Conflicted About the Residency

I’ll state right from the beginning, I’ve already checked out airfare and Air BnB prices around New York. I’ll admit too that Madison Square Garden is a bucket list venue for me, especially when it comes to Phish. I’d love to see the Knicks play there as well, but it is right on the Mecca-level when it comes to Phish. So, it isn’t like I hate the idea of 13 shows at the Garden come this summer.

I get why the band is doing it as well. Trey is on record saying the band was going to take it a bit easier this summer and short of not touring at all (eek! bite my tongue!) staying put for the better part of a month, where at least Trey lives no less, seems pretty good to me. I also can’t imagine the money will be bad and if Phish is going to do a residency anywhere, New York is pretty much the most logical choice.

The truth is though, I can’t go, unless I hit the lottery. Even then I’m not sure. It isn’t just the money, though that’s a big part of it, no doubt. The time involved is kind of hard as well. Going to a local show is a lot less of a hassle. Also it isn’t just my life getting rearranged, but my wife and kids too.

Now there are rumors that there will be something of a summer tour in June and July and they almost assuredly will be coming to the Chicago area in that case. If they don’t, it will make for a less enjoyable summer. That’s probably what’s at the heart of all of this. Since 2009 and 3.0, Phish has been a part of the summer. A little nostalgia, a lot of good music and a predictable routine. If Phish prides itself on anything, however, it’s being unpredictable. There’s always couch tour.

(Wow. This really has become a bit of a Phish blog:-) could be worse.)

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Sexual Harassment At Shows

We interrupt the regular Phishiness found at this blog to talk about something that really got my attention this past week, sexual harassment at Phish Shows. The wonderful podcast, The Helping Friendly Podcast turned my attention towards this topic.  I think, and if those involved want to correct me, please do, but the podcast was in reaction to Brian Colligan’s amazing bit of work investigating the problem and getting some kind of window into it. I’ll be honest, as a man, I feel like I still need education on this situation, especially being confronted with the reality and frequency that it happens.

Another community I’m a part of, well sort of anyway*, is the running community. This piece from Runner’s World was quite jarring to me. After listening to the podcast and reading Brian’s piece, I now feel doubly chastised. Not for sexually harassing someone, but for my complete obliviousness to how pervasive sexual harassment is in the lives of women, hell,  how unbelievably frequent.

*Truth is in all my interests, I never quite feel a part of said community, like Phish or running or many others. I mean I like things, but when I try and hang out with people with similar interests it always feels like they are REALLY into said interest and I feel like a poser.

What gets me, in both cases, running and Phish, is that for me, both are places of refuge, of quiet, of safety. I do both activities predominately alone, in fact I pretty much prefer it that way. When I run, I process. When I’m at Phish, I let go. Both are cathartic in their own way. One feels like atonement, the other freedom.

Hearing and reading about the amount of abuse that women take, and that’s what it is, in both venues angers me. Half of the population, some dear friends of mine don’t have the same access that I do to these events. It’s not to say that women don’t enjoy running or Phish or have a personal connection or whatever you want to plug in here. It’s that there is this other presence, this spectre that can and often does invade.

Colligan and the folks on the HFP offered some ideas to combat sexual harassment at shows and they are good suggestions, if a bit tricky in the moment. Most notably is the suggestion that if we see something, do something, especially if it is our friends doing the action. First, maybe you need better friends. Though I go to shows alone, I can’t imagine any of my friends groping a woman during a show. Second, and more to my situation at shows, is that when I tell the friend to stop something, nine times out of ten the other friends defend the perpetrator, that whole loyalty to a fault garbage.

The other thing that makes see something say something hard is that I don’t see anything much of the time. I either am focused on the band and the music or my eyes are closed. Admittedly, and now a bit sheepishly, I am not very aware of my surroundings.

One thing that Colligan suggests, if a bit weakly and the HFP panel pretty much eschewed was reporting the guy to security. I know that the relationship between security and fans isn’t always the greatest, but I’m going to betray a bit of bias here. I was a security guard at Wrigley Field for three years. Cubs fans, especially the bros and party folks in the bleachers, annoyed the crap out of me. However, when an issue was serious, like a guy harassing a woman, it was taken seriously, other feelings put aside. I would strongly urge women at shows that are harassed, especially physically, to bring in the venue’s security. They may still be jerks about other things, but I think most security personnel would take appropriate action.

