Thinking Back to Coventry

Coventry (Boston Globe)

Coventry (Boston Globe)

Coventry. The mere mention of the word makes any Phish fan cringe. But here we are, ten years later, on the heels of Phish’s sixth summer tour since their return and on the brink of their fourth fall tour in six years. One can say we’ve come a long way from the mud ridden disaster that was Coventry in 2004. Sometimes the universe just provides the exact combination of elements to match a particular mood, and between the traffic debocle, the mud-soaked concert field, and fans being turned away from the site in cars while others hiked in, everything about this weekend was an absolute fucking trainwreck. And then we had the band. In what was supposed to be their swan song, the came out in arguably the worst form of their career—in every way. Despite a few highlights over two days, the music, overall, matched the vibe of the festival as well—an utter fucking mess. Calling Coventry a travesty would be the understatement of the century. It was really that bad. If you need any memory of just how bad it got, watch some footage of the final night. Viewer discretion is advised. There wasn’t much takeaway from that weekend in Vermont, other than Phish was gone, and this time it was for good.

And somehow, I was ok with it all. I was devastated when Trey announced that they were done, but at Coventry, everything was already a foregone conclusion for me and I wasn’t all that traumatized by the events. I just knew things couldn’t be right with the band, because they just played their farewell festival without dropping “Tweezer.” And that’s not a joke, but a funny truth. There was no stepping into anything that weekend except mud, and lots of it. I remember walking back to our RV after the final show and just seeing abandoned shoes stuck in the mud, and somehow it felt like an apt analogy for the entire weekend. You had to just let go to enjoy yourself at all, even if it meant leaving your shoes behind. Phish was done and this was one last hurrah. But the irony was that there was very little joy at Coventry, and it was hardly a hurrah.

Coventry (

Coventry (

When they say the crowd went the way of the band in this era, its no joke. I didn’t have to look further than my own RV and my closest tour friends to see the effect that oxycontin and other hard drugs had taken on our scene. I was always someone who kept it lighthearted, I got spun and smoked weed all night, but I never saw the point in the “post-show” drugs. At some point, things shifted for some of my friends, as I’m sure they did for the band, and the entire tour experience became intertwined with hard drug use that went far beyond any recreational habit. Band members, my friends and way to many people in our community were in the grips of the same drug that had its grips on the nation, the semi-synthetic opiate named oxycontin that had become easily attainable in America during this time. It is a drug that chips away at one’s character and zest for life as quickly as it does their health, and in retrospect, it’s amazing Phish cranked out the music they did that summer. Leg one was solid the whole way through, and they had even played a fairly strong two-night stand at Great Woods just before Coventry. Through all the substances and internal issues, the band could still jam. Their composed playing had gone the way of the wind, but those guys could jam up until the end. Just about.

Many people say that they knew Phish would be back. I wasn’t one of those people. I took it at face value. Phish was done. I had to in order to put it all behind me and move on. After a little bit, it almost became easier to live a normal life without Phish, because I didn’t want to leave town every couple months for weeks on end. I didn’t have to make excuses to families, employers, schools and beyond in order to sneak off onto the astral plane with Phish. But throughout the band’s five year absence, I never found something that spoke to me as personally as Phish had, thus when I heard they were coming back, this entire blog began as a place to simply process my thoughts. I guess those people were right, because Phish came back, and they came back in a big way. Though it took a couple years to shake off the rust, Phish had climbed back to prominence, adding chapters upon chapters to their legacy that few dreamed possible. Thinking back to Coventry now is like remembering a bad dream from long ago. I can still relate to the emotions of the weekend, but they don’t sting any more because we are six years into a new era. Now we can all legitimately say, imagine what our lives would be if Phish hadn’t come back? And that, my friends, is pretty damn sweet.

Coventry (

Coventry (

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1,437 Responses to “Thinking Back to Coventry”

  1. Chris Says:

    I’m not going to dicks but I hope they play a nice long and beautiful scents and subtle sounds (with intro! ). I think it’s a great song and maybe playing it at Alpharetta made them realize that.

    I second a big spacefunk ghost

  2. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    dicks listening requests (besides warren zevon’s things to do in denver when your dead):

    a colorado llama- we got one in 2012- i want another coloradao llama. taboot, taboot!

    night one opener.

  3. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i third a big spacefunk ghost.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    @voopa thanks!

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    we all need a laugh

  6. Chris Says:

    Miner, your post inspired me to listen to a bunch of Japan ’00. I’ve heard the big stuff from there before but never much beyond that. The runaway Jim> theme from 6.16 is great. You can really feel the hood energy from the crowd on that (Kenny powers remastered auds) sounds like trey was using the whammy during theme. Awesome solo trey just floating on top riding a wave of awesome. I wish he would ride that wave more these days

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    That’s good news gdad. Prescip opiate addiction turns into heroin addiction which we all know rarely ends well. & it’s increasingly on the rise.

    Dropped the honest email to fam & shared w/ all those that are near & dear to me. Had a great talk w/ my roommate/one of best friends on our ridiculous urban hike (close to having heat exhaustion by the end; twas a test of wills that last 1-2 hrs). Spent time w/ friends tonight & spoke w/ a few today on the phone. Feeling a lot better as a result. Cliche but true: the truth will set you free. Good first step. Want to thank you all & esp MrMiner for this forum & community its created & for allowing me to drop my first honest talk as it relates to me & of course for all your support encouragement insight & advice. So here goes: THANK YOU.

    Hoping I might be able to custy cast a night or two next wknd perhaps w/ DrJ & fam at his casa. We’ll see what the next wk brings first… Hope someone mixlr’s up the SBD cast for some audio goodness in case one can’t video stream.

    Cheers yall.

  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^as it relates to my addiction rather.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Tripost’n it. PhamB & vegas I will be in touch over the next few days. PhamB sorry I haven’t gotten w/ you; post couple of have been busy & gone by quickly. Thank you both again for reaching out.

    Promise to keep the ‘me’ talk to a minimum going forward. Back to phishthoughts & the like or at least droppin music on your dome.

  10. voopa Says:

    JG, all the best. Glad glad glad, etc.

  11. sumodie Says:

    New Dick post >>>

  12. BrandonKayda Says:


    I know I’m coming in on the back-end of all this but I just wanted to say I’m so proud of you for making the first step toward recovery and you’ll be in my thoughts. You’re a really cool guy from what I can tell on the BB and I hope that everything works out – it’s really hard to admit something like that and it takes a lot of courage and I just wanted to commend you for your honesty and bravery.

    Stay strong, and there’s plenty of people who care about you here. Best wishes my friend.

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