We’re five shows deep into the Baker’s Dozen, where the Phish from Vermont have holed up in Madison Square Garden for thirteen nights in lieu of their usual cross-country summertime bacchanal.
Heads who aren’t freaking out the Big Apple—due to kids, job, mortgage, and other poor adult excuses—can broadcast it live and watch that shit like the Olympics.
A fortnight or more! On the Couch Tour! Cheers to that. With no West Coast dates in sight, I’ve decided to purchase the entire run. That’s how you do Phish IRL, in binges. This is the only sensible move.
Here’s what’s awesome about LivePhish casts. You don’t deal with the street hassle. No tarps on your living room carpet. A new beer is ten steps away; there’s legal pot; the stream is in HD video and audio. My Phish homies and I hang out digitally and watch together, just like in the 90s, back when we were cool and did this for real.
The one weird part? Actual Phish tour is vacation. I’m very much not on vacation right now.
That’s OK though. I can make this happen, make it worth the price tag and catch all these shows. Tour isn’t supposed to be easy. Overcoming challenges is part of this scene. Now I’m learning that challenges are surprisingly similar on the Couch.
Vibing: On the couch you’re not out there vibing with real people. We still got each other on Facebook groups and Reddits, but as we learned, digital people can be fucking intolerable, even when they’re your digital people.
Tour equivalent: Sunrise—and you’re still tripping with the caricature-people in some weird parking lot.
Chomping: When you hang out with digitals long enough, you get a little pissy and so does everyone else. It snowballs. Dude, Trey cuts off the jams now, oh, there were flubs on ‘Reba’ and they’re totally fucking avoiding ‘Fluffhead.’
Tour equivalent: The dude behind you complaining about the ‘Joy’ encore after shouting “Golgi Apparatus” word for word.
Mashing:These shows start at 4:30 p.m. Pacific. Even bankers are working then—it’s a mad dash home to catch the show.
Tour equivalent: Chicago to Minneapolis during construction season on I-94.
Begging: Three hours of TV after work for two weeks in a row is a big time ask with little kids at home. This is a whole season of Green Bay Packers games smushed into two weeks.
Tour equivalent: Asking for the car keys to drive across three states when you’re a minor and your mom is from the ‘70s and knows damn well what this is about.
Snobbing: I’m watching this on my computer. It’s up against June ‘94 and Dec. ‘97 and Big Cypress on my hard drive. I won’t Chad you, but there are some damn good sets in there.
Tour equivalent: Grateful Dead leftovers telling you shit ain’t what it used to be, fuck it, go home.
First half takeaways so far
Do I really miss the steep lawn of Alpine Valley? Sleeping in my car at Deer Creek? Undercover Woolworth Co. Sheriff’s Deputies in big white basketball shoes? Scary nitrous dudes from Summer 2000?
A little bit, yeah. It’s cool though.
Getting logged into LivePhish after beating down another day of adulting, online Phish watching has a catharsis of its own. With the kids asleep, a beer and bowl in hand—with the right eyes, my office PC monitors become a hayfield in Noblesville, Indiana, and I just parked my mom’s Buick.