Phish formed in the fall of 1983 at the University of Vermont with co-founders Trey Anastasio and Jeff Holdsworth on guitars, Jon Fishman on drums, and Mike Gordon on bass.
In 1983, the band played at least two shows under the name Blackwood Convention. At this point, the band only played other artists' material, ranging from tunes by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, The Who, the Grateful Dead, and others.
Phish took a brief hiatus during the first part of 1984 after Anastasio was suspended from UVM. The band continued with live performances when Anastasio returned to the university in the fall. For many concerts, the band was joined by Marc Daubert on percussion. For years, the band's performance from December 1, 1984, was their earliest live circulated recording. The band debuted many original songs that fall, including "Makisupa Policeman", "Slave to the Traffic Light", "Camel Walk", "Skippy the Wondermouse", and "Fluffhead."
In the spring of 1985, the band met keyboardist Page McConnell, a student at Goddard College who jammed with the band for a portion of their May 3, 1985 show on the campus of the University of Vermont. By September 26, he was a member of the band.
The band's shows during this period featured lots and lots of improvisation, much of which revolved around new originals and cover songs from The Grateful Dead. Mike Gordon has often cited the band's November 23 show from Goddard College as a religious experience and the musical highlight of his career.
Trey Anastasio and Jon Fishman traveled to Europe during the summer and wrote a great deal of the band's early material on the trip.
More originals began to make their way into Phish's concert repertoire, including "McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters", "Anarchy", "Alumni Blues", "Dear Mrs. Reagan", "Dog Log", "Prep School Hippie" "Dave's Energy Guide", "Possum", and the popular classics "Harry Hood", "Run Like an Antelope", and "Mike's Song."
In May 1986, Jeff Holdsworth quit the band; he was not replaced. Holdsworth's retirement solidified the band's classic four-man lineup of Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, and Jon Fishman, which remained unchanged for the rest of their career.
In October, Paul Languedoc officially joined the band as sound engineer. He remained with the band until the breakup in 2004. Later that month, the band played the first of four consecutive annual Halloween shows at Goddard College.
Phish continued to perform a greater number of concerts in 1986, debuting a wealth of new material throughout the year, including "You Enjoy Myself", "AC/DC Bag", "Golgi Apparatus", "Lushington", "Sanity", "David Bowie", "Wilson", "Icculus", "I Am Hydrogen", "Halley's Comet", and many other future Phish classics.
The band also began circulating The White Tape, their very first studio project.
In 1987, Phish was winding down their college career and preparing to take their live performances to the next level. A wealth of Phish classics made their first appearance in 1987, including "The Divided Sky", "Fee", "Punch You in the Eye", "The Curtain With", "Harpua", "Flat Fee", "Big Black Furry Creature From Mars", "I Didn't Know", "Letter to Jimmy Page", "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday", "Fuck Your Face", "Suzy Greenberg", "Dinner and a Movie", "The Sloth", as well as many new cover songs. In the spring of 1987, Trey Anastasio submitted Phish's studio experimentThe Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday as his senior thesis at Goddard College. Many of these songs would make more frequent appearances in concert throughout the year.
The band also played a large number of shows at Nectar's, a bar in downtown Burlington, Vermont, developing and polishing a unique sound that would become their trademark in years to come.
In 1988, Phish began touring outside of the Vermont area, performing concerts in New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other states throughout the year. In March, the band unveiled the first complete performance of The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday. After seeing their March 12 concert, manager John Paluska booked Phish for a concert at Amherst College in Massachusetts at The Zoo co-op house at Amherst College. He would go on to manage the band until their 2004 breakup.
Musically, Phish was concentrating on large scale composition throughout most of 1988 (much of which appeared on their classic double album Junta), with multi-part suites and epics acting as centerpieces of the band's live setlists. Many of these extended pieces, including reworked older songs such as "You Enjoy Myself", "The Divided Sky" and "David Bowie", also featured lengthy improvisational excursions.
The band's original repertoire continued to grow, with complex pieces such as "Esther", "Foam", "The Lizards", "Colonel Forbin's Ascent", and "Fly Famous Mockingbird" making their debut along with future favorites "Tela", "Weekapaug Groove", "No Dogs Allowed", and "Contact."
By 1989, Phish was on the road full-time after three of the band's four members had graduated from college (Mike Gordon graduated the following year). The year saw Phish aggressively covering the concert circuit in the Northeast United States, especially on college campuses, where the band founded their most dedicated followers. The band's fanbase kept on growing as many fans travelled from state to state and concert to concert, attending multiple nights in a row as Phish continued to change their setlists on a nightly basis.
