Phish announced the dates to their second leg of summer tour on Tuesday. Just like last year, the fine print below the announcement read that there would be no more summer or fall dates for 2012. Mr. Miner wrote a piece today, ‘A Reaction to the Fine Print’, that examines his feelings and thoughts about where Phish is in their career and what the future may be like. With the post, and some of his tweets yesterday, discussion swirled on the Internet about if Phish really cares anymore and if this is the future of Phish touring.
My reaction to the dates was different. I was, well, excited. I was excited they announced venues that they never played before including a state that they’ve never played before. I questioned the logistics of the tour for people that wanted to see multiple shows but that isn’t a huge issue, that’s how the second leg just seems to be now. After hearing Trey mention that this year would be a “light touring year”, I was worried there would only be one leg, if any, touring at all. I see this summer tour as exciting because I feel that they were planning on playing less this year initially but as the long break after NYE set in, they felt the itch to play a bit more and decided to give us a full summer tour. Page had his new baby and there are other obligations this year so I figured this year would be light and we’d move back to the Summer, Fall, and NYE rotation in 2013. Since I wasn’t expecting many shows this year, because of Trey’s preface last year about light touring, I wasn’t let down when they announced no more shows (like last year).
I agree with Mr. Miner’s article that questions just how Phish feels about Phish. Phans caring about Phish more than Phish caring about Phish never has made them a better band. I have written countless articles since fall of 2009 about Phish not being the same (mostly focusing on Trey) and them not caring about it like they used to. They don’t. Trey is preoccupied with solo projects, indie bands, and musicals; Mike is preoccupied with his solo band and other artistic endeavors. I have written about how frustrating it is that Trey seems to care more about his cookie-cutter TAB shows than Phish shows. I have pointed out that Mike seems to get more pleasure out of playing with a rag-tag group of musicians than the guys that made it possible for him to do what he does now. And, until 2011, I questioned if Page even wanted to be in Phish. Phish is not the same. This is not news. 2011 featured the most in-sync and exciting Phish we’ve seen since 2003 and that makes me optimistic despite them playing less concerts. Maybe they need the huge gaps of touring to put together fantastic tours like summer 2011. Does it suck? Hell yeah. But I’ve made peace with it.
I know people, Miner included, are worried about Phish not moving forward after progressing from ’09 to ’11. I’m worried about that too, but they made their biggest leap forward from 2010 to 2011 after a 6-month break (same length as this year). I think they will move forward, albeit more slowly. The idea of no album kinda stinks, but they have plenty of material that is dying to get its 15-minutes. They have plenty of 2.0 and 3.0 songs that would make fantastic jam vehicles that they are simply choosing not to unleash. It makes me as mad as the next guy that Trey is focusing on another solo album rather than a Phish album. But you know why I’ve stopped bitching about it on OPT? Because I’ve made peace.
This is Phish in 3.0. Take it or leave it. The people that say “heeey maaan, we have Phish back, you should be happy they are playing for us” still make me violently cringe, trust me. What I’m talking about is just finally coming to the realization that Phish is back, they are not and will never be the same band–EVER. There is no way for Trey to get as excited and geeky about Phish as he was in the 90’s, that’s over. Trey has nothing left to prove. Their relationships have been stressed over the years, they don’t want to be crammed in busses together for hours on end anymore–I still think of the sight of each band member leaving Telluride Town Park in 2010 in a SEPARATE bus to go a few miles. They totally don’t care as much about the band anymore. That’s why they need enough downtime every year to make it fun and special for them when they do hit the road. That’s the way it is.
That all being said, I am fully expecting to start throwing fall tours back in the mix in 2013, a new album in fall or 2013 and the continued progression (even if it’s slowly) towards refining the sound of the 3.0 jam. Phish is useless without evolution and it’s important they keep moving. If 2013 comes around and we just get a single tour again, then we really have a problem. But why worry now? Why worry in the year that Trey warned us would be “light touring”. If this is “light touring” that means it’s not what “normal touring” is to him.
Phish not caring about Phish as much as they used to is not news. That is SO 2010.
Get excited for summer tour people. It’s coming soon and it’s going to be a BLAST!