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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “Marge, this ticket doesn’t just give me a seat. It also gives me the
    right — no, the duty — to make a complete ass of myself.”

    I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t uttered in some form preshow under various circumstances a few times over the years.

    Perfectly timed the arrival home for the Dancin’ Homer episode in the Simpson’s marathon (wife and kids escaped to the cape today while I am still up working).

  2. dusty Says:

    Just checked in for the day and man this talk about shafty and clav has got me pumped up. Really its the disco funk roller skating party I have going on this weekend. Channeling my SF church of 8 wheels/Midnight rollers spirit for a little take over event. Old school roller rink that still does live organ music is going to get turned out with some commodoers and billy preston. Back woods Pennsyltucky style yo!

  3. tela's_muff Says:

    would love to catch a Shafty as well.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    No HighWay to Hell? That’s a weird one with so many years/shows under your belt..

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Well that’s what you want phishm & that’s cool…too each their own…but the Dicks Fuego is poised a long form jam. Mark it Dude.

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^to not too. & I know you were just saying to be contrarian. Part of the phishm humor 😉

  7. Gavinsdad Says:

    Ummm, that would be “turnt”

  8. phishm Says:

    You think I’m funny JG? I like in the box Fuegos. What can I say? You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?

  9. Gavinsdad Says:

    Bandaid on my neck like im marsellus Wallace

    Hope that’s a rap lyric

  10. George w. Kush Says:


    Nice SotG combo

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    This fucking guy! Love a Goodfellas quote. & ftr you’re Cracker Jacks funny. Not funny ha ha funny cuckoo 😉 jk of course…well kinda sorta…

  12. phishm Says:

    Cool. I never wanted to be ha ha funny. Big fan of cracker jacks and know that I’m a little cuckoo. Glad you caught on. Please don’t tell anyone.
    Hope your battle ends with you looking in the mirror one day and liking what you see. Keep at it and don’t ever lose IT. It will lead the path to your inner well being. I can just feel it.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    thanks Darth. they are diamonds after all. it was zenyatta mondatta by the police

  14. jtran Says:

    stoney – hopefully coming up your way in about a month

  15. George w. Kush Says:

    Wow looks like drygoods has sold thru all their copies of Nectar vinyl already on the pre-order. Only took 24 hours? Damn. Up on Amazon I guess

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks Matt. Me too. Once you get IT you have it for life…’you keep that shit forever like luggage…’

    You get that quote than +5. Hint: it’s preceded by herpes. Good luck.

  17. phishm Says:

    Sounds to me like a little Eddie Murphy Delirious.

  18. CPTMURIKA Says:

    …uncle FUCKIN’ “Goo-Goo” GUS!!!

  19. George w. Kush Says:

    This is cool to know about the band

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Woo! +5

  21. MiA Says:

    Yeah Palmer. Highway to Hell is weird. Everything else is stuff they really haven’t played since pre-91. Memories? I didn’t even know they played that.

  22. lumpyhead Says:

    nice find G dub

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Great Euro read back gentlemen.

    Here’s some things to pop in the googles and download.


  24. voopa Says:

    Memories is a barbershop song

  25. voopa Says:

    Not your favorite Barbara Streisand or Cats song or whatever

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