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. dorn76 Says:

    Craft beer is SO OVER.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    Page is probably my favorite Clav player. Herbie trumps on Rhodes, some would say perhaps Chick… But between all the other different keyboard masters, I’ve always held Medeski as this trump card of intense all incompassing next level playing.

    But honestly think Page’s Clav playing is sonically next level. Also the way way it functions in the music.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Sea shell art

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    George W. Kush Says:
    August 20th, 2014 at 1:43 pm
    @JG this ones for you, man.
    Lighthearted but serious
    Cuddly but muscular

    ^made me smile Gorgey Porgey 🙂

    Way behind obv but just a quick update…started to come clean to my close friends here in ATX & they’ve all rallied around me. They’re going to be checking on me & making sure I’m accountable to them bc they don’t want me to do anything stupid to make my already shitty situation worse. Fixin to drop the honest email to my parents & my sis; want to give them some time to process this before we talk tmrw. After talking w/ some of my friends it’s obv that I need to seek inpatient treatment. & I have a feeling since I will be asking my parents for their financial support that moving back to PA to work on this is my best option. Plus I need my parents right now. & they also need me. My dad’s fixin to go on dialysis they’re winding down their tax & financial consulting business after the 2014 tax season & I think it would do me well to give to something outside of myself & what better thing than my family. I could also potentially be a volunteer w/ my high school wrestling team another positive thing to give of myself. Also got in a helluva solid urban hike around Lady Bird Like; 2.5 hrs probably 8ish mi in weather w/ a heat index pushing 100.

    Sorry again to be a my personal shit post hog but this has truly been incredibly helpful the past few days. Thank you all very much again. Muchas Garcia yall.

    Phish related question: what are yall hoping for at Dicks? Ready…go!

  5. vapebraham Says:

    6.12.10 Blossom #Line. $$$. seasick trey steps aside for page and the chairman goes mysterious and deep, trey falls in. subdued, yet steady rhythm section. awesomeness ensues. pageilicious. rhythm section helps peak it.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    good game plan, JG. vibes.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Sounds like a nice hike Jerome. Big honesty and courage is shinning out. Good notions.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    WTF JG.

    I would ask for the Executive Summary, but that seems rude.

    Feelin’ for ya.

  9. stapes Says:

    I want a Shafty.

  10. stapes Says:

    Oh and Fikus 🙂

  11. vapebraham Says:

    Shafty seems like an appropriate choice to whip out at dick’s.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks yall. dorn pg 37.

  13. stapes Says:

    Keep on hiking JG.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks stapes. Love me some walkabout. Hope you get your Shafty &/or Fikus 😉

  15. sumodie Says:

    NPR had a recent story that mentioned how vegetarians, esp men, are still considered wimps /less than masculine but men who are vegans are considered hardcore /super manly

    Simply being a vegetarian eater doesnt make one healthy; eating healthy foods makes one a healthier person. So much crap food is vegetarian / vegan.

    I view my well being as a constantly moving target. I excel in some aspects & suck at others. Improve here, beware slippage there. Never ending. When I reach a 100 with all my faculties intact then maybe I’ll give up the healthy chase

    My Dick’s flight hits full thrusters in 7 days…

  16. Stoney Case Says:

    So wait. Is TBA actually Bobby Weird on prescription meds?

  17. RicksFork Says:

    Sounds like a good plan taking place JG.

    Looking for a single 10/28 and 10/29 if anyone can help.

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Page is my most reliable pilot to Space Camp. You guys are gonna have so much Dicks fun. Excited for all the 2014 first timers especially.

  19. phishm Says:

    I gotta agree with TBA on the relieving stress thing. I have found that if I listen to a show a day and allow it to consume my mind and allow the mind to just stop thinking at all is great. Call it a meditative state or what you will, once I can get to the point where my mind no longer has one thought at all I find pure relaxation. Sure the key is to stay in this state for as long as possible. Not easy to do, but so worth it.

  20. BooVT Says:

    I just saw 5 REALLY pregnant ladies walk by on the train platform in a span of about two minutes. What the hell was going on about 8 months ago..?

    Just queued up Stash from LB 10. Gonna read back to see what you folks have been typing all day. Sculpin waiting in my fridge at home. Train commute commence.

  21. phishm Says:

    Sucks to hear about your dad snow. Keep your head up and always bring him good vibes. I hate to say it, but know what you are going through. Healing vibes your way.

  22. BooVT Says:

    And…. The first thing I read about is MiA’s buttless maid costume.

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    i still eat like shit and drink at least 1 beer 6 days a week. but i avg over 30 miles a week on my mtn bike. usually involves close to avg 5,000 ft of climbing in said week. moderation, balance, exercise. wings, beer, edibles, music, sex, and good consistent shitting. fuck veggies. and condiments (not really). ha.

  24. phlorida phan Says:

    Seems like you got if figured out JG, we’re pulling for ya!

    Gonna be knee deep in it come this time next week, never been to Brahlorado. Will be sweet to get out of this hot box of Tampa.

  25. chris Says:

    I kinda like the way phish sounds on spacefunk in this era more than any other. They were tighter in 97-98 and it was fresher then too but something about how each member has mastery over so many different sounds today and the combination of those tones. Especially when trey is rocking the wah or one of those other effects and mike turns on his pedal. I’ll take it over any other year. My first show was on 2000 though so I wasn’t there to hear the 97 funk in person.

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