Phish Song Rankings Fall 2018: Everyone Needs A Hobby

Fall tour kind of snuck up on me this year. Before I knew it, the band was on to night two of Hampton and I was woefully behind. I almost gave up the entire enterprise. Truth is, if you dig deep enough, you can probably find all of the information I put up here, maybe without the ranking, but even then you could probably make sense of it.

Then I thought about it a bit and especially after catching the Rosemont run, I decided to keep with it. For the first time in a long time I hit all three of the Phellowship meetings at set break. It really recharged me, gave me that “part of the scene” kind of feeling. The extra sober bonus of the meetings definitely helped too. Lots of sweaty hugs have a way of doing that.

I realized after the shows and listening to a few streams over the rest of the tour that I like doing this; adding the numbers to the songs, seeing how things shift, even if it’s very slight. It’s fun. I mean, it’s great if you read it and enjoy it too, but like so much of my personal writing, the audience is kind of secondary. I’ve got something to say. I hope you read and like it, but I’ve kind of got to write it either way.

Anyway, on to the numbers and such. First a personal milestone, after 60 shows, I finally saw My Sweet One live. For years it was the “most played song never seen” on my Phish Stats. In the early 1990s it was played quite a bit, but has fallen off considerably since. It makes about one appearance a tour now and I finally was in the right spot at the right time. I don’t think I’ll see the new leader of list, Take the A Train. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been played this millennium.

Overall, the rankings of the songs and amounts played did hit some interesting points. Tube and Prince Caspian each reached 150 plays and 46 Days reached 100. With that 100th play 46 Days pushed Big Ball Jam to 100th place. I’ve been following he descent of BBJ for so long now that I’m almost certain that by the time New Year’s is over, it will be out of the Top 100.

Further down the rankings, Golden Age reached its 50th rendition and Miss You and Petrichor each reached the Top 300. Blaze On and No Men in No Man’s Land continued to zoom up the standings. Each song well within the Top 200 and probably catching once popular songs like Axilla II and Dog Stole Things.

There was, of course, a whole slew of debuts were present on Halloween and I wonder what from that batch will be the next Martian Monster. The Top Twenty remain relatively unchanged, but still fun to watch, at least for me.

The Top Twenty

1   You Enjoy Myself – 583
2    Possum – 527
3    Mike’s Song – 499
4    Weekapaug Groove – 468
5    Chalk Dust Torture – 465
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 465
7    Golgi Apparatus – 460
8    Run Like an Antelope – 451
9    Cavern – 450
10   David Bowie – 446

11   Suzy Greenberg – 428
12   Divided Sky – 415
12   Stash – 415
14   Reba – 380
15   Runaway Jim – 379
15   Harry Hood – 379
17   Tweezer – 366
18   The Squirming Coil – 352
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 338

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Curveball Postmortem

Usually at this point I’d be scrambling to get the counting done after another great weekend of Phish music. Hopefully I would have watched one of the webcasts and felt a slight tinge of envy for all of those that went to the latest Phish festival. This is not what I had in mind.

By now you know that Phish was forced to cancel their latest festival, Curveball, due to flooding in the region and the tainted water that was produced. I had plans to go, but after the Chicago shows were announced, I demurred. There is only so much money in the Phish budget, crazy I know. I was going to be a part of the workforce at the show in exchange for a discounted ticket. I had daydreams of working at a coffee booth, chatting with fellow Phans and having a great time while earning some cash. It probably wouldn’t have been that much fun, but still.

Even with the discount, figuring in the travel, time off the regular job, all of the weird expenses that come up when trying to camp on the cheap, I decided not to go. However, I’ve done four festivals over the years and I know it’s about more than the money. It’s about the experience, the journey. I think the people I empathize the most with are those that had either set up camp already or were well on their way to Watkins Glen. The anticipation builds as the miles tick away. by the time I picked up Bunny Radio I would be bouncing off the walls. I can’t imagine what it would be like. Instead of hearing great cuts from the past a message about the horrible present. I’ve cried with joy at Phish shows, I’m pretty sure I would have cried with disappointment.

There have been some great threads on Twitter and Instagram about people making lemonade from these particularly bitter lemons. Also people have been sharing doses (sometimes a little harshly) of reality when it comes to putting this all into perspective. It puts a positive spin on a really shitty situation. And it is a shitty situation, even if it is a high class problem. Even from afar, the feelings of disappointment are real and valid. I know everyone will get over this, including the band. I wouldn’t be surprised if another festival is already in the planning stages, maybe at Watkins Glen, maybe somewhere new. God, wouldn’t a free show in Central Park be amazing?

