Phish Friday: The Telluride Run Spawns a JVS Pandemic

Crowd @ Phish in Telluride

There is a theory on how Telluride got it’s name…

It’s mining history and endless tunnels serve the phrase well, To Hell You Ride. Yet Hell is the farthest thing from it, especially when the town is hosting Phish for 9,000 fans and countless others perched on balconies, roofs and mountain tops. Keep this between you and me — you didn’t need a ticket to these shows unless you needed to see the band and wooden stage up close (which many of us did, of course). You just needed ears, some walking shoes, and the effort to get there.

Telluride, CO

Once dropped into town on the Gondola, a mesmerizing 15 minute ride down into the box canyon, I fully realized what was happening. All the pre-talk and hype was coming to fruition. Phish was taking over a small town for two days, late nights and parties til’ 2:30am (or 4am if you’re Marco Benevento), pre-gaming at condos/houses/bars (Smugglers/Sheridan/BrownDog), and the like!

Most of my crew was ready to rage Telluride ’til it couldn’t rage no more, and we were hopeful that Big Red, Cactus, Fish and Page were also on board with that idea. After three nights at the Greek with some open jamming (“Cities” + “Simple”), the locale of Telluride was sure to bring out the West/best. But looking through some of the “critical” reviews on my flight home, I worried that fans may have a serious case of JVS, otherwise known as Jaded Veteran Syndrome. To take it one step further, even the folks who had seen less than 20 shows were stating “Oh, too many repeats,” or “oh, I’m getting so sick of the Vocal Jam in YEM”. Does every show need to have a 17 minute jam, a bust-out, and a song you hadn’t heard live before? To the sufferers of JVS among us, and there seem to be many — can’t we just enjoy one of (if not THE) best locales a Phish show has ever had to offer and all the music that comes with it? I sure did, but almost felt victim to the seductive JVS mindset nearly costing me my two-nights of pure bliss.

To Telluride!

Telluride from lake's edge

Standing in town on the rivers edge, against one of the security fences with a small group, I got my first taste of Phish in Telluride. The soundcheck (Funky Bitch, Cities > Jam, Ginseng, 46 Days) started around 3:30pm, and we were already off to the races. It was halfway into the “Cities”” when a feeling washed over me like a calming breeze — nothing could stop me from enjoying these shows. I was at first worried the sets couldn’t live up to the hype, but those worries melted away as Gordon’s bass was already echoing off the mountainside during “46 Days.” I gazed up at those very mountains, waterfalls and endless rolling hills and turned to my tour-buddy… “They could play Jennifer Dances > Secret Smile tonight in the first set and I’d be all ears!” In hindsight, maybe that was going a little too far, but you get my point…

Phish in Telluride

To all the JVS sufferers out there, I hope you can seek help for your affliction. Hopefully a trained medical professional will help you mentally step back and realize what we have: a band that will play anything at anytime (except “Walls of the Cave”… Deer Creek second set bust-out maybe?!), a band who will and can play anywhere (except your friend’s basement), and a band who’s notes are NOT the only thing that bring us on tour.

This is important.

As much as we want to see the next “best-ever” jam, shouldn’t we also enjoy the overall experience and not match it up with the song selection, the placement, or why we would expect anything differently. If you gave me the same sets in Telluride song-for-song in Camden, wouldn’t they be damn good? Well, take those sets and put them where they happened — in the picturesque town of T-Ride and you’ve got yourself an EPIC good time.

But that said, even I can fall victim to the mental weariness that is JVS. During the first set of night two, when the “Roses Are Free” was getting dirty (around the 4 minute mark), I yelled out… and thought Telluride was setting sail on the ship to Type II, but no, unfortunately 30 seconds later “Trey said no.” I cringed. I stopped in my dancing tracks and lowered my head. “Okay, I’m done with this band. Stop cutting my Roses off!” My friends laughed, but I was somewhat serious. Then, as I mentioned earlier, a funny thing happened. I looked up, then South, West and East. Mountain and glacial formations abound. The sun was setting, the clouds were purple and pink and the mountains were casting an array of shadows. I had just heard “The Divided Sky” during an actual divided sky, and just witnessed Roses, one of my favorite covers, in my new favorite venue. Who cares how they played it? Because for exactly five minutes, I was on top of the world (well, 9,000 feet above the bottom of the world anyway).

