Monday, June 14, 2010

From the Stage to the Couch

When I started seeing shows the only way to check on the night before was by word of mouth. No one had easy access to the internet. Even if they did, it would have been fairly long wait to check and see what they played. Getting into the lot early meant checking with those who had been writing down the set. You'd have to practically interview your friends to see about special appearances or interesting versions of a song. It was not uncommon to ask someone to copy down their setlist to get an idea of what you might hear that night, or the coming nights. We would flip through each other's tour journals and trade stories and interpretations of the songs. Every now and again, we'd get our hands on a Tour Newsletter and have a run down of the tour so far. For the most part, the human element played a large role in checking in to what was happening on the tour.

Once it became easier to interact online, setlists became easier to obtain. The exponential expansion of the Phish knowledge-base took hold and eventually made it's way to the recordings. You no longer had to wait months to get that recording of the summer shows you attended. With a little effort, you were able to find these online or at least reach the people with the large caches of tapes willing to dub these for you. When Maxell II's were replaced by the standard blank Fuji CDR as the preferred media for shows, the quality of what you heard began to improve overall.

While show media and quality were improving, so was camcorder and cellphone technology. Now it was getting easier to keep up with each other during the shows and get better quality video of the shows afterward. You could actually start getting text messages during the show and follow along to the setlists online. It was actually like being there (we had no idea). Then, we could send pictures via cellphones....and then video. In about 10 years, we went from word of mouth, to watching setlists online, to getting the shows the next day, to ...literally being able to watch the show from your couch. Sites like Hoodstream and Phishtube have made it possible for a volunteer to provide coverage from the lot and from inside the venue.

We have even been able to enjoy simulcasts directly from shows with THX sound in air conditioned theaters.

Perhaps the increasingly over-analytical fanbase can be attributed to having unprecedented access to moments that were previously only for those in attendance. Still, you could get an HD feed directly from the Front of House and you would still miss the elements that make attending the actual event special. So when you are watching the stream drop in and out, remember that the show will be available in a few hours...and not in a few months.

1 comment:

  1. I am astonished by how fast we now get to hear all of this . I miss the days of old school PTBM , but I do not miss waiting and begging for shows. Nicely done again Jiggs ..right on .. happy summer tour Phan