Tonight (Tuesday, August 4th), Phish will air their July 8th, 1994 performance at Great Woods Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield, MA featuring the last full performance of the Gamehendge saga as the nineteenth episode of their ongoing archival webcast/cooking series, Dinner and a Movie. Tune in below at 8:30 p.m. ET and scroll down to follow along with our 7/8/94 Stream Companion.
Phish Dinner and a Movie Episode 19: 7/8/94, Great Woods
The nineteenth episode of Dinner and a Movie follows the 8/31/12 “F— Your Face” show, the 7/27/14 Merriweather “Tweezerfest”, the 7/25/17’s Baker’s Dozen “Jam-Filled” night, Magnaball night two (8/22/15), last year’s first night at Mohegan Sun (7/9/19), the first night of the band’s 2016 Halloween run in Las Vegas (10/28/16), the final night of 2017’s Mexican destination event (1/15/17), the band’s first of three nights in Alpharetta, GA in 2018 (8/3/18), the out-there 1997 U.S. tour opener featuring a guest appearance by LeRoi Moore of Dave Matthews Band (7/21/97), the improv-heavy second night of their 2018 Madison Square Garden New Year’s run (12/29/18), 2013’s Friday night at The Gorge (7/26/13), the band’s 1995 debut at Deer Creek Music Center (6/19/95), the fiery Wednesday night at The Mann in 2015 (8/12/15), an evening at the iconic Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA from 2010 (8/7/10), and an “avant-garde” set two video from Northampton, MA back in 1989 (5/1/89), 2019’s wild Alpine Valley finale (7/14/19), the third night of Phish’s return to Hampton Coliseum in the fall of 2013 (10/20/13), and “Double Chocolate” night of the Baker’s Dozen at MSG (7/28/17).
There are a bunch of fun, auxiliary things going on with this week’s Dinner and a Movie. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Episode 19 beneficiary HeadCount has launched various digital initiatives to help turn out voters including the new “Check My Status,” a simple tool for checking your current voter registration status. Fans can win “A Year of Phish” by checking their voter registration online. To enter for a chance to win, check your voter status or update your registration, visit headcount.org/checkmystatus. The prize includes a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, 2 tickets to any show in the year the band returns to the road, 1 year of LivePhish+ and LivePhish webcasts, and a poster signed by the band.
Tonight’s Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s July 8, 1994 show from Great Woods. The full show will play for free at 8:30PM ET at https://t.co/SWXeiam3Nf. Our beneficiary is @HeadCountOrg, a nonpartisan organization that promotes participation in democracy through music. pic.twitter.com/5j2v9vEhjh
— Phish (@phish) August 4, 2020
Ben & Jerry’s will also be playing a role in tonight’s festivities. For the dessert portion of tonight’s meal, Page McConnell teamed with the Vermont ice cream makers for the perfect confectionary collab, ice cream sandwiches—because, as Page noted along with his recipe, “At this point you probably already know how I feel about sandwiches.”
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) August 4, 2020
SiriusXM Phish Radio is also getting in on the excitement for this week’s Dinner and a Movie with the debut episode of a new fan-hosted program, “Crowd Control,” followed by a simulcast of the 7/8/94 performance.
⚡️ Tune in tonight at 7PM ET for the debut episode of the fan-hosted “Crowd Control” followed by Phish’s 7/8/94 Great Woods Dinner And A Movie simulcast on @PhishRadioSXM @SIRIUSXM. pic.twitter.com/7fd9gw1Kky
— PhishRadio (@PhishRadioSXM) August 4, 2020
The band is also selling some appropriate new merch on Dry Goods benefitting the Waterwheel Foundation.
After watching tonight, you’ll get why @phishdrygoods has some new Save Gamehendge shirts, which benefit the @waterwheelphish (other fits available including poly-cotton tees, women’s and a hoodie). Available now: https://t.co/Bl9KmJCOh8 pic.twitter.com/VYgC0bEnAF
— Phish (@phish) August 4, 2020
Now, about this show. As you’ve surely heard by now, the entertainment for tonight comes in the form of the fabled Friday night show at Great Woods on July 8th, 1994. It’s a date that rings out in Phish forums for a number of reasons, most notably that it features the last-ever complete performance of Trey Anastasio‘s Goddard College senior study/rock opera set in the far-away (though thematically familiar) world of “Gamehendge.” There’s plenty to talk about there, and we’ll get to that later.