Phish also unveiled their most ambitious piece to date, the multi-part epic "Reba", as well as other complex and intricately composed songs such as "Split Open and Melt", "Kung", "Bathtub Gin", "The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony", "My Sweet One", "In a Hole", and "The Mango Song." Improvisation seemed to take a backseat to composition for Phish in 1989, a trend that would continue for the next three years. Throughout the year, the band recorded tracks for their fourth studio project Lawn Boy.
Legendary lighting designer Chris Kuroda officially joined Phish on March 30 of the year and would remain with the band through the rest of their career, going on to pioneer new techniques and set new standards in the concert lighting industry.
Phish entered the 1990s as a national touring act, performing coast to coast across the United States on somewhat of an endless year-long tour. The band teamed up with friends Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, and Aquarium Rescue Unit for various concerts in an effort to spread their music to new audiences.
1990 remains one of the most active concert years in the band's history. A large number of original compositions made their debut in 1990, including "Stash", "The Squirming Coil", "Buried Alive", "Bouncing Around the Room", "Magilla", "Destiny Unbound", "Don't Get Me Wrong" (a collaboration with John Popper), "Eliza", "Runaway Jim", "Tweezer", "Cavern", "Horn", "Jaegermeister", "Tube", "The Landlady", "The Asse Festival", "Gumbo", "Llama", and the original arrangement of "Rift."
Like the year before, Phish performed throughout 1991 all over the United States, visiting almost every state in the country. The band's dedicated fanbase continued to grow. First, fans of the band launched the Phish.Net, one of the very first Internet websites in popular music. The site connected fans and helped spread the word about upcoming concerts, setlists, and band history. It enabled the band to connect with fans from all over the country, and, more importantly, allowed fans to connect with one another. Second, the band were signed to Elektra Records in 1991. They would remain with the label for the rest of their career. In the midst of their touring schedule, the band found time to record their major label debut, A Picture of Nectar, which was released the following year.
The band also held their first official concert festival – Amy's Farm – held in upstate Maine at the horse farm of longtime fan Amy Skelton. It was a free show and, like all of their future festivals, was an outdoor camp out that closed out the band's summer tour. Phish would go on to host three more summer festivals in Maine.
Original song debuts in 1991 included "Guelah Papyrus", "Chalk Dust Torture", "Setting Sail", "Poor Heart", "Brother", "It's Ice", "Sparkle", "All Things Reconsidered", and "Glide."
Phish made their first trip outside of the United States in the summer, joining Santana for an entire tour of Europe and performing a select number of dates with Violent Femmes, including the Roskilde Festival with Fishbone, Megadeth, Pearl Jam, and others. They also headlined a select number of H.O.R.D.E. festival dates in the Northeast United States.
The band's ever-growing fanbase enabled them to headline theaters and small arenas throughout the United States in 1992. New originals debuted in 1992 included "Maze", "My Friend, My Friend", "Mound", NICU", "Sleeping Monkey", the new arrangement of "Rift", "The Horse", "Silent in the Morning", "Weigh", "Axilla", "Fast Enough for You", "Big Ball Jam", "Faht", "Catapult", "Buffalo Bill", and "Lengthwise."
In 1993, the band began headlining major amphitheaters and arenas in the summer and fall. In February, the band released their second concept album, Rift, and began playing the aforementioned larger venues all over the United States. The band also visited a large number of college campuses as well throughout 1993.
Original song debuts in 1993 included "Sample in a Jar", "Lifeboy", "The Wedge", and "Leprechaun." The band retreated to California at the end of the year to record their new studio album Hoist.
The band was now a major live touring act, accomplishing such milestones as selling out both Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden, making their national television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman, earning radio play and an MTV music video with the song "Down With Disease" from their album Hoist, and beginning their Halloween "musical costume" tradition (where the band would perform an entire album by a different band). Additionally, the band's audience was growing by huge numbers, making Phish second only to the Grateful Dead with respect to the live concert cultural phenomenon that surrounded both bands. "Scent of a Mule", "If I Could", "Wolfman's Brother", "Julius", "Demand", "Dog-Faced Boy", "Guyute", "Axilla (Part 2)", "Simple", "NO2" (first featured in the studio on the very first Phish album in 1986), and the anthemic "Down with Disease".
After performing two of their albums in concert at a show in Charleston, West Virginia on June 26 (The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday and Hoist), the band jokingly bragged backstage that they could play any album at any time. Taking the idea to the next level, the band promised to play a complete album by another band on Halloween night, taking fan votes by mail. The winning album was the legendary White Album from The Beatles. Several bands would borrow this tradition in years to come, most notably Dream Theater, whose drummer, Mike Portnoy, is an admitted Phish fan.
