While countless jam band fans boycotted the Grammy’s last night in an annual protest of an award show that’s viewed as a travesty by many, several Deadheads made haste to turn on CBS at showtime after word spread on social media that Bob Weir was in attendance. With Long Strange Trip nominated for ‘Best Music Film,’ a dapper looking Bob could be found sitting pretty on the floor amongst a star studded audience. What ensued was an impromptu game of “Where’s Bobby?: Grammy’s Edition.”
You can relive all of the hysteria and hullabaloo and play Where’s Bobby? using the screenshots above and at the bottom of page.
• In other news, HQ host, self-styled Phish phan and jam band acolyte, Scott Rogowsky, maintained his twenty year boycott of the Grammy’s, namely due to The String Cheese Incident not receiving an award in all those years. Despite his fevered protestations, he got down to the nitty gritty, getting the daily 9pm HQ show on the road.
Yesterday I woke up to news alerts on my phone – another shooting, what else is new? While relatively numb to this uniquely American phenomenon, this mass tragedy was immensely different – music festival goers were violently gunned down in Las Vegas. This one hit close to home – music was under assault. Thinking the day couldn’t possibly get worse, the news came through that Tom Petty was found in cardiac arrest and unresponsive – again thinking the day couldn’t possibly get worse, false reports of his death came through the airwaves spiraling Monday into a foggy haze of misinformation. While reports of his death were premature, he would later slip this mortal coil and join the likes of his Traveling Wilburys compatriots, Roy Orbison and George Harrison.
I cannot help but think of the day George Harrison passed away. Too young, too soon, dreariness draped that otherwise serene fall afternoon. Yesterday was similarly beautiful and became immensely ickier – the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, coupled with the death of a Mount Rushmore level rock icon, brought us to the precipice of emotional chaos – then our hearts were collectively thrown in a blender, muddied with media misinformation. Now with the knowledge of what actually occurred, America sits in mourning. Music was burned on both ends of the candle yesterday – the audience attacked, and a performer taken down.
The day the music died 2.0 – was this what fans felt like that fateful moment discovering the destiny of Buddy, Ritchie, and the Big Bopper? The emotional stew we find ourselves in must have been similar to what was experienced in February of ’59. Yet they survived, and so will we – and the music never really died at all, did it? Within a few short years, the rock ‘n’ roll scene thrived like never before, as will the festival scene, and the music scene at large right now. I have a feeling we won’t miss a beat – however the cold harsh reality now exists that music festivals, concerts, and gatherings are now active targets of terrorism, domestic or otherwise.
Vigilance is now necessary – our favorite escape from the mediocrity of daily existence has been tarnished by the violence of the outside world. How we go about making our scene safe for fans and performers alike at outdoor music events is very much above my pay grade, yet I’m sure the right people are already working on plans. Hopefully they strike a proper balance between security and serenity.
One way or another, the show must go on, and it will go on. In memoriam of Tom Petty and festival goers gunned down, tribute concerts and events are already being planned – and coincidentally one event that was already in play will now be a fitting memorial. Tom Petty’s music will radiate brightly across the world as we come to terms with these monumental losses. Precautions will be taken, and our escape from the day-to-day will be upheld. Music was violated, yet music will be the very thing that heals us all. “One way or another, this darkness got to give,” and as Mickey Hart poignantly said in response to the Paris attacks on the Bataclan and elsewhere, nearly two years ago, “music is the best healing agent we know.” Music is our lifeblood, one of our quintessential reasons for being, and it can never be silenced.
This past weekend Pretty Lights put on an episodic festival in New Hampshire. In between sets, crew members were sent out to move a totem wielding fan from the front of the stage to the side, so lighting folks could do their job without an unobstructed view. Soon after, Pretty Lights’ lighting designer, LazerShark, worked up an anti-totem image to plaster on the screen at the back the stage. LazerShark was simply poking fun – His later post about the incident metes that out.