Phish Song Rankings: Through Merriweather (Also Can’t Hit the Curveball)

The first section of the Summer tour is finished and the band is getting ready for its next large-scale festival, Curveball. I had plans to go to Watkins Glen, actually to work at the show for a discounted ticket, but then the Chicago shows were announced and there is only so much money in the Phish budget. Honestly, I don’t know how some of you folks do it. With couch tour being available, the sting is a little less and the band has provided two freebies this tour (thanks Phish!) so I can’t complain.

I must admit, the whole “Ball” theme or idea is a bit played out. I can’t imagine the thought process of coming up with “It” or “The Great Went” was extremely taxing, but I suppose there is something to be said for branding (blech.)

Speaking of festivals, this year marks twenty years since Lemonwheel. As a festival it seems to get short shrift, which is too bad. The ambient set was amazing and I still pop it in from time to time, especially when I need to get some work done. Overall I’ve been to four festivals and they all were great. If you’ve never been, make it a point to get to one. I made it to Magnaball and to be honest, it’s kind of like summer camp for grown-ups now. The logistics and amenities are fantastic. I wasn’t even planning on taking a shower, but I had never showed in a tent, so I felt like I had to.

As far as this recent spate of shows, things were pretty awesome. If this is any indication, Curveball could be something. Trey seems to have figured out all of his new toys and sounds. And is it me, or does Trey’s voice sound deeper this tour? It sounds like he’s taken the vocals down in his range. The results are worth giving a listen. Page has been on fire as well. If you haven’t, be sure to check out the second set from Walnut Creek; great jamming but one of the best things about Phish, just plain old fun.

As far as the table is concerned, the movement in the Top 100 is still the most interesting to me. Makisupa Policeman hit 100 times played and the Big Ball Jam fell further. When it’s out of the Top 100, I need to mark the occasion. Speaking of marking the occasion, I need to check my math regarding Mike’s Song. According to my count it sits at 497. So I’d better get it right. In short order it will (or might already be there dammit) be only the third song played by Phish 500 times. That is just amazing! At least to me. Further down the list, Meat cracked the Top 200 and Blaze On and No Men in No Man’s Land continue to rocket up the list.

Have a great time at Curveball if you’re going. Be safe, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen! If you’re couch touring, I’ll probably be dropping in for the Sunday show. Until then, your Top Twenty:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 582
2    Possum – 523
3    Mike’s Song – 497
4    Weekapaug Groove – 466
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 464
6    Chalk Dust Torture – 461
7    Golgi Apparatus – 460
8    Run Like an Antelope – 448
9    Cavern – 447
10   David Bowie – 444

11   Suzy Greenberg – 424
12   Divided Sky – 414
12   Stash – 414
14   Reba – 379
15   Runaway Jim – 378
16   Harry Hood – 375
17   Tweezer – 362
18   The Squirming Coil – 352
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 338

Phish Song Rankings: Summer 2018 BGCA through Camden

This is what I get for going on vacation in the middle of Summer Tour! It was a busy week for the band and I make it policy to unplug as much as I can when on vacation. I mean, I still kept up with the set lists each night, I’m not a luddite.

I’m always a little wary of the buzz around each tour. Following along on Twitter, listening to podcasts, the impression is always, “this is the best ever!” I think in order to get a true, historic idea of where any particular show or tour ranks, some distance is needed. Having said that, what I’ve heard (thanks phish.in!) from 2018 has been above average to say the least. The new sounds Trey has brought in are just fantastic.

The song selection has been interesting too. Watching some 3.0 originals become jam vehicles is fun. With Phish there is always the promise that song A could become a 20 minute jam. There are, of course, standbys that will ALWAYS be jams. Mike’s, Tweezer, Disease, YEM to name a few. Now though, when I see a No Men or Blaze On in the set, I’m excited to see what they’ve done this time. Just another reason to love this band. These songs are already becoming singalongs and eliciting cheers of excitement. That’s pretty cool.

Also pretty cool is that on the edge of the Top 100, Carini has entered the century club and The Wedge has been played 100 times. The Big Ball Jam continues to hang on at 101 plays, but as The Wedge, Carini and to a lesser extent The Mango Song keep getting more play, BBJ will be out. Driver finally reached the Top 200 but it will soon be caught by the aforementioned Blaze On and No Men In No Man’s Land.