Several of the year's highlights were compiled to form A Live One, the band's first live album, which would be released the following year.
Original song debuts in 1994 included "Scent of a Mule", "If I Could", "Wolfman's Brother", "Julius", "Demand", "Dog-Faced Boy", "Guyute", "Axilla (Part 2)", "Simple", "NO2" and "Down with Disease".
On Halloween 1994, Phish performed The Beatles' White Album. The band played every song on the double album except "Good Night", which was played over the P.A. at the end of the set ("Birthday" was covered as an instrumental, during which Fishman presented a birthday cake to Brad Sands, the band's road manager).
Before the band took the stage for their second set, the sound technician began playing "Speak to Me" over the PA, leading the audience to believe the band was about to play Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. However, just at the moment "Breathe" would have begun, the recording immediately cut to a sample of Ed Sullivan introducing The Beatles from their famous February 9, 1964 appearance on his show. The band promptly leap into "Back in the U.S.S.R."
Phish returned to the stage after the White Album set, and Anastasio began by playing the opening riff to "Custard Pie", the first track on Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin, leading some concert-goers to believe that the band would be donning two musical costumes that evening. However, the riff was only a tease, and Phish proceeded to play a third set of primarily original songs.
The show included a Halloween costume contest of audience members and Jon Fishman playing on a vacuum cleaner and gracing the stage in the nude during "Revolution 9". The show reportedly ended past 3:30 a.m. on November 1, 1994.
The show has been released in its entirety as Live Phish Volume 13.
1994 warm-up and support shows
For the first time since 1987, the band took an extensive vacation for the first four and a half months of the year, finally returning in May for the only politically based concert of their entire career – a Voters for Choice benefit concert conceived by Gloria Steinem. The band received mixed reviews for participating in the concert, and never participated in partisan events again.
The band headlined amphitheaters in the summer of 1995 as their first official live album – A Live One – became the first Phish album to receive gold record status. The album, released on June 28 and featuring a number of highlights from the band's 1994 tours, became the group's most successful album to date. The band was now the premier live touring band in the United States, and the group's fall tour featured several sold-out concerts in large arenas.
That fall, Phish challenged its audience to two games of chess. Each show on the tour featured a pair of moves. The band took its turn either at the beginning of or during the first set. The audience was invited to gather at the Greenpeace table during the setbreak to determine its move. Two games were played on the tour. The audience conceded the first game on November 15 in Florida, and the band conceded the second game at its New Year's Eve concert at Madison Square Garden. These were the only two games that were played, which left the final score tied at 1-1. "What Does Chess Have to Do with Phish? at Phish.net".
In their tradition of playing a well-known album by another band for Halloween, Phish contracted a full horn section for their performance of The Who's Quadrophenia in 1995. On New Year's Eve, the band performed what is considered one of their greatest concerts ever – a three-set marathon live from Madison Square Garden. The show was later released in its entirety in 2005 to celebrate its tenth anniversary. The show was also named one of the greatest concerts of the 1990s by Rolling Stone magazine.
Original song debuts included "Spock's Brain", "Theme From the Bottom", "Ha Ha Ha", "Taste", "Free", "Strange Design", "Glide II", "The Real Taste of Licorice", "Prince Caspian", and "Cars Trucks Buses."
Although the band performed The Who's Quadrophenia for Halloween 1995, the voting reportedly ended differently. Frank Zappa's album Joe's Garage got the most votes, but the album's complex overdubs, potentially offensive lyrics, and several tunes that Zappa had requested never be performed live again (such as "Watermelon in Easter Hay"), caused the band to perform Quadrophenia with a horn section instead (which reportedly came in second in the voting)
Later in the night during the band's third set, "You Enjoy Myself" was performed for over forty minutes. The band ended the night with "My Generation", a song made famous by The Who but not included on their Quadrophenia album. The band destroyed their instruments at the end of the encore, just as The Who did decades before.
The show has been released in its entirety as Live Phish Volume 14.
1995 warm-up and support shows
While taking the first half of 1996 off to begin recording a new studio album, Phish made two one-off live appearances in the spring. The first saw the band headline the 1996 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. The second was a surprise club appearance under the name "Third Ball" at a small club in Woodstock, New York, just miles from Bearsville Studios where Phish was finishing their new album.
That summer, the band once again toured Europe with Santana for the first time in four years. By August, the band was finally back in the US for a brief summer tour that saw most of the shows sold out well in advance. The band also began performing multiple nights at certain venues, such as Indiana's Deer Creek Music Center (where Phish's August 13 show was released as Live Phish 12) and Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater. Phish's audience had grown so much that the enormous influx of Phish fans to the town of Morrison, Colorado, resulted in Phish being banned for 10 years from playing Red Rocks.