My focus changed over the course of the Telluride run. My JVS symptoms no longer lingered. I wasn’t waiting for a Gamehenge Narration, a bust-out (although “The Mighty Quinn” was a five-star meal on the all-night Bust Out Diner blueplate special menu) or even a set full of segues. I was focused on seeing Phish in one of the most magical places our country has to offer and letting them do their thing. Let’s put it this way — Tuesday’s Divided Sky was my 16th, and it was my favorite version ever, not because it was note-for-note perfect or ’cause the pause was extra extended maaaaaaan… but because Telluride had me by the balls. I even enjoyed that “Prince Caspian” on the first night, and that’s saying something. Well maybe it’s the “Mind Left Body” jam it contained that sent me into orbit unexpectedly.

Phish in Telluride

Every local person I met, every business I dined or drank at loved having THIS community invade THEIR community. I, after experiencing Telluride, had already begun my one-person campaign to get PHISH in Telluride next year.

Telluride businesses welcome the Phish

“Hey, you liked having us here? Please make your voice heard at the next town meeting…we want this to be a tradition!” Everyone shook their head in agreement, even the waitress that had a wristband and was talking to me about that heavy dose of evil “Carini!”

Carhendge @ Phish in Telluride

So…you see what I’m saying, right?

Step back, even if you’ve been to 100+ shows, and enjoy what this band has to offer nightly. Maybe we shouldn’t be so critical because they’ve never been about just one thing, and I think the horrible outbreak of JVS in the scene has a lot of us forgetting that. It’s the sum of all the parts — and Phish had one of the best two night stands in their 20+ year history. Ask anyone who was there, except maybe patient zero that started the Jaded Veteran Syndrome outbreak. And maybe Jeff Holdsworth.

Crowd @ Phish in Telluride

Painting done @ Phish in Telluride (artist unknown?)

  • Thomas Walker

    Well said!

  • Thomas Walker

    Well said!

  • shelly

    I think the artist of the painting is Scramble Campbell.

  • shelly

    I think the artist of the painting is Scramble Campbell.

  • Aaron

    Thanks Shelly! He actually jumped into the shot but I missed the photo opportunity… plus his shadow was being casted over the art and I couldn’t see it well ;-)

    Awesome stuff.

  • Aaron

    Thanks Shelly! He actually jumped into the shot but I missed the photo opportunity… plus his shadow was being casted over the art and I couldn’t see it well ;-)

    Awesome stuff.

  • COster

    WELL SAID. Exactly how I felt…. especially the part when you cringed and said, “Trey said no.” I had those moments a lot this past Mon-Tues… but I very quickly got over them :)

    Will JVS be back another day soon? Perhaps. But perhaps the solution is to keep seeing Phish at brand new venues!

  • COster

    WELL SAID. Exactly how I felt…. especially the part when you cringed and said, “Trey said no.” I had those moments a lot this past Mon-Tues… but I very quickly got over them :)

    Will JVS be back another day soon? Perhaps. But perhaps the solution is to keep seeing Phish at brand new venues!

  • Tommy T.

    Extremely well put. I live in colorado ( denver ) and have since 2001. The music seen ” in these thar hills ” is better than any other city I have lived in ( born : south-side chicago, bloomington/IN, seattle, san francisco, san diego, phoenix, denver, columbia/SC ) but T-Ride is on an island all by its self. There is not a single place on this planet or any other planet better to see music. It is truely “heaven on earth”. Having said all of that, that was ( without a doubt ) the best show/show’s I have ever seen. I have been seeing music for over 22+ yrs. I have followed the grateful dead, allman brothers, phish, widespread panic for months at a time. I would estimate I have seen over 500+ show’s and let me tell you my friends ” IT DOES NOT GET ANY BETTER THEN THE T-RIDE RUN “. Even if those show’s were held in antarctica, during the dead of winter, they would have been my favorite. Now you add T-Ride to the mix and it because “once in a lifetime/EPIC”. Well if you haven’t already figured out that I really liked the T-Ride run, let me state it again. Pure and simple; the BEST SHOW’S OF ALL TIME. Peace out y’all and I hope the T-Ride run does become tradition.

