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It was ten years ago, on August 14, 2004, when Phish began one of the most anticipated and emotionally-charged concerts of their career. The very word “Coventry” is a deeply meaningful, if not painful, trigger among fans, given the festival's extraordinary and tragic circumstances. Coventry’s music is full of staggering contradictions, in that it is at times ponderous and exciting, dour and joyful, miserable and soul-expanding. The art of Coventry is revisited here not only in honor of its 10th Anniversary, but also out of love for Phish and their music, warts and all.
In the event you don’t know the background of Phish’s shows in Coventry, here’s the short version: The shows were billed as the last shows that Phish would play. Ever.
Take a moment to breathe that in.
The Mockingbird Foundation has issued an all-points bulletin seeking old photos of Phish. Now that there's a pause in touring, we're asking you to climb into your closets, break out the shoeboxes, crack open the photo albums, and help us out. We're looking for anything, everything, but especially '83 to '97, the 15 years before there WAS a Mockingbird Foundation. (No need to hesitate on newer stuff - we'll consider anything - but we need to fill gaps in early years, asap!)
And not just you, because there's a chance we've asked you before: We beg, plead, with you to contact other Phish fans you know - perhaps, even, this is a chance to reach out to phans you used to know or travel with but haven't seen in awhile. Find 'em on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace (remember that?), Google+ (remember that?), or just Google stalk them until you find them. Even if you don't have anyone in mind, we hope you'll spread this APB far and wide - tweet it, post it, send it anywhere - all points of contact, please! :)
As an incentive...
Off the heels of a truly inspired Phish tour comes another edition of Phish.Net's Mystery Jam Monday. The winner will receive an MP3 download courtesy of our friends at LivePhish.com / Nugs.Net. To win, be the first person to identify the song and date of the mystery jam clip. Each person gets one guess per day, with the second “day” starting after I post the hint. A hint will be posted on Tuesday if necessary, with the answer to follow on Wednesday. Good luck!
The tour closer. Phish is playing as well as they have in years. More than that, it seems like this is a general consensus. Phish fans may be scattered across generations and social-media platforms but there is little obvious disagreement about the quality of improvisation, which night in and night out has been magnificent. The drummer is massive, controlling the action in front of him to a greater degree than ever before. The keyboard player is all over the place, more percussive than usual, rising to the challenge, demanding and happily executing solos when usually he lays back. Even the guitar player, on whom so much depends, is hitting his marks most of the time and seems to want to do it right.
Phish, Inc. chose to offer a free webcast of Sunday night's Phish concert live from Alpharetta, Georgia. One wonders why it was free, whether enough shame finally accrued to the organization from the amateur-hour shenanigans of Nugs.net that it felt the need to pay off the fan base, or whether they are testing a new product, or whether they are deviously trying to identify, harvest, and ruthlessly exploit your intimate personal information like Facebook. When the band took the stage at 8:13pm, it was playing to a big room.
Tonight, Oak Mountain Amphitheatre hosts the 21st and second-to-last show of Phish’s 2014 summer season. Tomorrow’s capper in Alpharetta will close the books on a tour that has left smoking craters in its wake and paid off with a consistency that rivals fall 2013. With one or two minor exceptions that are probably better left unnamed, the band has played with purpose, patience, and fire at every stop this summer, spinning ideas into moments and moments into grand, cathedral proclamations.
On a few of these nights (like the second night of Merriweather, which is by now a shopworn reference) it has seemed as if Phish could do no wrong. The band’s own social media stream suggests that they are doing a whole mess of rehearsing out there on the road (as distinguished from sound-checking), which would certainly explain in part the confidence and surefooted execution we have seen so far.