One last bit of advice: If you are a woman at a show, especially alone and you feel threatened or unsafe I would highly recommend going to the Phellowship table. If you aren’t aware of the Phellowship, they are a group of Phish heads that choose to attend shows drug and alcohol free. I won’t say it’s perfect, but the table is removed from the seating area and if a woman isn’t among the staffers, there is almost always female members nearby. I would venture to guess that even as shows are relatively safe places which still need to improve, the folks at and around the Phellowship are even safer.

If I’ve taken anything out of all if this it’s that this problem falls on the men who go to Phish shows and interact online as fans. It isn’t the band’s problem, the venue’s problem and especially not the women’s problem. If the situation is going to change, we are the ones that need to make the change, no one else. Phish shows are such awesome events. It takes away from everyone if this kind of behavior persists. Let’s make sure everyone gets to share in the groove.

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 38 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

Phish Song Rankings: As Of Chula Vista

The summer is coming to a close with the finish line at Dick’s within sight. There is still a stop at  Lockin’ too.  We are getting a Fall tour this year as well, so a busy Phish year for us all.  Personally, I’m sitting at 59 shows and would love to do something special for number 60, but unless I hit the lottery that won’t be happening.

Looking at the California swing of 2016, a pretty standard stretch of shows, with a bust out fest for the last night at the Bill Graham shows.  Bust outs are always fun, but looking at the number of times played, a rare song barely moves the needle in these parts.  I mean if you were there for Demand, I know how cool that can be, it’s one of only 16 times it has been played, good enough for a tie for 251st place.  Alumni Blues? 105 times played, 92nd place.

As far as milestones on the California swing,  Fluffhead was played for the 250th time and Yarmouth Road is at 25.  As far as Mike songs go, Yarmouth Road is quite new to the mix and obviously a favorite with the band it also seems popular with the fans.

Two other new songs that I’m seeing get quite a bit of fan love are No Men in No Man’s Land and Blaze On.  I’ve seen some fan accessories with both of those songs highlighted  which is always a pretty good indicator of popularity.  It goes to show, which is pretty rare for bands going on their fourth decade, that their fans embrace the new material as well as the old.

The Top Twenty remains unchanged, but in the next string of shows I’m betting there will be some major shakeups through the Top 200.  Oh, NB: I’ve pretty much decided to focus mostly quarterly milestones for songs, so 25, 50, 75 etc.  It just keeps things a little more orderly in my head.  Which needs all the order it can get.  Your Top 20 as of Chula Vista:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 576
2    Possum – 508
3    Mike’s Song – 488
4   Weekapaug Groove – 457
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 456
6    Golgi Apparatus – 453
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 445
8    David Bowie – 439
9    Cavern – 438
10   Run Like an Antelope – 436

 

11   Suzy Greenberg – 414
12   Divided Sky – 407
13   Stash – 405
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 360
17   Tweezer – 350
18   The Squirming Coil – 346
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 34 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

Phish Song Rankings As Of The Gorge Summer 2016

Nothing like vacation to set me back a pace or two! I regret nothing.  Spent an absolutely lovely week with the family in steamy South Carolina and had a great time.  There are shows to catch up on though as Summer Tour has continued to roll along.  This post will take us through The Gorge shows and a followup is in the offing after the Bill Graham shows wrap up later this week.

Quite a few shows got lumped in here, starting with Portland through the aforementioned Gorge.  Of all the venues on this tour, The Gorge is a bucket list item.  Red Rocks is probably number 1 but every photo of The Gorge I’ve seen makes me want to go to there.  The vibe seems awesome, from the band to the fans as well.  My midwestern bias, or inferiority complex I suppose, just doesn’t see anything that special at our venues.  Alpine is strictly ok.  Pity the souls on the lawn, especially those that actually want good sound (though in the last twenty years its improved greatly.)  Northerly Island is meh and now that they have done Wrigley, I’ll be fine if they move on.  Deer Creek, or whatever they are calling it these days,  is a favorite, but a shed in a corn field doesn’t inspire much.

As far as the songs go on this recent stretch, some fun tidbits.  Weekapaug and Bouncing continue to battle for 4th place.  They will probably wind up in a tie like always when the dust settles.  Tweezer has reached the 350 plateau, which always makes me wonder about the close to 100 shows that didn’t have a reprise.  Maybe in another few years, I’ll start to seek those out.

