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. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Re GSBG @ Tips.

    JF protip 45 Tchoup just up past Dick & Jennys is the pre/post spot to kick it whenst @ Tips. Esp if doubling up w/ Maceo 😎 I’ll be there holding court.

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^up Tchoupitoulas from Tips past D&J’s. Formerly known as Shiloh.

  3. jdub Says:

    Gauging the interest level for a SPAC rental house. Last year was a blast, had a nice place close to downtown and the venue. Looking to rinse and repeat. Minus the whale meat.

    email me if interested: josh ua wink ley at the mac

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Island Twist for Stoney drive to friend’s bday dinner. Working my thru Island Tour #doinwork

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Sneakin 1st

  6. bobby weird Says:

    i had a blast at NI last year; even enjoyed the challenges of the weather. was damn fun bonding with those peeps who sought shelter in same place.

    and then there is the fun to be had in Chi everywhere. the beauty. the park. the Lake. walking everywhere. and…

    the venue is not ideal, i get it. it was also its first year.

    : considers those going to NI hating every minute — scratches head :

  7. calpain Says:

    Das Mann!!

  8. bob dylan Says:

    the mann looking like the money run

    ISO – floor space in hetty children’s toy room basement around cherry hill, dirty jerz

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    “Summer ’14: They’re all ‘Skip’ shows”

  10. bearito Says:

    Heard dat 45 Tchoup! Don’t forget about the rage lot in the Rouses grocery store parking lot right across the street too. I’ve left my car for days on end supplied with coolers of beers, snacks, fresh t-shirts and accouterment for setbreak and post show what-have-you’s. A mini shakedown if you will…

  11. jtran Says:

    Post eaten. See you all this fall was the gist of it

  12. DirtReprise Says:

    Anyone land a translation for the paper yet?

  13. jdub Says:

    Summer ’14, the enigmatic tour of 3.0.

    When does the new album drop and how does that affect the tired rotation of standards?

    New jam vehicles?

    New/revitalized Trey tones/toys? No whammy’s please

    Is east coast portion of tour warm up or do they come out firing?

    Does Robear get off the couch before Dicks?

    So many questions to be answered.

  14. jdub Says:

    But really, why 2 shows in Alabama? So odd

  15. RoosterPizza Says:

    I don’t know how I’m not going to Denver. That’s how I’m going to end up going.

  16. vegas wolfmans Says:

    So, just to be clear, they are gonna hose the west coast this fall. Right?

  17. jdub Says:

    42494 to celebrate announcement day and continue my leisurely pace through ’94.

    Love love love the Bowie from this show. Full of life. Highly recommended.


  18. jdub Says:

    All signs lead to that vegas. I hope it happens.

  19. The Flesh Says:

    Bummed that my July is slammed and that I won’t be able to catch any of the dates in the northeast. Will miss this year’s SPAC run. Little bummed about the one Alpharetta date (Sunday – annoying). The Alabama date on the water got me excited and then I realized it wasn’t on the beach like Hangout Fest and is a venue similar to Jones Beach. I’ll hit Birmingham and Alpharetta and will hold out for west coast dates and visit some friends. Could consider Dicks but probably won’t do it.

  20. jdub Says:

    New post>>>

  21. garretcorncob Says:

    Ha, good call Mitch. It’s a World Cup year again too, almost enough to get me back across the country and in that basement

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Buck up Moany Face. Bring the kids and stay here for Phishfork.

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Damn bear! Rouse’s = pro’s protip.

    Can’t wait to hang. You’re my kinda crazy.

  24. JanxSpirit Says:

    Is Portsmouth a tough ticket?

    Is anything a tough ticket?

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mann>Randall’s…. sweet 5 pack with little to zero effort….Lock it up

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