For the first time since they performed under their current moniker sixteen years ago, Phish are a band without a plan. The grassroots, jam-band phenomenon finished their fall tour with a two-night-stand at Mountain View, Calif.'s Shoreline Amphitheater last weekend. Nothing strange for the seasonal touring unit, except for the fact that two of the band's most anticipated shows, Halloween and New Years, will remain unscheduled. According to a post on www.phish.com, the band is taking a break from both touring and recording.
"Phish has completed their touring for this year," the post reads. "There will be no additional shows in November or December, or immediately thereafter. Additional information will be posted when the band refines their plans for the future."
For Phish's legions of fans, the news that their two biggest shows wouldn't happen for the first time in years was the shocking conclusion to one of the band's highest profile years. Following the release of the six-disc definitive live document Hampton Comes Alive last year, the band kicked off 2000 before 75,000 people for New Years at Florida's Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the largest paid concert event in the world on the millennial eve. The year also saw the release of the band's eighth studio album, Farmhouse, which hit new commercial heights for the band, debuting at No. 12 on SoundScan charts and moving more than 300,000 units to date, a high figure for a band built on its live following.
Still the band is mum about the length or reasons behind the hiatus. Given the number of days the band has spent on the road over the past decade and a half, guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell, who have children, might be seeking some family time. The band might also be interested in creative recharging through side projects. Anastasio, for one, has already appeared a couple of times this year (first in New Orleans, later in Las Vegas) in the impromptu super-group Oysterheawd with Primus' Les Claypool and former Police drummer Steward Copeland. Other side projects in the group's history include the Surrender to the Air project from 1996, on which Anastasio and drummer Jon Fishman indulged their avant-jazzier side with keyboardist John Medeski and members of space-jazz legend Sun Ra's Arkestra including saxophonist Marshall Allen.