Built to Last

MSG '13 (Ken Scelfo)

MSG ’13 (Ken Scelfo)

Phish’s dates are looming. And it’s brought me into contact with a feeling I haven’t had in a very long time—Phish is here to stay. Unlike previous times—when their very presence sometimes felt as fleeting as their live improvisations—the band has reached an anchored and steadfast place. And they seem to be in it for the long haul. The question this begs me, someone who has felt like he has needed to be there every step of the way, is—“Was it for this my life I sought?”

With a medium as ephemeral as live music, you’re either there or you’re not. The tapes tell a limited story of what happens each night, but they are powerless in recreating the overall experience. One never knows in which show Phish will dive off the deep end, making strategizing on what shows to hit a fool’s errand because even the most bullet proof logic often backfires. This is part of the reason so many of us simply removed that equation from our lives and hopped on entire tours. There’s nothing like the comfort of knowing that you’ll be there for every note played. The plotting of getting to and from tour vanishes and you can relax for the ride.

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

You see, I came late to the game, with my first show coming in the Summer of 1995, despite growing up in New England and having plenty of occasions to see the band. Only a few months later, in North Charleston in the Fall of 1995, I had an utterly transformative experience with the sublime combination of Phish and pure LSD, and I immediately became addicted to the experience.

Once I became hip to the scene, part of my mental trip became how much Phish I had missed! All of ’92, ’93 and ’94—and I had tickets offered to me in each of those years at least once. The thought that I could have seen New Year’s Run ’93 in New Haven or 10.8.94 in Fairfax, Virginia still stings a little bit. In retrospect, who knows if I’d be here now if I started then, we all have our paths. But with my newfound passion for the band, needless to say, I made it a point to see as many Phish shows as I could.

During 2000, we heard that Fall would be the end, rather a “hiatus” of the music and lifestyle that we all loved so much. It was bittersweet. They played “Let it Be” after the final show. We cried. We mourned. We moved on. Then, without much time passing, the band was back and touring in 2003. Yet, before we could turn our heads, they were gone again. And maybe this time it was forever. Things had gotten unhealthy for them and their lives certainly mattered more than their band. But regardless of circumstance, they pulled the plug quite abruptly and it was a colossal loss to everyone in the community. I still remember crying while staring at the half-assed message Trey posted on their site announcing the end. How could something so special end like this?

MSG '13 (A.Nusinov)

MSG ’13 (A.Nusinov)

I made peace with Coventry and once again moved on. Unlike so many others, I was not sure Phish was going to come back for a second time. I had written it off. I had no other choice. But as soon as I heard the confirmation of their second return, in the Summer of 2008, I felt that burn in my heart again. That feeling that had been all but stored away as something that had happened in my past was now choking me like a frog in my throat. It was all happening. Again. And I simply could not escape the fact that the highs, emotions and level of spiritual connection that I felt at Phish shows had been unmatched in any other life experience. Thus, the draw of Phish tour was too strong to deny, even in this more mature world I was trying to navigate. And—quite honestly—one of the driving forces behind my unending desire to see every single show was the thought that I could wake up any day and Phish could be gone again. The fear was real. This experiment was bumpy and unpredictable the last go-round and addiction is a vindictive enemy. Was the band just coming back to right their wrongs of ’04? To save their legacy? Would they be ghosts in five years?

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

Well, here we are, five years later, and the answer is hell no. In fact, Phish is more stable than they’ve been in well over a decade. Band members have found balance in their individual lives with their families, side projects and a couple Phish tours a year. The health and happiness of the band is well documented, and not since the mid-nineties has Phish enjoyed such a rock solid place. When combining this state with their current proficiency and creativity, in a manner like never before, it feels like the band is in it for the long haul. Their tongue-in-cheek invitation to their 60th reunion was not an empty gesture. There is much more to come from the Phish from Vermont.

And as I get older, I’m realizing that the goal of life may not necessarily be to see the most Phish shows as one possibly can. At some point, one can max out the information they can learn from a single experience. I’m not quite sure that I’ve reached that point, but I may be getting close. And that is ok, because when the day comes to stop seeing every show, I no longer have that existential fear that Phish will vanish into thin air. They’ll be around. And so will I.

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1,051 Responses to “Built to Last”

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  1. gotyotix Says:

    And so will I!

  2. dabtut Says:

    cloud held by the breeze

  3. poop goblin Says:

    peace miner

    what a ride we’ve all had. sitting out fall tour waiting on Alice to be born dealt with my own personal future show attending/ life decisions. I kept feeling happy for the kids in the building and the band for throwing down . had a positive feelin they’d still be throwin down whenever we jumped back on. didn’t crush me to sit out like I thought it was. have had so many amazing experiences in 3.0. so grateful. glad got to chill a bit and share a bunch of dance floors. see ya soon. love ya kid.

  4. Willowed Says:

    Agreed, Like the Phish found the balance, so do we. I would love to be at every show embracing this communal experience but I just can’t, and i’m ok with that.

    So when I do get to see them, I look at the experience that is front of me as my church. I soak up every moment, every hand shake, every late night hotel story, every lot shenanigan, and most importantly, every note. I keep it in my heart and mind and reflect back on the moment with ultimate happiness.

    I’m ok with that.

    See you int the summer!

  5. MiA Says:

    Great stuff Miner.

