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Published: 2003/12/29

ZZYZX’s Phish Stats

_This month we profile our own David Steinberg and his Phish Stats page
The first version of Phish Stats actually was a text file. I took
all of the setlists that I had for shows I had seen and counted songs.
I printed that out and took it with me on tour. After each show, I’d
cross out the numbers of the songs that were played, so I could know
what to update when I got back to Las Cruces.
Obviously, that wasn’t the most useful or accurate thing ever.
Version 2 was an improvement. In an attempt to learn Visual Basic, I
wrote the scripts that would eventually become the every time played
and the raw totals. It took weeks of painstaking work to get all of
the setlists in a format that my program could understand. Song
titles were not standardized in the setlist file I was working with
making this a tedious process. However, at the end of this I started
to have something useful. After each show I would recreate the
information on my computer and ftp them up to my webserver. I even
had a basic version of Personal Stats that worked for anyone who had
access to my computer.
While this was more interesting, it still was far from anything
useful. The every time played information was a huge text file. If
you wanted to know the history of Fluffhead, you had to get the whole
thing. I wanted to have other people be able to run their own
personal stats. The install program for Phish Stats took three
floppy discs and blank cds weren’t really an option in early 1996, so
there was still a need to improve this.
Around this time I decided that I wanted to learn how to write CGI
programs. My job had little room for advancement; the only way out
would be to expand my skill set. I bought a book or two and went
about rewriting the stats program in Perl. Now not only would I be
able to satisfy my geek needs, but anyone else who was curious would
be able to do the same.
While there have been many evolutions over the years (including the
ability to keep a file on a webpage or a hard drive to keep track of
your shows), perhaps the most important one was being able to expand
this to other bands. In the late 90s I was obsessed with String
Cheese Incident. All I needed to do to add their stats was to go
through the setlist pain. While that file might not get updated as
quickly as Phish’s, keeping the functionality identical is relatively
easy thanks to the joys of modular programming.
I am always looking for suggestions for new stats ideas. Recent
additions have been shows by month and the time zone option. If you
have any other ideas, feel free to email me at If
you find it interesting, odds are high that I would too.

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