Back in 1999, you couldnt walk down the street without seeing phans doing the Meatstick dance. At parties, during class, in the supermarket checkout line, while pumping gas, during sex, the Meatstick was all the rage for one amazing summer.
Phish first played the song on 6/25/97 in Lille, France, as the now unforgettable chorus of the tune spurted out of a “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” tease at the end of a blistering diseased worm known to its friends as “Piper.” (http://www.phish.net/song/meatstick/history). It lied dormant for years, until 1999 it made its triumphant return, with Trey Anastasio proclaiming on 7/3/99 that the “Meatstick” dance would be bigger than the “Macarena.”
In Oswego, 60,000 phans attempted to break the world record of people doing the same dance, but the effort fell short, due in part to a lack of instructions and screens to project the proper way to do the dance, as exhibited by Trey and Mike during a blistering second set of Runaway Jim -> Free, Meatstick, Guyute, Axilla, Llama
With offers refused of having The Meatstick remixed by the Bayside Boys and used in commercials by Slim Jim, Jack Links and Hormel Foods, Phish took the dance to Japan in the summer of 2000. With hope that the Japanese would do for The Meatstick what they did for Karaoke, Hello Kitty and Mr. Sparkle, Japanese lyrics were taught to the band by The Boredoms, a Japanese rock band, it became a worldwide hit in mid-2000. The single spent 14 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, one of the longest runs atop the Hot 100 chart in history. The song made such an impact that during the Democratic National Convention in 2000, Al Gore humorously performed his version of the Macarena by standing completely still while the song played.**
It has been long rumored that the celebrity that overcame Phish in 2000 with the success of The Meatstick was the impetus behind the hiatus Phish took in 2000-2002. Trey Anastasio was rumored to have remarked, “That fucking song, I never thought a song would drive the band apart. If anything, Jennifer Dances would have done it, but not the Meatstick. I’m still amazed.” Page McConnell’s well known love of sandwiches expanded at this time, leading to an intervention when he attempted to build two Subway franchises on either side of his house in Burlington, to satisfy his desire to become a ‘sandwich artist’. These were known as ‘the dark years’
During the 2003-2004 return of Phish, the song was only played twice, once at the IT festival on 8-2-03, and again in Las Vegas on 4-17-04. Both performances were difficult to bear, knowing the pain the band was going through with this song.
Since Phish’s breakup in 2004 and return in 2009, the song has only been played twice, and now with more gusto and fervor. But the dance was lost to time. On 6-4-09 at Jones Beach, Phish played a solid first ‘3.0’ version of the song, but with little crowd response in the form of the former dance craze. Had fans forgotten the magic of 1999? 10 years of time gone by is the probable reason, but the demise of such a great song was apparent to the band, who shelved it for an entire year. They waited an entire year to break it out in Columbia, Maryland on 6/27/10, and this time the crowd took notice, with more doing The Meatstick, albeit many improperly. Ten minutes of Meatstick goodness, complete with Japanese lyrics reminded older fans of what once was. And the rest of the show was pretty good too.
Here we stand at the forefront of Summer Tour 2010, Leg 2, with a piece of Phish history slipping away to faded memories. Is this the future we want to bring up our children in? A Meatstick-less future? Can you sleep at night knowing you haven’t passed on the legacy that is The Meatstick to your friends and family? If not you, who? If not now, when? If not here, where? AT WHAT COST?!
Spread the word fans! The Meatstick must not fade away! It must stay fresh. Someone tell Trey, he’ll understand. The Magic is not gone!
Share these instructions with fans old and young. Teach, your children well.
* Much of this blog post is satirical. Especially the thing about Page and sandwiches. Although that’s still funny to picture.
** Some information was used from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macarena_(song) because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Also a good idea – citing sources.