Recalibration

The rise of blogs, social networks, webcasts, streaming and near-instantaneous downloads has been a boon to the contemporary Phish experience. We are watching the future of music unfold before our very eyes. More people can tap into the Phish experience than ever before, irrespective of where they live or the size of their bank accounts. And yet, alongside this growth, signals are getting crossed, understandable given the amount of noise that exists out there.

Anyone can voice their opinion on any subject online. And in the Phish world, they often do. It’s quite simply never been easier, in the entire history of human communication, to share a thought, in real-time, potentially reaching, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or more, people. And with this capability, we’ve also turned what used to be a primarily private exercise, or at least one confined to whoever could fit in our dorm room alongside the bong, into this immediate impulse to analyze, critique and contextualize. We tend to have a very Utopian view of technology, it’s hard envision that the things that save us so much time and energy, that make our lives more productive and enjoyable, could have downsides. But they do indeed. And as Phish fans we should try to understand some of these downsides, not to erase or negate them. But to mitigate them, and act, speak, converse and engage with a full understanding of how technology is altering the Phish experience.

In the past weeks and months, I’ve pondered this need to make instant meaning out of something as divine and ephemeral as Phish’s music. We travel, save, scrimp, sacrifice to attend Phish concerts, and yet we can’t help but interrupt our own experience—and everyone else’s—with instant critique and analyses. To be honest, I—literally—stay off the Internet and social media until my review is done each night, because I don’t want my own experience affected by any Joe’s instant analysis and conclusions. I like my Phish experiences unaffected by opinions outside of my friends’, that way the experience remains pure.

These days, some fans are making conclusions about shows before they’ve even ended, often basing their thoughts on couch tour streams. Let’s remember one thing—Phish is all about the live experience. Though it is always fun—and part of our grander universe—to breakdown the show, analyze the jams, and compare the music to the band’s past accomplishments, we cannot do so while the band is on stage. These moments are sacred and not to be adulterated.

Most of my readers only know me as an online persona, and, thus, I am largely misunderstood. For instance, people often ask me if I take notes at shows. No matter how often I get asked this question it never ceases to amaze me, because as anyone who has met me, or seen me at a show can attest, taking notes is about as far away from the live experience that I have as humanly possible.

For me, live Phish is about immersion and surrender; about attaining heights in our souls if we find the way to release our egos, and mute the incessant stream of thoughts that crowds our consciousness day in day out.

For me, the live Phish experience is about dancing and celebrating the human spirit, not about calling out flubs, bitching about repeats or the length of jams. Live Phish is about living in the moment—the only moment that exists, and the only moment for which the sound actually exists. Everything is secondary when Phish is playing.

Because I write about Phish, some people think I am standing at the show deep in thought and analysis, and nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who has spent a show with me knows that there is absolutely nothing I want to discuss or think about while the band is playing. Nothing else fuckin’ matters. Period. End of discussion.

I love the live Phish experience so much that I think about it all night, discuss it with friends and eventually write my take on it before I go to sleep. But regardless of what conclusions I come to after the show, that is exactly when my analysis is done—separate from the consciousness-engulfing live experience for which we go to the ends of the earth. In my opinion, if one is trying to absorb an emotional experience with their rational mind, they are missing the point of the show. One might say that is exactly what my blog is doing, but I see it differently. I see my blog as a kind of Sportscenter for Phish, pointing out the highlights and giving a brief recap of what happened. But the focus of everything is the live experience. I don’t even consider what I may write until at least 4 am, because in my opinion, the post-show hang is part of the show experience. Listen, I am not here to tell anyone what to do or how to approach things, but I will say this—Phish isn’t about thinking, analysis or critique—it’s about feeling, emotion, catharsis and shared energy. If I’ve confused anyone or been unclear about this, please accept my apologies.

