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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Set 1: The Sloth, You Enjoy Myself, Back on the Train, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Maze, Roses Are Free, Halley’s Comet[1] > Run Like an Antelope

    Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless > Simple -> Lifeboy > Guyute, Mike’s Song > Chalk Dust Torture[2] -> I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Show of Life > Character Zero[3]

    Encore: Loving Cup

    If we have guyute and yem switch places, this set II is a monster and possibly highlight of the entire run… I like the first set yem , don’t get me wrong, but the guyute is a shit sandwich before that Mikes Groove.

    Just an observation.

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    i feel like that version of Light did nothing interesting, at all. even Duder’s theremin interpretation came true. a whole lot of hand waving without much to say. it felt forced to my ears. Page knew everyone was wanting the theremin and probably realized Trey wasn’t going to open the door too much more for jamming opportunities. Had to get it in.

    Page should have theremin jammed Alaska the fuck out. maybe then it would of been interesting.

  3. marcoesq Says:

    #3 Halley’s since Raliegh’s was jammed out for about 1.5min

  4. sumodie Says:

    TAB ’02 features some badass sissy flute playing

    just saying 😉

  5. marcoesq Says:

    @Palmer

    absolutely. Again, I had a fing blast at this show but it took a distinct turn in 2 places:

    Halley’s-band tried to jam it, Trey aborted

    Guyute-Shoulda been ANYTHING else

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    Agreed DIF. I think the Mike’s holds up real well.

    One of my favorite Coil Outros too.

    I thought the Cities was the best of the year.

  7. DryIceFactory Says:

    Forgot about Raleigh and the forced >46 Days

  8. HarryHood Says:

    @ Palmer

    Nothing wrong with Pork Tornado! One of most fun shows I’ve ever been too, lol. Did a booze crusie on Lake Champlain a few years ago that they were playing on….. I drank way too much and had some great Mac and Cheese off of the buffet with Fishman and company. The boat’s captain said it was the first time he had ever done one of those shows where they ran out of alchohol and had to go back in and pick more up.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    I rank every Halley’s in a tie for last.

  10. DryIceFactory Says:

    Bethel Cities holds a special place for me because that run of Cities, Halleys>Jim is some of my favorite 2011 Phish on relisten.

    Its also a completely different animal from what we got at MSG.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    It’s a good show Marco. I’m coming around to it. I watched this one from the couch and when all was said and done, i wasn’t too upset with being on the couch. I definitely sold it a bit short. I can live with a rock show, especially in the context that the night before was fairly deep. This show will get spins in the future. Fairly clean playing throughout.

    The Halley’s abortion doesn’t bother me as much. Ugly Pig in set II drives me nuts. But i’m an over analytical nut job, so pay me no mind.

  12. sumodie Says:

    none of the msg shows were derailed by individual songs like guyute, heavy things, or alaska

    it was simply a lack of prep work, esp from trey

  13. Kaveh Says:

    Nothing wrong with Pork Tornado!

    ^Confirmed. Wife was on of a couple ladies to get up on stage with the band at the end. Great stuff.

    Back that black ass up!

  14. Kaveh Says:

    Back that black ass up!

    ^ The song lyrics; not my wife’s.

  15. marcoesq Says:

    hot damn! HarpuaFSB’s vids are the shit. forgot about him

  16. angryjoggerz Says:

    I usually hate Guyute in any spot, but it didnt bother me for some reason. I guess I was just having too much fun throwing glow sticks at Page to even notice.

  17. albert walker Says:

    new years set III dissolved into nothing. I really could have left.

    , Alaska, Wading in the Velvet Sea, First Tube

    Encore: Slave to the Traffic Light

    even my girl who rarely ever comments on the music and just likes to get spun turned to me after the slave and was like WTF just happened

    it’s like Trey hit the auto pilot snooze button or something. weird.

    Trey doing his stupid jumping jacks jedi pose bullshit instead of actually playing music. nostalgic custy fest when he acts like that so fucking lame.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    maybe my memory of it has inflated it, but it sure was neato being right behind page whilst the hand waving went on. went down to hang with some friends there for part of the second set and caught the meat of Light>Golden Age>Theme before getting beckoned back to the other crew who needed me and the herbs to return.

    speaking of, spent most of NYE in sec. 120 amidst a great group of people. some quiet, some partying hard, most totally into the music. best thing was the kid celebrating his 21st b-day. we kept he and his friend plied with master kush and beverages all night. what a great way to spend your 21st.

  19. albert walker Says:

    Hey Trey

    “Fuck your Jedi pose”

    you lost your jedi skills around 98-99. you may want to call up Yoda see if he can help you get your licks back brah.

  20. Guyute711 Says:

    Yous guys need to stop talking shit about me, I am starting to take it personally.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaveh- I saw you mention that you and the wife are planning on returning to NY for some Allmans in March? Or was it Furthur in April? Either way. Let me know what shows your hitting. I’m always down for seeing those bands, ABB specifically.

  22. Jtran Says:

    same with my slf AW. “I could’ve left after DWD”

    Weird set

  23. Mike in Austin Says:

    During Guyute, it is O.K. to throw glowsticks at the band. Gotta let them know somehow.

    Checking my stats (ahem)…

    I’ve seen 4 of the last 8 Lifeboy’s that have been played since Gorge ’97.

    I’m a lifeboy magnate.

    AW, he didn’t play a Friday or Mexican Cousin encore. It could have been worse.

  24. albert walker Says:

    no doubt MIA. some kids had a friday sign too.

    that’s all we’d need to make these rawk shows hotter would be for trey to bring back his love of the show killing ballad 2.0 stylee.

  25. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Cheers, @MiA.

    If Mike did in fact say that to Trey, I can’t help but think that some of Trey’s “impatience” for the rest of the run was just straight-up Type-A ego tripping. Like, “oh, it’s not my band? I think I like Joy in this spot. Ready, guys?”

    Cutting off the hose to spite the space, so to speak.

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