According to Live For Live Music, after the incident LazerShark commented: “Just to be clear since some people think it’s their right to be an inconsiderate douche. Your right to “self-expression” has not been banned at our shows. We simply just want both our crew and our audience to be able to enjoy the show how they intended. We could have simply confiscated this stupid jellyfish [totem] but instead we decided to have a little fun and prove a very simple point. Stand to the side dummies. Or I’m coming to your job with a giant sign that says fuck you and you can explain to your boss why some guy is interfering with your work.”
I’m going to take LazerShark’s sentiment to the next level. Ban those fucking rage rods altogether. There’s a thousand ways to express yourself at a festival without getting up in people’s faces. You can sing, dance, wear crazy clothing, go nude, paint your face, wear no makeup at all, carry around a super heady backpack with all your pins and swag on it, hand out cards to everyone with your favorite inspirational quote, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. These totems are the epitome of getting up in others’ spaces – If you rock one, your selfishness outweighs your self-expression tenfold.
Ban those completely inconsiderate “I’m the center of the universe” poles. Friends don’t let friends bring cock sizing rods to festivals. If you have a friend or relative putting together one of these silly spikes, stop them immediately. Break that thing in half! They’ll be pissed at you in the present, but will thank you down the line. Imagine an episode of Intervention, except the only drug your loved one is high on this time is their own ego.
“But wait, I need my totem to find my friends!” If you seriously need one of these oversized sceptres to find your friends at a fest (in 2017!!!) you should be banned from the grounds, as you’re clearly a danger to others and yourself. If American soldiers could find their comrades in the jungles of Vietnam with a compass and the stars, why can’t you find your buddies in a crowd at a festival – when literally everyone is a walking GPS these days? Oh, you say you left your phone in your car? Cool, then make a meeting spot where you can all gather at a specific time! It’s really simple shit we’re talking about here. Being considerate of staff and your fellow festival goers, I would presume is paramount for most people attending such events. The rage stick violates these central tenets. If one walks around a fest with such an unwieldy staff, you’re breaking the Golden Rule without even knowing it.
Sure, festivals are the last Wild West – A place to break free from the confines of meager existence to celebrate life to the fullest. But are rage sticks really necessary to rage life to the fullest?! Hell no! Party, get schwilly (do people still say schwilly?), get down, get dirty, and express yourself to your heart’s desire, just leave your beanstalk at home (or at least your campsite). It’s simple. And if you’re seriously having issues giving up your Napoleon Complex pole, therapy might be a good outlet. End rant.
Last night Phish made their long-awaited return to Dick’s Sporting Goods park for their 7th annual showcase in the storied Rocky Mountain venue, and while the scene was generally vibrant, some bad juju was simmering just below the surface. During set break, and in clear view of all those watching the LivePhish webcast, a fairly ferocious fight broke out at the front of the floor. While the details are hairy, one thing is abundantly clear; this type of behavior has no place at a Phish show and simply serves to threaten the good-natured, good-vibed, general goodness that our scene regularly manifests.
Speculation is rampant on the interweb, yet no one but those directly involved, and in the immediate periphery, truly knows what went down. Did a dude hit too hard on someone else’s girl? Was an accidental spill of a beer on someone’s heady threads the impetus for this knock down? The consensus says no, and that this tussle had everything to do with someone getting in another’s claimed space.
Straight up, at a general admission show, no one has claimed space. That’s simply the nature of general admission. Sure, you can lock down a spot, perhaps hold it down with a small towel or blanket, for a friend or two, while waiting for the festivities to begin. Happily, Phish management has quashed the tarping fiasco prevalent at the outset of summer tour by banning tarps altogether (Tarps are banned at Dick’s, right?!). Yet still, up front at these shows, a general essence of anxiety and entitlement remains when it comes to space.
The words “entitlement” and “Phish” should never be used in the same sentence. Ever. But here we are. There is a growing sense of privilege in placement in general admission environments, and the smell of douchebaggery is wafting widely over the whole scene. If you enter early into a show to lock down one of those coveted upfront spots, all the power to ya! Yet if you walk away for a piss break, a beer run, or whatever else, there’s no guarantee that spot will be waiting upon return. Usually in such circumstances, folks in the area (maybe your friends!) will remember you, and make way to welcome you back into the fold. Yet if that’s not possible, use your words, not your fists to rectify the problem. And the option always exists to find another spot too; sometimes a change in view, mid-show, is just what the doctor ordered.
