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. vapebraham Says:

    7.2.97 Lllama – $$$. slower pace, funky > full-on, trey-led burner >trippa fade-out ending. top version.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m still just in the pondering stage re: roasting. seems cool though

    macchiato a solid option. typical macc not that different from a wet capp

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    Public Enemy ’88

    Spiritualized ’98

  4. dorn76 Says:


    The BB jumping the hip shark.

    What’s next? Velocipede recs?

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    oh yeah cause that’s so different than home brewed beer


  6. little umbrellas Says:


    Yeah, I shoulda ordered a Capp. Was still hazzy and I’ve gotten used to assuming they know what to do when i see hanging bike gears and little altars with feathers and rust.

    … Big marketing guys have caught on, ended up at Wallgreens when out with my lady and her ‘moon’ started. At the impulse isle they were selling air cactuses in little fake plastic rocks with a New Agey word inscribed. And the brand was printed as if to look like reclaimed wood.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Burn all your shorts.

    Coffee Roasting. Bike Gears.

  8. Calpain Says:

    Fuck the cancer. Shit sucks. Vibes to all of you dealing with family/friends, it’s touched many of us in some way.

    Also, it’s what I do on a daily basis. Try to omit emotions from the equation and provide a positive and friendly vibe. Talk about how life is being lived and not focusing on symptoms.

    Haven’t read much about acidity vs alkalinity. MMJ can be an anti inflammatory, free radical cleaver. Mechanisms of action are poorly understood in humans, all those data come from cell line testing.

    It’s amazing how few clinicians highlight the importance of diet in oncology treatment. Omitting sugar completely from the diet is a good place to start.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    Word Butter. Night three at Russian River Brew tonight. And Flying Goat in the morning.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    And you step to the liiiinnne.

  11. vapebraham Says:

    4.11.78 FOD >11.21.97 emotional rescue

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    we were lucky to get highly integrated guidance re: my wife’s treatment including a great deal of info on nutrition and the alternative medicine stuff that may not help fight the disease but can help the patient feel better and have more energy/less pain while in treatment.

    if you work in the treatment field then my heartfelt thanks goes out to you, particularly if you are one of the ones that radiates positivity and optimism as you describe. these things matter a great deal to those who are in need.

    blessings and thanks to the caregivers

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    What’s next? Velocipede recs?

    – artisanally shat Viverrid brews.

  14. George W. Kush Says:

    wow @C, do people really care about wet vs dry capp and the size/density of the froth on the top of their ital-style coffee?

    thats equivalent to me giving a hoot about the lacing on my ipa or the legs on my margaux.

    more important shit to worry about in life methinks, like Trey botching the Theme bridge, or Donna Jean butchering a Playin with banshee squeals. ha

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    wet vs. dry capp are actually pretty different though. wet capp basically a tiny super strong latte with a little foam on top. non trivial distinction.

  16. Calpain Says:

    Cheers at @C. There are a few patients who get compassionate use MJ in the dirty jerz. Wish I could assist with getting them high quality oil/edibles, since that state only allows for flowers.

    On a lighter note, tested my buddy’s newest batch of BHO last night. Wow. Amber colored gold. Pretty strong for a snowconer/Jabroney (he’s originally from the mitten)

  17. George W. Kush Says:

    had a vegan professor that espoused the benefits of stopping intake of animal-based milks due to that alkalinity/acidity balance issue. Said there are much better calcium sources that your body absorbs more readily than milk. Wish I could remember the rest of his argument. sounded good at the time. vegans. gah.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    the problem is that there are a thousand theories that sound very plausible, half of which contradict the other half

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    and the professionals can’t give an opinion on anything that’s not settled science for fear of liability so it’s really hard to get guidance as you wade through conflicting info

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Medeski, Papa Mali, Stanton Moore, Rob Mecurio- Eminence Front..

  21. vapebraham Says:

    ^^ nice one, palmer. we were all over this back in may. people forget.

  22. MrCompletely Says:


    GET IT?


  23. Timber, YO! Says:

    Carlton E Turner has a diffrent view on tha benefits of The Pot, yo.

  24. tba Says:

    imho trey was trey from brooklyn 08’s sand onward….as for certain discussion, maybe best left to privacy of therapy sessions. For the first time at a Phish related event ever, I cried at Brooklyn, as he played quite well imho. He will always be Trey, people age, and artists especially, they tend to want to try different ways to accomplish different means.

    OK on a different subject, Page’s use and mastery of the Hohner D6, I’d love Miner to do an expose’ on the addition of said Clavinet, and how it has altered the Phish sound. Thank you.

  25. George W. Kush Says:

    truth @C. another issue is “settled science” really no such thing. whole issue with climate science. Sure the climate is changing, yes its probably anthropocentric causes, is it written in stone and sealed with 3M laquer? No.

    I would guess similar issues abound with cancer treatments, dietary ailments etc…

    the world is an uncertain place. keeps life interesting and a bit dangerous.

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