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 (

Tags: , ,

1,437 Responses to “Thinking Back to Coventry”

  1. MiA Says:

    And add … 60 lbs. Like Clooney in Syriana. Fat Clooney.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    you’re thinking of the beards, @weird. PDX is all about the haircuts. wooks live in Eugene or backwoods

  3. Aquaman Says:

    @Mr C.

    Here’s why…I think your barber just took a nap


  4. phishm Says:

    I shaved my head one night just for kicks MiA. It didn’t stick and I was glad that the hair finally grew back. I do not have a good looking head. It should be covered at all times. This I learned from that experience. And I think George Clooney is the single worst cause of smug ever.

  5. vapebraham Says:

    Right on, Butter. I was just kidding about stakes. Reminds of playing pool in college w my buddy and the stakes were usually steaks.

    As for the beer abstinence challenge, can we start at a later date. Just recently got some tasty ipas and they’re not getting any younger.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    ^^^ But I like the idea, especially with the wine lane open.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    Family hikes are a good thing. Stoked kiddies are mature and strong enough to get out there. Nothing like old growth trees, stone strewn paths, wildflowers, and running streams to sooth the mind and enrich the soul.

  8. RicksFork Says:

    Just happened across the Watkins Glen “Soundcheck Jam” from ’73 and got to thinking about what an amazing weekend that must have been. ABB, The Band and the GD. Cant imagine what 600,000 people looks like. We thought the Clifford Ball and subsequent festies were big…

  9. butter Says:

    Yea just let me know vape

    Have an awesome weekend errbody

  10. bobby weird Says:

    oh great. Visions of Johanna is so easy even I can play it. trick is trying to get through the lyrics…. what an emotional masterpiece, the song and Garcia singing it, both.

  11. vapebraham Says:

    I’m ready, butter. Belly is growing. Might want to start in a few, but let’s commit to a sept 1 start. Pdx trip in interim and want to taste the local brew.

    Still spinning 14 phish on shuffle w space camp jazz in the mix. Highlights today: 7.1 paug, saw it again, chi piper, and jammed nicu. Phish might be a step slower but this is cool by me. Grateful for modern phish. Saw phish again, arisen from the mudpit of CoventTry.

  12. vapebraham Says:

    Savoring this neshaminy county line IPA ( might be the only guy who loves this stuff), knowing the butter challenge is nigh. The wife was skeptical- the wine is fair game caveat threw her. I get it. Wine is more work, more of a commitment. Beer lends itself to the everyday and abuse. Guilty.

  13. vapebraham Says:

    Wine is more of an occassional drink by its nature.

    aSIHtOS 7.29 – $$$ and one of the best under 10 min. Jams of tour. Orchestral.

  14. vapebraham Says:

    Monica is a whole Lotta fun. Love it.

    Son heard beer challenge as beard challenge. “Does he have a good beard?”

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Shared a jug of nasty Rossi vino pre CB show and made a date to finish after. Sorry babe. LSD is a helluva drug.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    In case you didn’t see this.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    The Ocean Sings jamlet may be short but it’s intense. Jumps the rails in a hurry. Really like it.

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Forgot about Harpua. That song has left some dick bruises fo sho.

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Sick CB photo

  20. MiA Says:

    @Thedayman you’ve got responsive e-tronz.

  21. phishm Says:

    To give up on beer is like giving up on a dream. A dream of numbing nights that turn into days that are best forgotten since the pounding pain between the temples says that it will never happen again. But it does. And keeps happening until the pain lessens. It gets better and the numbness begins to take fold on that which is not agreeable with the part of the individual that needs to feel free. And it goes on until a decision is made that may require that which brings the wanted numb to be no more and then life is felt once again. And it feels good. That is until the part of which you are that needs to be sheltered to the reality of what life is really all about figures out what you have taken from it and the cycle repeats itself. Wonder why I know this cycle so well. Thank God that I never got into opiates. I guess.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Cool 2014 list with links

  23. BingosBrother Says:


    And this

  24. phishm Says:

    So it turns out my brother is worried about me. Not in a bad way, but in a Robin Williams type of way. He heard the news and knew that I spent a lot of time by myself and just wanted to see if there was anything I wanted to talk about. So I started to talk. I talked until he broke down and let me know that he’s not happy. Not happy at all. He needs a change and is not sure how to do it. The day then went onto much brighter things. We played this cool video game where we could blow away aliens that were trying to enhabit our territory. It was fun. He dug it. In the end I feel like my brother is kind of dead inside. He still feels, but has gotten accustomed to tuning things out. I’m glad the day consisted of him thinking that he made me feel better. I know it made him feel better. Fun day. Time to get down.

  25. phishm Says:

    And if chonz is wondering, yes that’s why I put him between you guys and me. I wanted him to feel it. He didn’t. I don’t think he can. Weirds me out to think that some people have no ability to feel it. That would suck ass.

Leave a Reply