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. little umbrellas Says:

    …ah I didn’t follow. don’t have those references. But i dug the Chi Ghost more than most of the recent ones. was back loaded. they get to some good shit in there.

    Still waiting for my no bliss Ghost. Like one that follows suit with what the song is about. A voyaging journey about a Ghost. minor key funk 4life.

  2. Darth Vaper Says:

    PortyPiper now. Love it.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Stick and Gumbo funk of late. More please. Let it breath.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    For some, humor is effortless.

    For others, their greatest attempts go off like a fart in church.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Church Fart’s. Lez do it. Flash Mob.

  6. Darth Vaper Says:

    This Piper ended too soon. Way too soon. This was launching into the stratosphere.

    Maybe the jam I am most upset that seemed to be ripchorded.

  7. dusty Says:

    Speaking of Valencia, I hear the elbow room is going to get knocked down for housing. Very on par SF.

  8. Darth Vaper Says:

    They’ve ripped down Austin to replace everything that was great about the city (bars, restaurants, nice areas to hang out) with Condos.

    I guess people want to live in a Condo made in 2014, on top of what used to be an Icon of Austin.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    @dusty… what!? hadn’t heard. Elbo is a great little place. that would suck.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    this is disturbing, if these statics are true, it means deaths from Medical Mistakes are up there with the highest causes of death in america.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    damn Dusty! you’re right, that’s fucked man.

  12. IrieWalton Says:

    Double IPA Fest in P-town, this weekend, at one of my favorite beer spots: Saraveza.

    You know it’s a good fest when Pliny is listed as just another of the more than 20 options.

    You’ll know where to find me and my father-in-law who’s visiting:

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Nice Irie, bring in the good news. Those last three posts of mine amount to too much of a downer.
    Positive spin for ya.
    James Brown – Full T.A.M.I Show Performance, 1964

    “ya know you’re more than allright, you’re outta sight!”

  14. Darth Vaper Says:

    I like Chicago Disease a lot. But that Winterqueen was too soon and premature. I needed more ejamulation before the “landing pad” snuggling. I hadn’t gotten there yet.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    oh I love it too @vape. that’s the limiting factor for me. not a deal killer by any means. same goes for a lot of genres

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    @darth, that wave of condo-ification is happening again here in PDX. A neighborhood gets cool, so people want to live there, so they build condos…by tearing down the things that made it cool. The symbolic core of it in PDX right now is the food carts of course! Two of the key east Portland cart pods (including the famous Hawthorne “drunk carts” open late at night) are being forced out for condo development. At least in those cases the actual businesses, the food carts themselves, can just relocate pretty easily. But the irony is only lost on the yuppies buying the condos.

  17. MiA Says:

    They are ripping down the Paggi house which was built in like 1884 to put in condos. I think our Austin Historical Society president must have gotten an inside shot at one of the condos.

    That is sarcasm.

    Robert E. Lee slept there.

  18. bobby weird Says:

    “I really cant say anything though. I am a Beantown transplant from Maine who went to school in New York and who is a die hard Yankee and Giant fan.”

    ^ i was gonna say; no one from Boston says “Beantown…” (wink wink)

    Chads? come again Stoney?

  19. bobby weird Says:

    “I love watching The Real Housewives of South Boston. I suspect it’s exactly like that.”

    ^ isn’t this guy from TEXAS?

  20. Stoney Case Says:


    peeps from Boston are….. Bobbies? I’m sure I had a term, just can’t think of it.

    Haha, you’ve dropped a couple things while I’ve been working!

    1st, the Ebola. If they can quarantine so well, why not quarantine these fools over in Africa. Or Guantanemo. Flying an incurable virus to this country is a HUGE mistake and an unnecessary risk.

    2nd, Tony Stewart: The most experienced driver on the track. Was under a yellow caution flag. Is the only guy that accelerated, didn’t brake, when Ward was walking down the track. His past issues of aggression and anger management absolutely will be taken into account. He can be charged with many things, his intent does not need to be known.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    yo @neems, remind me, how many shows within a 200 mile radius of your house in the last 5 years?

  22. bobby weird Says:

    “Is the only guy that accelerated, didn’t brake”

    ^ how do you know this?

    Character, past incidents and reputation are inadmissible as a matter of law, unless there is a clear, persistent pattern of the same or very similar conduct in the past. TS’ past transgressions are not nearly similar enough to become relevant to determining whether to charge.

    He will not be charged at all but, if by some extremer shocker they do charge, it cannot possibly be more than involuntary manslaughter (negligence). The idiot kid walking onto the track toward speeding cars is dominant fact here. After that, anything was possible and the kid set it all in motion.

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Stinks like a a gospel choir after an all-you-can-eat church picnic up in here.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Love when the BB gets all East Coast/West Coast aggro. Haha.

    I like Boston. I also enjoy picking at their NY inferiority complex.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    Ebola is absolutely curable, just not with a super high success rate. People survive it all the time and many that do make a full recovery. The more modern the treatment and the environment, the better the chances of survival and recovery, so bringing them here is the right thing to do from a treatment perspective.

    Risk for spreading the virus once in a modern iso ward would have to vector through the docs and other health care workers and in the iso environment that’s not happening. The reason docs are at such risk in Africa even if they have clean suits (basically hazmat/space suits) is because they are not in iso wards but heavily contaminated environments where the suits are easily damaged.

    I worry about many things but massive ebola outbreak in the US is not one of them

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