  6. buddysmyles Says:

    I.so.agree! From the 1st time i saw them in ’93 i promised myself to see them play atleast once a year.. So far so good! I’ve never been in the financial or personal space at the same time to do a whole tour except fall 00′ & what a ride it was… Nothing is better then knowing that all one has to do that day is make it to a show! If you havn’t done it & the cards line up… GO! Do it now! NOW! Do it Now….

  7. buddysmyles Says:

    P.s. Thank you & welcome back Mr. Minor!

  8. Spike man Says:


  9. the Baker Says:

    ^ “Band members have found balance in their individual lives with their families, side projects and a couple Phish tours a year. The health and happiness of the band is well documented, and not since the mid-nineties has Phish enjoyed such a rock solid place.”

    *sure seems/sounds ROCK SOLID to me!

    Nice, comforting piece,
    Welcome Back, Mr. M!

  10. RicksFork Says:

    Really thoughtful and honest piece Miner. While I have never seen every show in a run, I identify with a lot of the feelings that you reference here and respect the perspective that you have gained.

    Really glad for a new read and a fresh board, but I was starting to think we could make it to 10,000.

  11. Shred Says:

    I was seeing a ton of Dead in 89-93 but I still started 3/14/92. About 22 years ago.

    @ miner- WTF were you doing passing on shows like New Haven 93? Like you had something better to do that night? I saw most of my Phish 92-95. Did summer tour 95. Yes they are in a great spot. Excited for summer. Trey needs to step it up x 1000 tho.

    Nice article. Thought you died.

  12. Snigglebeach Says:

    I think Miner touched on what drives so many of us Phish-nerds crazy the last couple years. Figuring out which shows you have to have to hit.

    For most of us every year brings a show or run that we could have probably caught if we had tried a little harder. Or skipped the “meh” show that we booked instead.

    I think if I found a time machine I would use it for selfish Phish related travel.
    If one exists ill trust someone else to use it to go after Hitler, I’m going back to Great Woods 93 and seeing gamehedge at my local venue.

  13. RicksFork Says:

    I love it Sniggle. My buddy and I have had the same conversation many times about all of the shows that were so close and we just didn’t go to. Some of them we cant even remember why. We went to one of the Providence nights of the Island Tour and not the other and neither of us can remember why. I think its because I was usually in trouble with the parents, but that’s not an excuse.

  14. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Great piece, Miner. You the man. Sustainability for me has meant a handful of shows per year since the return- sometimes less- sometimes more. Going back to school, now living in the Pac NW, marriage, life, etc… Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out- fall tour this year definitely. Most of the time, though, I feel like I’ve found a pretty good balance. While the band and their music always has and always will be a hugely important part of my life, it has become “a part” of life. My full tour days ended in 2000. It makes me really appreciate and look forward to the ones I do hit. There is more joy in the process for me now than ever- a kind of spiritual cleansing/reset when I am able to unplug and go. This place has been instrumental in helping me to become a better listener when I am there. Keep up the good work.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Good stuff Miner. Firing up the fanbase.

    Btw- 12/29/93 and 10/8/94 were fun ass shows. 😉

  16. ren Says:

    Welcome back sir!

    Thanks for sharing whats been going on in your head. I think this was a very contemplative winter for many of us. We all find our balance within this world and all of the amazing elements it is comprised of. Time to put these winter doldrums behind us and look towards our bright and sunny futures. Any Phish is good Phish and I’m happy just for another day to try and live the dream…whatever dream that may be on that given day. I truly am thankful for this place and all of the great people that inhabit it.

    Long live the PHISH

  17. Mosesmauzy Says:

    I also was fortunate to see my first Phish show in 95′.
    Thank You Mr. Miner for these writings and all your posts. As I cannot be at all shows or even some runs. Hearing your take and hearing something, anything about Phish satisfies my soul!!

  18. dorn76 Says:

    I want to go back to the old thread. It’s dark and scary here.

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Fuck it, I tried posting back over there, and it just wasn’t the same. Ready to jump in to this Brave New World as long as you crazy fuckers will be here.

    Nice to see you Mr. Miner. Your timing and thoughts are impeccable, as per usual.

    Contemplative indeed.

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Good piece @Miner. He excitement is building for dates and then the thought(s) of live Phish.

    Happy Friday BBers!

  21. MiA Says:

    Dorn’s comments = unfrozen caveman lawyer


    “your world frightens and confuses me…” “my primitive mind can’t grasp these concepts”

  22. dorn76 Says:

    I’m a mediocre salesman-lawyer, so basically same deal.

  23. dorn76 Says:

    When I hear your honking horns, I sometimes want to get out of my BMW and run off into the hills, or whatever…

  24. the Baker Says:


    *these lil gadgets outta be available at shows for the non-psychedelic’rs, or the uninitiated…if Umphrey’s is selling personal headsets, perhaps the Boys could offer the “Sound of Kudora” for an extra nickel, or two!

  25. Corey Says:

    Thanks, LN for rubbing it in. Mansfield’s on the docket apparently, as they leaked a date…but ya’ll probably knew that already. Still hoping for a European jaunt sometime in the very near future. Please?

    Hello bb’ers. Been a bit of a lurker as of the last handful of months. @Miner, thanks for the freebie Niagara Falls. It arrived and has been listened to several times over. While ya’ll figure out the +s and -s of Jazzfest, I will remember the first time fondly. Say what you will about their set, the week was magical. PHiSH and the funky funky Meters? Why, yes, yes please. And Doug Weinberg, if you’re reading from the heavens…we miss you, bud. That trip wouldn’t have been the same without you. And the last decade certainly hasn’t been the same either.

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