Phish was so popular that the band drew 70,000 to a decommissioned air force base in remote Plattsburgh, New York for a two-day Phish festival called The Clifford Ball. It was the largest rock concert of the year. Phish played seven sets over two days, one of which featured a jam atop a flatbed truck cruising through the campground in the middle of the night. The second day featured a symphony orchestra performing classical music in the mid-afternoon. MTV made a documentary of the experience.
In October, the band released their long-awaited, commercially successful studio album Billy Breathes. That fall, the band headlined major arenas and covered Remain in Light by the Talking Heads at their 1996 Halloween show at The Omni in Atlanta. The performance of the groove-based album, which was influenced by funk and African polyrhythms, was cited by band members as a major influence on the group's stylistic change in 1997 and beyond.
Original song debuts included "Waste", "Character Zero", "Train Song", "Talk", "Swept Away", and "Steep"
For their third musical costume, Phish's rendition of the Talking Heads' Remain in Light lasted 62 minutes and 16 seconds (compared to the Talking Heads's original, at under 45 minutes; elsewhere reported as 54:12), and featured a horn section and Santana percussionist Karl Perazzo.
The show has been released in its entirety as Live Phish Volume 15.
1996 warm-up and support shows
1997 marked the band's most prolific songwriting period, as no less than 20 new originals were debuted in concert throughout the year.
The band headlined a winter tour of Europe in February and March. Excerpts from the 03/01/1997 show at Markthaille in Hamburg were later released as the live album Slip Stitch and Pass. The band returned to the United States for a month-long summer tour of sold out amphitheaters, culminating in another huge festival – The Great Went – held in remote Limestone, Maine in the upper northeastern corner of the US. 70,000 fans attended the festival, which once again included seven sets of music from Phish over two days (one of which was a late night "disco set" with all four members on keyboards).
During the summer tour, film director Todd Phillips began filming a documentary of the band titled Bittersweet Motel that would finally hit theaters in 2000.
Original song debuts in 1997 included "Walfredo", "Rock-a-William", "Dogs Stole Things", "Carini", "Twist", "Limb by Limb", "Piper", "Vultures", "Ghost", "Olivia's Pool", "Water in the Sky", "Wading in the Velvet Sea", "I Don't Care", "Saw it Again", "Bye Bye Foot", "Dirt", "At the Barbecue", "The Meatstick", "Black-Eyed Katy", and "Farmhouse."
Whenever Phish was off the road in 1997, the group worked on a new studio project that continued into the early months of 1998. The band took a few days off in April to play The Island Tour. The show consisted of two shows on Long Island, New York, and two shows in Providence, Rhode Island. All four shows were released as live albums.
Phish briefly toured Europe in July before returning to the United States for another month-long summer tour. On August 1, Phish began debuting a brand new cover song at nearly every show, starting with "Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin at a show at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin. Covers by Cole Porter (August 2), Smashing Pumpkins (August 3), Van Halen (August 6), the Velvet Underground, Allen Toussaint and the Beastie Boys (August 8), followed by a rendition of the Grateful Dead's Terrapin Station as the band stopped in Virginia Beach on August 9, the third anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia. These were in addition to covers by Ween, Corneille, 2Pac, Los Lobos, Johnny Winter, Dry Bread, ZZ Top (x2), The Who (x2), Marvin Gaye, Son Seals, the Blues Brothers, the Rolling Stones (x2), Edgar Winter, Led Zeppelin (not Ramble On), Jimi Hendrix (x2), Neil Young, Robert Palmer, Steve Earle, Talking Heads (x2), Jane's Addiction, Richard Strauss, Stevie Wonder, Syd Barrett, Neil Diamond, Bob Marley, Little Feat, B.B. King, Blues Image and Henry Mancini at points throughout the tour as well. Phish had been relentlessly compared to the Dead throughout their career and often cited as the apparent heir to the Dead's throne, resulting in Phish making a strong effort to distance themselves from the Dead. The band had not performed a Grateful Dead song in concert since April 1, 1986 – twelve years earlier – when they were a five-man college band that had yet to play outside of Vermont. For the encore in Virginia Beach, Phish performed the Dead's multi-part suite "Terrapin Station". Former members of the Grateful Dead extended a "thank you" to Phish in their quarterly newsletter. A few months later, Dead bassist Phil Lesh reached out to Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell to join him, former Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux and others to perform three nights of Dead and Phish music in April 1999. Members of Phish and the Dead now have a strong relationship, with bands like Rhythm Devils and SerialPod containing members of both bands.
