Jimmy...Yes, Dad?

Jimmy, I have some bad news... What is it Dad? It's about your cat, Poster... You mean Poster Nutbag?

Have you ever wondered about the song Harpua? I mean *really* wondered? Like, you wanted to know all the various songs referenced, or what the stories are telling us, or the various manners in which the cat died? We are here to take you along for the ride, digging into the roots of one of Phish’s longest standing “storytime” songs and hopefully providing a few chuckles along the way.


To date, Phish has performed Harpua 64 times and each one offers a unique glimpse into the imagination of Trey Anastasio and the other members of the band. Join us as we dig in to figure out just how many different ways one can kill a cat named Poster Nutbag! As the man once said, “as with all good stories, this story begins with an oom pa pa…”


Show Details:

03.11.1988

The Base Lodge - Stearns Hall

Johnson State College

Johnson, VT

phish.net recap

The Story:

Trey begins by testing the crowd, asking “what is Harpua?”, which gets the desired answer of “DOG”. After this satisfactory response he tells the (albeit brief) tale of Harpua wandering through town looking for some action and coming “face to fat with an enormous, furry, white… CAT!”. Trey then describes the cat and for the first time gives us its name - Poster Nutbag!

Harpua grins a sly grin. Poster coils into a deadly arch. Harpua smiles and has that fateful drop of saliva drip from his mouth. Trey shouts out the obvious observation that they are going to fight and we listeners are left to imagine the rest as they drop to the “Look, the storm is gone” line with no further description of the battle.


Fight Locale: The Town.


Method of Death: Harpua.


Song(s) Teased: None. That wasn’t a “thing” yet.


Show Facts:

  • While still in the “bar band” days of Phish, this show is notable for a few things including having the only known performance of James Brown’s “The Chicken” as the opener.

  • Fishman somehow loses his drumsticks between the end of Corinna and the start of Lizards resulting in Trey bantering about it.

  • The first set closing Bowie includes a tease medley in the intro.

  • This Harpua is considered the first full version as prior ones had no narration and often were combined with “Bundle of Joy” providing the main ‘jam’ section.

  • The second set closing Antelope has Trey speaking the names “Marco Esquandolas, Poster Nutbag, Moses Heaps, Moses DeWitt”.

A quick shout out to Brian for helping get this segment going..


Brian Crossen (@Lost_Reflector) is a long time Phish, Dead, and other live music fan with a sometimes unhealthy obsession for the minutiae of the now thirty-six years of history of this awesomely weird band from Vermont. He’s here for the jams but has a special place in his heart for the humor, antics, storytime, and all of the other wonderfully odd things that compel us to follow this band wherever they lead.


Much of this obsession is worked out either at shows or on Twitter, but occasionally in longer form at his website (www.lostinmyreflection.blog). Follow along for his often times too wordy cataloging of musical themes, obscure teases, random facts about shows that only he cares about, deep dives on full tours, and more.

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