My critique of Phish is born from passion and love; a love so deep that I don’t even bother trying to explain it. That is what my blog is about—my love of Phish and all they mean to me—and to us. If anyone thinks I am looking to pick apart a performance, again, there is nothing further from the truth. I believe Phish to be artists of the highest degree, on par with the greatest creators of all-time, and my sharing of my opinion after the fact is a way for me to give back to the experience that has changed my life.

Opinions need not be judged, they can not be right or wrong. Just because I didn’t love Chicago’s three-setter doesn’t devalue the fact that you did. We are peers on this planet. In fact, you can even use the same free software I do to post your own opinion of the show. Nobody is stopping you and I’m thrilled to see more people are doing so. But let’s not forget why we are all here—those feelings that emerge during a show that occur nowhere else on earth; that connection to the universe when you forget yourself and your pulse becomes one with the music. Highlight shows and analysis come afterwards and are incredible amounts of fun, but during the show we are all part of the action! Play your part—dance now, think later. Love always.

1,232 Responses to “Recalibration”

  1. The Phish Whisperer Says:

    Great piece Mr. MinOr, gorge will slay.

  2. b-rock Says:

    “always thinking I could catch up – but never coming close” = good problem to have

    I may never get the chance to meet anyone here in person as I don’t get to as many shows as I’d like. However the thoughts, personalities, and rapidly expanding music horizons keep me coming back to this corner of the web. The force of the music is strong here.

  3. carleethian Says:

    Right on MrM. Who cares what you OR anyone else thinks? Everyone’s gotta make up their own mind.

  4. Hedley Dobuler Says:

    Well said Mr. Miner!!!

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Goosebumps. Bravo.

    What up carleethian!

  6. neemor Says:

    As always, thank you.
    I remember wandering in Miner’s dance hall in New Hampshire and being enthralled by the pure glee that he and everyone around him express in the moment.
    A lot of you guys do that, in fact most of the blackboarder’s I’ve met do.
    We celebrate bliss and there are very few portals in life that allow access so regularly.
    You are correct, the only thing that matters is the live experience.
    The rest can be analysis by paralysis.
    A year ago, I had become fed up with the constant chatter, analysis and -probably worst of all- the second-guessing that can be done of the music.
    I realize today that I come for the community and that the discussion is based on our love of the band.
    The skill and love that it takes Miner to come and do this post-show is not lost on me and has a bigger purpose. Brings us together in spirit and in life.
    Thanks, Miner.

  7. jerseyjim Says:

    Indeed. TYMM.

  8. willowed Says:

    Fucking magnets, how do they work?

  9. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Miracles willowed. Miracles.

  10. punkmug Says:

    Great post Miner. Well said and a great reminder that we can all still have fun! See you at Dicks!!

  11. btb Says:

    Cool PH thought. 100% agree.

  12. btb Says:

    “Trunk full of Faygo, car full of fat chicks”

    Miracles is for the poser ICP fans. Know your lyrics brahs 😉

  13. Luther T. Justice Says:

    “Trunk full of Faygo, car full of fat chicks”

    ^This type of party intrigues me. Faygo 4 Life!

  14. phishm Says:

    From Miner
    “For me, live Phish is about immersion and surrender; about attaining heights in our souls if we find the way to release our egos, and mute the incessant stream of thoughts that crowds our consciousness day in day out.”

    Totally agree. Well said.

  15. btb Says:

    I used to be able to rap the entire “Great Milenko” ICP album. Not going to lie. That shit is hilarious. I don’t care what you PH snobs think!

    Good catching up with ya Luther.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Miner- Eloquently stated. Thanks for your honesty ind incite as always. Hope Leg 2 blows up! Nice trajectory right now.

  17. msujdog Says:

    With instant downloads, I sometimes find myself feeling that shows are sterile or lack energy. But when I go to a show I’m reminded how great Phish sounds and what a great community is there taking part. Mike’s bass bombs just never come through in SBD’s like they do live. It’s so important to keep that in mind when listening to each and every show.

