Jump to content

interesting "touring" article


Recommended Posts

Its kind of weird.. I have to agree largely with what was said in the article. Not necessarily a cult. But what the one lady said about it running your life, and looking within. Notice that she's still going to go to the NYC show. I was definately addicted for many moons. And then you kind of wake up and realize that going to every show kind of misses the point. The point, for me anyways, is to enlighten yourself, to inspire yourself and then to take that inspiration to the rest of your life and make this world a better place. If you just go to show after show, you never get to the "make this world a better place" part. And then you've missed it. Its the curse of the deadheads.

At the same time, I do have to admit that tour was a very important part of my life, but I look back at all the kids that I did tour with 4,5,6,7 years ago, and half of them are still on tour! It takes all kinds I guess, but eventually there has to be more, doesn't there? A little sacrifice?

just my .02 cents

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with what you say momak, but the question that comes to my mind is, what "better" lifestyle are they advocating? If I become a corporate shmoe, buy a house get married and have 1.5 kids, a dog and an SUV, I'll have "escaped the evil downward spiral" so to speak. But in the end, can anyone make an objective judgement as to what is a wholesome lifestyle, or what is narcissistic? To me the whole "keeping up with the jones'" lifestyle epitomizes narcisism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And tour doesn't espouse that, well actually Phish tour is all about keeping up with the jones' when you think about it, but dead tour never really was. So the idea is that you break that mold, and live a conscious life where you're allowed to be you. Setting an example to others of how to live the kind-vegan-brotherbear tour style life. Its not to escape tour and be a corporate whore. If thats what you do then like I said before, in my not so humble opinion you "missed it" and aren't making the person a better place, you're making yourself and your boss richer. In a way you can roughly equate tour with socialism (not communism). The classic "one man gathers what another man spills" and the general comradarie and sharing and looking after one another that goes on, at least at some level, is what has to be taken from mystical tour land and brought into the community that one lives in. Eventually making everything a little better????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm, I guess I'm on board with the tone of this article and can see the point it is trying to make. But there are a couple of red lights that went off as I read it.

"The Second Commandment, which urges against idolatry, calls

on believers to worship the mystery of the divine. It

cautions them against paying homage to objects created by


BEEP. Hmmmm, religious right anyone?

"Mr. Anastasio, who mixes in

songs with the story, can spend 90 minutes telling the

audience his elaborate tales about the destruction of a

peaceful culture by the evil tyrant Wilson and the

revolution that eventually overthrows him."

Firstly, stop calling him "Mr." Anastasio, it's creepy. Secondly by this logic, Mr Rogers and his mixing of story and song in the land of Make Believe is threating. Meow-meow bullshit.


collect not only amateur tapes of concerts, but also the

set lists of each concert; they try to decipher the order

of songs for hidden messages"

Buffalo Bill>

Uncle Pen

Life Boy

Light Up or Leave Me Alone>


Harry Hood



I like the premise but the execution seems a tad bias and looking a little too deep. Cult-like, yes. Cult, no.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It may be a tad Christian or whatever but it's really well considered. People make huge sacrifices to stay on tour and it does become a narcissistic self-gratifying existence. The bulk of these people also cannot relate to you what it is they've gleaned from all of this experience, it's a difficult thing to translate back to your life- few are successful. Here's a question someone asked Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche after a talk in Boulder, Colorado 1971.

Q: Would you talk some more about the mechanics of this force of despair? I can understand why despair might occur, but why does bliss occur?

A: It is possible in the beginning to force oneself into the experience of bliss. It is a kind of self-hypnosis, in that we refuse to see the background of what we are. We focus only upon the immediate experience of bliss. We ignore the entire basic ground, where we really are at, so to speak, and we work ourselves up to an experience of tremendous joy. The trouble is, this kind of experience is based purely upon watching oneself. It is a completely dualistic approach. We would like to experience something, and by working very hard we do actually achieve it. However, once we come down from our 'high', once we realize that we are still here, like a black rock standing in the middle of an ocean of waves, then depression sets in. We would like to get drunk, intoxicated, absorbed into the entire universe, but somehow it doesn't happen. We are still here, which is always the first thing to bring us down. Later all the other games of self-deception, of trying to feed oneself further, begin because one is trying to protect oneself completely. It is the 'watcher' principle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Quest for Rapture Leads a 'Phish Head' Astray

December 16, 2002


There was a point in Beth Senturia's life when all that

mattered was the band. She lived like a nomad, hitching

rides from one Phish concert to the next, living off what

she could sell in the parking lot before a concert, and

taping performance after performance to capture each event

for posterity.