    P.S. Yes the artist is indeed, Scramble Campbell. Here is his website if
    anyone is interested in checking out his work, it’s amazing! I’m sure
    must of you have been at a show and didn’t even realize he was there
    painting ( http://www.scramblecampbell.com ). the 1st time I saw his work
    was at the 2nd woodstock “94” in saugerties, NY.

  • Tommy T.

    Extremely well put. I live in colorado ( denver ) and have since 2001. The music seen ” in these thar hills ” is better than any other city I have lived in ( born : south-side chicago, bloomington/IN, seattle, san francisco, san diego, phoenix, denver, columbia/SC ) but T-Ride is on an island all by its self. There is not a single place on this planet or any other planet better to see music. It is truely “heaven on earth”. Having said all of that, that was ( without a doubt ) the best show/show’s I have ever seen. I have been seeing music for over 22+ yrs. I have followed the grateful dead, allman brothers, phish, widespread panic for months at a time. I would estimate I have seen over 500+ show’s and let me tell you my friends ” IT DOES NOT GET ANY BETTER THEN THE T-RIDE RUN “. Even if those show’s were held in antarctica, during the dead of winter, they would have been my favorite. Now you add T-Ride to the mix and it because “once in a lifetime/EPIC”. Well if you haven’t already figured out that I really liked the T-Ride run, let me state it again. Pure and simple; the BEST SHOW’S OF ALL TIME. Peace out y’all and I hope the T-Ride run does become tradition.

    P.S. Yes the artist is indeed, Scramble Campbell. Here is his website if
    anyone is interested in checking out his work, it’s amazing! I’m sure
    must of you have been at a show and didn’t even realize he was there
    painting ( http://www.scramblecampbell.com ). the 1st time I saw his work
    was at the 2nd woodstock “94” in saugerties, NY.

  • J.A.M.

    I agree, well said. When I saw them second night of camden, after what I had felt was a rather run of the mill SOAM, I was shaking my head when I turned to my good friend, who I had taken to his first show, a guy who had never listened to the fellas before, and he looks at me dumbfounded and is like, “I just, I just cant understand how anyone can play music like that.” That was incredible” And he’s right. That was when I realized that Ive just got a pretty bad case of JVS doc, and need to take a healthy dose of perspective. Cant say I am cured, but I am trying. I would say the problem with JVS is how contagious it can be, I feel theres alot of it going on this tour. and the connection between the band and the fans is so fundamental, that they must feel it, and it must affect the music to some degree, and so its a self phufilling prophecy. i dusted off some of the early winter 03 shows, MAN listen to that crowd! I would go as far as to say the most audibly enthusiastic crowd on any run EVER. they were so thankful to see their band, and their band gave it back to them. When I catch the closer at Jones beach next week, I am going to try to keep that perspective and keep the JVS at bay and have a positive vibe, because that’s contagious as hell and the only cure to the JVS blues. thanks for the article.

  • J.A.M.

    I agree, well said. When I saw them second night of camden, after what I had felt was a rather run of the mill SOAM, I was shaking my head when I turned to my good friend, who I had taken to his first show, a guy who had never listened to the fellas before, and he looks at me dumbfounded and is like, “I just, I just cant understand how anyone can play music like that.” That was incredible” And he’s right. That was when I realized that Ive just got a pretty bad case of JVS doc, and need to take a healthy dose of perspective. Cant say I am cured, but I am trying. I would say the problem with JVS is how contagious it can be, I feel theres alot of it going on this tour. and the connection between the band and the fans is so fundamental, that they must feel it, and it must affect the music to some degree, and so its a self phufilling prophecy. i dusted off some of the early winter 03 shows, MAN listen to that crowd! I would go as far as to say the most audibly enthusiastic crowd on any run EVER. they were so thankful to see their band, and their band gave it back to them. When I catch the closer at Jones beach next week, I am going to try to keep that perspective and keep the JVS at bay and have a positive vibe, because that’s contagious as hell and the only cure to the JVS blues. thanks for the article.

  • JKnaak

    Great post!!! Wish I could have been there!

