Over the past few weeks, rumors of the Phish Festival at Watkins Glen International Speedway have been promoted online in the greater Phish Website, Blog and Message Board Community. In the past few days, these rumors have increased in degree of confirmation noting that contracts have been signed and the event details – 4 days and $200 tickets – are to be expected, along with only Phish.
While we don’t refute these rumors, we do think back to a time when festivals were announced with little warning and the enjoyment was held by all when that announcement did come. It has been some time since this happened; IT and Coventry in the Phish 2.0 era were talked about, but they weren’t revealed to us until Phish.com told us the event was going to be held (the latter with a sad letter from Trey). Some in the know might have known about those festivals, but we were all for the most part pleasantly surprised when the festivals were announced in 2003 and 2004.
Going back farther in time, Big Cypress was announced in the summer of 1999 and only those who were close with the band or were in the know, knew about it in advance. Word wasn’t disseminated as fast because word of mouth only travels so far when all you have is a voice. This is before the Internet took off, cell phones became handheld computers and the momentary announcement of an event in a band’s history (like sitting in grad school class and hearing of the pending breakup of a 3rd tier jamband in late 2009) could be shared with friends and followers worldwide in a few short moments typing away on a keyboard or touchscreen.
Go back even further. Who knew about Oswego before it was announced? Lemonwheel? The Great Went? The Clifford Ball? Amy’s Farm? The answer is a minor population of people closely associated with the band and a circle of friends, few more. And most of THEM knew to keep it under wraps because that’s the right thing to do.
Railing against the technology we use isn’t sensical here because it is currently being used to write this piece. We all use the current technology, so why not stay up on news, Retweet that thing you saw about Dave Matthews and Phish, Repost that report that Watkins Glen is now Kangfirmed, talk on that message board about how awesome this will be because you KNOW it’s on because you live 145 miles from the site location and that makes you a resident expert, even though you aren’t a resident, or an expert. Ah, technology. It’s great, right?
But what if, just what if Phish, or any band for that matter, were to just go ahead and announce their tour, their shows, their festivals WITHOUT the rampant speculation that quickly devolves into a ‘I announced it first!’ race.
We’ve been there, twice.
In the spring of 2010, a good friend of ours called us up and said ‘Hey, you want to hear the dates?’ and of course, we said yes. We posted the dates and with the exception of the Alpine Valley dates he didnt know about (later added) and for the most part, we had them right. This was the night before the tour was announced, and while rumors of some dates were out there, nothing was set in stone until the next day.
Everyone reposted the dates. We felt so loved. We had scooped Phish! Our server went down. Then back up again. It was a long night. But dammit we had the dates first!
While there is no place on our resume to put this achievement, it was written with a strong degree of humility….
Just a couple months prior to this, we speculated on the possibility of Spring Tour 2010 in Europe. We basically bit on the same thing many others did and since it never came true, we looked like the weatherman who forecasts for rain and when there is none he just goes on with his day. There isn’t any accountability for this aside from sheepish mea culpas that are left up on the blog as a sign of ‘yeah, we got this wrong.’ So yeah, we got this one wrong.
This is an example of what is happening now. A cycle that needs to be realized and stopped before the fun of anticipating tour dates is ruined forever. Do you know why Phish takes 5-6 months off to start the year? Because they have shit to do! They have families, all of them, and not just the band but the staff and crew as well. They need downtime and so do we. This is also the time of year where we work our collective asses off and SAVE MONEY for Phish Tour. When Phish tour comes around we can enjoy ourselves at countless shows, see tons of friends and see the country. That’s why we do this – because these 6 months build up to Phish Summer Tour!
When the first rumors develop 2 months or so before tour dates are announced, the cycle begins…..
Step 1. Hear of rumors and post them on your website or blog with commentary, allowing other blogs to repost these rumors.
Step 2. Rumors get repeated like they are the truth and soon they become facts. The rumor has now been heard so much that it is now a fact with nothing but dozens of websites turning to each other as proof that the dates are for real.
Step 3. Websites and blogs start jockeying for position to be the first to have the ‘official’ details on the event/tour. Once any small detail is announced, it is quickly repeated amongst others online, especially individuals, prior to the official announcement from phish.com
Step 4. Phish announces the event/tour, everyone reposts the official announcement on top of their advance announcement. Facebook is overwhelmed with ‘158 Friends shared a link: Phish.com Summer 2011 tour’ and the enjoyment is felt throughout all of Gamehendge.
Now what if steps 1, 2 and 3 weren’t a factor? What IF we just waited for Phish to announce these tourdates, even in an old-time fashion through the Doniac Schvice? It would be to the advantage of the veterans still on tour who know the rituals of money orders and separate orders (and paying in advance for all tickets, not running up credit card bills). Sure, this probably won’t happen but fans in the 3.0 Phish era are missing the anticipation that would creep up in February of each year, when Summer Tour was on the brain and the mailbox was checked daily – the actual mailbox outside, not the 3 email account’s mailboxes.
So we have this Festival that looks likely to happen and everyone knows about it. Contracts are signed, per bandsthatjam.com and we can probably expect to see only Phish over the 4th of July. Phish.com is the final say and only when that day comes, its all just a rumor.
Phish 3.0 and social media – too much of a good thing, it’s not always good.