The band finished their summer tour with another huge festival in Maine called The Lemonwheel. 60,000 people attended and the band played seven sets over two nights, including an instrumental set of ambient music surrounded by candles made by fans throughout the weekend.
In October, Phish headlined the Farm Aid festival, jamming onstage with Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Paul Shaffer, and others. Two days before the band's 1998 fall tour, The Story of the Ghost was released. Heavily laced with funk overtones, the album was culled from hours and hours of improvisation that took place throughout 1997 and 1998. On Halloween night in Las Vegas, the group performed Loaded by the Velvet Underground as their annual musical costume. Two days later, the band surprised fans by performing an unannounced rendition of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon at a show in West Valley City, Utah. Phish closed out the year with a four-night stand at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Original song debuts in 1998 included "Birds of a Feather", "Frankie Says", "Roggae", "Shafty", "Meat", "Fikus", "Brian and Robert", "Bittersweet Motel", "The Moma Dance", "Never", "Sleep", "Driver", and "Grind".
On the second night of a two-night run in Las Vegas, including the previous night's celebration of the band's fifteenth anniversary, the band performed The Velvet Underground's Loaded.
Though many fans were unfamiliar with the album, some songs including "Rock and Roll" became concert staples and fan favorites.
The show has been released in its entirety as Live Phish Volume 16.
Fans in West Valley, Utah were treated to a surprise performance of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon sandwiched between the banter of "Harpua" on November 2, 1998.
It is widely believed that the impetus for Phish to cover Dark Side two days after the Vegas Halloween show was that the Utah venue was relatively empty with thousands of unsold tickets while just two days prior in the neighboring state, the venue was filled to the brim with many attendees having paid well above face value and spillover fans without tickets remaining outside.
Unlike the Halloween extravaganzas, the performance has not been officially released but is currently being circulated through fan tape trading websites.
1998 warm-up and support shows
Phish took the first half of 1999 off from touring and recording. Trey Anastasio embarked on his first ever solo tour in the spring, and Page McConnell compiled tracks from Phish's 1997 and 1998 recording sessions to produce The Siket Disc, an instrumental album that was released online in June (the disc would be available in stores the following year).
The band finally hit the road in the summer, embarking on another annual summer tour of the United States. Phish performed their first of two Fourth of July celebrations with a two-night stand in Atlanta. The first night featured the unveiling of "The Meatstick Dance", which would be performed by band and audience throughout the year. Instead of throwing another huge summer festival to close out the tour, the band decided to focus all festival activities to the Millennium New Year's Eve celebration. However, at the eleventh hour, Camp Oswego took place at an airport in upstate New York. 65,000 people attended and Phish played five sets of music over two days. A number of other groups such as Ozomatli, the Del McCoury Band, and Son Seals performed on a side stage throughout the weekend. The festival took place a week before Woodstock 1999, which was being held just miles away, with the violence and rioting at Woodstock being reported all over the news but without mention of the incident-free peacefulness of Camp Oswego (even though the success of the Phish event was mentioned on television by New York governor George Pataki).
During the summer and fall, the band adopted a number of songs performed by Trey Anastasio just months earlier on his solo tour. Most of these songs contained repetitive bass lines and techno & electronica themed improvisational excursions (with Anastasio and McConnell using a series of electronic effects), a sound that Phish would hone throughout 1999 and 2000.
On December 30 and December 31, Phish held the largest Millennium New Year's Eve concert in the entire world, eclipsing attendance numbers at other concerts from performers such as Barbra Streisand, KISS, Elton John, Billy Joel, Sting, and others. It was the largest Phish concert ever and also the longest, and was voted the greatest Phish show of all time by readers of The Pharmer's Almanac. 85,000 people made the trek to the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the Florida Everglades. Once again, the band turned the concert area into a makeshift city with food, clothing, a post office, an arcade, carnival games, and areas incorporating the various wildlife of the Everglades. Phish played three sets the first night, and began New Year's Eve with a two-hour set at 7 PM before returning at midnight to play a marathon seamless seven-and-a-half-hour second set that ended at sunrise.
Original song debuts in 1999 included "My Left Toe", "Mountains in the Mist", "What's the Use?", "Bug", "The Happy Whip and Dung Song", "Mozambique", "The Inlaw Josie Wales", "First Tube", "Gotta Jibboo", "Sand", "Quadrophonic Toppling", "Heavy Things", and "Jennifer Dances."
In the spring of 2000, the band finished up recording the new studio album Farmhouse, which featured mostly songs that had been performed onstage as far back as 1997. Anastasio was responsible for most of the album's writing and direction. In mid-May, Phish performed their first concerts at New York's Radio City Music Hall followed by an appearance on VH1's Hard Rock Live.
