There's no matching Phish fans for pure, unadulterated enthusiasm. I cover scores of bands for this site and no content can generate traffic quite like articles about The Phish from Vermont.
And while this year's summer tour announcement was met with typical anticipation and celebratory fervor, before too long something curious happened. I started to detect the slightest hint of disappointment, and not the garden variety "haters gonna hate" variety. Loyal fans seemed to be letting out a collective sigh.
Especially after the announcement of the tour's second leg, with its traveler unfriendly itinerary and ominous message of "No additional Phish dates will be announced for Summer or Fall of 2012", the reaction felt like air being slowly let out of a balloon. Compounded with other factors, it left me wondering, does the band care about the future of Phish as much as their most fervent fans?
There are certain facts beyond dispute. They are about to embark on their third summer tour in a row with no new album to support. There has been exactly one new original Phish song debuted in nearly a year and a half. After renewing a dormant tradition with two Halloween costumes in '09 & '10, we head for a second consecutive fall without a commitment to learning and performing a dozen or so new covers. Trey has spent time pursuing his musical theater and symphony projects and neither he, nor anybody else in the band seems willing to go on the record to give an interview about Phish. On top of all this, based on availability two weeks prior to the start of the tour, ticket sales have been modest.
Even the recent revelation in Rolling Stone that the band is targeting 200 performed over the course of the 33 summer tour shows sends a mixed message. Will this tour continue to be about songs, rehashing the vast and beloved catalog, or will they attempt to write a new page in the varied sound and history of the band?
The pundits at Online Phish tour speculate that diminished expectations and enthusiasm could lead to a "sleeper tour." Sleeper or not, for most, there is simply no substitute for Phish tour. But even among the faithful, I can segment the fan base into four types of attitudes: oblivious, apologist, realist and hater.
In reality, there is probably a little of each of these in all of us. With that said, I thought I'd try to supplement my tour preview with some actual data. Unscientific as it may be, I'd like to find out where the readers of these words fall on this perception scale.
Please take a moment to complete the following short survey and share it with your friends. There are only 10 questions, click Next to see the last five. I'll interpret the results and share using charts and graphs before the tour kicks off. Thanks!