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. tela'smuff Says:

    i don’t know, i agree 3rd set NYE isn’t generally talked about, but ’95 it’s almost as defining as the second. it’s the only set i remember from ’96. ’98 is full of heady goodness. ’02 you get two debuts and a big bustout. even ’03 was crazy.

    ’95 – Weekapaug>Sea and Sand, YEM, Sanity, Frankenstein
    E: Johnny B Goode

    ’96 – 2001>ALS>Disease>Suzy, Antelope, Bohemian Rhapsody, Julius
    E: Amazing Grace

    ’97 – 2001>ALS>Tweezer>Maze>Prince Caspian>Loving Cup
    E: NY, NY>Tweprise

    ’98 – Runaway Jim>ALS>Simple, Harry Hood>Tweezer Reprise, Llama E:WMGGW

    ’02 – Sample in a Jar, Seven Below>ALS>Runaway Jim>Time Loves a Hero, Taste, Strange Design, Walls of the Cave
    E: Velvet Sea

    ’03 – Jungle Boogie>ALS>Iron Man, Runaway Jim>Simple>Reba, I Didn’t Know >Feel the Heat>HYHU, Run Like an Antelope
    E: Frankenstein

    ’09 – Party Time>ALS>Disease, Fluffhead, Joy, The Squirming Coil, YEM
    E: Blue Moon, Loving Cup

    ’10 – Meatstick, Auld Lang Syne, After Midnight, Backwards Down the Number Line>Piper>Free, Waste>Slave to the Traffic Light, Grind E: Grind

    ’11 – Cavern, Steam>ALS>Down with Disease, The Wedge, Alaska, Wading in the Velvet Sea, First Tube

  2. sumodie Says:

    still don’t get not wanting to put the effort forward from a professional perspective

    Bingo!

    I’ve no clue how much prep time it takes Phish to throw down a Bethel1, SBIX storage shed, or a Dick’s run

  3. stapes Says:

    I thought Trey was having a moment with tela’smuff at Blossom ’10?

  4. albert walker Says:

    but as I’ve always preached there is one thing Phish never is and that’s stagnant

    if this is where Trey is now fine. he’s the artist. it’s just if he’s no longer morphing or exploring that’s when I will throw in the towel.

    no reason to go there yet and I don’t want to read to much into it but something just didn’t seem right on stage. the chemistry the way they interracted. I mean Alpine 09 sucked but it didn’t have the weird energy I was getting from stage. could have just been me, the L, and the new MSG which was giving me weird vibes all weekend anyway.

    so here’s to Trey’s next direction being a bit more focused and in the direction us more progressive experimental music lovers enjoy.

    can’t just storage tease us and run
    that shit sucks

    now for the 10th time today
    really out

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I like mexican cousin.

    FTR, I used to own a business in Guadalajara and we took clients all the time to tequilerias for tastings and contract signings.

  6. tela'smuff Says:

    ha. thought the same thing when i read that @Stapes. ::remembers not to share Trey stories with MiA:: 😉

  7. sumodie Says:

    On the plus side, I ate like a pig and a half while in NYC and didn’t gain a single pound. Guess that makes my NYE run very successful

  8. HarryHood Says:

    MSG = Hometown show for Trey. Sleep in, have lunch with the family, stroll over to the venue before showtime, piss in our ears, home in time to tuck in the kids………

    Life just caught up with them. Shows that are out of the way and obscure are the ones not to miss. i.e. Utica/Manchester. Festivals are good and will have moments, but families are still in tow. It’s not just a party all night and come up with facinating new ways to melt faces kinda deal anymore……. It’s about getting home in time to kiss the wife goodnight and have a nice morning brunch……. Wanna catch a hot show? Look for the Tuesday night show in a factory town that doesn’t appeal to the rest of the family as a vacation spot.

  9. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Fuck meds.

    L-Tyrosine has the same efficacy as many adhd meds.

    Big pharma w00kin for a livin.

  10. HarryHood Says:

    “I ate like a pig and a half while in NYC”

    ^ You should change your name to Guyute

  11. Cable Hogue Says:

    Hi folks. Haven’t chimed in much on this run, guess I don’t have too much to say. Movin’ on, and all that.

