Phish.Net user Matt Burnham (@TheRealBurnham) is in the process of taking votes from fans on Phish's "Hall of Fame" jams. Surely you've listened to a lot of Phish over the years, yes? They're a highly improvisational band, as you are well-aware, and their versions of certain songs (as attested to ad nauseum in this site's Jam Charts) can differ in spectacular ways----harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, hilariously----week to week and tour to tour. You probably wouldn't be reading this if you didn't already have thoughtful opinions on The Greatest Jams In Phish History, right? Here's more information about what Matt is up to, in Matt's own words, and how you can help determine which jams should be in the "Hall of Fame":
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Phish.net lists 871 songs written and/or played by Phish, but that includes 22 that were "only" teased or jammed, 42 unperformed originals, and 533 covers, of which 289 weren't played beyond their debut. Of the 274 originals left, 42 were only played once and most were written decades ago.
But don't discount the band's originality yet, as there's good evidence of two forms of overlooked balance. You can see them both in today's chart (the next in a series), which involves several variations on a population pyramid (a.k.a an age-sex graph, a variation on a paired-bar graph).
This chart treats Phish's repertoire of songs as a population, disaggregates them by age (measured by year of debut, with the oldest on top), and distinguishes originals from covers (rather than male/female, as is typical). Further, the bars for each age are segmented ("stacked") to differentiate songs that were only performed once (the lighter tips of each bar) from those performed more than once (the darker root of each bar). Finally, to help understand growth in the repertoire, rows are labelled with studio album releases and musical costume albums performed in the given year.
The next few entries in our charts series summarize some of the information and scrutiny available through Phish.net. First up, a quantitative summary of the site's extensive Jamming Charts, which identify 3,343 recommended performances of 193 songs (an average of 17.3 each) as well as 919 highly recommend versions (an average of 4.8 each).
For the 41 of those songs which were performed 150 or more times, the chart to the right illustrates the total performances (to end of grey), proportion recommended (end of green), and proportion highly-recommended (yellow).
Those 41 songs account for 1,549 recommended versions and 541 highly recommended versions, or about half of all those in the Jamming Charts. But those charts recommend a wide range - from only 2 of the 438 Caverns, to 43% of the 366 Tweezers (of which 63, or 17%, are highly recommended.)
Phish has announced their 2015 Summer Tour and Magnaball, Phish’s tenth festival, which will take place August 21-23, 2015 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY.
The Summer Tour will begin at the end of July on the West Coast with two evenings at Les Schwab Amphitheatre in Bend, OR (July 21 & 22). The band will also play two-night stands in Atlanta, GA (July 31 & August 1), East Troy, WI (August 8 & 9), Philadelphia, PA (August 11 & 12) and Columbia, MD (August 15 & 16). For the fifth straight year, Phish will wrap up its summer outing with a trio of Labor Day weekend shows at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO (9/4-6). The band will not be touring this fall.
Phish returns to Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, NY for their tenth festival, Magnaball (August 21-23, 2015). Located amidst the rolling hills of central New York’s Finger Lakes region, the site is just a short drive from numerous Northeastern cities. Onsite camping is included in the price of admission. Like previous Phish festivals, the event will include numerous activities, attractions and art installations in addition to a series of performances by the band. Camping and travel packages are available.
magnaball.phish.com is your main source for all things ‘ball. We’ve posted the first wave of information about the festival and will continue to update with Travel info, FAQs, Guidelines, Event Info, the hottest celebrity recipes, and much much more, so keep checking back.
An online ticket request period for Phish’s 2015 Summer Tour (not including Magnaball) is currently underway at http://tickets.phish.com/. The ticket request period will end Sunday, March 29th at 11:59pm Eastern Time. Tickets for Magnaball go on sale this Friday, March 20th at Noon ET at magnaball.shop.ticketstoday.com.
[Editor's Note, SP] – Continuing a tradition began last year, the phish.net working group set out again to rank the Top 10 shows of 2014 (with Miami being included as part of the 2014 "year" despite bleeding into 2015). Normally this is where I’d caution that any ranking of Phish shows is an exercise in imposing an objective order on something that couldn’t be more subjective. And that’s true! If you really want the lecture, though, here you go. Generally our readers find these posts helpful and informative... or not. If you fall into the latter category, you've at least been warned.
