Recalibration

The rise of blogs, social networks, webcasts, streaming and near-instantaneous downloads has been a boon to the contemporary Phish experience. We are watching the future of music unfold before our very eyes. More people can tap into the Phish experience than ever before, irrespective of where they live or the size of their bank accounts. And yet, alongside this growth, signals are getting crossed, understandable given the amount of noise that exists out there.

Anyone can voice their opinion on any subject online. And in the Phish world, they often do. It’s quite simply never been easier, in the entire history of human communication, to share a thought, in real-time, potentially reaching, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or more, people. And with this capability, we’ve also turned what used to be a primarily private exercise, or at least one confined to whoever could fit in our dorm room alongside the bong, into this immediate impulse to analyze, critique and contextualize. We tend to have a very Utopian view of technology, it’s hard envision that the things that save us so much time and energy, that make our lives more productive and enjoyable, could have downsides. But they do indeed. And as Phish fans we should try to understand some of these downsides, not to erase or negate them. But to mitigate them, and act, speak, converse and engage with a full understanding of how technology is altering the Phish experience.

In the past weeks and months, I’ve pondered this need to make instant meaning out of something as divine and ephemeral as Phish’s music. We travel, save, scrimp, sacrifice to attend Phish concerts, and yet we can’t help but interrupt our own experience—and everyone else’s—with instant critique and analyses. To be honest, I—literally—stay off the Internet and social media until my review is done each night, because I don’t want my own experience affected by any Joe’s instant analysis and conclusions. I like my Phish experiences unaffected by opinions outside of my friends’, that way the experience remains pure.

These days, some fans are making conclusions about shows before they’ve even ended, often basing their thoughts on couch tour streams. Let’s remember one thing—Phish is all about the live experience. Though it is always fun—and part of our grander universe—to breakdown the show, analyze the jams, and compare the music to the band’s past accomplishments, we cannot do so while the band is on stage. These moments are sacred and not to be adulterated.

Most of my readers only know me as an online persona, and, thus, I am largely misunderstood. For instance, people often ask me if I take notes at shows. No matter how often I get asked this question it never ceases to amaze me, because as anyone who has met me, or seen me at a show can attest, taking notes is about as far away from the live experience that I have as humanly possible.

For me, live Phish is about immersion and surrender; about attaining heights in our souls if we find the way to release our egos, and mute the incessant stream of thoughts that crowds our consciousness day in day out.

For me, the live Phish experience is about dancing and celebrating the human spirit, not about calling out flubs, bitching about repeats or the length of jams. Live Phish is about living in the moment—the only moment that exists, and the only moment for which the sound actually exists. Everything is secondary when Phish is playing.

Because I write about Phish, some people think I am standing at the show deep in thought and analysis, and nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who has spent a show with me knows that there is absolutely nothing I want to discuss or think about while the band is playing. Nothing else fuckin’ matters. Period. End of discussion.

I love the live Phish experience so much that I think about it all night, discuss it with friends and eventually write my take on it before I go to sleep. But regardless of what conclusions I come to after the show, that is exactly when my analysis is done—separate from the consciousness-engulfing live experience for which we go to the ends of the earth. In my opinion, if one is trying to absorb an emotional experience with their rational mind, they are missing the point of the show. One might say that is exactly what my blog is doing, but I see it differently. I see my blog as a kind of Sportscenter for Phish, pointing out the highlights and giving a brief recap of what happened. But the focus of everything is the live experience. I don’t even consider what I may write until at least 4 am, because in my opinion, the post-show hang is part of the show experience. Listen, I am not here to tell anyone what to do or how to approach things, but I will say this—Phish isn’t about thinking, analysis or critique—it’s about feeling, emotion, catharsis and shared energy. If I’ve confused anyone or been unclear about this, please accept my apologies.

My critique of Phish is born from passion and love; a love so deep that I don’t even bother trying to explain it. That is what my blog is about—my love of Phish and all they mean to me—and to us. If anyone thinks I am looking to pick apart a performance, again, there is nothing further from the truth. I believe Phish to be artists of the highest degree, on par with the greatest creators of all-time, and my sharing of my opinion after the fact is a way for me to give back to the experience that has changed my life.

Opinions need not be judged, they can not be right or wrong. Just because I didn’t love Chicago’s three-setter doesn’t devalue the fact that you did. We are peers on this planet. In fact, you can even use the same free software I do to post your own opinion of the show. Nobody is stopping you and I’m thrilled to see more people are doing so. But let’s not forget why we are all here—those feelings that emerge during a show that occur nowhere else on earth; that connection to the universe when you forget yourself and your pulse becomes one with the music. Highlight shows and analysis come afterwards and are incredible amounts of fun, but during the show we are all part of the action! Play your part—dance now, think later. Love always.

