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”

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  1. Lycanthropist Says:

    nice post Miner.

    good balance to your previous post.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Interesting analysis of the NY stunt for sure. Wouldn’t have thought of that.

  3. butter Says:

    Miner- great article. This was one of the highlights of the run and one of the most visual stunning things I’ve been a part of

    This is the type of thing pushing the band forward now

    A deep new Anastasio and Marshall tune that ends as a tragic love tale, and was brought to a visual stunning life at MSG New Years 11

  4. butter Says:

    Click my orange for pics

  5. butter Says:

    Hearing a few stands in MArch including possible Vegas

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    It’s late. Almost 4:30am here.

  7. LT Says:

    This is a great story, but i have to ask. Was this explained to you by the band/bands management or is this what you think was what they were trying to accomplish?

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    I love the interpretation Miner. Really top notch piece.

  9. Esteban Says:

    Great post, miner, and one that I wholeheartedly share your view on. Very poignant.

  10. bob dylan Says:

    butter, i heard a few people saying “hold off on that til vegas” while inside.

  11. Esteban Says:

    Has anyone downloaded the matrix of 12.31.91 from LP? I used to have this on a tape, but I think I’m going to grab a copy today following the redemption of my codes. Haven’t listened back to ’91 shows in a while… Could provide a very refreshing look on what has transpired since then. Plus, I always remember what fresh energy existed on those tapes, and I often miss that (the energy’s still there, but my fresh perspective of youth isn’t).

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    just found out that my kids daycare is closed today. I had no idea. Oh well. Mr. Mom day.

    Just re spun Steam. Great version.

    Thanks for the write up Miner. Had no idea about the recent losses in the fan community, besides Scottie. Very cool concept and quite profound.

    On a personal not, I’m waiting till summer to see my next show. unless they play real close to home. Probably only a Nassau announcement would get my juices flowing. See ya’ll in bethel.

    I wouldn’t go to Vegas again. Fuck that place.

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Cool, my wife doesn’t have work either. She just came home after realizing no one was at her job. Such is life in a family of stoner fucks.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    Love those kind of unlooked for days, Mr. P!

    sounds like a fun day at the Palmer house

    enjoy your day, man!

  15. Esteban Says:

    @Palmer SURPRISE!

  16. Esteban Says:

    @Palmer I work from home nowadays, and I see no one else online… I wonder if I’m supposed to be working today or not. Huh.

  17. halcyon Says:

    Cool write up today. Refreshing to read after yesterday’s debates, discussions, and ramblings.

    Mr. P
    Giants Win, and Day with the family! This Monday bodes well for you. Make it count!

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    My west coast office has today off, Austin is open, but most don’t come in because it’s a school holiday, and east coast guys … I’m not sure. I think they’re still hungover.

    Mrs miA is trying to convince me to blaze up and watch Dr. Who Christmas Specials with her all day. I’m not a Dr. Who fan, and I think she thinks this will improve the experience.

  19. Mike in Austin Says:

    I’m always so confused watching that show. Can’t imagine getting more confused will help this.

    Is Phish kinda like Dr Who?

  20. bob dylan Says:

    Mind isn’t back to work but body is.

    Wanna be at home in bed with the bubbler of og

  21. marcoesq Says:

    morning all. great piece today, miner. the skit looked and felt pretty powerful even from couch ter, cant imagine how cool that would’ve been to see in person.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Feel like everyone was in a LOT worse shape last year after 1/1 and that w00k flu had spread through every circle I knew.

  23. Fly Says:

    Think my brain needs to rest a bit after yesterday’s verbosity.

    We are meaning making machines.

  24. marcoesq Says:

    This morning I’m going to bask in the warmness of UIC1

  25. willowed Says:

    So I decided to stay away from the board yesterday because I knew it was going to be a tough day. I wanted to take some time and reflect on the weekend without any outside influence.
    A few things I kept thinking about.
    This New Year Run was an anomaly.
    No Fall Tour – this is huge. Completely affects the level of communication. Not only that, Trza will want to push as many songs as he can because, well, he likes to play his songs. You cannot compare this run to an opening run of summer tour where they have 10 -12 shows following the first performance. Trza knows he has the rest of the tour to push his tunes.
    New additions – Didn’t Page have a baby and Mike has a new born, right? Guys, this takes away from the rehearsal and commitment. Let’s face facts.
    Outside projects – This may create new portals and fresh ideas, but it also takes away from the focus of Phish.
    Let’s look at this for what it was. A 4 show run with no fall tour.
    I am not concerned.
    This is still the best band on the planet with the best and most connected fan base in the world. The reason why we bitch and dissect the jams is because we truly love this band. We truly care.
    I k now this coming summer my ass will be hunting down pavilion tickets, rolling with a few of my close friends ready to get the fuck down. Look at any picture, taken at any Phish show. What do you see? A big ass smile. Let’s not panic.
    Cities, Carini>Tweezer, RnR, Light, Paug, YEM, Simple>Life boy, Piper, 2001, Bowie, Gin – no one else could make these sounds. We will be OK.
    See you this summer.

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