  • JKnaak

    Great post!!! Wish I could have been there!

  • Gus

    I don’t completely disagree with your JVS assessment, because it is easy to be overly critical- however, some criticism has its merit, and stating that the Telluride shows were “the best shows ever” is a bit over the top. In fact, I didn’t care for either second set all that much, and like you was EXTREMELY disappointed when Trey cut off Roses—-the rest of the boys were ready to jam!!! Let’s stretch the limits!!!!
    So to sum it up for me- who is a huge critic and Phish vet- TR was bad acoustics and the boys didn’t help themselves too much- jam sections of tunes like Limb by Limb, Piper, Weekapaugh were very bad, and even Tweezer was weak- cut off and aborted. The Reprise was poorly executed and SO predictable- although the Mighty Quinn helped soothe my frustration the first night. And just so you know what a critic I am- Destiny Unbound was butchered and Party Time is not my favorite second set opener. I did like the Sand but all in all, I left disappointed musically, but the total experience was awesome- We mountain biked 12 miles to see them FREE!!!! And for the music Free, it was solid, tight and predictable- but hey, that’s where Phish is these days for a lot of tunes. There compositions were fantastic though- the Coil, Sky and YEM- all executed great. Boogie On and Bowie showed some life the first night, but unfortunately- I do have a case of JVS- and I do think it’s deserved. True fans of the band should hold them to a higher standard, an not swallow whatever guitar lines Trey (at times) forces down their throats, or whatever predictable “jams” are called “epic.” I love Phish more than anyone, and that love forces me to be a critic, expect the unexpected- and hope like hell that the boys start stretching the musical boundaries once again. And Trey- switch back to the old rig- you sounded much smoother. Too loud, too scratchy, too much minor pentatonic–too much rock n roll, not enough funk. There’s my guitar player coming out, but I can’t help it. Had enough JVS yet?

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Yeah, too much JVS in there — especially for a dude that saw the show for free. Critic is one thing; assumption of a predisposition to music, song selection, or “proper guitar tone” is a fallacy. You don’t deserve the guitar tone you like the best; in fact, you were lucky to be touched by it musically on their path to finding new musical inspiration. Expect them to continue on the same course….i.e. disappointing you.

      It’s like Phish has become the Cubs or something. They sell out (mostly) every show and people show up and complain how crappy they’re playing. Lovable losers, apparently.

    • http://www.ihoz.com Zzyzx

      Bad acoustics!?! BAD ACOUSTICS!? Maybe it was just where I was but it was crystal clear.

      “True fans of the band should hold them to a higher standard, an not swallow whatever guitar lines Trey (at times) forces down their throats, or whatever predictable “jams” are called “epic.””

      I can’t disagree more. Sure being honest about what shows are good or not is key so when you do rave about a show, it really is all that, but if you don’t enjoy an average show – and both Tellurides were above average IMO – then it’s probably time to just stop going for a while. Trey isn’t forcing guitar down your throat. He’s playing music that you can choose to go to or not.

    • tele-mon

      Hey Gus, go find some other band to be a critic of! “TR was bad acoustics…” “We mountain biked 12 miles to see them FREE!!!!” Maybe if you had bought a ticket like the rest of us, you would realize that the sound was fantastic in Town Park. They are not trying to appease the JVS critics camped miles away up on a mountain. The “True fans of the band” were up close and personal, and it was a beautiful thing! This true fan has been seeing them since UVM in ’88, so go jump on some other bandwagon. By the way, if you wanted to hear Roses jammed out, you should have been downtown at Marmottestock, where Dave Driewitz of Ween was playing.