If you were on hippie time prior to your arrival on the floor, and the front is already packed to the rafters, you are not entitled to smash your way through the crowd. Getting up in phans faces in order to find a better vantage point is the epitome of disrespect, a disrespect for the time those folks kept their asses planted for sometimes upwards of an hour before show time. There’s so many freewheeling, dance friendly, sound solid, spots towards the back and the wings; find one of those and be grateful you’re on the floor for the greatest show on earth. Since no one is entitled in general admission, you might even find an opportunity to better position yourself for set two.
A message to the rail riders: I watched you closely during The Bakers Dozen, and you kids throw down like Chinatown on Mao Tse Tung’s birthday. I’m super impressed with your exuberance and vigor, yet I’m a little unsure of how that whole process works. Is there some type of bracelet system where you wait online all night to get dibs on first entry? You folks obviously commit a massive amount of time and energy to lock down those golden spots. I respect the dedication. Do you wear diapers to get through that epic wait? Not since Moses hurriedly led the Exodus out of Egypt have folks committed to such a tumultuous trial for a face melting payoff! Is the rail truly the land of milk and honey?! I’ve never had the pleasure myself, and odds are it’ll never happen as the number line keeps ticking forward, but it’d be phantastic to have that opportunity, just once.
However, I digress…Lately, there’s a sourness spreading around about your sub-scene as well. Stories are abound that folks pay squatters to wait in the rail line all day, while the ultimate rail rider goes about other pre-show business. That sounds a bit Machiavellian to me, and the preferred philosopher of mobsters (truth!) really has no place at a Phish show. If your aim is early entry, you damn well sit in the trenches with your fellow Phans, and that way the juice will be that much tastier as you personally took the time to squeeze. The ends should never justify the means at a Phish show. How you go about achieving your goals is as karmically as important as whether Trey is in spitting distance once the show begins.
As a fan base, it seems high time we have a scene wide discussion about general admission etiquette going forward. While the tarper memes and joke cracking is hilarious, I’m beginning to think it’s exacerbating the situation at hand. By and large, Phans do it right. We use our words, tact, common sense, and apply a mutual respect towards each other that usually leaves the scene as harmonious as ever. Yet with Phish playing less shows than they used to, and the fan base simultaneously expanding, a recipe for disaster is formulating, and it might just manifest a gumbo of catastrophe on the horizon. Stoking a respectful and mindful conversation about these issues might very well lead to some steam being released from the pressure valve. And I know the band is peripherally aware of Phan discussions on the net as well, so perhaps they’ll come up with some mindful solutions too.
Generally, it comes down to common sense, a mutual respect with our fellow Phans, communication with words, not just body language, and the golden rule. Do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you…or something like that. You get the gist. That Jesus cat dropped some timeless bombs of wisdom.
So, this frenetic fight caught on LivePhish last night was merely a symptom of a larger problem. A dilemma we can easily deal with as a conscientious community of committed Phans. The question we should all be asking ourselves is, do we want to be like Bassnectar fans? Do we want the reputation of resorting to sheer disrespect and violence to lock down our spot next to the band? Do we want the Phish scene to devolve into the chaos of the latter days of the Grateful Dead? Me thinks not. The Phan community is of equal importance in this guy’s eyes to the band itself. You are who makes this scene so serene, magnificent, and marvelous, while Phish provides the celestial soundtrack. It’s “so stupendous, living in this tube!”
The majestic moment of magnificent bliss we’ve all been waiting for, the bombastic blockbuster of the summer, highly anticipated by Phans across the planet, is finally upon us. TODAY! In a short few hours, the epic 13-day residency by Phish at Madison Square Garden will commence. If the five show dress rehearsal that took place in Chicago, Dayton, and Pittsburgh, is any guide, we are in for an epic treat come Friday evening. All speculation points towards the Baker’s Dozen finding a high regarded place in Phishtory. The unique residential nature of the run at an indoor venue in the summertime has already been the talk of the town for quite some time. Since night one of Northerly Island, we’ve been collectively drooling over CK5’s massively mobile lighting rig. And if the boys deliver, which they certainly will on many, if not all nights of the run, we’re in for a spectacular exhibition in musical madness and psychedelic sorcery.