She could not hold down a job, quitting each time the band

went on tour. She dropped out of Barnard College, never to

go back. She became a "tour head." She spent weeks on the

road and saw 207 shows. And then she crashed.

"There are parts of their music that can be a spiritual

experience," she said, "but at the same time it can be very

easy to make that experience idolatrous. It can remove you

from the real world. It can become a cult."

Yet on New Year's Eve, she intends to be in Madison Square

Garden when Phish returns after a two-year hiatus -

although she has yet to get a ticket to the sold-out

concert. Phish, a Vermont jam rock band that has a

following similar to what once belonged to the Grateful

Dead, exudes a powerful pull on her and thousands of


Some of these "Phish heads" have constructed a subculture,

a way of life, where the music and the concerts shut out

the rest of the world. "Trey is God" reads a bumper sticker

sold at events, not completely in jest. Trey Anastasio is

the band's lead guitarist.

"I have to be careful that I do not drop everything and go

out on the road again," said Ms. Senturia, 35, who lives in

Manhattan and works for a financial services firm. "I do

not need to run from my life anymore."

The concert experience often approaches something akin to

worship; indeed, many followers say it is the closest they

have come to a spiritual encounter. The emotions they

describe resemble rapture and the communal intoxication

that comes when a crowd falls into ecstatic bliss.

The Second Commandment, which urges against idolatry, calls

on believers to worship the mystery of the divine. It

cautions them against paying homage to objects created by

humankind. While modern society no longer worships clay

idols, many nevertheless are drawn to experiences and

possessions that promise to confer power and purpose. For

those who place such faith in bands like Phish, the

obsession with the rapture that takes place in concerts

sees some followers sacrifice relationships, jobs and even

their health.

"For us it is like going to synagogue or church," said

Loren Bidner, 24, who runs a dance company in New York. "It

is cathartic. We are in touch with ourselves, our thoughts

and our experiences."

Mr. Anastasio, with the band softly playing in the

background, frequently relates mythological tales from

Gamehenge, a fantasy world he created. The stories are

about the "Helping Friendly Book," which exists only in Mr.

Anastasio's imagination.

The lessons from the book are intended to "help the people

of Gamehenge live in peace." Mr. Anastasio, who mixes in

songs with the story, can spend 90 minutes telling the

audience his elaborate tales about the destruction of a

peaceful culture by the evil tyrant Wilson and the

revolution that eventually overthrows him. The last song of

the cycle sees the revolutionary leader begin to evolve

into another tyrant.

When the band stopped touring, bumper stickers appeared

that read, "Trey is Wilson."

The "Helping Friendly Book" is said to contain "the ancient

secrets to eternal joy and everlasting splendor," or so

goes a line from the song "Lizards," part of the cycle.

The song continues, "The trick was to surrender to the


Yet within the music and the lyrics are wild

contradictions. Songs about maiming, violence and death are

sung to happy, up-tempo beats. And the message itself can

often seem confusing.

"The attraction to Gamehenge is similar to the attraction

to Star Trek," Ms. Senturia said. "It is a world where

everyone can live in peace in the future if they get the

book back from the evil King Wilson. Yet when you look at

the message it calls for different reactions to life. One

must go with the flow yet fight evil. It does not always

make sense."

The lyrics provoke long debate among Phish followers. Many

collect not only amateur tapes of concerts, but also the

set lists of each concert; they try to decipher the order

of songs for hidden messages. Many refer to fellow

concertgoers as their "Phish family." They say they find

meaning in the music, as well as in the fantasy stories

spun out as part of the band's mythology. They learn to

speak in Phish code and shorthand known only to those

steeped in the music, the band's mythological stories and

the nomadic existence.

"If you look at what we might idolize it is not one of the

guys in the band," Mr. Bidner said. "We are not going to

see Trey or Mike. We are going for something that is much

bigger than the four of them. It is much bigger than one

instrument. It is a subculture. We become nomadic,

traveling with packs of friends."

