The Influence of Webcasts?

PNC- 5.31.11 ( (C.LaJaunie)

Phish announced yesterday that they will be webcasting their two sold-out shows from Lake Tahoe on Monday and Tuesday next week. Fans from across the nation—and the world—will be able to tune in to the twin bill for only $24.99, exponentially increasing the 7,000 person audience with a virtual cast of thousands. But is this a good thing for the integrity of the show? Does a show being webcasted alter the band’s performance? Does it change the way Trey arranges the setlist in his mind? Maybe so, maybe not.

One thing we know for sure is that thousands of Phish fans get to enjoy a pimped-out couch tour experience when Phish drops a webcast, and that is certainly a huge positive—that much is a given in this discussion. But is the show that fans watch on widescreens at home the same show that would have gone down were they not wired in? One would hope that the band wouldn’t “play to the webcast,” but at times, it seems that this happens. Often favoring anthems, bustouts, and a moving setlist, webcasts in this modern era don’t always translate to huge jams.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

The last two webcasted shows—Alpharetta’s two-night stand—didn’t turn out so great. Though the first night boasted some highlights, the only musical adventure over two shows came in “Disease,” and the only other jam that moved outside the box over four sets was “Light Up or Leave Me Alone.” Fun shows? Sure, but dwarfed by most nights of tour. “What about MSG?,” one might ask? Well, there were some jams here and there, but other than “Tweezer,” “Sand,” “Ghost” and “Simple,” there wasn’t a hell of a lot left to go over. But in that case, the webcast and the inherently planned-out nature of a New Year’s Run, collided in some glossy—though entertaining—sets.

The issue with webcasted shows during this era of sobriety is that the band has yet to truly let themselves go—without caring what might come out—in front of a pay-per-view audience. Aside from 12/30’s “Tweezer” and 1/1’s “Simple,” just about every jam from MSG possessed a certain linear quality, only seldom flirting with transcendence. Trey, we all know, still battles his mind (and band members) cutting off jams through this past tour (albeit far less often). Do webcasts just add something else to think about, causing him to consider what the people at home want to hear? I don’t know, but when he cut “Tweezer” for “Julius” after a monsoon in Alpharetta, one had to wonder if he wanted to get in more songs and why.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

Perhaps all of these conjectures have no bearing in reality. Perhaps it is mere coincidence that the past five webcasted shows weren’t exactly drenched in improvisational adventure. Or, perhaps there would have been a jam in the first or third set of New Year’s Eve were it not for the pay-per-view performance. Hopefully, the Tahoe shows will blow up and  dispel any connection between webcasts and mediocrity. I’ll be the first to admit it and cheering them on. But all of a sudden, the intimate 7,000 person Lake Tahoe shows don’t feel so intimate, especially when your buddies from the east coast blow up your phone with texts as they watch along with the show that you traveled across the country to attend.

Even if the webast never affected the music, does it not effect what is sacred about a Phish show? Shows are irreplaceable experiences that happen at one time in one place. Should people be washing dishes and putting babies to sleep at setbreak? Trust me, I support the inclusive feature of the webcast, but does it cut into what is cherished about a Phish show if kids across the country are ripping tubes while watching “Tweezer” with a soundboard feed? The technology of the future is great. Or is it?


Jam of the Day:

Harry Hood” 9.11.99 II

Another Gorge highlight to bring us through the week.


1,898 Responses to “The Influence of Webcasts?”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    Wow @voopa, that song seems like a rarity now lol. That’s funny

  2. Andrew Says:

    YEM to close the set after this?

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    not to mention you’re not even listening bk lol

  4. halcyon Says:

    :ting: @ DFool

    Just got home from work, and am pumped to listen to this RnR

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    That’s the best way to bitch about anything @fool, not having been there OR heard a single fucking note.

    UIC blew. #bandhasgonetoshit

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    UIC was awesome

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    You kno

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    You know I’m joking @fool 😛

  9. Corey Says:

    Wondering how the Bitch Free Bowie was…

    Rock and Roll sounded neat in storage.

    YEM waits another day…

  10. voopa Says:

    Hollywood YEM. Yes.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    show is up already

  12. Robear Says:

    Rock n Roll>Gorage Jam

    Great night on the terraces, with BB well represented.

  13. voopa Says:

    Gorage Jam!

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    is the Gorage Jam similar to Storage Jam?

  15. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Gorge jam #1 blew minds. Fact.

  16. alf Says:

    major tohtage

  17. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    Pink Floyd.

  18. sumodie Says:

    rocknroll made the whole trip worth it for me, phenomenal

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    Maybe Negev’s brother made a Gorge Jam #1 sign?

  20. alf Says:

    nice one mia, & you’re absolutely right sumo. though i was pretty satisfied after roggae – totally fit the gorge vibe.

    must say, the gorge lives up to the hype. amazing place. and the terraces were an amazing spot. level dancing space is at a premium at the gorge.

    so much storage jam in that rnr. groundbreaking phish.

  21. ThePigSong Says:

    so live phish tracked RnR out to 19 minutes?

  22. alf Says:

    even meatstick had a slick little jam in it, and so did boogie on. great night, but … i wish i had a yurt.

  23. Mr palmer Says:

    Lou Reed gonna get paid!

  24. SillyWilly Says:

    downloading the show now

    can’t wait to hear the RNR

    fell asleep early last night. woke up about 2 and saw the 19 minute RNR and had dreams of phish the rest of the night

    hope all you Gorge-ous people had a great night. some of you may still be up savoring…

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    haven’t even heard the RnR jam yet – but the segue into Meatstick is butter

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