1,232 Responses to “Recalibration”

  1. phearlessphreaks Says:

    Damn Miner – this is one hell of an entry. Well said.

  2. Schmoyd Says:

    That is your best post yet. While I don’t always agree with your reviews, I respect you putting your opinions out there. Have fun, be safe!

  3. sumodie Says:

    Gorge delivers as usual. Up & down for me but the highs were very high. Baking hot yeaterday made for warm evening with some fat wide open phish.

    Waves > 20YL my peak plus that sick xeyed

    Knew MiA tix would show ;0>

    Back to the spacey heat…

  4. Gozer Says:

    I am just short of 40. Seen 60-70 shows. Work in finance. Been seein em since new haven 93. Mr. Miner — this post was such a great expression of what i always knew about you but i could tell others might have either not understood about you or even for themselves. But i think it was very helpful in lighting the way for how shows should be approached—its about exploring our souls and the eternal moment with ourselves, each other and four guys who give it their all, get “it”, and night in night out try to create a magic environment for that very purpose. That they are healthy evolving and bringing sounds new and old into the mind space each night at the highest level is something we should all be grateful for. Like all things it to will pass. And many of us older folk can talk and love to bitch about velvet crappers or ripcords or a sloppy transition here or get pumped or giddy overa scorching dwd, crosseyed etc,—-we still (especially when we are older with kids and 9-5′s) when we are at a show are always aware that it is up to us to get into that magic place where all are one an one is all and the mystery of life and beauty of it all gets past the fog that surrounds. It is about letting go and dancing and it doesnt matter if its a 7 or a 10. As we all mature we realise we can have the most beautiful moment in our lives during what later turned out to be (on relisten) an okay show and we can be preoccupied with a bad date and our meddling thoughts during a scorching 10+ show and never really get lost in it. So to echo mr miners thoughts kids—if its not what u need, dont go, but if u are looking to get to a higher plane for a few hours- go do it and dont let the band determine your experience by judging how they are playing— go in as deep as u can and celebrate and get lost and sometimes even the velvet crapper will seem like ut just may be the best music u can fathom. Even i have to be in deep for that but thats the point. The goal is your own joy and learning how your mind plays a huge role in it. Save all the other chatter fir later when your spinning discs and bullshitting at a barbecue. Treat the show like we (all 10,000) are all in the tent around the fire with the shamans and goin as far into the moment as we all can get together. And i know many of u and mr miner have been in deep beyond the filters of ego and personality to the mystical. But if u have just caught it here and there and in glimpses remember what mr miner was saying and what i am trying to echo that When you go to a show u have an opportunity to let go and experience yourself and life in a deeply joyful and mystical way. Take it every time… Analyze later for shits and giggles. And to be clear i dont mean u cant groan or make a sarcastic remark midshiw. I break balls with my friends all the time on song selection but thats cause we all know as old farts how lucky we are and what we are there for and 5 minutes later im spinning and boogying and jumpin for joy when i get lost in “it” again. And some day u will if u dont already undersand why tom writes and trey says i am inclined when i find a marble in sand to think that it fell from my hand. When you can be at a show and see only one soul experiencing that moment from 15,000 perspectives then you are in deep and close to “getting it” and what sing they are playing, if u can even remember, wont be all that important or whether it is a 8, 9, 10. Believe me to u it will be an 11.

  5. Matt Says:

    Just started reading revues of past shos and great review!

  6. zphishchic Says:

    “For me, live Phish is about immersion and surrender; about attaining heights in our souls if we find the way to release our egos, and mute the incessant stream of thoughts that crowds our consciousness day in day out.

    For me, the live Phish experience is about dancing and celebrating the human spirit,”Everything is secondary when Phish is playing.”

    You just wrote what I believe. I hope to share the moment with you one day.

  7. Tunt Felym Says:

    Your argument that passion is incompatible with rationality conveys ignorance of connoisseurship, which carries love and familiarity to the point of comparison and, yes, judgement. Pretending that it’s all good, brah, isn’t lacking judgement; it’s just lacking good judgement, informed judgement, and meaningful ideas.

    If “the point of the show” for you is to suspend mental capacities and muddle reflection with rose-colored glasses, that almost certainly helps you enjoy the show more. But the band members don’t adorn themselves with blinders. Trey, in particular, I’m confident, wants to a show to be not only emotional and in the moment, but transcendent in describable ways.

    It’s okay to be ecstatic AND reflective. It’s okay to say that a show or song was weaker than others that preceded it. And it’s flaccid to pretend that every musical breath from the stage is tears-of-joy-worthy hallucinatory epicness. But, hey, plenty of folks seem to love the flaccid fist-pumping, so… keep at it! :)

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