Rocky Top bounced back up to the Top 200, but I can’t see that lasting for too long.  It just isn’t in the rotation much anymore.  A little farther down the list, Roggae fell out of the Top 125, a victim of the same circumstance.

I Am The Walrus has moved up a bit with its third play.  I can only hope it has improved since its tour debut in Chicago.  When a song moves out of the lowest reaches is always kind of neat to me, especially when it pushes the final slot down another notch.  Pretty soon the final slot will be 500th place.  One of these days I’ll have to see how many songs can claim that tie.  No matter what, there always seems to be more to explore with Phish.  Hopefully at The Gorge one day, 🙂 Your Top Twenty:

As of Gorge Summer 2016

1   You Enjoy Myself – 575
2    Possum – 506
3    Mike’s Song – 487
4   Weekapaug Groove – 456
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 455
6    Golgi Apparatus – 452
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 443
8    David Bowie – 438
9    Cavern – 437
10   Run Like an Antelope – 434

11   Suzy Greenberg – 413
12   Divided Sky – 405
13   Stash – 404
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 359
17   Tweezer – 350 350 Times Played!
18   The Squirming Coil – 346
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 32 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: My Left Toe 7/21/99

Let’s see at this rate, I will complete my 52 Phish reviews in “52 weeks” around November, 2023.  I’m shooting for better than that.  Looking back over my daily list of things to do* the word JAM has appeared a great deal over the past 5 weeks, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  Mind, to paraphrase Jimmy Greenfield, consigliere of the Chicago Now blogging network, this is not an apology.  I’ve been busy and I’m probably trying to do too much.  White Sox blogging, podcasting, which is really turning into the first among equals of creative projects, looking for extra money, coaching baseball and well you know everyday life stuff.  Yeah, I’ve got a bit going on.  And to be honest, while I did commit to the 52, it isn’t like I’m going to lose my house if I don’t keep to it on a regular basis.  So, let’s recommit.  I have the long window of November 2023, a “short window” of beating George RR Maritn; the remaining 45 reviews before the Winds of Winter is published, and the insanely ambitious, not going to happen goal of one a week until I’m done.  Somewhere between all three of those seems about right.  I also don’t know why, but I really want to beat GRRM.

*Yes, I do a daily to do list, have for years.  Currently it is a two list affair, one side for the actual job, the other for my soul.

So let’s get started with a jam that I did witness, but to be honest almost completely forgot about.  However, when I went back to this show from Star Lake (no corporate naming for me, thanks) I couldn’t believe that this song wasn’t in my heavy rotation of jams, like ever.  That has since changed.  A good spacey, ambient jam is always good, regardless of era.  Let’s get to it, My Left Toe.

lefttoe

The song comes out of a pretty standard Simple, ultimately a nice Mike’s Groove* of Mikes ->Simple -> My Left Toe -> Caspian -> Weekapaug.  The first 4 minutes are ambient music at it’s best.  Trey is playing with tone and melody, Fish is just keeping a steady rhythm and Mike and Paige are barely in the mix.

*As I enter my 22nd year of listening and following Phish, I still get confused about what is and what isn’t Mike’s Groove.  Is it a set song? Is it the grouping of songs between Mike’s and Weekapaug? Would that be more of a suite than a groove? Maybe by year 30 I’ll have it figured out.

3:45~3:50 Trey starts to grind it out a little more, a darker tone has seeped into the sound.  There is a build up going on here, but it is taking its sweet old time.  A slow burner, that’s for sure.

7:15 the build, the tension slows way down.  Knowing what we know now, it almost sounds like Caspian will be starting soon.  Perhaps this change in tempo and tone was a signal of the type, “Hey! When we finally pull out of this, Caspian is where we are going.” Of course that is total conjecture on my part.

7:30 Things start to rebound and by 7:50 Trey is really punctuating matters with sustained notes and feedback.

8:31 Oh, there’s Page! 8:48 Page is finally coming through the haze and adding some great texture to the jam.

9:00 A much more melodic sound has emerged.  It’s not quite the total triumph that I’ve come to almost expect from Phish, but we are looking at the angels at this point, that’s for sure.  It has a very Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday feel to it.   I could just dance and sway to this kind of sound all day.