But the pull of the band and the members' lives can also

bring a debilitating self-destruction. Some of the

followers, called "tour rats," were frequently reduced to

poverty. They begged for food or spare change in the

parking lots. They rarely bathed and often fell prey to

drugs, always within easy reach. They become swallowed up

by the obsession, an obsession that eventually saw crowds

degenerate into unruly and hostile packs at some of the


"When you spend your teenage years living a life of lawless

abandon, doing only what you want, you develop a sense of

entitlement," Ms. Senturia said. "When you get enough of

these people together, it can become dangerous."

Ms. Senturia said she had a difficult childhood. Like many,

she found in the band "security, what seemed like

unconditional love and a caring and loving environment."

Her concert experiences were, from the start, highly

charged and overpowering. "There are certain notes, certain

moments in the music, where that may be the only way my

body knows how to interpret whatever incredible feeling my

mind is getting," she said.

Yet as she fell deeper into that life, trailing the band

for weeks at a stretch as it moved from city to city, she

also fell into what she now describes as an addiction.

"I was addicted to a life where I had no responsibility,"

she said, "where everything was about the search for the

next peak experience. It was narcissistic and hedonistic

and ultimately empty. I had nothing to show for it


All experiences in life, for those caught up in the band

experience, began to pale. The highs of the concert could

not be replicated. And the band would often announce what

kind of mood they intended to throw the listeners into on

any given night, saying that the show would be "dark" or

"light." The mood of those in each concert would vary with

the music and lyrics played that night.

"The band takes over a crowd," said Megan Leff, 28, who

works in advertising in Manhattan. "They throw everyone

into a fury. You cannot move or shake quickly enough. Then,

suddenly, they will have everyone fall and pretend they are


But the slavish devotion to the band finally proved hollow

to many who gave their lives over to it. They finally had

to look within themselves and cope with the demons they

once tried to escape.

"I would not be who I am today if I had not done this," Ms.

Senturia said. "But I know now I am not going to find what

I am looking for in parking lots in other cities. I will

find what I am looking for only within myself. It is easier

to get in a car and think that the next show will give you

fulfillment. It is harder to sit in one place and confront



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh that made my day...At first I was thinking...hmm sounds like an Onion story if I ever heard one. Then I thought maybe this is from the Focus on the Family website or some other religious wacko...but the NY Times??? WTF are they thinking...It just goes to show that you can make ANYTHING into a story...I mean come on...I love Phish, but a cult? [Roll Eyes] Personally I think Phish is more like a fetish (or should I say Phetish) [smile]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by vermontdave:

[QB]Tour was, is and will be whatever the individual makes of it.

I fully agree. Been on tour and seen so many, selfless acts of kindness. Seen losts of bad stuff as well, but it's not the path you choose but how you travel it that matters.

It did sound a bit too religious to me. A cool thing is i went to camp with loren bidner, a quoted dude in the article. saw him while he was doing SCI tour last year

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mo Mack said:


If you just go to show after show, you never get to the "make this world a better place" part. And then you've missed it. Its the curse of the deadheads.

But how are people making things any better on tour with Phish?I toured with The Dead in the mid 80's to 93(then I was banned from the USA for N.C.A charges in Canada and can't cross,for me it was about enlightening my life and mind no point was being missed,as for making things better I thought we were all spreading good vibes across to each other(with exception to the assholes)which to me was making my life happier and I know that alot of people I toured with felt the same,now if a small group of us back then felt that way,wouldn't it be safe to say that we couldn't be the only ones?If so then weren't we making a small part of life better for all the people who picked up that vibe?I know it made my life better.

I didn't just go to show after show without making an effort to make friends,lend a hand cleaning up,helpin tripped out people with the Wharf Rats,I made a conscious effort to be kind.

That to me is TRYING to make the world a better place.

I also during that time had a job,one that allowed me to take summers off if I wanted,so all fall winter and spring I work work work and saved saved saved.So I wasn't a freeloader head,but also made money on tour in various ways.

Not to be a asshole but there is just as many people missing it at Phish shows.

I don't catch as much shows in sucession anymore due to the USA don't want me and for the fact I have other things to do other shows to promote and see,ontop of the resposibilty of being an adult with debts now,but given the chance all you'd see of me is touring Deadhead run down the road.

It was a strange article though.

I say if ya can do tour,Do it!

My life will never be the same(for the better)

Esau13 [Razz]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...