While the saying, “we are everywhere,” remains potently true in most corners of the planet, the phrase will take on new form over the next two weeks, as Phans from all throughout the world, of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds, will flock to the Big Apple in joyous delight. As each night’s Phishy extravaganza will only take up a fraction of our day, we’ll have lots of time to explore what the greatest city on Earth has to offer. Phans will be in coffee shops, pizza places, movie theatres, yoga studios, parks, museums, bars, hotels, massage parlors, restaurants, on the tops of skyscrapers (because they are grand after all), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Even an avid Phish Head chiropractor is offering special rates on adjustments for Phans in need all throughout the Dozen. As we traverse the city formerly known as New Amsterdam, wave that phreak flag wide and high. Let us know who you are, and if you’re not a #TarpNazi, chances are we’ll get along famously. New phriendships will manifest, new relationships formed. Maybe you’ll meet the future love of your life?! With the greatest spectacle known to mankind laying down roots in the finest city on this side of the Milky Way, anything is possible. In this time of the season, the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, Phish and New York City will throw down like never before.
There will be countless Phish-related events to check out, from pre-show booze cruises (see you at DeadPhishOrchestra!), to post-show late night euphonious extravaganzas. There will be kid oriented Phish cover bands playing (you don’t really need to hide your kids, or wives for that matter! The more the merrier!!!), and Phish-themed spin classes are very much a thing too! Where better to detox fresh for next night’s rowdy rager?! American Beauty, a bar and music venue down the block from MSG will be holding an inside shakedown of sorts, where you can find those goodies, from food, crafts, and beyond, that you’d normally seek out in summertime lots. Long story short, there’s something for everyone out there, even the most phinicky Phan can take pleasure.
When they say they circus is coming to town, they weren’t shitting you. The everyday earthlings might confront confusion when crossing through our scene outside MSG and beyond, but by and large our kind community will treat those bystanders with love and affection, and maybe even encourage a few to let loose and get down. This ain’t no fucking Barnum & Bailey. No animals were harmed in the making of this extravaganza! Maybe some braincells were lost, but the sacrifice is minute, paralleled with the payoff. We are a beautiful people! Except the Tarpers of course, who should leave their giant plastic sheets in their hotel rooms. Feel free to tarp your hotel bed, or build a sweet fort while you’re at it, but keep those synthetic monstrosities far away from the floor at MSG. Phans barely tolerate you as is, and I highly doubt MSG staff will be sympathetic to your cause to lock down a 30 by 30 space for you and your fifteen closest imaginary friends. You’ve taken much heat over the last week, Tarpers, but you really deserved it all. Yet you are Phans, which implies you might just be intelligent. Please take a clue and leave your pool covers and rolls of duct tape at home. Remember: “the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Don’t be douchebags. It’s a simple request.
