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. Calpain Says:

    Big pharma, big tobacco. Fuck em—let’s go bowling

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    alright gonna be off doing the family vacation thing with grandma and shit over by Mt Rainier til early next week. Might check in depending on how boring it is and wifi at the lodge. Keep it real. peace

  3. Darth Vaper Says:

    MrsMiA mostly works with patients who are elderly women (she gets many referrals from both a women’s health care doc, an oncologist and a great neurologists here)

    That is good news, because they keep her busy and she has a great reputation of working with people who are going through chemotherapy, etc. And yes, they often ask her if she knows where she can get “other” medicines. The last one was 74 years old and originally from Hungry.

    The bad news is that you are working with people who have had cancer/MS and/or other complicating indications for physical therapy and home health living. And it is easy to get sucked into their lives for a long time.

    One of them just recently had her husband checked into the hospital with a serious flu symptoms/neurological issues and now his wife, who can’t get in and out of bed without assistance is having problems.

    MrsMiA is helping out there. Went home two days ago and found out we have two large black labs at our home while we were waiting for their kids to come down and get them. MrsMiA was at 8 pm packing overnight bags of underwear and trying to make sure there was a place she could go for the night and get care until they could figure out where to go next.

    I’ve learned more about the hospice industry than I’ve ever wanted to know.

    tl;dr – blessings and thanks to the caregivers … right on. Yes. right on.

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    The head cardiologist at my daughters hospital recently went public sharing that in his own experience a plant based diet pretty much saved his life, but to each his own. My daughter has gone without meat since pretty much after her 3rd heart surgery when she was 7 and has been uncut since, which went totally against what they said would be necessary. YMMV

  5. tba Says:

    the real thing. no offense poppa m as dig him, but this is the power, and the glory, was lucky enough to see this show, my fave since john’s passing, listen and learn, listen and learn.

  6. tba Says:

    ps song is about what a bunch of bs blow is in case folks don’t know.

  7. George W. Kush Says:

    yeah Bingos, many many great stories of plant based diets saving lives and completely reversing major health issues dealing with heart/blood, liver, gastro-intestinal, cancers etc…

    fuck big pharma, stop taking 20 pills a day, eat better. you get out what you put in. I am not a vegan but have experienced the benefits of slimming animal-based products in my diet. gluten too. so many additives and crap in processed food its absurd.

  8. tba Says:

    humans are meat easters by the nature of earth, just it is what it is.

  9. aj Says:

    Just want to send my good thoughts to those of you who have shared on here that you are going through hard times, and good for you for being strong enough to talk about them and to share them with people. I hope for swift and positive outcomes for all.

    25 years vegetarian here, hope it is helping in some way. Dr. seems to think it is so, so I will take it.

    My wife is an acupuncturist and works quite a bit with chemo patients who are looking for assistance in building strength and for internal balancing, as well as pain. It is hard to see people when they just resist alternative treatment, especially those that are complementary to more standard western treatment, but to each their own. Treatment that is out of a comfort zone can prove to be ineffective as well. Lots of mind involved in the body.

    Hope to see some of you at Dicks.

  10. stapes Says:

    Forks Over Knives is a documentary worth watching related to a plant based diet.

  11. George W. Kush Says:

    yeah stapes thats a good one to start with. humans are not meat eaters by nature of earth. all animal proteins need to be altered in some way before consumption (i.e. cooking, grilling, etc). not the case with plant based foods.

  12. vapebraham Says:

    in 3rd year of omnivorous eating, after 7 years as a veg. One thing is certain: i am heavier and heartier.

  13. vapebraham Says:

    maybe it was more like 6 years as a veg. was slender as a reed then.

  14. aj Says:

    Been strongly considering switching to a vegan diet for a while to see how I like it, but want to wait until I can do it together with my wife, and she does not want to do it until done nursing our youngest. I eat so little dairy (primarily kefir and cheese maybe once a week), but do eat fair share of eggs and things with eggs, milk, etc. in them. Worth a shot to just see if I notice any difference in the way I feel, and would probably be good to shed some extra pounds.

  15. tba Says:

    ok obviously everything varies, and didn’t read bingos post, so bingo hope all is going well, that is a very moving story, and wish u best of luck. the philly little league team won my heart as they battled the hitler youth last night, did 21 smile the whole game?, kid made clemens seem like harpo marx. then the cop manager challenging every call, using up both challenges by inning 2????really buddy????? And losing each time, boy that guy says it all about what ails this world. peace and one love.

  16. George W. Kush Says:

    not going to say don’t eat meat though. Nothing I love more than a beef carpaccio, tuna/beef tartare, bacon wrapped filet with cracked pepper and bleu cheeze crumbles on top. Just saying its not that good for you and beef/animal proteins are not a necessary dietary staple in any amount as the FDA would have you believe. FDA recs are supported by big ag lobby money, who, not surprisingly, has the poultry, cattle, and farming industry under their thumbs…thats why the food pyramid is shaped the way it is.

  17. George W. Kush Says:

    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

    pretty good read if you want to look into animal consumption by man, dietary effects, and economic/environmental effects of that consumption.

  18. tba Says:

  19. tba Says:

    This relaxing feeling of personal harmony that a Deadhead finds at a concert has been researched in scientific laboratories across the world. Major medical institutions have invested millions of dollars in teaching their patients how to find inner peace at places like The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. That’s because it works!

    Too much stress and a lack of self-fulfillment are associated with mental health problems, problematic substance abuse, and early death from medical illness. Nobody likes commuting back and forth to work, picking up an extra shift to pay off their college loans, or finding a parking ticket on their car. The scary news is that this stuff can actually kill a person by causing stress which increases systemic inflammation and impairs the immune system.Stress has been shown to directly exacerbate diseases like hypertension, depression, and diabetes. So if taking scheduled time off from work and engaging in mindfulness activities are some of the greatest remedies for a stressful burnout, then it’s not unreasonable to suggest that for some people, frequent Grateful Dead shows might be the mini-vacations that keep us healthy and sane.

  20. sumodie Says:

    Human incisors are for cutting (/meat); our species has evolved as omnivorous chow hounds

    (I hardly ever eat meat at home. Love those newer veggie sausages with 20+ grams of protein)

    Yo, big pharma invented LSD. Who do you think Hoffman worked for? (Sandoz)

    I wouldnt blindly dismiss the merits of modern medicine but I’d also say it’s far from perfect. Great for acute trauama, less so for chronic health issues

  21. George W. Kush Says:

    well put Sumo and nice link TBA.

  22. tba Says:


  23. little umbrellas Says:

    Phoenix as Doc Sportello : ” that’s like a non trivial distinction maaan.”

  24. poop goblin Says:

    scored an original Cultural Roots Dub LP on rec from the Selecta J recently. can’t stop spinning it. so sick.

    lil sampler here. Cultural Roots – Blackie Blackie

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    “Page’s use and mastery of the Hohner D6”

    ^this is so on point. He’s just so ridiculous good at that shit now. So many different tones, and some of them are so biting now. Love when he gets the feedback. Wah, and what not. Stuning sounds in the name of the space funk. Dirty heaven.

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