Leftover Phish: Reflecting on Coventry

Jeff, Kirstie and me at Coventry, August 2004.

Here’s a reflection on the last time Phish played in Vermont (Coventry, 2004) that didn’t make it into my recent review.

From the moment we hit the first traffic jam, several miles from the venue on that gray August afternoon, Coventry was an powerful, unrelenting three-day onslaught of physical and emotional stresses. Before the first note was played, we had been through an ordeal that could reliably stand on its own as a hell of a story.

Once the music began, that intensity was only amplified as we bore witness to the literal and metaphorical deconstruction of the band we loved right before our eyes. I remember the fervor during that first set during “You Enjoy Myself,” when the Trey and Mike’s trampolines were passed into the crowd and subsequently devoured by fans, torn apart as ecstatic fans groped for a piece of them, as if they were religious relics.

From that point on, the finality of the event seemed certain, like watching a movie and knowing the main character wasn’t going to make it to the closing scene. And by the end of the weekend, that’s what it felt like. The venue was a war zone. As we packed up our cars in quiet exhaustion and began the long drive back to civilization, we felt like something had been lost.

And that’s where it was left. No cliffhanger. No “to be continued.” It was over. Though, the comic book nerd in me should have remembered Rule No. 1: Nobody ever really dies.

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