Where Are The Phish Dates? Summer 2012 Edition

In these dark, Phish-less months of winter, rumors fly, desperation settles in and people get just a little crazy.  While it is clear that some kind of Phish summer tour is in the works, in the mean time festival lineups are released, summer plans are being made and vacation days are left unrequested -- Phish fans are pulling their hair out wondering:  WHEN?

I thought it might be nice to put past tour announcements into perspective, using some hard data to supplement the rampant speculation, to give an idea of when to expect an some news.  As a by-product, I've created quite a trip down memory lane (in chart form, of course).  View it here:

The Barn's Phish Tour Announcement Infographic

What the heck is that?  Well, I researched every public tour announcement I could find.  Starting with the current version of phish.com (in the news section), then going back to archived versions of the site pre-2000 (using the Wayback Machine at archive.org), and finally poking around rec.music.phish archives for the earliest "hotline updates" posted to the board during the pre-.com days.  Before '92 was pretty much the dark ages of tour announcements where dates pretty much were revealed as they were confirmed / became available. Using a simple formula, I calculated the number of days between the announcement and the first date of the tour.  Can't say I got all of them (couldn't locate NYE 93 announcement or Japan), but it is a fairly complete document.  Then, I used color coding / highlighting to distinguish the events along the timeline -- separating Phish news from solo project dates, spotlighting attributes like NYE runs and festival appearances.  I even included a couple of new bites that weren't exactly tour dates for additional context and fun (e.g. "We're Done").

So what does it tell us?  Taken as a whole, it is a nostalgic at-a-glance glimpse at how Phish has communicated their plans over the last 20 years.  What did I learn?  I was reminded at how much more transparent they used to be -- providing "guidance" in some of their announcements about when to expect (or not expect) more news about dates.  But summarized and analyzed, it does provide some insight into what we might expect for summer 2012.

Knowing that Bonnaroo is happening, let's assume that it kicks off a summer tour.  If the average tour announcement takes place 80 days prior to the start of the tour, we can expect 3/19 as the announcement date. That average number is actually higher (91 days) post hiatus, where tour operations gained efficiency and management had more visibility -- this would put an announcement at 3/8.  Of course, that is assuming that Bonnaroo starts the tour and that Phish will announce with an "average" lead time.  You may extrapolate from there.

Here are some summary graphs based on current data to put more into perspective: first using just Phish shows, then all show announcements (including solo projects), and then using all solo projects by band member.  I included a few observations below.

  • Most lead time ever was the which was announced October 1, 2008 for March 7, 2009 show, 155 days in advance
  • Phish performance at festivals are on average announced much sooner than typical tours, though only four are included in this data (Jazzfest in '96, Austin City Limits 2010, Bonnaroo '09 & '12) -- including solo performances does appear to reinforce this trend
  • Adding solo projects into the mix seem to bring down averages considerably -- I guess Phish just plans better
  • Trey (surprise) has the most solo announcements, with over twice as much as Mike and 5 times more than the Chairman Of The Boards.
  • Still, Mike and Fish have average announcement times that are greater than Trey's

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