In June, the band visited Japan for the second time in two years, performing a number of headlining and festival shows. By the end of the month, Phish was back in the United States for another month-long summer tour, kicking off with a star-studded opening night in Nashville featuring appearances by Wynonna Judd, Ricky Skaggs, and the Del McCoury Band. In mid-July, Phish performed on the long-running series Austin City Limits. For the first time since 1995, the band did not hold an annual end-of-summer festival. Additionally, for the second year in a row, Phish did not perform their annual Halloween music costume.
Towards the end of their fall tour at a webcast show that would be released on DVD as Phish: Live in Vegas, Trey Anastasio announced that the band was taking an indefinite break following the tour's end. Therefore, for the first time since 1988, there would be no Phish New Year's Eve concert. On October 6 & 7, the band played a two-night stand at the Shoreline Amphitheater just outside San Francisco, which would be the band's final concerts before their indefinite hiatus. The band went their separate ways following the shows.
Phish debuted no new material in 2000, with the exception of "Guy Forget" (a song played in soundcheck since 1993).
The only show played this year was a New Year's Eve concert in Madison Square Garden on December 31, followed by three shows at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia on January 2, 3, and 4.
For two years, the members of Phish concentrated on outside projects and other musical endeavors. Trey Anastasio worked with the Vermont Youth Orchestra and formed the supergroup Oysterhead, but spent most of 2001 and 2002 working on his solo career. Mike Gordon made two films and an album with guitar legend Leo Kottke. Jon Fishman toured with both the Jazz Mandolin Project and Pork Tornado. Page McConnell formed the electronic trio Vida Blue.
In late 2002, Phish reunited in the Vermont mountains and recorded a brand new studio album, Round Room, the first Phish album since Lawn Boy in 1990 to feature a number of extended jams. The band soon announced that their hiatus was over and that they would be returning to the road in 2003, starting with a New Year's Eve concert on December 31, 2002, at Madison Square Garden. The New Year's run was a three night stand at the Hampton Coliseum in early January.
After appearing on the front cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, the band launched their first winter tour of the US since 1993. The brief tour was only two weeks long. The band launched a US summer tour in July that culminated in another festival in upstate Maine. 60,000 people attended the It festival which featured seven sets of Phish music over two nights, including a set performed live from the very top of an air traffic control tower. A DVD film and PBS special was made to document the festival.
Phish played only sporadically after the summer tour, including a brief four night run in late November/early December to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The third night of the celebration featured an appearance from founding Phish guitarist Jeff Holdsworth, who had not played onstage with Phish in over 17 years. The group closed out the year with a four night New Year's Eve run in Miami, featuring a surprise appearance from Parliament/Funkadelic.
Original song debuts in 2003 included "Round Room", "Thunderhead", "Mexican Cousin", "Pebbles and Marbles", "All of These Dreams", "46 Days", "Waves", "Anything But Me", "Seven Below", "Mock Song", "Friday", Walls of the Cave", "Spices", "Scents and Subtle Sounds", "Discern", "Secret Smile", "Two Versions of Me", "Army of One", "Spread it Round", and "Crowd Control."
After a three-night stand in Las Vegas in mid-April, Trey Anastasio announced on the band's website that Phish was officially breaking up for good following a brief summer tour. However, the band continued to debut new material throughout the year, opening their farewell tour with a new song titled "A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing" from their final album Undermind, which was released shortly after the breakup announcement. The tour's opening night was also broadcast in movie theaters across the country and eventually released on DVD and CD as Phish: Live in Brooklyn. The band also debuted another original in Brooklyn titled "Nothing", and the band's final original debut, "Access Me", was unveiled on June 26 at a show in Wisconsin.
After a brief run of shows in June (June 18 included an appearance from Jay-Z), the band took most of the summer off before returning for a final week of concerts in August. Their final show was also the last Phish summer festival – Coventry – named for the town in Vermont that hosted the event. 100,000 people were expected to attend, and it was simulcast to thousands more in movie theaters across America.
After a week of rain that prompted rumors of a sinking stage, Mike Gordon announced on the local radio station that attendees should turn around, no more cars were being allowed in. As only about 20,000 people had been admitted, many concert-goers abandoned their vehicles on highway roadsides, shoulders and medians and hiked to the site, some as far as thirty miles. With the number of people that walked in, the crowd grew to an estimated 65,000 in attendance. Phish played six sets over two nights to officially close out their touring career.
Original song debuts in 2004 included "A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing", "Access Me", and "Nothing".
On October 1, 2008, Phish announced a three-show reunion concert at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. The shows took place on March 6, 7, and 8.
