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. Stoney Case Says:

    Sorry. Not gonna tell. I told y’all bout the new album last year. This year will be a surprise.

    Easy to ship, Snow. My bro here sends to his pops out east for cancer. If u can’t find, I’ll make him some.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    if you tell us I promise to kill the next whale I see

  3. little umbrellas Says:


    Man.. I am such an elitist coffee bitch ass snob now. Tried going to the most hipster coffee place I could find in Santa Rosa… Weak. I’m three levels more dialed in than that with my taste.


  4. MrCompletely Says:

    little bird just told me.

    they’re gonna re-enact onstage the night they spent partying with Kid Rock

    should be slick

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    I know right @um?

    a friend of mine is getting me hooked on the idea of roasting my own beans.

    organic fresh beans for like $5 a pound or something. Countertop roasting machine for like $100. Pretty tempting.

    could use another OCD hobby.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Funny I’m on a tedmed related call talking about the bleeding edges of healthcare.

    Snow – lots of great info out there on the RSO these guys mentioned. I’ve been privy, but obvs not as a patient.

    Also, this subject is rife with speculation but there is a massive amount of thinking related to lowering ones body acidity and making it more alkaline (basic) as cancer cells thrive more in an acidic leaning body. Not sure where the reality lies in this particular dialogue.

  7. phlorida phan Says:

    ^If in need of a trippy Sinbad!

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Ooh Kay,
    …’I said, can I get a Gibraltar?’…. ‘ umm, never mind then, I’ll try your latte’
    … ‘Would you like a 16oz?’
    (At this point inside I’m thinking, oh fuck, they don’t know how to do it right.)

    back close to a decade ago when the Hitmen lived at our studio in SC, we’d do our own roasts. Was pretty awesome.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    Swore they’d never had such times before…

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Grey Ghost again. Morning hello.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    first test is can you pull a decent capp?

    if you ask for a capp wet, do they know what that is?

    if it seems sketchy just go for espresso and get it all over with quickly

  12. dorn76 Says:

    Lookin’ forward to some forward leaning blends on a cool SF morning in October…

    Still need a ticket for 10/29 LU? Still have the means to make that happen, and plan to after Dick dust settles.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Hey Phlorida.. I actually just texted your link to a few friends.

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    4.15.70 Winterland Candyman. Finest ever sung, at least that left traces on tape. Gorgeous.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I think I’m one of maybe 4 fans that had an absolute hoot at the Kid Rock show.. Loved it. Rappers Delight, Walk This Way, You Shook me All Night Long? As an 80s child , that was dope…. and fun ( the point, no?)

  16. butter Says:

    did you find flying goat lil um?

  17. butter Says:

    ^plus your house or garage will smell awesome re: roasting

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    Macchiato guy here. Only started drinking coffee last May. Very infrequent.

    @C – my next door neighbor shapes amazing surfboards (check Malwitz surfboards) and he’s been roasting this killer hi-test. If u wanna connect w him he’s always looking to add to his bean share.

  19. butter Says:

    i’m guessing you didnt find flying goat, in Santa Rosa cuz they can make you a snooty snot macchiato

  20. Kaveh Says:

    ^ Lukas Nelson.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    I went to Atlas, when I got back, a girl here said, try Flying Goat next time.

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    @Dorn . Yes thank you indeed please!!

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    Dorn rocks my world.

  24. butter Says:

    Flying Goat will wet your pallet, the original one is in Healdsburg and they opened their 2nd one on 4th st in Rail Road Sq, Santa Rosa

    right next to the train tracks so hipsters can sit on them

  25. dorn76 Says:

    I wanna hold your ha-aand
    I wanna hold your hand (during “The Line”)

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