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:

    They have us sure….but they want more, hence the rock and roll shows I think….

  2. William H. Bonney Says:

    All right got all the animals in, time to relax and watch some football…..check yall later….20 degrees and dropping damn gonna lose some citrus tonite…..

  3. Mike in Austin Says:

    Yeah, speaking of nostalgia, decided to his 10-21-95 Pershing, NE while I’m here at work.

    A rambunctious Reba. Kinda sloppy beginning of Reba, but fun. Nothing “outstanding”. Or, maybe it’s JAAAR. Just another above average Reba.

    DVR’ing the game. $20 moneyline on VT. Can’t possibly bet for Michigan to win.

  4. joe Says:

    that’s the thing. Seems to me like they have a bigger, younger fan-base right now than they did even last year at this time.

  5. joe Says:

    I really don’t want to turn into one of the “back in my day, they used to take us on mind bending journeys while we partook in the highest grade LSD known to man, fuck this rock and roll and speedy drugs bullshit” I can only hope to pass along a few choice dance moves and hope that the kids can learn the rest on their own 🙂

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    No way we see them again until Summer, if we are lucky. When they do come back, it will be fire. They know the deal. They won’t return to the stage unless they are prepared. Trey knows the heads are talking trash.

  7. joe Says:

    Is it Umphrey’s and then kind of the rest of the pack as far as bands on the way up to keep the scene alive go? admittedly, not plugged into it much these days

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    If they can play like they do in the soundchecks and just carry that to the stage, I’ll totally be hooked again.

    They don’t have far to go.

  9. Mike in Austin Says:

    Note: I still don’t like Kung. Glad that’s gone mostly.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I just put on the Bethel Waves soundcheck. Remember this music, boys!

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Go see Phish and have some fun.

  12. verno329 Says:

    @Palmer Where you live and grow up plays a huge factor in peoples feelings toward college football. I used to watch college ball off and on depending on how annoyed I was with how the previous national champion was determined. I never followed any particular team since the schools I went to didn’t have programs.

    But since I moved to Tuscaloosa in June of ’10 its a completely different story. There is no way to overstate how important college football is to people in the South. It is the be all end all. Alabama drew 90,000 fans for the Spring game this year. 90,000 to watch a team scrimmage against itself. For freakin’ practice. It’s insane.

    The store I run is 2-3 blocks from Bryant-Denny Stadium and we have around 15 RV’s that stay in our lot every game, and pay good money to do so. We’ll be sold out of RV spots for next season by Feb at the latest. These people travel in style and have a blast while doing so. At first it seemed nuts to me, just like when I was living in Charlotte and would see people driving in from all different places for NASCAR. Then I realized that they would probably think I was nuts for wishing I could fly out to Colorado to watch the same band play for 3 nights. Different passions.

    College football is a much more regional sport but it is among the most passionate I’ve ever seen. I’m still an NFL guy and that won’t change but I certainly see the draw and love the environment. Going to a game at a big school is an experience that is hard to replicate. Similar to how seeing a large festival can be an experience without even taking the music into account.

  13. Reba Says:

    there was another loss this year not mentioned-The night Steam debueted in Blossom this summer, Eric was a new arrival in the intensive care unit in Ann Arbor Mich, he never made it out. My brother and part of our community. Eric Nelson. WE LOVE YOU LIL LEGEND!!!!!!

  14. verno329 Says:

    @MiA That’s a great show. Gotta love Tweeprise opening and closing the first set. The way it comes out of the Good Times Bad Times is very impressive.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thats the thing, school i went to had D III sports. It was glorified high school sports. I get the allure. Difficult to be an unaligned fan.

    I love the comparison with our thing. Makes sense to me.

  16. halcyon Says:


    1. google santorum then go to 1st link.

    2. then go here

    ”I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”

    One thing he likely overlooked: white Americans account for the largest percentage of welfare payments each month, mostly because they make up the largest sector of the population.

  17. verno329 Says:

    Oh yeah and part of the experience is seeing some of the most gorgeous 20 yr old women you’ll ever see wearing heels and looking like a million bucks dragging a case of beer and bottle of liquor with them. And that alcohol is not for the party, it’s just for her. It’s a sight to be seen.

  18. Frank Says:

    Well done. Tend to agree (for once), though I thought the third set was jist fine and indeed quite perfect and sublime. Completely in line with the entirety of the sublimely perfect evening Phish threw down the other night. 2 jaded vets and myself all agreed this was among the best coreographed and delivered show they have ever played. 3 sets is a lot to perfect. think their efforts deserve even more respect!