Before we get into the required Gamehendge nerd-ery, we’re going to start in our usual realm with a quick rundown of the non-Gamehendge portion of the evening, set two. While there’s less to unpack on set two, it’s certainly not without its highlights. This set featured the version of “Stash” that would end up on 1995’s A Live One, Phish’s first official live LP and the album that turned a whole generation of fans on to the band. The patiently exploding “Reba” jam into “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” is a prime example of technically proficient ’94 Phish, and the “Frankenstein”–infused “You Enjoy Myself” is about as much of a live Phish highlight as you can hope for on a normal night. That is, unless they just played Gamehendge for set one…
Alright, let’s talk Lizards. We won’t try to explain all the intricacies of the detailed Gamehendge narrative in this piece. There are pages and pages of explanations and summaries floating around the Internet, from Phish.net’s FAQ page to the complete Gamehendge Wikipedia page—and that’s not even the same Wikipedia page as the one for The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, the title of the Trey senior study/pseudo “first Phish album” that first introduced the story, the characters, and the land of Gamehendge. TMWSIY also introduced a number of songs that remain alive and sought after by fans at live shows from “The Lizards” to “Possum”, “Wilson” to “AC/DC Bag”, “Col. Forbin’s Ascent”/”Fly Famous Mockingbird” to “Tela” and more. Even beyond those songs, there are several more Phish classics that help comprise the greater Gamehendge canon, like “Divided Sky”, “Llama”, “McGrupp”, “Punch You In The Eye”, “Icculus”, “Kung”, etc. In other words, Gamehendge is, um, dense…
We’re here to simplify it as much as possible and provide a little context. The band has played “Gamehendge”—referring to the collective group of songs and their complete, accompanying narration—in concert only four times (that we know of): 3/12/88 at Nectar’s, 3/22/93 in Sacramento, 6/26/94 in West Virginia (which also a near-complete performance of Phish’s Hoist album), and this first of two summer nights at Great Woods in ’94. There was also the 10/13/91 show in Olympia, WA that featured most but not all of the Gamehendge saga/narration, so that one gets an asterisk on most peoples’ list. Phish nerds gonna Phish nerd.
While the band has played segments of Gamehendge songs in various shows since, tonight’s Dinner and a Movie show marked the last performance of the “Gamehendge saga” with full narration when it took place more than 26 years ago. At one point, Phish’s old newsletter, the Doniac Schvice, mentioned that the two ’94 Gamehendge shows had been recorded in 24-track digital. Rumor had it the footage was to be used for a CD-ROM project which never wound up coming to fruition. That’s not to say that various fan-made Gamehendge computer games haven’t floated around the lot in years since—they have, and they’re a hoot when you get ahold of them—but Gamehendge has never gotten a proper Phish release.
Now, the story. We’re gonna try to keep this brief—and trust us, it’s really hard to keep Gamehendge brief (many a meme has been born of this conundrum). The story is set in the magical land of Gamehendge, born of Trey’s quirky imagination (and, most likely, a childhood affinity for fantasy and sci-fi). It tells the tale of a man who accidentally steps through a portal to a strange world, befriends a band of rebels fighting against an evil ruler, goes on a quest to enlist the help of an almighty deity, and attempts to help the subjugated race overthrow their evil dictator. While rooted in often-silly, medieval fantasy aesthetics, the rock opera is thematically ambitious, serving as commentary on politics, religion, jealousy, greed, the cyclical nature of civilization, the ways in which society repeats its own mistakes.
That’s about as succinct as it gets for Gamehendge. There’s plenty more nuance to dive into if you’re of a mind to do it. As mentioned above, there are many more in-depth resources you can look to for in-depth analysis… But if you got this far in the Stream Companion, you probably already know the story. You’ve already worn out your burned TMWSIY CD, pored over every internet theory, discussed the narrative ad nauseum with friends, internalized all the songs. To be a Phish fan is to absorb everything Gamehendge, to know it like you know your favorite movie, your favorite book, your favorite TV series.