12:30 things start to lose shape a little and it becomes kind of a rock anthem, with Trey leading the way and eventually starts to trill like a guitar hero around the 13:40 mark.

~14:00 The true climax of the song has been reached and at 14:42 a distinctive downshift occurs, the end is in sight.  All throughout this song I can’t help but think how great it would be during a long run.  I tend to make an up tempo, jammy kind of playlist for long runs.  Usually 3 or 4 shorter songs then one jam from Phish or the Grateful Dead.  It keeps things exciting and meditative.

Anyway, 15:00 the essential groove of the song is back for a quick coda and it descends nicely toward Caspian.  I’ve always been a fan of Caspian, despite all the hate it has gotten over the years.  There is something about that opening that just nails me in the feels.  Also the nod to CS Lewis doesn’t hurt.  I like my bands to be literary.  See you next time on the Phish 52. (shooting for before two months!)

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 30 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: 12/30/93 David Bowie

Oh dear.  I don’t like this new feature on the admin page here on WordPress.  It is a little calendar that shades the days that you posted.  Eek. I went 0 of February here at the Lazy blog.  Which puts me a bit behind on the 52 as well.  Jesus, how do people with a full-time job, family and other interests stay so consistent?  Just not my bag I suppose.  Even so, pressing on!

For this installment, I decided to go with a show that I did not attend and also an older show once again.  A pretty old show by my standards.  Basically I came to Phish in the fall of 1993, didn’t attend my first show until summer of 1994.  For the most part, I don’t really venture much further back than 1994 in my live recordings.  I know there is some great stuff back there, but it’s just not mine, you know what I mean.

So, I was working in a cafe and this guy brings Rift into the shop to listen to while we work.  It was such a great perk of working at an indie cafe, we could choose pretty much whatever we wanted to play.  Anyway, I’d never heard of Phish, but we were all pretty tolerant of each other’s music, so on it went.

I can’t say I was blown away, but I was definitely interested.  I particularly liked how the concept album and guitar style reminded me of Steve Hackett and Genesis.  The keyboards were a great touch too.  I was willing to check out more.

The same friend told me to really “get” Phish I needed to see them live, or at least listen to some live tapes.  I also started lurking on rec.music.phish and realized that the band allowed taping at shows, so getting a live tape was pretty easy.  I was still pretty internet-shy, so I went to a local head shop that spun tapes for free and asked for the show I saw some buzz about, 12/30/93.  No, it wasn’t the New Year’s Show, but that seemed like a big commitment.  So a two set show seemed right.  It started with David Bowie.  I wasn’t quite hooked yet, but I was on the line.

Bowie

I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t heard the Junta version of Bowie at this point, so everything was new.  As the intro played, I didn’t know what to expect, but after 1:33, the Bowie groove got started and I was immediately into it.

2:03 The lyrics kick in and I think with a song like Bowie and being new to Phish, things could break one of two ways.  The first way, our way, is to think, “this is weird. I like it.”  The second way, the way pretty much everyone I know in a professional/social way with the exception of fellow fans is, “David Bowie? This is stupid.” click.

I didn’t tune out and was awarded by the amazing composed section of the song that comes next. At 3:00 the spiraling down that then kicks back to the lyrical portion is still one of my favorite Phish composed bits.

After the second lyrical break (UB40? ok, 80s reference. I like these guys) The composition isn’t quite the same as last time and instead of coming back for more lyrics at 5:08 there is a great break in the song.

The song goes into a very subtle, mellow feel but at 5:20 a thirty second quote from a classic rock anthem, Dream On, gets tossed out.  It’s more than a tease, at least I would call it more than a tease.  Also as someone who by this point in my musical fandom was well versed in the classics, it made me feel intimately connected to the band. A shared musical history that we shared.  We were reading from the book, sharing the same experience.

At 5:53, they return the Bowie sound proper and by 6:33 they start to rev things up a bit.  It’s a great example of the tension and release that I think we all can appreciate.

7:09 The pace really gets going.  No one is particularly dominant at this point, a very strong group jam. It was a phenomena that I wasn’t quite used to at that point.

8:03 Trey starts to pull out in front a little more, making it a little more familiar to me.  The pace and speed of the playing isn’t quite as familiar to me though.  It seems to have a point, a destination.  Unlike the heavy metal of my youth, it isn’t speed for speed’s sake.  This guy Trey and the band have got more up their sleeves.

