Your Soul Joins Mine

12.31.2011 (Michael Stein)

Despite a lack of musical fire in the third set of New Year’s Eve, Phish, nonetheless, delivered a powerful and existential message with their annual midnight stunt. “Steam,” a song about the journey of the soul through the afterlife, is a spiritually-themed piece, and for entrance into 2012—the band created a powerful, and philosophically driven skit that delivered the poignant message that we are all eternal souls dancing together forever.

The Phish fan community recently suffered three tragic losses in the course of months. Three fixtures of Phish tour, Scottie Nowak, Dave Ryan, and Vic Harris, suddenly were no longer with us, and the band was aware of these tragedies. Leave it to Phish to have a pulse on their community, or more likely, it was another case of cosmic serendipity, but the meaning of the New Year’s skit struck a chord with many fans. As the narrative of “Steam” began, the smoke machines began to cloud the stage in mystery. And as the song’s refrain, “You’re soul joins mine in steam,” carried the band into the jam, a woman, rose above the stage, dancing to the dramatic music, representing the soul from the song’s lyrics. But then, things got far more symbolic.

The First "Soul"—12.31.11 (M.Stein)

As the snarling guitar-led jam progressed, fourteen other people—also cabled to the rafters—began to rise above the crowd, dancing with mini smoke machines releasing clouds of steam that surrounded each of them. Clearly representing souls, the people weren’t dressed as costumed dancers, but rather like Phish fans—your everyday concertgoers. It was visually awesome—clouds of smoke shrouding each apparition floating above the arena—and they were dancing to “Steam” like we were—together with us. There was an undeniable meaning to the performance. And as the “souls” writhed above the audience, the band’s instruments (that they weren’t playing) began to levitate as well.

Trey "Rising"—12.31 (M.Stein)

Following the dark hard-edged jam, the first woman who danced above the stage counted down to New Years. Then, after “Auld Lang Syne,” the symbolism continued. As the dancers performed a choreographed, mid-air routine to “Down With Disease,” small circles of the stage under Trey and Mike began to lift the guitar players high into the air. Trey and Mike were some ten feet in the air playing in line with the dancers, uniting the entire arena in the skit. The ideas of the impermanence of human life and the unity of all souls seeped through the stunt as a legitimate statement of belief. By Trey and Mike joining the elevated dancers, the message was clear, this community—and all of life on his planet—is eternal and we will always be a united whole, dancing through the universe together. This earth is merely one part of that journey. Even the “Disease” lyrics, “Waiting for the time when I can finally say, this has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way” took on a far more powerful meaning in the face of these theatrics. An affirmation of the eternal nature of the soul and oneness of all consciousness, this stunt had a lot more below the surface than the spectacle floating performers with smoke packs attached to them.

Though the band went on to play an innocuous third set, their New Years’ stunt had delivered a powerful message that served as an interesting and thought-provoking jump into 2012.

"Steam" - 12.31.11 (Graham Lucas)

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718 Responses to “Your Soul Joins Mine”

  1. William H. Bonney Says:

    http://nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=102858&draftyear=2012&genpos=OT

    Sounds like your friend has a good chance of 1st or 2nd round pick…..

  2. verno329 Says:

    Thanks for the drop AJ! This will freak them out at the office tomorrow :-)

  3. angryjoggerz Says:

    Excellent! Then my work here is done.

  4. verno329 Says:

    What a great site. http://whatfuckingphishshouldilistento.com/

  5. Robear Says:

    Peace @ Reba. Thanks for sharing I think your post was in moderation and people didn’t see it.

    Need DL codes for 29, 30, 31

  6. joe Says:

    Rob – I had put my code up on twitter yesterday to my legion of about 12 followers. @IMAntelope69. I don’t know if anyone already grabbed it

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    first of a few videos from a private party Paradox Charlie played:

    Thinkin

  8. alf Says:

    msg piper is one of the best jams of the year

  9. thedayman Says:

    agreed, alf. i LOVE that jam. wish livephish would release a vid.. ck5′s lights during the final 5 minutes of that jam had me convinced the spaceship was actually set to take flight…

  10. ThePigSong Says:

    Thanks for the code Joe, I tweeted you back but I’m sure you had no idea who I was :)

  11. ThePigSong Says:

    btw – I think Phish uploaded a Vimeo of NYE and then removed it. Anyone have any idea why that may be?

  12. sumodie Says:

    MiA, you build a strong case for the NYE gag being a lot more expensive than I imagined (p26)

    But following your very sound logic makes me think last year’s gag cost more than this year’s, given that they had to hire even more dancers last year (and they had to be trained dancers), complete with practice time (remember that, trza?), even more special props, balloons, and a track system for the flying hot dog

    Ok, so all NYE gags are expensive in NYC

    Go see Phish and have some fun.

    NYC: veni, vidi, vici!!!

    (my 4 years of high school Latin is still good for something)

  13. sumodie Says:

    Confession: I imagined that the NYE dancer closest to the stage (the Muse) was actually an overweight Dude of Life

    Had no idea he was actually a she (no, I didn’t really think it was the Dude, but that’s what my brain kept telling me)

    and I was right beside Fishman in section 110

  14. thedayman Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Djjs-wg4pwQ

  15. butter Says:

    Back in the Bay

    Hear Phish, Chilli Peppers and Radiohead to co headline Bonaroo

  16. garretc Says:

    @AJ

    Great call on that Pharoah Saunders drop. Got that album at the library on a whim one day and love it.

  17. legs diamond Says:

    Concur with the Sanders drop. Saw him perform “Creator” live a few year back with mccoy Tyner on keys. Sublime peice of music.

  18. Noah Says:

    Well written analysis. Almost brought a sad tear to my eye.

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