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. MrCompletely Says:

    @phishm, no reason to stress about Dicks. That will be a cupcake. I know what you mean about dreams though. Sometimes that does signal something big lurking.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    10.31.13 webcast

    cool way to share it

  3. vapebraham Says:

    Word up, BB. Sativa and coffee outside w Time RW tribute to start the day. The hs combo really accentuates color, texture, and sound – everything snaps- even felt some trippa waves. Got the kiddies to disconnect for the morning – outside chess and drawing. Kids, like adults, will resort to the path of least effort and immediate payoff, and that is TV. Helping kids find balance and other options is good work.

    Butter: took a break on drinking and vaping for a bit. Needed to step back to find appreciation again. Wasn’t much, but better than not pausing. Sometimes the best course of action is pausing and observing.

    I hear you on beer. Had been many many consecutive months (years) of everyday brewsing. Have managed to stave off the other bb, but it takes work just to break even. Beer is fattening. Also, alcohol consumption is fraught w risk. Ahh but those iPA’s are so delish and numbing. an internal tug o war.

    And coffee’s tough too. The high is nice, especially for the once a month guy like me, but it really gets !y heart going and not in a pleasant way. Solution is to become a teetotaler. Just need to build momentum in that direction. Beer challenge u say? Stakes?

  4. phishm Says:

    I hear ya C on Dicks. I’m not stressing about going as I honestly can’t fucking wait. It’s the fact that I’m dropping a grand on myself. I feel like I need it however and as such made the decision. Hopefully it helps me sort things out. I’m fairly certain it will.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    seems like you are a gainfully employed professional who puts his kids first. you’ve earned spending a grand.

    you gotta take care of yourself to take care of your kids.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    I’m back to beating the boy in chess the majority of the time – just above 50%.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    Current iaudio flac playa is shaping up nicely – 2014 phish and the c spacecamp\byrd offerings. Awesome.

  8. phishm Says:

    Whether I believe it or not that is refreshing to hear from someone other then the part that agonizes over decisions in my head. That sub conscience can be an uncomfortable place when things aren’t quite right. Time to take the captain’s advice and just surrender. Might as well.

  9. phishm Says:

    Weird how things work out. Out of nowhere my brother calls and says that he needs someone to hang with for the day as he’s got a bunch of shit on his mind. Now we’re talking. Enough about my crap. Dude has some major issues going on. Real one’s.

  10. phishm Says:

    And yes there will be beer drank, steaks grilled, preseason football watched and herb smoked. Maybe a little Phish too. Love it when my brother needs assistance. It’s almost like he knows me too well.

  11. butter Says:

    @kaya – I was just thinking a pride challenge and motivation to keep the other guy going. But we could have it be a Phish ticket to a Summer 15 show or something else

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘Sativa and coffee’ .. mee to.

    Last night was a blast, venue was freaked cause we only had 50 presales in a 400 person sized spot. But we had 270 walk up ticket sales at the door. Then they were pumped.

    And our Liquid Light projection guy is bad ass and super down to keep working with us.

    Off to Pt Reyes to play a wedding today. Rock on BB!

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    Webcasts from 11.1 and 11.2.13 up on /r/boardtrades as well

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    @butter Congrats on the Eagle! I have only had one, but I have had a lot of Eagle puts lip out. But wow, two in one round— on 1 and 18— is awesome.

    I am good from 200-210 with my three iron and consequently never got into the hybrid clubs. I don’t like giving up the soft feel of my irons, even if it comes with more distance. My bag is always 3-pw with sand and 56 degree. driver, three, and five for woods. My putter rounds out my 14.

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    That and a book is how I quit cigs butter. Best bet ever.

  16. bobby weird Says:

    wow that 10.9.89 Hampton show is unreal. Death Don’t Have No Mercy, especially. everybody really locked in, esp Weir and Garcia.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    Got to see Harry and the Hitmen and Sun Hop Fat double bill concert last night. Had an awesome time. They play well, they have fun on stage, it was a great atmosphere last night.

    The guy running the oil lights made me realize if I were young and dosed in the 60s and watching one of those screens during an acid test, i’d have prob lost my mind. It was awesome to see in person.

    The only drag of the night was the band in between lilum’s bands. They were a good band but after the hit men, the energy in the room deflated until Sun Hop Fat came out. All in all had a great time and was proud to see lilum holding down the bass end.

  18. Calpain Says:

    @dorn- are you in OC this weekend?? Was just in your neck of the woods at grasscity records, picked up a Sun Ra record and other random selections.
    If you want to sample some peach kush late night I can make the trek over the bridge.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    Yeah that second warlocks show is pretty legit. Energy was off the charts. Musically I think the shoreline death don’t is even better but I wasn’t in the room for that one.

    Someone did old school liquid light in the late night tent at high Sierra in the mid nineties, that was the first I really immersed in it. Nuts

  20. Calpain Says:

    BobbyD- those oil/light projectors are all the rage w hipster and psych bands. I dig the throwback.

    Congrats LilUm

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    I’m having one of those days where I am really thinking about how I’m going to miss Dick’s. That gap between the end of tour and late August really gives you time to rationalize.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    The wait time at this haircut joint has gone full Seinfeld Chinese Restaurant

  23. bobby weird Says:

    C, i didn’t think peeps in your neck of the woods cut their hair?

  24. MiA Says:

    Nobody in the PNW ever cuts their hair. This is why there are no barbershops there.

  25. MiA Says:

    I really should just shave my head. I have a gorgeous looking skull.

    But my George Clooney grey hair looks work too.

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