You know you want it as much as I do. Phish is back together and seems to have a new lease on life. Furthur is the newest project from Phil and Bobby – it’s firing on all cylinders and might be around for a little while. The old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ad said it best: Two great tastes that taste great together! How about these two bands join forces? Now I know that some heads aren’t necessarily phans and some phans aren’t really huge heads…but phuck it! Phish has covered the Grateful Dead multiple times, members of Phish have played in Dead offshoot bands (and vice versa), and Phish has welcomed multiple members of the Grateful Dead to join them on stage as guests (most recently drummer Billy Kreutzmann at Red Rocks last summer). Phil and Friends often covered Phish’s Wolfman’s Brother. Obviously the two different bands respect and enjoy each other. And while they may differ in style and approach, they both like to live in the moment, improvise on the spot, and play extended jams. Hmmmm, what would this pairing look like?
That one’s a little sticky. The obvious choice would be a “Phurthur Tour” where both bands toured together and each played their own set(s) each night. They could co-headline the tour and each band could play one long set every night of the tour. In this scenario they would alternate headlining spots each night to keep it fresh and the tour-heads happy. Many people see two sets as essential with Phish and Furthur shows, however, so two 60 minute sets from each band would be an option. They could do interesting things like add a 20 or 30 minute group improvisation set each night, too. The possibilities are endless.
If research showed a pairing like this might be a difficult arena-sized tour to book due to its potential popularity, they could get creative. The obvious choice would be a “Phurthur Phestival” (yes, I’m getting sick of the ‘ph’ instead of an ‘f’ thing now, too). Phish’s recent Festival 8 in So Cal was incredibly well received by all accounts. I wasn’t there, but after seeing pictures and video and listening to some of the music, I’m sad that I wasn’t. So why not enhance the concept: add Furthur on the bill each night, step up the size of the venue, and appeal to a larger audience? Heck, there could even be a few other bands on the bill each day to make it a real live music festival. But I’d almost rather they kept it to just the two bands and played interlocking sets with a huge group jam at the end…or something really out there that hasn’t been done before. These guys are the artists, I’m sure they’d come up with something cool.
While Phish has gone on the record saying they never want to play football stadiums, last year they graced the stage of their first baseball stadium. And we all know baseball stadium stages are just gateway drugs to football stadium stages. And if Furthur was on the bill, too, they could again do something fun and creative. My idea is two stages…that’s right, I said TWO stages – on opposite ends of the field. There could be huge signs or lights or whatever that showed which band was playing on which stage on a given night. That way the different fans could sit in the best seat according to which band they were more interested in. Of course the prankster way to do it would be to keep it a mystery, which might be fun. But with this sort of setup, one band could finish a set and the next band could take the stage after only a very short break (or none at all if the bands were so inclined). The two bands could also do something creative like “volley jams” back and forth across the stadium. Who knows what they would come up with!?
In closing, I’d like anyone who reads this that can relay the idea to either of the two bands to do so! And really sell it, man! Convince whoever it is you’re talking with that it’s the best idea since sliced bread. “It would be a tour for the ages, man!” “Something like this might never happen again!” “You’d be the coolest hetty brah ever for getting them to do it, braaaah!” I don’t know, whatever you think might work. I feel like this is just a great idea and is almost…dare I say it? Destiny. The Grateful Dead are the Godfathers of the jam scene and their heir apparent was and always will be Phish, so let’s get this historic team together to play some damn tunes for us, huh? I really don’t care how, but someone needs to figure it out. Soon. Thank you for your time.