Phish performed fifteen concerts in June 2009, including two days at Bonnaroo Music Festival. The shows kicked off with the band's first ever performance at Boston's Fenway Park and wrapped up at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin on June 20–21.
On March 17, 2009, Phish announced another dozen dates as a late summer tour, with a four-night stand in Red Rocks, Colorado (their first shows there since being banned in 1996), and ending at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York on August 16.
Phish played three nights, October 30 and 31 and November 1, in Indio, California, for their eighth festival, aptly named Festival 8. The Halloween weekend featured Phish's normal tradition of covering a different artist's entire album.
On October 9, 2009, Phish announced they would embark on a Fall 2009 tour (their first since 2000, just prior to the first hiatus) beginning on November 18 in Detroit, Michigan and concluding on December 5 in Charlottesville, Virginia. This 13 show tour included two-night stands at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Times Union Center in Albany, New York as well as a three night stand and return to Madison Square Garden (their first shows there since the New Year's Eve 2002 show that ended the first hiatus).
On December 28, 2009, Phish once again returned to Miami, Florida after six years for four days of music, culminating for New Year's Eve on December 31.
Original songs debuts in 2009 have included "Backwards Down the Number Line", "Beauty of a Broken Heart", "Undermind", "Ocelot", "Light", "Time Turns Elastic", "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan", "Kill Devil Falls", "Twenty Years Later", "Let Me Lie", "Sugar Shack", "Joy", "Alaska", "The Connection", "Windy City", "Party Time", "I Been Around", "Invisible", "Sleep Again", "Tomorrow's Song", and "Gone."
Leading up to Festival 8, the band's festival which took place over the weekend of Halloween, the band's website featured a gallery of various albums which were narrowed down to twelve by the week before the festival.
The entire gallery of costume choices can be accessed here: Festival 8 Countdown
These final eight albums' titles provided the names of the eight campsites on the festival grounds:David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland
King Crimson – Larks' Tongues in Aspic
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Prince – Purple Rain
Radiohead – Kid A
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.
On October 31, the only album cover that did not have an axe or a knife through it in the gallery on the website was Exile on Main St., which the band played in its entirety later that night.
Spring 2010, Phish announced a 29-date summer tour. It consisted of a return to Chicago, Hartford, Saratoga, Columbia, Noblesville, East Troy, Jones Beach, and Mansfield. They also played 2 shows at Town Park in Telluride, Colorado. That followed a 3 night run at The Greek Theater in Berkeley, California. It was Phish's first time back there since 1993.
Phish played a 2-hour set at the Austin City Limits festival in Austin, Texas this October.
In the fall, Phish played a 14 date tour. The tour started with a 3 night run in Broomfield, Colorado. Followed by 2 shows in North Charlestown, South Carolina. On the release date of Mike Gordon new solo album "Moss", Phish played The Augusta Civic Center in Maine. The smallest venue played on the tour was The Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York. Then for the first time since 1999 they made a return to Providence, Rhode Island. Then north to Amherst, Massachusetts, the band played 2 nights at the UMASS Mullins Center, which was the first time back since 1995. Then to finish the tour was one show in Manchester NH, first time back since 1994 and then a sold out 3-night Halloween Run at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The New Year's run was announced as a 5-date tour starting with two shows in Worcester, Massachusetts. Then a 3-night sold-out run at Madison Square Garden on 12/30, 12/31, 1/1/11.
On Halloween night 2010, Phish chose Little Feat's 1978 live album Waiting for Columbus.
The first leg of the Summer 2011 tour was announced in February with more dates announced in April. It began in late May with a three-night run in Bethel and moved on to visit Holmdel for two nights, Clarkston, Cuyahoga Falls, Cincinnati, Mansfield, Corfu, Camden, 2 nights in Columbia, 2 nights in Alpharetta, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Portsmouth.
The ninth festival held by Phish was held after the first summer leg over the Fourth of July weekend. Super Ball IX was a three-day festival in Watkins Glen, New York at the Watkins Glen International which featured many themed sets such as a beach ball set.
The second leg of the 2011 Summer tour was centered around the west coast. Its shows included a two night run in at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Phish's first show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and a two night run at Harveys Outdoor Arena in Stateline.
Phish played 2 sets at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
The band went on the close the summer with 3 night runs at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, and Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City over Labor Day Weekend.
Phish's home state of Vermont was suffered much destruction from flooding after Hurricane Irene made landfall in the northeast. Phish paid tribute by performing a special show on September 14, in Essex Junction at the Champlain Valley Exposition. All of the money raised from the event went to relief efforts for the state. The show featured a special appearance from Vermont's Governor, Peter Shumlin.
