@EdCochran18: Can you address the cultures of different venues?
This is one of the weirdest factors of going on tour—by far. Because you are (usually) in a different state every night, the first thing that comes into play are state laws. Last summer, for example, when tour jumped from California into the south and then back to Colorado, the culture was like day and night. Weed and other drugs are seen so differently from state to state in the US, its hard to believe we are still in the same country sometimes, (see OKC.) Thus the first thing to verse yourself on is the laws of where you are and how seriously they have it out for hippies. But then the venues, themselves, can be extremely laid back or tight. For example, at Bill Graham Civic the ushers patrolled to make sure you were smoking weed and not cigarettes (this is a fact), while at Merriweather, there are teen-aged girls, backed by an urban security SWAT team, making sure your feet don’t cross painted lines on the aisles in the pavilion, less they kick you onto the lawn (also a fact.) Sometimes security takes themselves way to seriously (Jones Beach) while others they encourage you to have fun (Hampton.) It’s pretty crazy to bounce from venue to venue and have to adjust to a new set of norms on a nightly basis when all you’re trying to do is dance and feel good, but—alas—that’s why Jedi training is a huge asset on Phish tour.
Chillest Venues: The Gorge, Hampton, Dick’s
Tightest Venues: Merriweather Post, Jones Beach, Virginia Beach
@Teddier: Five years into the future-what are Phish doing to keep their interest fresh and will their music change much by then?
Five years! Wow. Phish has only played four years in this era and we are jumping five more ahead. I’ll be completely honest and say that Phish 2017 may or may not exist. While I certainly hope so, five more years is a long time for these guys to keep going. For some reason, I don’t see Phish following the Grateful Dead model of play until you drop. I suppose nothing stands in their way of playing five years and beyond except a desire to move on. If they are still playing in five years, I sure hope the band has a couple more albums under their belt and we are hearing a hell of a lot of new material! Improvisationally, however, the sky is the limit. As long as these four guys are committed to each other, I am confident they will crank out high quality jams. Any stylistic conjecture would be sheer speculation of which I wouldn’t even know where to start. If Phish has one thing going for them, their fans will never lose interest no matter what they do. Tour wise, let me take a wild guess—maybe summer tour and a new years run?
@Matthewgerber79: Do you ever see Mikes Song or YEM ever returning to their former improv glory, or has that ship sailed along with Halley’s?
Interestingly, all it takes is Trey’s will and either of these songs can snap back into form on any given night. But for whatever reason, I don’t see it happening. “YEM” doesn’t feel like as huge of a loss as “Mike’s,” which has gone from a top three jam vehicle for the second half of the ‘90s to a recycled guitar build. But at least “Mike’s” is over in eight minutes these days, while “YEM” still has nearly ten minutes of composition and five minutes of a vocal jam, leaving the song with negligible payoff on any given night. Everyone has been focusing on the rarity of “YEM” over the past two years as if it’s a bad thing, but if the band is only gonna step into four minutes of generic funk, my preference is to leave it on the shelf. There’s no need to kill so much of a set with the theatrics that are “YEM.” It’s unquestionably one of Phish’s greatest songs, but they’ve played it so much over their career, it seems like they no longer know how to make it interesting.
Here are some personal favorites in no particular order and without racking my brain:
“My Left Toe” 7.21.99, Star Lake
“Reba” 7.6.94, Montreal
“Harry Hood” 12.28.10, Worcester
“Bathtub Gin” 8.17.97, Great Went
“Bathtub Gin” 9.12.99, Portland Meadows
“Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling” 12.31.99, Big Cypress
“Ghost” 5.22.00, Radio City
“Bathtub Gin” 7.29.98, Riverport
“Roses Are Free” 4.3.98, Nassau
“Mike’s Song” 12.31.95, MSG
“Tweezer” 12.2.95, New Haven, CT
“Piper” 7.18.99, Oswego
“Antelope” 10.24.95, Madison, WI
“Drowned > Rock and Roll” 6.29.2000, PNC
“Antelope” 12.9.94, La Mesa, AZ
“Drowned” 9.14.00, Darien Lake
“Wolfman’s Brother” 10.31.98, Vegas
“David Bowie” 12.29.94, Providence
“Disease > Free” 6.26.95, SPAC
“Reba > Walk Away” 10.29.98, Los AngelesTags: Culture, Mailbag