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Beginning in the spring of 1988, members of the band began practicing in earnest, sometimes locking themselves in a room and jamming for hours on end.One such jam took place at Anastasio's apartment, with a second at Paul Languedoc's house in August 1989.Phish was formed at the University of Vermont (UVM) in 1983 by guitarists Trey Anastasio and Jeff Holdsworth, bassist Mike Gordon, and drummer Jon Fishman.For their first gig, at Harris Millis Cafeteria at the University of Vermont on December 2, 1983, the band was billed as "Blackwood Convention".Elements of the story—known as Gamehendge—grew to include an additional eight songs.The band performed the suite in concert on five different occasions: in 1988, 1991, 1993, and twice in 1994 without replicating the song list.As his senior project, Anastasio penned The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday, a nine-song concept album that would become Phish's second studio experiment.Recorded between 19, it was submitted in July of that year, accompanied by a written thesis.
In so doing, the audience was helping to create an original composition.("Blackwood convention" is a term from the card game contract bridge.) The band was joined by percussionist Marc Daubert in the fall of 1984, a time during which they promoted themselves as playing Grateful Dead songs.Following a prank at UVM with his friend and former bandmate Steve Pollak—also known as "The Dude of Life"—Anastasio decided to leave the college.The current line-up—guitarist and lead vocalist Trey Anastasio, bassist and vocalist Mike Gordon, drummer and vocalist Jon Fishman, and keyboardist and vocalist Page Mc Connell—performed together for 15 years before going on hiatus from October 7, 2000, to December 30, 2002.They resumed touring from December 31, 2002 until August 15, 2004, when they announced that the Coventry Festival would be their last show.