The year for the band closed with a four night New Year's run at Madison Square Garden on December 28, 29, 30, and 31.
The first dates of the Summer 2012 were announced in March and the second set of dates were announced in April. The tour is scheduled to open with 2 nights in Worcester. These shows will be immediately followed by a two set headlining appearance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The band will head on to stage a 3 night run at Bader Field in Atlantic City. Other dates include two nights in Portsmouth, Cincinnati, Burgettstown, Cuyahoga Falls, 2 dates in Noblesville, 2 nights in East Troy, a 2 night Fourth of July run in Wantagh, and 3 nights in Saratoga Springs.
The second portion of the tour ventured away from the northeast with dates in Long Beach, 3 nights in San Francisco, Kansas City, Pelham, Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis, Oklahoma City (Phish's first performance in Oklahoma,) and another 3 night run over Labor Day Weekend at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
The entire tour routing of the Summer 2013 was announced in March. The first show of the year featured the band's first performance at the Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor, Maine. On the heels of this opening show is a three-night run and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. The band performed a similar run here the same weekend a year before. The tour was scheduled to continue with the band's first performance in Canada in thirteen years, at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre in Toronto, yet an abnormal amount of rainfall the day prior to the show forced the band to postpone, citing lack of power and public access to the venue. The routing continues onto Holmdel, New Jersey, Wantagh, New York, two performances in Columbia, Maryland, two performances in Alpharetta, Georgia, three performances at the Charter One Pavilion in Chicago, two performances at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington, two shows in Stateline, Nevada along Lake Tahoe, Three shows in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California, and a show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. After the show in Los Angeles, the band will take a monthlong break before returning to the stage for their third annual three-night run at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado over Labor Day Weekend.
Rather than covering another band on Halloween, Phish chose to perform the entirety of its own forthcoming album (tentatively titled Wingsuit) before going into the studio to record it in November.
The annual "Summer Tour Announcement" came on March 11. Phish will return to several venues for multiple night stands including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, a return to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia after 19 years, the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion in Chicago, the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth, and the fourth consecutive year performing Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City over Labor Day Weekend. The band will also perform for the first time in Orange Beach at the Amphitheater at the Wharf, as well as a three-night stand on Randall's Island in New York City.
The entire Summer 2015 tour was announced in March 2015.
The entire summer tour was announced on February 5, 2016. Their fall tour was announced on August 2, 2016.
Phish's 2015 tour prices ranged from US$40-$70.00.
Phish Tickets By Mail (or PTBM) was a service that sold tickets to performances by Phish before their general on-sale date through Ticketmaster and other traditional ticketing outlets. The service exists today in a limited form for concerts involving Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell and Jon Fishman. Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Phish ticket presale was done through mail order. For each Phish tour (starting with "taper only" tickets for the December 1994 New Years Run, and both taper and regular tickets for Summer Tour 1995) specific instructions for mail order were listed in the band's newsletter, "Doniac Schvice" (and, later, Phish.com), usually involving envelopes of a specified size, postcards and return postage in the event the ticket order was not fulfilled. There were very specific details that needed to be done, in an effort to deter scalpers and ticket brokers. The ticket orders were then outsourced to a business to fulfill the orders. In the final years of the mail order process, ticket orders were processed by the staff at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vermont. The order in which ticket requests were fulfilled was random, and no seniority or special treatment was given to any fan. These tickets were printed in limited amounts on colored paper with foil and some sort of design, and only issued through mail order.
In 2001, while Phish was on a hiatus, Trey Anastasio booked a tour of amphitheatres and major venues. It was his largest tour, at the time, without Phish. With Phish's management, Dionysian Productions scaled down during the hiatus, Anastasio and Dionysian used an internet-based ticket presale service run by Musictoday, who has been running a similar service for Dave Matthews Band's Warehouse Fan Association since 1999. Instead of fans filling out postcards, they went to a website, requested shows and put in credit card information. For this tour, the orders were still processed at the Flynn Theatre. This would be the last tour where PTBM would run from Vermont.
When Trey Anastasio went on tour in 2002, he used the Musictoday service again. However, unlike the 2001 tour, the final processing process took place at Musictoday's home base in Charlottesville, Virginia. Later that year, when Phish announced their return tour, PTBM used that service as well. All ticket presales for Phish and side projects, from that point on, used Musictoday's online service.
As Phish side project tours have become smaller following Phish's 2004 disbandment, most presales have been real time sales, with a first-come-first-served approach in place of the lotteries employed in Phish's touring heyday. With Phish's return to the stage in 2009, the band is once again using Musictoday's online service.