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 (

Tags: , ,

1,437 Responses to “Thinking Back to Coventry”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Bored as shit.. Watching Year of the Horse: Neil Young and Crazy Horse…Documentary on Netflix…


  2. phishm Says:

    You and me both Palmer. Well on the bored thing anyway. I wish someone would take the responsibility to entertain all of us Phish fans that are waiting patiently for Dicks. Anyone?

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    The Drug Enforcement Administration passed a stricter rule for prescriptions of the most common painkiller in the U.S. on Thursday in an effort to curb prescription drug abuse. New rules for the prescription of hydrocodone, which is commonly used in drugs like Vicodin, will go into effect in 45 days. Doctors may no longer call in prescriptions by telephone and patients must return to a health care professional to obtain refills. The drug will now be stored in special vaults in pharmacies

  4. phishm Says:

    That is good news gdad. Maybe my dad’s physician will stop giving him prescriptions for vicodin when he clearly doesn’t need them. Good to hear. Now let’s work on the other shit that they push to older folks that cost a fortune. The psych meds my parents take are ridiculous. They are convinced that they need them but surprisingly they didn’t seem to need them their entire life until they started to like pills and rely on them for every moment of the day. Anxious – take a pill. Tired – take a pill. Not able to sleep – take a pill. Feeling down – take a pill. etc. It just goes on. How does one know who they are if their entire personality is dependent on the pill they just took? Make weed legal and get rid of the harmful shit IMO.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Cool doc so far, btw….. recommend checking out in next state of boredom that lasts about 2 hrs.

    Crazy stuff Gdad..

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    In a fantasy world Phishm… good thoughts though..seriously, unfortunately there is Big Pharma in this country and they have too much $$$ to be stopped.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    Dammit I was just thinking it would be cool to get really deep into oxys this winter too.

    Fuckin gubmint

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Listening to some live JT. Online shopping for naughty maid outfits.

    You guys are the best.

  9. phishm Says:

    Just found my other 2 fields for Dicks. I actually will have an extra Sunday if anyone needs one. Dude wanted to get rid of all 3 or nothing. I said sure or course.

  10. phishm Says:

    And he only wanted $150 for the 3. I insisted on paying face. He agreed of course.

  11. voopa Says:


    So, I’ve been a bit too busy to keep up lately…Plamer, have you been running the board for Ferrall lately, or are you on on mid-days until Labor Day?

    C, I have a Eugene extra for ya. And I’ll be driving that weekend. Including to Seattle!

    More ridiculous insanity to follow.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I’ve been mainly over at the local station ( NY) at nights with some mornings, and mid days sprinkled in. Summer schedule, pre football season is all over the place. I’m on the national one on Saturday nights, mostly..

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Haven’t been with Scott in a couple of months.

  14. dorn76 Says:

    I’ve seen fire crotch and made it rain.

  15. BrandonKayda Says:

    Ran my first 10k today.

    Exhausted. This was the first time I’ve ran since the beginning of June. Fuck that.

    Little Feat is so damn good.

  16. stapes Says:

    “I caught both Spread it Rounds as well as both Spices. And 8 of the 19 Scents and Subtle sounds.”

    Me too! Although I got 9 of the S&SS. Wow. Lots of those back in 2.0!

    Also caught Fikus 2x, including the last time played. I’m due for one. And a Shafty!

  17. voopa Says:

    Thanks Palms. I still enjoy Rome in the mornings (Pacific time), and I thought you might have been working with his subs this week.

    So anyway, have you heard about this band from Vermont?

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    ^^^^ wow. Man see fire. Dorn for treasury.

  19. dorn76 Says:


  20. voopa Says:

    10 most common not played in my 66 shows:

    Take the ‘A’ Train
    Alumni Blues
    Paul and Silas
    Letter to Jimmy Page
    Highway to Hell
    Cold as Ice
    Whipping Post

    …I did see an Alumni jam on 12/3/94, which is nearly 20 years ago now, wtf, and have seen plenty of Magillas between Trey Band And PYITE

  21. voopa Says:

    …but there ya go.

  22. dorn76 Says:

    Most boring Smoking Gun ever.

    We are courteous and will attempt to dance in any open space.


  23. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i got my girl and my 11/1’s and 11/2’s. still looking for the elusive halloween. i have dicks fields and one 11/2 to trade for all hallows’ eve.

  24. Chris Says:

    You guys should listen to Carini> shafty from bonaroo 6.10 12. It’s a great evil pairing that they did. With all the shafty talk and all. .

  25. sumodie Says:

    RicksFork, I have two 10/28 tix from TM. You can have both or just one, your call

    Not sure I have your email but will hold them till we connect

    Randall’s Carini > Ghost features some nice lead guitar work (& some good rhythm work too) from Trza

    Thnx for the earlier CO dispensary recs, Ty Segall, and Silver Cycles!

Leave a Reply