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. sumodie Says:

    mmm….Caribbean Phish…would be well timed with the end of the world happening in 2012

    would love for Phish to play in some ancient Mayan temple site, complete with wookie* sacrifices to appease the jam gods

    *mawl kidz may be substituted for wookies too

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    “would love for Phish to play in some ancient Mayan temple site”

    Shit would be sick. halloween run. oh yeah.

  3. stapes Says:

    Caribbean tour would be easy sell to the wife.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    Playing at a Mayan temple…I’m callin Cortez the Killer.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Just remember the arawoks were here first

  6. joe Says:

    did I dream that phish posted a steam video either by tweet or facebook the other day and now there’s no sign of one?

  7. voopa Says:

    It was on vimeo yesterday, pulled last night for some reason.

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    Maybe phish says fuck it, and schedules 4 nights at MSG next week.

    Re-do.

  9. tela'smuff Says:

    Is Trey’s tone different in this MSG run? Didn’t really notice it until the GBOTT. reminds me of Vegas ’04 for a sec. 8o

  10. joe Says:

    thanks voopa. I didn’t think my mind was playing tricks on me.

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    Joe,

    I posted this yesterday.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0L_-OTHz6o&list=PL2D463036BA4859EC&index=21&feature=plpp_video

    -M

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    I think it was done really well, with the pull outs and everything. Really great shots. Stunning really.

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    Totally dig this dude’s art.

    http://society6.com/artist/jerodgibson

  14. sumodie Says:

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

    This year’s gag? No way. At the least subtract a zero, 50K. That’s still too high I bet

    fwiw, last year’s gag was likely the most expensive NYE gag, excluding BC of course

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Cortez was more related to the aztecs’ decline.

    Chichen Itza is pretty cool venue. there is a place on the site where a chap echoes back sounding like an eagle screech. Could make Stash more interesting.

  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    I don’t know. They probably paid each dancer $1-2K to be there. And there were 20+ dancers, right? There is $40K right there. Add some crazy rigging and stuff, and you probably have $40K – $60K in Union Services to get all that put up (minimum). Then you have balloons, electricians, etc. I bet there is $20K in ballons. Those huge balloons are probably $100 each.

    I’m probably way high on the $500K, but $140K wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    I wanted an electrical extension cord put into my booth at the Javits Convention Center in NYC. Just ‘borrowing’ a cable cost me $500. To have the booth assembled, I had to use local labor. $2500 a day for 8 hours per person minimum. I had to have an electrician (x2), pipefitter (x3) and 8x general labor.

    NYC was nuts to put something up. That’s my experience though. YMMV.

  17. halcyon Says:

    Lamanai in Belize would be an ideal venue. 40 mile riverboat excursion to the ruins. Ruins surrounded by howler monkeys and panthers, plus Mayan Spirits.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    evening folks.

  19. William H. Bonney Says:

    Evening Gents

  20. William H. Bonney Says:

    Glad to see everyone made it home safe and sound.

  21. phoammhead Says:

    sounds like from the email from livephish with the code for the delay stream you can start the stream anytime (doesn’t say this, but up to weeks, months if not years from now). but, after you start the delayed video stream you have 48 hours.

    can anyone confirm this?

  22. William H. Bonney Says:

    If we are pricing NYE gags 95′ had to be pricey. Can’t just drag Tesla coils around on the cheap.

  23. William H. Bonney Says:

    FWIW I thought last years “gag” was the worse one ever. Not a big broadway guy, not to mention meatstick is a two chord bore fest before u put it on repeat. Thought this years was much more creative, way crazier seeing all the performers zipping up to the roof etc……

  24. halcyon Says:

    Yo Lycan

    On to Dance of Dragons now. Book 4 was interesting, and then head was spun at the end. Dance of Dragons has started ominously.

  25. William H. Bonney Says:

    @mia

    tough call on VT/Mich I think VT is better team but hard to be sure with ACC/B10 matchups both weak conf. this year.

    Leaning toward Mich…..

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