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”

  1. gavinsdad Says:

    Feel you on the logistical hassle of phish fork @AW but glad u got that dte one off as well. U should def chill w Alice/K and Heady and his old lady & baby one nite at Dicks. Parent style.

  2. jdub Says:

    Echo plex or whale echoes to start tour?

  3. bearito Says:

    Fuck me Orange Beach!

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    Come on Sumo. Phish doesn’t speak Chinese. I know you love to troll me but that was #Nonsense

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Echto Plex! we lost Egon, let the MSG Echoing continue.

    Ghost Tour opener. Massive Echo.

  6. Kaveh Says:

    SPAC (first time) and Denver it is for me.

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Georgey Porgey see you at Dicks. Don’t be a Grumpelstiltskin. Nothing is fucked here Dude.

  8. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Spin Doctors tour here I come!

  9. sumodie Says:

    Stoney, just adding my nonsense to your pile ;0>

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    @jdub – Trza will play something to make someone mad.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    bear WSP is no longer welcome at Orange Beach…wonder if the same will hold true for Phish post 8/1. Time will tell.

  12. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    putting in for mann requests- i think randall’s will be a real easy stub. does anyone think randall’s will be a tough ticket, should i request?

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Heady re Randalls see Stoney’s Summer 14: Phish ticket trees America. You’re golden.

  14. jdub Says:

    Thinking mad Egon induced Echtoplasmic cross beamed Ghost to kick off summer at SPAC. Or so one hopes.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    just thinkin about all the west coast Farmers (yes that kind) who’ll be busy attending their crops and be bummed trying to get to Phish when the season is really happening.

    “well got all this shit is drying…. but we gotta get to Indio… can you watch my crop for me while I go see Phish play Electric Ladyland?”

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Chris Barron is the shit. FACT. Am I wrong Ulysstar?

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    respect Jdub. I can roll with that. Will be listening from afar.

  18. bob dylan Says:

    lilum,
    tool has one helluva light show. saw them at bonnaroo in 07 and thought their light show was cutting edge then. should be a good time.

  19. George W. Kush Says:

    LilUm, might have to do that. Something about this set of dates seems so haphazardly planned to me. Why 3 more nights in Northerly Island instead of AV>DC? Last year was a joke. the SE criss-cross looks like a page from the WP tourbook. Merriweather is flat out awful, who the hell wants to go all the way down to backwards-ass Alabama from Va?, and Stoney is right about the weaksauce one-off closer date. Is this supposed to be opposite from NE saturated fall ’13? Bad logic all around. Sum ’14 = The Groundscore Ticket Tour.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    and gdad is right, dont be a rookie. i’d bitch about the randalls island if i lived there but at least its not jones beach. can’t skip those shows if they are in your hometown.

  21. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @r.l.- i will be taking my daughter to a least one night (probably all three) during the dicks run. we are always open to hang out family style. last year we got real lucky and our friend got us box seats, so the baby was able to sleep in the room while the people raged outside in the box- i boogied by the door, keeping an eye on her, she slept the entire second set.

  22. bearito Says:

    Oh, it will be a one & done after the phishies roll through . Although that town loves what the Hangout Fest has done for it. Book rooms pronto for that one (peak season). Condo’s on da beach boooyyyyyy! Def need to turn that into a Th/Fr beach trip then ride up to Oak Mt

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘cross beamed’ Ghost. what we all dream of. the ‘Gozer the Barbarian’ killer.

  24. George W. Kush Says:

    yeah sorry for bitching. Should be happy about dates. Woooo dates yeehaw! Summer Phish yeahbro.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    thanks @BobbieD. don’t wanna be the one guy with the ‘meh’ attitude while this group of my friends flips out over their favorite band. But I’m sure I’ll have a good time. Hopefully in the last 7 years the lighting has gotten even crazier.

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