  • Gus

    I don’t completely disagree with your JVS assessment, because it is easy to be overly critical- however, some criticism has its merit, and stating that the Telluride shows were “the best shows ever” is a bit over the top. In fact, I didn’t care for either second set all that much, and like you was EXTREMELY disappointed when Trey cut off Roses—-the rest of the boys were ready to jam!!! Let’s stretch the limits!!!!
    So to sum it up for me- who is a huge critic and Phish vet- TR was bad acoustics and the boys didn’t help themselves too much- jam sections of tunes like Limb by Limb, Piper, Weekapaugh were very bad, and even Tweezer was weak- cut off and aborted. The Reprise was poorly executed and SO predictable- although the Mighty Quinn helped soothe my frustration the first night. And just so you know what a critic I am- Destiny Unbound was butchered and Party Time is not my favorite second set opener. I did like the Sand but all in all, I left disappointed musically, but the total experience was awesome- We mountain biked 12 miles to see them FREE!!!! And for the music Free, it was solid, tight and predictable- but hey, that’s where Phish is these days for a lot of tunes. There compositions were fantastic though- the Coil, Sky and YEM- all executed great. Boogie On and Bowie showed some life the first night, but unfortunately- I do have a case of JVS- and I do think it’s deserved. True fans of the band should hold them to a higher standard, an not swallow whatever guitar lines Trey (at times) forces down their throats, or whatever predictable “jams” are called “epic.” I love Phish more than anyone, and that love forces me to be a critic, expect the unexpected- and hope like hell that the boys start stretching the musical boundaries once again. And Trey- switch back to the old rig- you sounded much smoother. Too loud, too scratchy, too much minor pentatonic–too much rock n roll, not enough funk. There’s my guitar player coming out, but I can’t help it. Had enough JVS yet?

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Yeah, too much JVS in there — especially for a dude that saw the show for free. Critic is one thing; assumption of a predisposition to music, song selection, or “proper guitar tone” is a fallacy. You don’t deserve the guitar tone you like the best; in fact, you were lucky to be touched by it musically on their path to finding new musical inspiration. Expect them to continue on the same course….i.e. disappointing you.

      It’s like Phish has become the Cubs or something. They sell out (mostly) every show and people show up and complain how crappy they’re playing. Lovable losers, apparently.

    • http://www.ihoz.com Zzyzx

      Bad acoustics!?! BAD ACOUSTICS!? Maybe it was just where I was but it was crystal clear.

      “True fans of the band should hold them to a higher standard, an not swallow whatever guitar lines Trey (at times) forces down their throats, or whatever predictable “jams” are called “epic.””

      I can’t disagree more. Sure being honest about what shows are good or not is key so when you do rave about a show, it really is all that, but if you don’t enjoy an average show – and both Tellurides were above average IMO – then it’s probably time to just stop going for a while. Trey isn’t forcing guitar down your throat. He’s playing music that you can choose to go to or not.

    • tele-mon

      Hey Gus, go find some other band to be a critic of! “TR was bad acoustics…” “We mountain biked 12 miles to see them FREE!!!!” Maybe if you had bought a ticket like the rest of us, you would realize that the sound was fantastic in Town Park. They are not trying to appease the JVS critics camped miles away up on a mountain. The “True fans of the band” were up close and personal, and it was a beautiful thing! This true fan has been seeing them since UVM in ’88, so go jump on some other bandwagon. By the way, if you wanted to hear Roses jammed out, you should have been downtown at Marmottestock, where Dave Driewitz of Ween was playing.

  • http://showoflife.com Wick

    It all comes down to expectations, not JVS. Doesn’t matter if you are seeing Phish or any other band. Go in expecting nothing (or at least very little) and you shall be pleased every time.

    Expectation is the seed of disappointment.

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Well said.

  • http://showoflife.com Wick

    It all comes down to expectations, not JVS. Doesn’t matter if you are seeing Phish or any other band. Go in expecting nothing (or at least very little) and you shall be pleased every time.

    Expectation is the seed of disappointment.

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Well said.

  • Aaron

    In response, the point I was referencing was not that these were the best Phish shows ever musically but that the overall experience was. Take everything about it and it was a top moment in the bands existence. It just was. People who were left empty have JVS and need something out of body to happen. It’s the same who want songs they haven’t heard before or GameJoy… Anyone who says telluride was just another stop on the tour schedule… Really!!?

  • Aaron

    In response, the point I was referencing was not that these were the best Phish shows ever musically but that the overall experience was. Take everything about it and it was a top moment in the bands existence. It just was. People who were left empty have JVS and need something out of body to happen. It’s the same who want songs they haven’t heard before or GameJoy… Anyone who says telluride was just another stop on the tour schedule… Really!!?