Before we get started, there were some trends that emerged in our admittedly small sample size. We actually ended up with a pretty clear Top 13 that we whittled down to ten. The last three out were 7/20 Chicago, 7/26 MPP and 8/29 Dicks. After that, we were really left with a Top 4 and a Next 6. We’ll get to the Top 4 later, but as for 5-10, these were mostly shows that featured consistently strong playing throughout but perhaps lacked a truly transcendent jam. The group was all over the map in ranking these shows, with any given show as likely to be ranked five or six as it was to be left out of the Top 10 altogether. Now, without further ado, the top 10!
Chris Calarco (www.chriscalarcoyoga.com) has been practicing yoga for over a decade. He recently began incorporating Phish’s music into some of his classes, including classes for the benefit of The Mockingbird Foundation, and we wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge him for his work, and learn more about his inspiration.
Can you explain how or what inspired you to create Phishy yoga classes? Does your experience with Phish's music inform your practice?
When I first started practicing yoga, I would feel exhilarated and exhausted following class. It was a truly beautiful, wonderful feeling, and it felt really familiar. Pretty quickly it came to me that the feeling reminded me of the post Phish show feeling. So, in that way, Phish informed my yoga almost immediately. I had always said that I learned the most about myself dancing at Phish shows. But that was before I found yoga, which insists that one be willing to skillfully and honestly stare yourself in the face, and be self-reflective. Yoga isn't simply a physical practice. It’s a way of looking at yourself and the world. So much of the yoga philosophy that I studied and continue to study is a sort of “homecoming,” in that I first learned it all through the creative inner exploration at Phish shows. It was a beautiful confirmation to "re-learn."
When did you get “IT” with respect to Phish?
Since the jam chart team has just published a revised chart for Ghost, we thought it would be informative, and perhaps even interesting (for some) to learn more about the process of updating a major jam chart. Ghost is a cherished, fan-favorite jamming song. Going in to this process, we knew that the results would be closely scrutinized, debated, and that we would draw the ire of those who disagree with some of our decisions, like which versions to highlight.
Why did we even feel the need to tinker with the Ghost jam chart? First, the former Ghost chart was assembled in a hurried and somewhat haphazard manner, part of a much larger effort to introduce a new and improved jam chart format that occurred in December 2013. Second, a quick glance at the (now) former chart gave us reason to believe that the chart was overlooking important versions, and underrepresenting particular years. Consider these statistics: the former chart had thirteen versions from 1997 and two from 1999. Likewise, 2003 and 2004 were represented by five total versions, and we inherently knew that the 2.0 era is particularly strong from a jamming perspective. So we set out to do a comprehensive review of all 133 live performances of Ghost, seeking to ensure that a revised chart did not overlook any strong improvisational versions, and that the final chart would reflect the entire performance history of Ghost, covering the high water marks across all years and eras. The team consisted of Marty Acaster (@Doctor_Smarty), Pete Skewes-Coxe (@ucpete), Andrew Stavely (@Westbrook) and me. Below is a description of the processes we employed:
We at Phish.net were greatly saddened to hear of the untimely death of phan Harris Wittels, host of the hilarious Analyze Phish podcast and writer for Parks and Recreation (among many other comedic endeavors). To remember him, we turned to Nathan Rabin, author of You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me, a memoir of his experiences following Phish and the Insane Clown Posse. Nathan appeared on Episode 7 of Analyze Phish to discuss his book and attempt to help Harris convince co-host Scott Auckerman of Phish's greatness. He is the former head writer for The A.V. Club and currently a staff writer at The Dissolve.
Remembering Harris Wittels
By Nathan Rabin (@nathanrabin)
At the age of 30, Harris Wittels had the kind of credits men twice his age would be proud to claim. He’d written for three of the best, most groundbreaking and beloved sitcoms of the past twenty years in The Sarah Silverman Program, Eastbound & Down and Parks & Recreation, where he was an Executive Producer and could be found in some episodes wearing a Phish tee shirt and playing a hapless guy named Harris.
Harris was an essential part of the Comedy Bang Bang podcast before fusing two of his great loves: podcasting and Phish, into his brilliant podcast Analyze Phish. As if all that weren’t impressive enough for one lifetime he was also a gifted stand-up comedian, talented drummer with Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die, a columnist at Grantland, the coiner of the term of Humblebrag and the author of the book spun off the column.
Yet Harris was so much more than the sum of his incredible credits that it felt maddening and reductive to see obituary headlines that referred to him as a Parks & Recreation producer or Humblebrag coiner because the whole of Wittels was so much greater than the sum of its remarkable parts.