next step would seem logical. With all shows already videotaped for the archives, this service can’t add much additional cost to the organization whether webcast receives fixed or multi-camera shots. Regardless of what type of video is offered, Phish just made a huge step forward in allowing their entire community to share in the holiday season. For the first time in history, major shows will accessible — live — by anyone, anywhere in the world. An unquestionably epic move.
But with this move, many questions follow. Is this service just being offered for the New Year’s extravaganza? Will Phish webcast every show from now on? Will they only webcast sold-out shows in the future like the NFL? Could this really be the “couch tour” of the future? Though they are certainly not a substitute for the live experience, would webcasts actually deter some people from making insane trips to see Phish — something that has always been part and parcel of the addiction? While webcasts would, inevitably, involve more people in any given show, would they somehow devalue the experience? Would college students and beyond choose bong hits and surround sound over paying for, and trekking to, shows? If this is even a possibility, what is the implication of having access to something sacred from the couch? Is some of the mystique stripped away if fans anywhere can flip on the Phish show for a small fee, just as they flip on any pay-per-view movie or boxing fight? The questions go on and on…What do you think?
Jam of the Day:
Another moment of MSG New Year’s Eve history.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
5.2.1994 Five Points Music Hall. Birmingham, Alabama
Here’s a random stocking stuffer for your collection, straight from the deep south in 1994. Phish concluded this show with “Mike’s Song” featuring two guest bass players — Oteil Burbridge and Stacy Starkweather. Enjoy!
I: The Great Gig in the Sky > Split Open and Melt, Bouncing Around the Room, Down with Disease, It’s Ice, Glide, The Divided Sky, Suzy Greenberg, Foam, Sample in a Jar
II: Runaway Jim, Mound, Reba, Golgi Apparatus, The Lizards, Julius, Lawn Boy, Mike’s Song* > Jam**
*Oteil Burbridge on bass.
**Oteil Burbridge on bass and Stacy Starkweather on stand-up bass. Band members switched instruments.
Source: AKG 460