    I did have a thought today when I remembered the Mike interview from this fall, when he was asked about the long layoff before the holiday run and he said something to the effect of “It’s no big deal, we’re a well-oiled machine now and everything is flowing perfectly well”

    So I’ve developed the feeling that there was some hubris involved in this run falling as flat as it did. They were riding high off the late summer runs, especially Dick’s, and got a little over-confident in their ability to just switch on the inspiration when they got together onstage. Clearly there wasn’t the same preparation and intent after a layoff this time around, as there was for Bethel, Gorge and Dick’s.

    I was at the first two nights, and I thought the intent was there on night 1, leading to a very satisfying ad creative show…but the disconnection was also there, noticeable to my ears especially on Stash, Hood, Gin, ->NICU and the end of Cities. I think this disconnection took them off-guard and led them to play it safe and rocking for the rest of the run, the crowd ate up the rock so why not?

    In my mind, the biggest thing to hope for is that they will work on new material prior to any further touring, providing both some freshness to the sets and a reason for them to be in the same room for a while. Either that or a Europe tour, a couple weeks playing small rooms might do wonders.

  12. HarryHood Says:

    I’m gonna laugh when they announce a Carribean tour and everyone gets all wound up about it……. Talk about a free vacation for every band member’s family….. You could just about guarantee that Ms. Jennifer Dances would show up to a Second Set party one night, if not all……

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    Trey’s a whore. He’s having moments with everyone out there. I’m just jealous.

    Funny thing is that night I went to Pine Knob, and I swear to god Trey was staring at me during that whole Disease. Very uncomfortable, but made me laugh at how ridiculous that made me feel.

    Page staring at ya, used to freak me out. Don’t look at me. You look like a zombie with your mouth half open man.

  14. HarryHood Says:

    We have resorted to calling them zombie whores……. See what happens when you play bad shows guys? It turns you into zombie whores. Dont do it again.

  15. joe Says:

    re: money – I don’t think they are in money grab mode by any means, especially in comparison to what you’d call “corporate rock bands”, but it has to be hard to turn down the payday that msg was for them even if they knew they couldn’t quite pull off the practice schedule – or any warmup shows at all since early September. Conservative calculations have them at around half a million each for 4 nights work? with webcast and belt buckle revenue factored in.

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    http://tedmccagg.typepad.com/drawings/2011/12/top-10-of-2011-1.html

  17. verno329 Says:

    “belt buckle revenue” awesome

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    I remember being at Big Cypress for the like 12 minutes of monster fireworks that went off. Like it was the “Big Finale” of fireworks for a LONG TIME. Thinking they probably didn’t really have to do that.

    I don’t know exactly how much that costs to run ~50 $100 Fireworks a second for 12 minutes (50x100x60x12 = $3.6MM) but wow.

    They kick it back to us pretty good.

    Those ballons aren’t cheap with all those Union Workers blowing them up, dancers, etc. I bet that Gag was $500K to do.

  19. HarryHood Says:

    @ Joe

    Seems like for a half a mil each, they could spend one day together practicing. Just my 2 cents. It was pretty obvious that they really took for granted having that stage for New Years. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all. I’m sure there were plenty of other bands that would have practiced for months knowing they were gonna light that place up for their fans on NYE. My love for these guys hasn’t diminished, but I’m starting to question their passion for what they do. It seems to me like some of them (ahemmm Trey) is way more focused on his own personal little side projects that only a small part of the community even cares about.

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Just got my MSG NYE code.

  21. tela'smuff Says:

    @HH – nail on the head with the Carribean tour.

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    I wonder if the NYE repeat has all the between set Fishman drum stuff in it.

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    Count me in on a carribean tour.

  24. tela'smuff Says:

    destination Phish tour stylie. bring the wife & kids. don’t fight it. Trey wants us to like Dad rock.

  25. sumodie Says:

    Need some new phish-free music?

    http://www.sixdegreesrecords.com/home.php

    Once more I’ll pimp Six Degrees Records and its 50% off all CDs sale until Jan 6

    My personal favs on this label include:
    Cheb i Sabbah
    Bombay Dub Orchestra
    Brownout
    Issa Bagayogo
    Karsh Kale
    Midival Punditz
    Ballake Sissoko/Vincent Segal
    Vieux Farke Toure
    Zuco 103

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