Trey Anastasio performs with Furthur on September 7, 2013 at the Lockn' Festival, featuring "Casey Jones," "Bertha," "Truckin,'" "The Other One," "Viola Lee Blues," "Scarlet Begonias" and "Fire on the Mountain." Trey will perform at Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead on July 3-5, 2015 at Chicago's Soldier Field.
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The following reflections on the Miami New Year’s Run come to us from an old time Phish fan who last saw the band on July 26, 1992, at the Big Birch Concert Pavilion in Patterson, NY. On that date in 1992, Phish played a 1-set, 7-song opener for Santana. To underscore the significant gap in time between shows, the last time the writer saw Phish, more than 22 years and 1011 Phish performances ago, Bill Clinton had not yet been elected President. The writer is a musician and bard himself, and here are his unedited reflections on seeing Phish for the first time in 22 years:
"When I think of Phish, I think of phar out melodies and a phuriously phunky rhythm section. If I could I surely would dance till the lights came up and when they did I would shout out loud "Whoo Hoo!". Phunking all right!
Phish is the little band that could. Trey, Page, Michael and Jon, old buds who formed and forged their sound in the little old state of Vermont. They stuck together through the turbulence and turmoil and learned how to make magic. It always begins with a little love, some sweet nectar and a dream.
Now my love does not eat meat, so I am going Phishing. Won't you join me?
Until last fall, every announced tour brought a common lament: "West Coast screwed again." But the data has a different refrain: While the West Coast gets plenty of love, it's the band's home turf that gets routinely shafted - and moreso across the band's history.
The mantra "follow the line going south" did not emerge in lyrics or tour patterns until 1987, following four years solely in New England. By 2014, Phish had abandoned Patriots territory - but they still played Seahawks city.
And last fall was hardly an anomaly. There have been more shows in Pacific states than New England ones in 12 of 23 periods - including 1997 and 2004, in particular. New England has even fallen behind non-US shows in six periods!
As far as we know, Phish didn't play any Monday shows their first two years. And except for some regular gigs in 1988, Monday (and the first half of the week) remained less likely to have a show for most of their history. I know, you're not surprised... But there are two interesting twists in the pattern.
First, the distribution of shows across the week became more even throughout the 90s. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were played 2-3 times as often from '89 to '94. But by '97, Wednesday was just as common as Saturday; and by 2000, even Monday tied with Saturday! Gone were the days of booking weekend gigs at clubs in college towns; Phish could play anywhere, any night of the week.
But since the breakup, weekend shows are, once again, twice as likely as Monday. And now, even Thursdays are slipping away. The aggregate pattern now is fewer weeks, and 5 shows in each of them: Tues/Wed and Fri/Sat/Sun. (Two coming graphs will delve more into the related shift towards multiple-night runs in each venue.)
Already, rumors are spinning about various stops on an anticipated summer 2015 tour. Wherever it's stopped, and whenever it's announced (likely on a Tuesday, late February?), it's almost certain to happen: Phish 3.0 is all about the summer tour.
For most of this chart, each row shows a calendar year (Jan 1 to Dec 31), with a vertical blue sliver for each Phish show. Three heatmaps summarize those 32 years: The darker blue the sliver, the more shows occurred on that day of the year. In all rows (the 32 years and the heatmaps), dates without shows stay white.
The top multi-colored row is based on a sum across all 32 years, and shows that Phish shows have historically been distributed roughly evenly across the calendar year, with only three exceptions: There have never been shows most January days, several days around the start of the school year, and the third week of December. But glance down the chart (where each row is a different year) and see both noticeable gaps and shifts in where they happened.
Though a summer event will celebrate "the music of the Grateful Dead" (emphasis added), the last Grateful Dead show was 7/9/95, 30 years and 65 days after their first. Phish reached that age February 5th of last year, will be a year older than that in less than three weeks, and arguably* became the longest-performing jamband when they took the stage 4/26/14.
Though they are said to have expanded rapidly (even exponentially), Phish's growth was far more gradual than that of other bands, including the Grateful Dead. It wasn't until Phish was perhaps** 7 years old that they played 100 shows in the same year, something that the Grateful Dead did in their 2nd year - and that Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey's McGee, for example***, all did in their 4th. (The fastest growing of these was SCI, who played 226 shows in 1997, their sixth year, after two spare ones - though they've played relatively few shows since their 15th.)
“Fare Thee Well – Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead” – will take place at Chicago's Soldier Field on July-3-5. The official announcement follows:
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir will reunite at Chicago’s Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the last-ever Grateful Dead concert, which took place at the same venue. “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” will take place over three nights – July 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2015 – and mark the original members’ last-ever performance together. The band will be joined by Trey Anastasio (Guitar), Jeff Chimenti (Keyboards) and Bruce Hornsby (Piano), and will perform two sets of music each night.
In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Service, tickets will be available via a first come first serve mail order system starting on January 20th, followed by an online pre-sale through Dead Online Ticketing February 12th and will be available online to the general public on February 14th via Ticketmaster.
Referring to the members of Phish as "the boys" was fun, then "so last week", then ironic. Now, it's just sad. But there's always one way to revisit any issue: statistically.
A little over eight months ago, I posted a Venn diagram purporting to show the numbers of common shows with each combination of Phish songs that mention boys: Lifeboy, Lawn Boy, Dog-Faced Boy, and You Enjoy Myself. The numbers were solid, but some of you questioned the song selection. (No one objected that the first two mention boys only in their titles, not lyrics, but various users suggested adding other songs.)
So, here's a revision, which includes Fluffhead (thanks @larvalcraze) - though not Harpua (which doesn't always mention Jimmy as a boy; sorry, @The_Crested_Hogchoker) or Little Drummer Boy (a cover; sorry, @markah).