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    Re: College and Pro football

    I grew up watching both, but never lived in a city or a region with a strong NFL following until I lived in Madison.

    I love college more, but that’s mostly for purely sentimental reasons like I played with a pretty strong class of high school kids that played all over the country. I knew kids amd had teammates at BYU, Utah, USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oregon State, Stanford. Just everywhere, so it was really really fun to watch and see how everyone did. For example, my friend Stanley Havili for USC scored more touchdowns against ND than all of NDs team did two seasons in a row.

    But, one thing I’ve always thought may make college football more interesting is the diversity of schemes. Because of the differences in talent across the board and the lack of pure speed compared to the NFL you can watch so many different styles of football in college.

    You can watch the evolution of the spread as teams like Boise St and Oklahoma St rise to prominence.

    You can watch pure physicality in teams like Wisconsin and Stanford.

    You can watch the spread option attacks of Oregon and Urban Meyer coached teams.

    You can watch the run n gun styles of the old BYu and Hawaii

    You can watch the old school triple option of army and navy

    There’s just more diversity if you liker that kind of thing

  20. William H. Bonney Says:

    Well said silly…..couldn’t agree more…..missed ya in NYC…tried to stay hydrated in your honor 🙂

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    But that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of diversity of schemes in the pros too. Its just not as pronounced.

    Also, I hope someones NFL team drafts my best friend from high school: Tony Bergstrom. Right Tackle from Utah.

    Can’t believe he’s going to be drafted! Super nice kid and will be a treat for any team

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    That made me laugh out loud, Bill Bonney!

    Gotta stay hydrated. Its key.

    Wish I had made it. Hope to see you out there this summer, man

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    Ok, classic drop for the space freaks.

    Pharoah Sanders – Karma

    Pharoah Sanders’ third album as a leader is the one that defines him as a musician to the present day. After the death of Coltrane, while there were many seeking to make a spiritual music that encompassed his ideas and yearnings while moving forward, no one came up with the goods until Sanders on this 1969 date. There are only two tracks on Karma, the 32-plus minute “The Creator Has a Master Plan” and the five-and-a-half-minute “Colours.” The band is one of Sanders’ finest, and features vocalist Leon Thomas, drummer Billy Hart, Julius Watkins, James Spaulding, a pre-funk Lonnie Liston Smith, Richard Davis, Reggie Workman on bass, and Nathaniel Bettis on percussion. “Creator” begins with a quote from “A Love Supreme,” with a nod to Coltrane’s continuing influence on Sanders. But something else emerges here as well: Sanders’ own deep commitment to lyricism and his now inherent knowledge of Eastern breathing and modal techniques. His ability to use the ostinato became not a way of holding a tune in place while people soloed, but a manner of pushing it irrepressibly forward. Keeping his range limited (for the first eight minutes anyway), Sanders explores all the colors around the key figures, gradually building the dynamics as the band comps the two-chord theme behind with varying degrees of timbral invention. When Thomas enters at nine minutes, the track begins to open. His yodel frees up the theme and the rhythm section to invent around him. At 18 minutes it explodes, rushing into a silence that is profound as it is noisy in its approach. Sanders is playing microphonics and blowing to the heavens and Thomas is screaming. They are leaving the material world entirely. When they arrive at the next plane, free of modal and interval constraints, a new kind of lyricism emerges, one not dependent on time but rhythm, and Thomas and Sanders are but two improvisers in a sound universe of world rhythm and dimension. There is nothing to describe the exhilaration that is felt when this tune ends, except that “Colours,” with Ron Carter joining Workman on the bass, was the only track that could follow it. You cannot believe it until you hear it.
    01. The Creator Has a Master Plan
    02. Colors

  24. verno329 Says:

    Good point Silly. Variety and school passion are some of college football’s appeal. Of course there are some very unappealing aspects when you look a little closer.

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    And one more that is a bit more obscure, because I can.

    Joe Farell – Canned Funk

    One of Joe Farrell’s crackling funky fusion albums for CTI, and a tasty batch of long tracks with a nice hard groove! The group features Jim Madison on drums, Joe Beck on guitar, Herb Bushler on bass, and Ray Mantilla on congas – and they all lay down a sound that shows Farrell finely displaying his talent for choppy, edgey reed playing. Tracks are all nice and long – and titles include “Canned Funk”, “Animal”, and “Spoken Silence”.

    01. Canned Funk
    02. Animal
    03. Suite Martinique
    04. Spoken Silence

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