Looking forward to the upcoming shows and I know I keep threatening to do a thorough audit of the list, I need to do it for Mike’s Song immediately. By my count, I have Mike’s at 497 plays. By Dick’s this year it very likely will be the third song in Phish’s repetoire to reach 500 plays. I know it’s just counting, but that’s pretty friggin cool. Your Top 20:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 581
2    Possum – 523
3    Mike’s Song – 497
4    Weekapaug Groove – 466
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 464
6    Chalk Dust Torture – 460
7    Golgi Apparatus – 459
8    Cavern – 447
8    Run Like an Antelope – 447
10   David Bowie – 444

 

11   Suzy Greenberg – 424
12   Divided Sky – 414
13   Stash – 413
14   Reba – 379
15   Runaway Jim – 377
16   Harry Hood – 374
17   Tweezer – 361
18   The Squirming Coil – 352
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 338

 

Phish Song Rankings: Tahoe, Summer 2018

I can’t explain why, but I am really excited for this tour. I think part of it is that I haven’t been to a show since 2016, missing everything in 2017. I think part of it is the shitty state of the world these days. Every day some new item appears that just makes me angry. Add in a dose of job dissatisfaction and a few other things and well, four guys playing music for a tens of thousands of hippies brings a genuine smile to my face.

As I’m writing I’m streaming the first set of The Gorge. Streams aren’t always the best way to get a feel for things, but the band sounds good. I hope to watch some of the streams as well, but the tour pass is a little pricy for my budget, sorry to say. I also filled out most of the paperwork to work at Curveball next month, but after the shows were announced in Chicago, that got 86’ed. A personal road trip followed by three home shows doesn’t work in the balance sheet. I’ll put it down right now however, if I make $5,000 from freelance writing, I’m going to a remote show, Dick’s, New Year’s, Vegas, something.

As far as the song rankings are concerned, getting to my major project with the data still hasn’t happened. Blame freelancing and other factors on that. As is the case, the top songs have such a long history that not much is going to change in the Top 20, As the summer rolls on, I might add a thing or two that I’m reporting, but I need to give it some more thought.

The movements that intrigued me the most were the playing of “My Sweet One” so early in the tour. That song has become my white whale. I’ve been going to shows since 1994 and haven’t gotten close. It might come again in the fall, but it doesn’t get many plays in any given year. “Carini” will crack the Top 100 again this tour and “Big Ball Jam” will fall further, eventually out of the Top 100, but probably not this tour. “Martian Monster” has been played 25 times which is a pretty amazing rise for a song that debuted in 2014. “No Men in No Man’s Land” has become quite the jam vehicle and the Tahoe version doesn’t disappoint. Though only played 26 times, it’s such a great sign of a vibrant band that new songs can become launching pads. We all like the classics, but watching the band take on something new is up-lifting.

If you’re out on tour, be safe, be kind and have fun. Your Top 20:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 581
2    Possum – 521
3    Mike’s Song – 494
4    Weekapaug Groove – 463
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 462
6    Golgi Apparatus – 458
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 457
8    Cavern – 445
8    Run Like an Antelope – 445
10   David Bowie – 442

11   Suzy Greenberg – 422
12   Stash – 413
13   Divided Sky – 412
14   Reba – 377
15   Runaway Jim – 376
16   Harry Hood – 372
17   Tweezer – 359
18   The Squirming Coil – 350
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 336

Phish Song Rankings: As of New Year’s 2017 (Irrational Anger Can Fuel a Post)

Honestly, I’m past anger. I’m not sure if I’m on to acceptance yet, but definitely resigned. I am resigned to the fact that there will be no Chicago stop this summer. The needle is pointing to some sort of festival in between the tour dates and Dick’s (and why does Dick’s get a yearly gig?!?) and I might try and actually work at said festival if it happens. I did the morning yoga at Magnaball and the instructor basically worked for tips. I wonder if a couple of history lectures would get some interest? (He wrote knowing the negative answer.)

I am still hopeful that some sort of fall tour will happen, bringing joy to the Midwest. I’m not sure what indoor arenas are good fits at this point. I suppose the collegiate venues in the city might work, UIC Pavillion, the new Wintrust Arena. The Allstate in Rosemont might be workable as well, but I’m not one hundred percent Phish could sell out Allstate anymore. If it were the only run of shows in the Midwest, maybe.

I get why Madison Square Garden is the preferred arena. A few others in the Northeast would be good too, Boston, Hartford and the like, but once Phish ventures outside of that region I don’t think they are a big enough act for a full blown arena tour at this point. Just thinking of the comp in Chicago, the United Center, and it would be a stretch to fill it.