  18. Buddhist_Prodigy Says:

    Thanks for writing this, Mr. Miner! I suppose it’s only natural that any form of criticism online will ignite the passions of those who disagree. The vehemence of their comments is rooted in the same love for Phish, and because online is…well, online, it’s all too easy to forget civility and the feelings of other participants in the conversation.

    I also want to share something that shows the good that can come from disagreeing with Mr. Miner and his PhishThoughts. I was at the Jones Beach show; managed to score a pair of decent tickets for face the afternoon of the show from a dude in a Mets shirt in Brooklyn. A buddy and I went straight from work to JB. Neither of us had jackets, as the day started warm. I had an umbrella, but after two hours in the lot and another 45 minutes at our seats, my shoes and socks were soaked through, and my crappy poncho provided more annoyance than protection. We were high enough in the stands that the wind was an issue, and I was COLD. The just OK first set didn’t brighten my mood, and when Ocelot went nowhere and I had to pee, I ended up taking shelter near Gate A for the rest of the set and the setbreak. The rain stopped, but the wind didn’t, and I was still so wet my fingers were wrinkled up like I’d been in a pool for six hours. Back inside for set 2, I did some dancing and I heard some things I liked, but I just wasn’t feeling it. For the first time in 18 years, I left a show feeling bummed out and thinking the whole mess had been a dud. But, the next day, I came here, and it was as if Miner was talking about a show with the same setlist, but in an alternate universe. Still feeling crappy about having a terrible time while my favorite band in the world played just a few hundred feet away, I almost posted here about how awful the show was. But, inspired by Miner, who jogged my memory of some of the highlights, I instead downloaded the show, and blasted it, from Reba onward, in my living room. A couple hours later, I had a smile on my face, and a different feeling about the night before. To make a long story short, Mr. Miner gave me back a little of the magic I’d denied myself the night before, and so I want to say thanks.

    Thank You Mr. Miner!

  19. willowed Says:

    AC Halloween. Tweezer reprise.

    Mike unleashed the Face Melter 5000 on us…..and it was good.

  20. phlorida phan Says:

    Happy B-Day CK5

    Also my 10yr anny cherry being popped!

    Saturday, 07/26/2003
    HiFi Buys Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA
    Set 1: Wilson > Cars Trucks Buses, The Wedge, It’s Ice, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own > Wolfman’s Brother, Mexican Cousin, Guyute > Taste
    Set 2: Piper[1] > Mountains in the Mist, Waves > Tweezer -> NICU[2] > Cavern > You Enjoy Myself[3]
    Encore: Wading in the Velvet Sea > Tweezer Reprise

    And 12yr.

    Trey Anastasio Band, Thursday, 07/26/2001
    HiFi Buys Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA
    Set 1: In the Wee Wee Hours, Push On ‘Til the Day, Tops Off, Acting the Devil, It Makes No Difference, Last Tube
    Set 2: Mr. Completely > First Tube > Every Story Ends in Stone, Happy Birthday to You Jam, Sand
    Encore: At the Barbeque
    Notes: “Happy Birthday” was dedicated to lighting director Chris Kuroda. At a shade over 48 minutes, this “Mr. Completely” jam represented almost double the previously longest TAB jam to date.

  21. btb Says:

    Those early Push On’s, Completely’s, Sand’s and Last Tubes were some serious shit.

  22. Fragernackyl Says:

    I’d love to run into you at a show and shake your hand, Mr. M. Thanks for all the great and HONEST reviews over the years. Keep ’em up!

  23. phlorida phan Says:

    I think most of my face is still on the floor in lakewood from that Mr. Completely.

  24. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I am not a very educated soundman. My buds from VT who are chummy with Mike have made mention of some equipment changes. Has much been made of the change from a digital sound board (mixer?) back to an analog? I find the boards sounding best ever and live mix quite excellent as well.

  25. cptpowder Says:

    Bravo MM. Bravo.

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