Tales of Mental Tangle: State of the Phish Address

In honor of “State of the Phish” week on OPT, we have an incredibly special Tales of Mental Tangle with two distinguished guests. The first, Coran Capshaw, has managed Phish since the beginning of 3.0. The second, Wook #17, has been honored with what is undoubtedly the greatest Photoshop thread in internet message board history.

Rather than stick to the traditional ToMT debate format, we’ve asked Coran to give a State of the Phish address on behalf of the band, and Wook #17 to give an official fan response. The transcripts of their speeches follow. Coran’s speech was transcribed by Zim, Wook #17’s by me, Guy Forget.

 

STATE OF THE PHISH ADDRESS

from c-ville.com

May 26th, 2011. Top deck of Coran Capshaw’s yacht, the “SS Custies Marching”.  A small army of personal eunuch manservants, all wearing matching “Jah Volunteer” shirts, applaud as Coran takes to the podium, which is constructed entirely out of unsold Inside In 45’s.  Cardboard cutouts of the entire Dave Matthews Band stand on the dais behind him. Coran’s mom, Ethel Capshaw, wipes away the remnants of a veggie burrito from his chin while the audience takes their seats.

Brahs and brahsefs, a good afternoon to you.  My name is Coran Capshaw. I am the manager of Phish, as well as a number of other popular recording and touring artists, all of whom I love and care about equally.

He turns around to look at the large cut-out of Dave behind him, staring lovingly into his eyes for an awkwardly long moment. He collects himself and turns back around.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Phish’s 2011 summer tour.  Besides being the band’s manager, I am also proud to call myself a fan.  Like many of you, I have attended a large number of Phish shows since their return in March of ‘09.  Unlike many of you, I enjoyed these shows from the privacy of my luxury box, which hovers just above the stage and is undetectable to the human eye.  But whether you’re watching from the back of the lawn or from the jacuzzi in my invisible hover-box, you know this much is true: Phish keeps getting better and better with each tour.

Who can forget the triumphant first notes of Fluffhead in ‘09?  A lengthy period of rediscovery followed for the band, which was highlighted by a creative outburst in Red Rocks and The Gorge.  An underrated NYE run in Miami featured more improvisatory growth before the following summer, which saw an exciting run of bust-outs, new covers and yet another level of creative playing, especially in Berkeley and Alpine.  Everything coalesced with the 2010 Fall and NYE tours.  Song selection, overall playing and a new style of jamming brought out more highlights in fewer shows than we’d seen since the bands return.

And now, I say to you loyal fans: Everything is in place for the upcoming run of 30 shows and one festival to represent another new pinnacle for Phish.

The audience cheers wildly.  Coran takes a sip from his emerald goblet filled with Four Loko and waits for them to quiet.  He hands the goblet back to his butler.

Thank you.  What do I mean when I say pinnacle?  Over the years, certain tours have stood out as the most perfect representation of what Phish could achieve in their respective eras.  Though some might debate it, the tours most fans deem as pinnacles are Summer ‘93, Fall ‘94, Fall ‘95, Summer ‘97, Fall ‘99, Summer ‘00 and Summer ‘03.  I believe, when we look back at Phish’s overall career, Summer ‘11 will be added to the list.

What evidence do I have to support this?  If you take a close listen to the last tour, I believe you will find all the elements of top-shelf Phish.  Trey’s guitar work in MSG 46 Days and Walk Away prove he has not nearly lost his shred-ability, as some would have you believe.  Meanwhile, a unique style of jamming has fully matured and created some seriously high-quality performances, such as Greek Cities & Simple, Worcester 7 Below & Hood and MSG Simple.  Most importantly, the boys have shown they are able to have fun and take risks yet again, with the out-there Augusta Reba, the Utica first set and the Tweezer from MSG as prime examples.

These highlights prove that the band is already playing at a high level.  So, you may ask, what’s missing?  The answer is consistency.  For every Greek there was a Telluride.  For every Augusta, Utica and Manchester there was a Broomfield.  For every NYE run show there was–an even better NYE run show the next night.  And that’s what we can look forward to in this upcoming tour.  For five nights in a row, Phish just got better and better, growing and expanding and forging new ground with each set.  I’m not saying they will be able to carry that consistency with them every show, but they will grow from where they left off in January.

