phish fan creates artificial intelligence to generate setlists

While Phish fans eagerly await the start of summer tour this month, there’s a new tool out there on the web that will allow you to dazzle your friends with this year’s setlist predictions.

Introducing…. the “Phish setlist hallucinator” by James Wexler. Powered by machine learning that was trained solely on Phish setlists, each new song is chosen based on what the model has learned from the history of seeing every single Phish setlist ever printed.

What makes this unique vs. any other predictive model is that “outside of seeing every Phish setlist ever, the model knows nothing about the English language or grammar.” The author then warns the users, “it can be ridiculous at times, especially when it decides to generate ‘show notes'”, and here we are suddenly awash with great ideas for our setlist coverage this year.

“Trey generated a megaphone digital delay loop jam from ‘Streets of Cairo’ tease in the middle of ‘The Inlaw Josie Wales’?! Woah breh.”

I just tried it and got these: “The YEM vocal jam included a Simpsons signal. The jam out of Simple featured Fish on trombone.” LOL “Simple” with trombone would be siiiiiick.

You can also use a slider to control the “temperature” of how random and wild you’d want to see the setlist results (Type I vs. Type II), and buttons that say “Magnaball,” “Bomb Factory,” and “3.0 Start” can give you an idea of those relative scalings on the slider of Phish-y randomness.

Keep in mind, this is still a “dumb” form of algorithmic guessing as it has no sense of what Phish played last year at that same venue vs. what he played in 2004 there, so it can’t really predict what other variables Trey may use to “pick out” what he wants to play that night. But we know from interviews that Trey and the rest of the band feel out the mood of the audience and the venue anyway, so we’ll never have a machine learning model that truly predicts what the band will play next before they do (yet).

Having my most recent full time gig working for a major technology company that liberally used and deployed machine learning on their datasets, this nerdy tool caught my eye quickly. Kudos to James on the deploy. Play around with it yourself here.

The fan base continues to find new ways to work with this technology, and a fan on Reddit made it clear that even something like a “Harpua” narration could benefit from some artificial intelligence and machine learning. Maybe Trey could run a few spins on these tools himself.

Check out this narration below which was generated via botnik.org using around 40,000 words of existing “Harpua” narration. This is straight-up LOL material.


TREY: Well… Sounds like this is the story of Jimmy and Poster Nutbag. Poster Nutbag is a beautiful little furry creature from the town of course, and he looks pretty amazing!

[Band erupts into a fight]

Trey: Okay now, okay… Hahaha, I love you guys. Anyway, Jimmy grew up in Vermont here and that is why he was very happy. He had this cat and his house and the robot and the trees around town, and nobody really knew what halloween was in this town. So Poster Nutbag decides to try something strange. He notices this huge mound in the woods somewhere, and he starts to walk towards it. Meanwhile… Meanwhile in the distance, the evil mangy dog Harpua was lurking in the woods. Harpua was a very mean and ugly bulldog with brown spots all over his shoulders and his owner was a big package of death. Harpua looks like a tornado of saliva. So on this beautiful day…

[Mike makes hissing raspberry sounds]

Trey: What was that?

Mike: I’m your wife.

Trey: Well thank you… So anyway, Poster Nutbag starts walking into the woods and suddenly he finds that there is a lot of different colors coming out of the sky. He looks up at the sky and while he watches, Harpua looks directly at him and says “Oh oh oh, I want to kill you.”

Mike: How about eating cookies?

Trey: No… [Trey plays notes up and down the neck of his guitar]

Trey: Harpua looks down at Poster and his drool is classic. He dives down at Poster Nutbag!! Bits of saliva fall onto lumberjacks! Poster is gone… [clown horn crescendos] Look! the storm’s getting worse…

[Band plays tricks on Page]

Page: What is going on?

Fish: Meat sandwich is sitting on stage.

Page: Well thank you.

[Fish moans into his mouth]

Page: No thank you.

Trey: Look! The storm’s gone…

Mike: Jimmy

Page: Yes dad

Mike: Jimmy I have some scary news

Page: What is it dad

Mike: It’s your cat…

Page: My god…

Crowd: His god god goddddd

Mike and Page: “Poster is dead…”

[The band plays trombone sounds for years]