So after 13 shows this summer in New York, the best possible venue for New Year’s Eve was right back at Pennsylvania Plaza. Again it’s the best place for the core of the fan base, but for those of us in various reaches of the country and who are, shall we say, financially challenged, a trip to New York is hard enough in the summer, practically impossible at the holidays.

Over the New Year’s run not a great deal of shifting in the song rankings, though some things are definitely brewing for the coming summer. Mike’s Song will probably reach 500 plays by the end of 2018. David Bowie probably won’t fall out of the top ten, but it will see more and more distance between itself and the ninth spot. The passing of David Bowie really seems to have taking the wind out of the song, which was already becoming less and less frequent. Carini might break the Top 100 and possibly 100 times played as well. Watching the Top 50 and Top 100 are where I enjoy keeping tabs the most.

Before the summer gets rolling it is time for a thorough inventory of my song ranking lists. I know at points my numbering is off and I may have missed a time played here and there. But while I’m auditing my work, I’m looking forward to sussing out a few more nuggets, which song from each album ranks the highest, which album has had it’s material played the most and whatever else I can think of while I’m working. So watch this space. Your Top 20:

As of New Year’s Run  2017

1   You Enjoy Myself – 580
2    Possum – 520
3    Mike’s Song – 494
4    Weekapaug Groove – 463
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 461
6    Golgi Apparatus – 458
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 457
8    Cavern – 445
8    Run Like an Antelope – 445
10   David Bowie – 442

11   Suzy Greenberg – 421
12   Stash – 412
12   Divided Sky – 412
14   Reba – 377
15   Runaway Jim – 376
16   Harry Hood – 371
17   Tweezer – 359
18   The Squirming Coil – 350
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 336

Phish Song Rankings: The End of Another Summer Dick’s 2017

And just like that, another summer is finished. I know the calendar still gives us a couple of more weeks, but with Labor Day the hard turn toward fall is well underway. As has been the custom in these circles, Labor Day means a weekend in Colorado and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

There is a lot that goes into making a venue special, the location, the vibe at any given show and most significantly, the past. Dick’s holds a very high place in the pantheon of Phish venues. The early gags definitely helped to propel that, along with the closing of the summer tour.

Knowing that the weekend is going to be one big Phish celebration must add to the vibe at the venue. I hope before it’s all said and done I get a chance to catch a Dick’s run. But other than those non-venue related elements, I don’t see what makes Dick’s so special. I’ve seen Phish in stadiums and it’s…ok? Last year pretty much convinced me that other than Phish, I won’t be going to Wrigley Field for another concert. Ditto for Toyota Park, also here in Chicago. The sound and space was better at Toyota, but I’m not making the trek out to Bridgeview for many other acts.

Maybe Dick’s is like the Grand Canyon, you have to visit it to really get it. Like I said, I hope I get the chance. Phish has a way of stopping traditions before they become too traditional. It is something I appreciate in the abstract about the band, but in practice I sometimes get disappointed. (i.e. the end of Halloween costumes, Fall and Winter indoor tours, the Doniac Schvice) But as someone once told me when I was bitching about some Phish change, “Phish is all about change and exploration. Enjoy it.” I’m trying.

The glacial change to the Phish Song Rankings has been, as always fun to watch during this tour. I’m not sure how I’ll pull it off, or even where, but when there is a change in the Top Twenty, I want to celebrate. Changes in the Top Fifty and Top One Hundred are more imminent, and we can see the preferences and logistics of the band coming to the fore. Character Zero is now in that Top 50 and Carini and 46 Days will be moving into the century club as the Big Ball Jam continues to slide. As far as milestones for individual performances, there wasn’t much from Dick’s this time around. As a fun little note, Suzy Greenberg hit 420. heh. get it? OK, I’ll stop now.  I hope to have some other material out before New Year’s but until then, here’s the Top Twenty:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 579
2    Possum – 519
3    Mike’s Song – 493
4    Weekapaug Groove – 462
5    Bouncing Around the Room – 460
6    Golgi Apparatus – 457
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 456
8    Cavern – 444
8    Run Like an Antelope – 444
10   David Bowie – 442

 

11   Suzy Greenberg – 420!
12   Stash – 412
12   Divided Sky – 412
14   Runaway Jim – 376
14   Reba – 376
16   Harry Hood – 370
17   Tweezer – 358
18   The Squirming Coil – 350
19   Foam – 345
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335