Another round of applause as the yacht hits a rough patch of ocean, causing the ceiling to crack and leak gold coins from Coran’s Scrooge-McDuck-styled money bath onto the crowd.  Armed guards quickly retrieve the coins.

Thank you.  What other indications are there that this tour will be unlike any other since Phish’s return?  How about the excitement the band clearly has to perform now, as evidenced by their desire to add more dates up to the last minute.  Or how about the fact that they’ve already announced no more touring in the fall, meaning they will have to put everything they have into these next few months.

Believe me, no one is more pissed off about the paltry ticket sales for this tour than I am, what with my Bengali Tiger having just given birth to twins and the absurd zookeeper/veterinarian bills it entails.  But for the fans, this news is fantastic.  It means a higher ratio of true fans per show plus greater impetus for the band to shake things up and make everyone who skips a show pay dearly.

I know there are some minor gripes about the layout of the tour, but that’s only if you’re not looking at the big picture.  With a tightly packed east coast Leg I, you can expect the band to be tighter than ever by the time they reach Watkins.  When you combine the fantastic logistical success of Festival 8 with the greatly improved playing since then, I believe we will have a perfect storm of festival madness on our hands for Superball IX.  Follow that up with a Leg II/III excursion featuring more exciting venues than you can order your butler to shake a stick at, and you have what amounts to a nearly perfect looking tour.

Amidst the applause, a crazed wook shouting “Jerry!” throws his sandal at Coran’s head, narrowly missing.  He is quickly thrown over the side of the boat.  Coran continues speaking.

Thank you.  Finally, I want to remind you, the fans, that the success of this tour lies as much in your hands as it does in the ours.  While all the sign-waving and favorite-song-shouting can be fun for each individual, I urge you to remember that you are part of a larger community.  And like any community, the Phish community is one that rewards patience and humility.  Instead of trying to demand a certain song, why not hold up a sign that simply says “Thank You”?  Or, if you want to communicate with the band, try doing it in a way that is creative and unique, such as the Guyutica fellow, the Manteca team and the campaigners to sing Happy Birthday to Mike.  Overall, remember that music is really just an exchange of energy and try to bring your best energy to each and every song–yes, even TTE.

Fans, forget everything you thought you knew about Phish 3.0.  Everything is lined up perfectly to make summer 2011 a new pinnacle in the band’s history. If you believe in Phish’s ability to transform continuously yet retain its essential brilliance, then you should look forward to this upcoming tour with the confidence that we are heading into a new era of engaging and unforgettable music.  Thank you.

Thunderous standing ovation.  The song “I Did It” plays over the PA as Coran is carried off by his two strongest eunuch menservants.


STATE OF THE PHISH: FAN RESPONSE

from w00ks.org (defunct)

May 26, 2011, an unidentified small-town park. Hundreds of heads mill about with a finger in the air. There is no concert going on. Off to the side, a group of heads roll a 4-foot joint. In another elevated area stands the wookiest of all the park’s wooks: Wook #17. In one hand he holds an old microphone that is not plugged in to anything, but does give the appearance that what he’s giving is in fact a speech. In the other, he holds what is ostensibly a burrito.

Welcome! It is an honor to respond to Mr. Capshaw’s State of the Phish address in front of this, ahem, joint session. I’ve been called a great many things: Wook #17, the seventeenthiest of wooks, the wookiest of seventeenths, the teenthiest of sevenwooks, and Dale. How is everyone today?

A woman who doesn’t seem to realize she has one foot submerged in a pond says, “where’d you get the burrito, bro?”

Oh, my boy Makisupa Dave is manning the burrito booth over there.

She gets a burrito from Dave, takes a bite, and says, “it tastes like dirt.”

Yup, he’s doing dirt burritos today. The tortilla is made of the wrapping paper from someone’s Chipotle burrito, which they donated to Makisupa Dave after they were done. Fucking delicious, ‘supa – the pond-water salsa is a genius touch. And I should mention, they are 100% vegan.