9:02 An explosion! The payoff.  I wouldn’t say Trey is shredding and eventually starts to play around with tone. A controlled style of chaos ensues.

10:37 The now familiar Bowie wind up starts. It isn’t exactly the same as the beginning of the song, but familiar enough to make one say, “oh yeah, we’re still in this space.” At 11:00 there is a final burst and then quick release back to “Dream On” also reminding us of the uniqueness of this song. We’re not going to hear another one like it. Because of that fact, and of course many others, I was happily being reeled in for the next 20+ years.

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 27 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: Prince Caspian 8/20/2015

I’ve seen a lot of discussion of this being Tweezpian or some such mash up and I won’t disagree.  I do think, however, the Prince Caspian can also stand alone and vise-versa.  A couple of opening notes on this jam as well.  So far, I’ve only review stuff from the 1990s, so it feels good to get to something more recent.  In this case very recent!  It is, yet again, a jam that I was witness to.  Truth is, I don’t own a lot of stuff that I didn’t also attend, but I hope to branch out a bit more as I do this project. Speaking of this project, and one post for each week of the year…um yeah about that… Well, I’m giving it my best shot.  Even if it takes 70 actual weeks to get to 52, I’m doing 52 reviews.  Just read them once a week 🙂 On to Caspian!

caspian

When Prince Caspian came out of Tweezer, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting much.  We were just treated to a very good Tweezer and Caspian seemed to signal a coda to end the set, or at least a lead in to the final closer of the set. I remember when people would collectively groan when this song was played and some on the old rec.music.phish referred to it as Prince Poopy Pants.  While that wave of negativity has subsided (pretty much in general, really) I don’t think I’ve ever seen people react with great joy when Caspian was played.  It might be time to rethink that reaction.

2:30 The lyrics come to an end and it very much feels like they will be playing out to the end of the song, maybe another few minutes.  From about the 2:10 point, I urge you to listen to Page’s playing.  The fills and highlights he is throwing around in the early part of the song are just fantastic.  Trey is playing very well, quite spirited.

4:40 Something is going on. It still sounds like Caspian, but things are changing. At 5:10 Trey is really pushing things away from the Caspian structure and at 6:00 minutes, the last tethers of Caspian are gone.

6:35 After some very heavy playing by Trey, Mike starts to bring back the Tweezer riff. At this point, Page is on the synthesizer and Fish is playing a steady rock beat.

8:05 Things start to move away from the Tweezer riff and it starts to become its own jam.  Around 8:20, Mike comes to the fore. This segment shows off how the band moves around the music. Mike is dominating right now and Page is in a supporting role.  Even though the guitar is the traditional lead instrument, Trey does such a great job of adding to the sound, but not throwing things off.

8:55 Trey is playing around with some effects, getting some great echo sounds. It could start to get spacey, but instead Trey settles into a nice fuzzy groove at about 9:15.  This is were the dance party starts for me. A nice funky feel and about 10:24 Trey starts to solo, with great a great intro from Page.  After that, Fish takes over the breaks, almost mini solos, before the focus goes back on Trey.  At 11:08, Trey starts placing some echoes again, but the groove isn’t lost and they settle back in after a minute or so.

12:20 It sounds like they are getting ready to wrap things up.  If they did pack it in here, it still would be a memorable Caspian and with the Tweezer preceding it would be a classic jam, one of the best of 2015.  Of course it doesn’t end here.  Instead at 12:30 Trey punches it really high and starts to bring it.

13:50 It is the jam that is going to lead to the end, with Mike playing some think, chest thumping notes.  The end that they are working toward here is triumphant, no other word for it.  Everyone, band, crowd know that they have just nailed the last 30 or so minutes of music.  As they start to just pound away for the last minute and a half, it’s like they are fist pumping.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure that was what I was doing as the song came to a close.  It’s for moments like these that I keep going to see this band.  Everyone expects the big moments to come from Tweezer, but it’s in moments like this, in songs that don’t have a history, songs that, let’s be honest, are often seen as breaks or good times to go to the bathroom, that makes every show an adventure.  In the spirit of adventure, next week will finally be a review of a jam I didn’t attend.  Keep on jamming…