So in the end, I wrote this little piece in haste because I felt the need to put something on paper before we ascend into our psychedelic Phish-hole. Usually I take an inordinate amount of time to edit and proofread the drivel I publish, because it has my name on it, and I tend to be a maniacal about things I hold near and dear. Perhaps I’ve said nothing new here, or maybe you picked up a gem of inspiration that’ll be useful for your jovial journey into the imminent metropolitan musical mayhem. If you’re interested in any of the countless Phish-themed events taking place over the next weeks, please hit google to find out the details, or better yet, Facebook (I’d link you myself, but I’m too busy getting ready for the Dozen!).To say I’m psyched for this 13 show rodeo to commence, is the understatement of the millennium. This will be the highlight of my summer, as I’m sure is the case for many. While some of us will find ourselves with enough wind at our backs to scarf down all 13 shows, others will take what we can get and make the most of our experience. Cashing in on the goodness of our circumstance is always the aim. So as you traverse these great United States on your voyage to the city that never sleeps, please drive safe and take it slow. Once you’re here, I pray you rage to your heart’s desire, but please rage responsibly. Look out for yourselves. Hydration, hydration, hydration! And pay mind to your neighbors whether you personally know them or not. Let’s take mind of each other and be the big happy phamily we’re meant to be. If you perceive something as wrong, please speak up. If you think a phan is in trouble, please ask them if they’re alright. The worst that might happen is a silly misunderstanding. The best result could be one’s rescue from undesirable elements, and saving a stranger from years of trauma. Common sense pholks…it goes a super long way. We have the ability to police ourselves when need be, by merely speaking up. Posting a picture of a perceived wrong to Facebook will not solve the problem. Open your minds and hearts to your neighbors, and use your words people, not your smartphone cameras. Positivity will reign freely if we just let common sense be our guide. We don’t need no stinking badges! We can police ourselves with minimal intrusion, and for the rest of the time: live and let live! Peace, love, and Phish. Our trip is short…see you soon 🙂
Cancer sucks! It ultimately took David Bowie down, but it did not beat him, as evidenced by this recent picture, posted Friday on his 69th birthday. While Bowie’s mortal vessel may have sank, his spirit lives on through recordings, the countless artists he’s inspired, and those souls he held close during his too short ride on planet earth.
There will never be one like you again. A being that transcended so many boundaries and genres to touch diverse minds in every corner of this bright blue ball. We wish you rest and peace on this next stretch of your voyage. And while you are with us no longer, in this realm your legacy will carry you through.
No daylong David Bowie tribute would be complete without Seu Jorge weighing in…
And some Flight of the Conchords to brighten the mood…
Bowie’s In Space
Correction: This post originally stated that the above photo was taken on Bowie’s birthday. Rather it was posted on his birthday, but taken recently.
So with my second blog post on this page, Dear Youngins: A Message To Post-Jerry Deadheads, I went viral. Well, as viral as one can go within the online Dead community. Through this unexpected experience, and also through the excellent tracking tools WordPress provides for bloggers, I had a long-held suspicion confirmed. A suspicion that many of you likely have: that we are EVERYWHERE.
Grateful Dead is a uniquely American band. Everything about the members, songwriters, music, lyrics, and past shows, oozes something that is particularly American. Due to this, and the fact that the band only seldom toured outside the States and Canada, most Deadheads are American. Yet a dedicated Deadhead Diaspora has emerged outside of North America as well, intricately connected to the band and the community by an appreciation for the songs, transcendent jams, ideals, and spirituality that the Grateful Dead phenomenon has to offer.
A diaspora is a group of people with a commonly held cultural identity that, for whatever reason, are settled far from their ancestral homeland. The world Jewish population became a diaspora community with their initial expulsion from the Kingdom of Judah (present day Israel) during the Babylonian Captivity. Many people from war-torn countries that have become refugees make up diasporas of their own, such as the Ugandan Diaspora. The Tibetan Diaspora emerged as China occupied Tibet and the 14th and current Dalai Lama made a pilgrimage from his homeland, with many followers, in order to escape the aggression of their occupiers in the late 1950’s. As Deadheads, our circumstance is a little different. We weren’t personally expelled from our homeland, nor were our genetic ancestors (unless you happen to be a part of another diaspora community as well), yet I contend that members of the Grateful Dead and their extended family were expelled from their home when the scene in the Haight District became untenable after the influx of aspiring “hippies” during the “Summer of Love” in 1967. While no longer in existence, the Haight district of the mid-sixties embodied the utopian ideals that many Deadheads hold near and dear. As Deadheads, this is our ancestral homeland.
