By Andy Gadiel
As I rode the bus home from work last week, watching a live Phish show streamed via someone's iPhone on my laptop connected to mobile Wi-Fi, I couldn't help but think of how far we've come from the days of people running to lobby pay phones at set break to call me with the night's setlist.
Moore's law states that the number of transistors that can be placed on a circuit doubles every two years. This means computer speed has essentially quadrupled in the four and half years since Coventry. We've reached a convergence point where the network can finally keep pace with our imaginations. We can now send our messages farther, faster, and cheaper than ever before. You just need to have something worth saying.
Fortunately, Phish fans have always embraced the latest tech. The Phish.Net, rec.music.phish, and ZZYZX taught us that there's something genuinely geeky – in a good way – about the band and its music; something that motivates us to build connections via these evolving forms of communication. Phish themselves even embraced innovation by launching LIvephish.com before their (other) reunion show at MSG in 2002, thus becoming the first band to release high-quality, DRM-free soundboard recordings of every night's show immediately for download.
Now that Phish is back and touring, there are many – maybe too many – ways to tap into their world. But as summer tour takes a month-long breather, let's catch our technical breaths and run down what went down online over the past month.
(Warning: This list may be obsolete by the time the band hits Red Rocks on July 31.)
* On the official side, Phish.com hosts From The Road with updated setlists and photos. Bonus: Phish.com also twittered song-by-song setlists during each show. Given the prevalence of new songs, this was even helpful for those in attendance.
* While it clearly violates every video and taping policy ever created, ya gotta give props to the PhishTube guy who live-streamed a bunch of shows for fans stuck at home without tickets (or for those of us who've had kids since Coventry).
* On the same tip, more than 2,000 Phish videos have been uploaded to YouTube in the past month.
* JamBase (my organization) hosts an up-to-the-minute mashup of tweets and twitpics along with nightly setlists, photos, and reviews.
* Mister Minor didn't miss a beat with his always thought provoking Phish Thoughts. I especially enjoy his late-second-set quiet moments of reflection. Minor also hosts the No Spoilers project, a concept initiated at the Hampton reunion shows in order to distribute audience recordings of Phish shows without accompanying setlists in order to maintain the element of surprise. Extra credit if you can actually avoid knowing what they played before downloading.
* YemBlog provides fresh links to Phish news, blogs, audio, and videos along with highly entertaining twittering of each night's show.
* Jambands.com and its counterpart Relix.com continue to offer some of the deepest regular coverage of Phish, especially as they enter their own 3.0 phase. Case in point: Mike Greenhaus' Twitter updates with a mix of setlists and real-time reax.
* Phantasytour kept up with all the factual action while also providing consistently hilarious and often well-informed chat in its forum.
* Phish.net kicked it old school with reviews of every show.
* Glide magazine's Hidden Track blog was on the scene for the tour.
* Live Music Blog has daily updates, news, and commentary.
* The mainstream press jumped on the bandwagon.
* Oh yeah, and I tried to keep up with everything, retro style, on my page.
What'd I miss? Add your favorite Phish site to the comments below!
Andy Gadiel is the Founder and President of JamBase, the creator of Andy Gadiel's Phish Page, and sits on the board of directors of the Rex Foundation and HeadCount. Andy has been using technology to bring fans closer to the music they love for more than fifteen years.