Makisupa Dave knows all too well that this is a difficult time for the kidz. Dave was doing bean burritos last summer, but with ticket prices where they are, dirt is a much more realistic option. My own group, the Cosmic Crew, is feeling it, too. We did the math, and with gas prices where they’re at, the only way we can swing tour is with a vintage 1964 VW rickshaw.

But even in these trying times, the band is keeping it real for us. The first leg of tour is incredibly condensed in the northeast – only 138 miles of travel to see the first five shows, which I can only assume was booked that way with the rickshawists in mind.

The park-goers applaud wildly. Wook #17 smiles excitedly, but realizes moments later that they weren’t cheering at him; rather, the 4-foot blunt has been lit.

We all know that what we share with the band transcends the music. It’s about the vibes, about that magic energy the band sends our way, then we give back, then they give right back to us, and that we keep trying to return to each other like a game of energy hot potato. And if we’ve learned anything from 3.0, it’s that the potato is hotter than ever. Let’s review.

First up, tiered pricing. For too long, all fans have been treated equally with respect to prices. Me and my kids could be trying to get our groove on, and some bro who stumbled in backwards-Hoyas-hat-first during the Antelope set closer because he was busy killing the keg at the frat starts treating me like there’s something wrong with me literally running around like an antelope. Well, newsflash, bro, it’s in the lyrics for a reason, dude! What are you gonna tell me next, to just leave my shoes in a ditch during the second set Cavern and hope for the best? Well goodbye, bro: your trust fund will land you in the pavilion, and I can get down with my people.

Next up, the merch. A little personal story. Last fall, I heard a rumor from a reputable source who said that the fall tour was going to be the chronic. So I pre-ordered the SBDs of the whole tour. Sick. Then I went to the Utica show, and found out when it was over that I got a free copy of the SBD from my ticket stub. Double-sick! The only thing better than having a crispy copy of the show in your iTunes is having two crispy copies of the show in your iTunes! Next, the band announced they were releasing a DVD of the show. I was so pumped–I don’t have a TV myself (don’t believe in screens) but I love packaging, so I had to have it. And it comes with a CD of the show….Triple-sick!

A narc up front says, “No way–they’re making us buy the same thing three times!”

That’s a load of multibeastshit. What we’re getting is a triple bonus. And if you don’t like it, go narc out somewhere else, narc!

In fact, this goes right along with what I was saying about the band inspiring the fans. Makisupa Dave got the idea to charge an extra 25 cents for his veggie burritos and give away a free bonus napkin with each purchase!

Wooks clap politely. One yells, “free napkins!” Another yells, “free Hat!”

Finally, I want to address the state of the music. What Phish has taught me above all else is the value of living in the moment, in music and in life. After Fall ‘97, seeing how much the band jammed and how well it worked for them, I successfully eliminated preparation from my life. Like when I had a court appearance for some bullshit pot possession charge, I wasn’t gonna waste part of my day getting myself to the court. I was just going to, like, be there. Because it’s all about spirit anyway, you know?

A woman named Telareba, who’s just hit the superblunt, whispers to her 2-year-old son, Forbinfee, “remember that, sweetie,” then passes the blunt to Forbinfee.

And the band is truly operating more in the moment now than ever. They just show up and play. Others have criticized them for not practicing before the tours. I say it’s a privilege at those first few shows of the tour to see them figure things out on stage–witness the creative process in action, you know?

In short, fans, it is a joy to see the band happy and healthy. There is no better sign of health than knowing your limits. And the band, after taking the first five months of the year off, has already scheduled their next extended break. That’s called planning ahead, and planning ahead is always a good thing. That may seem to contradict what I was just saying, but I think you’ll agree that in this case it fits my argument. So let’s be thankful that the state of the band is so strong, let’s rage it this summer, and let’s get pumped for the off-season, when we’ll get to buy fourth, fifth, and sixth copies of some of these epic shows!

So Mr. Capshaw, I know this is supposed to be a retort to your address, or whatever, but my basic message is, keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working, bro. It is working!

Icculus bless you, and may Icculus continue to bless the United States of Gamehendge. Thank you!