But tonight isn’t about the story—it’s about the show. These days, chasing Gamehendge at a live show is something of an inside joke. “What do you want to hear tonight? Gamehendge? Right, cool. Wouldn’t we all. Not gonna happen.” Tonight, however, we get to experience that story in full, all at once, together—and that’s just about as close as we’re going to get. For now…
We’ll leave you with a list of characters and creatures from Wikipedia to reference as a guide while you watch and send on your way to the land of Lizards. We’ll be right there with you, along for the ride.
Gamehendge – List of Characters
The Lizards (the race of people who inhabit Gamehendge and are dependent on the writings of the Helping Friendly Book for their survival. They’re a race of people practically extinct from doing things smart people don’t do.)
Wilson (a traveller who arrives in Gamehendge and eventually captures the Helping Friendly Book from the Lizards and locks it in the top of his castle, thus becoming the sole dictator of Gamehendge)
Colonel Forbin (a retired colonel who embarks on a mission to rescue the Helping Friendly Book from the tower of Wilson’s castle)
McGrupp (Colonel Forbin’s dog)
Rutherford the Brave (head knight of the Lizards who leads a team of allies to help overthrow Wilson)
Tela (member of the allies and Colonel Forbin’s object of desire who is eventually revealed as a spy for Wilson)
Errand Wolfe (member of the allies who keeps the book for himself after overthrowing Wilson instead of returning it to the Lizards, thus declaring himself ruler)
Roger Wolfe (member of the allies, Errand’s son. Hanged by Wilson in the public square on suspicion of treason.)
Mr. Palmer (Wilson’s accountant who is hanged by the AC/DC Bag in the town square after he is caught embezzling money to fund the allies)
The AC/DC Bag (a robotic hangman with a bag on its head used to hang traitors and enemies of Wilson)
The Unit Monster (a giant monster who is a member of the allies and is killed along with Tela for spying)
Spotted Stripers (Three-legged messenger birds sent by Tela the spy to reveal information to Wilson about the activities of the allies)
Multibeasts (giant four-legged creatures that are used as transportation by the people of Gamehendge, much like horses or camels. They have long curly hair and splotches of brown and white color.)
The Famous Mockingbird (a bird who is sent by Icculus to fly to the very top of Wilson’s castle and retrieve the Helping Friendly Book for Colonel Forbin)
The Sloth (a hitman who is hired to murder Wilson after the Helping Friendly Book is rescued)
Icculus (the Supreme God of the Sky and author of the Helping Friendly Book)
Llamas (giant animals used by the Lizards in combat; complete with huge guns on each side)
Setlist: Phish | Great Woods Center For The Performing Arts | Mansfield, MA | 7/8/94
Set One: Llama -> NO2 > The Lizards > Tela > Wilson > AC/DC Bag > Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > The Sloth > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Divided Sky
Set Two: Rift > Sample in a Jar, Reba, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav > It’s Ice > Stash, You Enjoy Myself -> Frankenstein -> You Enjoy Myself, Julius > Golgi Apparatus
Encore: Nellie Kane > Cavern
 Fish on vacuum.
 No whistling.
The first set included the complete Gamehendge saga, including narration between songs from NO2 through Divided Sky. NO2 featured Fish on vacuum. Reba contained Manteca teases and did not have the whistling ending. This version of Stash appears on A Live One. Mike teased Frankenstein during the bass and drums segment of YEM.
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Our next installment of Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s July 8, 1994 show from Great Woods in Mansfield, MA ↟ The full show will play for free on Tuesday at 8:30PM ET at webcast.livephish.com or Phish’s Facebook page. This week’s beneficiary is @HeadCountorg, a nonpartisan organization that promotes participation in democracy through music. They have partnered with Phish and the Waterwheel Foundation since 2004, helping thousands of fans register to vote. During the COVID-19 pandemic, @headcountorg has launched various digital initiatives to help turn out voters. Their latest is “Check my Status”. Fans could win “A Year of Phish” by checking their voter registration online. To enter for a chance to win, check your voter status or update your registration, visit headcount.org/checkmystatus. Prize includes a year’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, 2 tickets to any show in the year the band returns to the road, 1 year of LivePhish+ and LivePhish webcasts, and a poster signed by the band. This week, Page McConnell shares a favorite summer recipe from home: Chicken on a Stick, a basil vinaigrette, a side of roasted mushrooms and a vegan Alfredo sauce for pasta. We’re also sharing a simple dessert from our friends at @benandjerrys: an Ice Cream Sandwich. The recipes can be found at phish.com/news/daam-ep19.