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. MiA Says:

    Nice butter. Putting a 4 iron onto a green from 180-200+ out is a heck of a strike. I’m finally feeling more comfortable with my 5 iron and 4 iron. My 5 maybe goes 185 though. It was my 5 iron that put me 18″ from the hole on the par 3.

    Had an eagle a few weeks ago. 560 yard par 5. 280 yard drive. 210 yard 3 wood and a 70′ hit into the green with a 56° wedge, but based on my position couldn’t see it go in. Got on the green, looked in the cup and there it was. Delayed reaction celebration with my golf partner.


  2. MiA Says:

    Eagles are awesome. Congrats.

  3. Stoney Case Says:

    damn boyz. I’ll puff to that!

    “Jah No Dab. Jah No Dab.”

    Friend was singing that to me all week when I showed up to the fire scene with the full on dab rig.

    I and I reply, “We fight fiyah wit fiyah!”

  4. butter Says:

    ^ nice birdies

    It was a 200 yd 4 iron. Pured it. I’ve had 2 eagles in the same round twice. Including doing 1 and 18 one round. (Starting and finishing with an Eagle)

  5. butter Says:

    There is something ironic about showing up to fight a fire with a torch

    Good on ya tho Stoney. Getting that contained at all?

  6. Stoney Case Says:

    butter, it’s crazy. The fire exploded on monday while i was driving up. I posted some pics on the RG twitter feed. It looked bleak. Then on Tuesday in the middle of the night it poured rain! Not on the fire, but close enough to lower temps and raise humidity for a few days. They attacked it hard and think they may be able to keep it from the town of Sawyers. A couple houses burned up at an old historic mining town that’s now private property. Not out of the woods, but better than Monday. Of course, new fires have started around Happy Camp.

    I did not go near the actual fire. I spent all my time setting up sprinklers and fire hoses for all the residents of town and up. Did some brush clearing and weed whacking. The fire is one ridge away from the town.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    you a good man stoney. country living. everyone gotta chip in

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Good news from the front lines, Stoney Bear

    Night folks. English Premier League soccer starts tomorrow morning. Gonna actually try and follow a season. Go Everton!

  9. garretcorncob Says:

    Attaboy Palmer.

    I envy your EST game starts. Dortmund in the DFB Pokal at 9:30 tomorrow would be a lot nice than 6:30…

  10. voopa Says:

    Jugglers with fiyah

  11. vegas wolfmans Says:

    cous cous and coconut juice?

  12. CPTMURIKA Says:

    TSA-line pretty gacked-up at Atlanta Intergalactic AirPHield @6bells…but I traveled w/ GreyHound a couple/few times over the last 6+ weeks as “Colonel FORBIN” & could have packed some extra Plutonium for Doc Brown, “no ?’s asked”!

  13. CPTMURIKA Says:

    *going HOME for the 1st time since 6/30…nephew&mom taxi-service in T-minus 5ish hours!*

  14. CPTMURIKA Says:

    X-PHinity Harry to get the tri-post & help ease my slow arrival of stepping to “TheLine”!

    Happy Wknd BB…

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Happy Clifford Ball Day homies.

    Trust in Jah
    But carry a hose

  16. MiA Says:

    Morning wake and bake. Cooking Breakfast tacos up and the Clifford ball Reba.

  17. thedayman Says:

    @MiA – electrons sent to your g mahlz about a friend moving to your lugar

    it’s always intriguing to me reading about coventry. I was never a part of the phish scene until 3.0, so the concept of trey nodding off on stage is completely foreign to me. Great to see how far they’ve come.

    I thought this summer was outstanding, too. Jams everywhere, tight(ish) band, and our per show batting avg for dem jams has got to be significantly higher. Hope everyone here has been doing well, and thanks as always for the great community @Miner.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    MiA has the right idea…wake and bake and the Clifford Ball Reba. Mrs. Schubert’s sausage rolls and scrambled eggs though. Then the last day on the beach. Happy Saturday!

  19. phishm Says:

    Been having very weird dreams lately. I know I’m trying to work something out in these dreams as I’m not sure what they mean. It’s been going on for about a week now. I wake up more tired then when I went to bed. The dreams leave a certain thought pattern in my head that I’d just soon forget. Maybe I’m stressing about going to Dick’s. Maybe it’s my job. Maybe it’s my life. All I know is a change is about to happen. This is how it always goes down. A big change at that. All I can do is look for the signs and allow the change to take place. Whether I like it or not it will happen. And it will be for the best (at least I hope so). It normally is. I fear change, but know it’s a good thing. Can’t wait to find out what the universe has in store for me. Hope it’s good.

  20. butter Says:

    @kaya – I heard you commenting on quitting drinking this week. Wanna do a challenge to see who can go the longest without a beer?

    I’m doing wine still. But I really don’t get carried away with wine. A couple glasses with dinner, ect. I’m working out and have found that beer drinking negates my workouts so I’m over it for a while. Let me know..

    Back to school BBQ to meet daughter’s new teacher today. Summer Summer don’t slip away

  21. tela's_muff Says:

    I’m working out a lot (mountain biking) and beer motivates me. Ha.

    Getting excited for Dicks. Gonna do some planning this weekend.

  22. RicksFork Says:

    Same exact thing for me Tela’s. I mountain bike 2-3 days a week and spin or road ride most of the rest. Beer is what I’m earning on my rides.

  23. bobby weird Says:

    thanks to whoever suggested Garcia Plays Dylan. i’d heard all the songs but not all the versions. Visions of Johanna brought me to full tears driving in to work. beauty. great double CD

  24. CPTMURIKA Says:




  25. butter Says:

    Yea that’s a great release Bobby Weirwolf, I’ve played the shit out of that

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