This deterioration of the Haight-Ashbury scene, and the increased popularity of the band throughout the greater San Francisco area, and the country as a whole, encouraged the first out-of-state touring for the Grateful Dead. Their first East Coast tour was during the summer of 1967, where the Dead found themselves playing a show in New York City, and then at SUNY Stony Brook campus out on eastern Long Island. These shows encouraged enterprising folks who liked what they heard to promote shows for the Dead on Long Island and throughout New York in the years to come. What emerged was the first diaspora community, composed of New York Deadheads. The New York Deadhead community remains an essential part of the Deadhead Diaspora, evidenced by Phil Lesh’s choice to play residencies at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY, since he’s retired from touring. I go into greater detail of how this went down in another piece I wrote, which I link here. As the Dead toured North America, what happened in New York transpired for other regions and what I coined as the Grateful Dead Diaspora truly emerged by the end of the seventies, as Deadheads from across the continent identified commonly with the band and their ideals.
Now the emergence of a worldwide Deadhead population couldn’t have only been spurred by touring, since the band toured outside the country merely a few times during their career. Despite that, through taper networks, the selling of studio albums, and Deadheads’ early adoption of the internet, there is a healthy GD community outside the bounds of North America. While many of these are certainly American expatriates, I am certain many of them are not. To use one country as an example…a country that has an inclination towards American music possibly due to the United States post-WWII occupation and continued presence therein, that based on my stats happens to have the largest international Deadhead Diaspora community (outside of Canada), here are three photos involving two Japanese Deadheads…
Exhibit A, a photo of a Japanese Deadhead holding up her sign looking for a miracle ticket at the Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago.
Source: Anonymous Japanese Deadhead
Exhibit B, a poster made by an enterprising Japanese Deadhead named Miki Saito.
Exhibit C, a letter from Miki Saito to the band.
Source: Saito, Miki, “Japan Deadheads poster with letter,” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed July 10, 2015, http://www.gdao.org/items/show/825781.
Also emanating the vibrant nature of the Japan Deadhead community is Exhibit D, Japan’s premier Grateful Dead cover band. Here is a link to an article, on Jambands.com, showing Joe Russo performing with Warlocks of Tokyo in 2014. Please click the link for set list information. If I ever venture to Tokyo, I will surely check this group out…they can noodle and jam with the best of ’em, and absolutely capture the vibe in their music.
Back to the present day, and my widely dispersed blog post (I don’t mention this to boast, but to show definitive evidence of our presence amongst the people of the world). WordPress allows bloggers to see where their posts are being read, and what I’ve confirmed is that we are on every continent on Earth (excluding Antarctica, although I’d bet a miracle ticket that there is a Deadhead or two amongst the hundreds of folks currently wintering in that frozen tundra). Here is a list of countries and territories confirmed to have Deadheads currently living within their borders (in order, from the most Deadheads reading in each country, to the least):
United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Brazil, Australia, India, Spain, Italy, Mexico, France, New Zealand, Netherlands, South Korea, Thailand, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, US Virgin Islands, Denmark, Norway, Costa Rica, Philippines, Belgium, Portugal, Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Slovenia, Taiwan, Singapore, Argentina, Romania, Colombia, Vietnam, Bahamas, Anguilla, United Arab Emirates, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Cambodia, Jordan, Hungary, Jamaica, Nigeria, Rwanda, Peru, Chile, Ghana, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Indonesia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Grenada, Fiji, Guam, Qatar, Tanzania, Poland, Aland Islands, Nepal, Malaysia
Now I decided not to list the individual numbers of Deadheads in each country and territory because these stats are not scientific in the least. They do prove Deadheads live in each country listed, but only the ones that read my blog, and more certainly exist. Some of these sectors of the Deadhead Diaspora appear to be extremely small, yet once again their existence proves that we are here, there, and EVERYWHERE.
We are a worldwide scattered community consisting of people who all share a commonly held identity based around the Grateful Dead, and more importantly the Deadhead community as a whole. Within our Deadhead subculture certainly exists diversity; diversity in nationality, religion, and opinion. Show me two Deadheads, and they will give you fifteen differing opinions. We are a very opinionated bunch! Yet our disagreements exist due to our strongly held convictions about the band, community, collective history, spirituality, ideals, and culture we have in part created, advanced, and consistently been a component of throughout our developed lives. Some of us are more dedicated than others, but each of us identifies with our reciprocal symbols, knowing that we are far from alone on this “bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free.”