Seven Significant Musical Hiatuses

Grace Beehler on November 14, 2011

When it comes to bands who tour regularly, it comes as a pretty big blow when these bands who invest their lives in their music and their fans announce that they’ll be taking a break in order to focus on their families and personal lives. With the announcement of Widespread Panic’s upcoming break, we look back at some hiatuses that may have broken hearts but were ultimately necessary for the success of the band as a whole.

1. Grateful Dead, 1974: In October of 1974, the Grateful Dead announced an indefinite hiatus from touring and played five nights at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco, a venue that they could call home. The early 70s saw the band facing a series of changes: Mickey Hart left the band, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan died in 1971, the band created their own record label after their contract with Warner Bros. ended and Owlsey Stanley created the new sound system, the Wall of Sound.

The Winterland shows were billed as “The Last One” and were the last to feature the Wall of Sound. Mickey Hart returned to the band for these shows. The run was recorded and made into the live album Steal Your Face and filmed for the 1977 Jerry Garcia-directed music documentary, The Grateful Dead Movie_.
LvVhdcdRw" frameborder=“0” allowfullscreen>2. Phish, 2000: In the summer of 2000, Phish announced that they would take an “extended time-out” following their fall tour. October 7, 2000, at the Shoreline Amphitheater in California, would be the band’s last concert for more than two years. The beginning house music included the Rolling Stones’ "The Last Time, " and following the show, the house music was the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

In an interview, Trey Anastasio said that their millennium concert at Big Cypress “was incredible, and it was, for me, it was the greatest, it was the pinnacle. And when we came offstage, I looked at our drummer, Fish, my best friend, and just a man I love dearly, and we looked at each other and we both had tears in our eyes, maybe we should stop? It just felt like the wave had crashed into the shore. But we didn’t. We went out for another year, then we took this hiatus as an attempt to revitalize.”
3. Phish, 2004: Coventry Festival, in August 2004, was technically the final Phish shows, but ended up being the last shows for over four and a half years. Following an announcement in May stating that after 21 years, 11 studio albums and 1,100 shows, the band decided to call it quits. The final Coventry show saw an emotional “Wading in the Velvet Sea,” a botched “Glide” and a “The Curtain (With)” encore, which was one of the first songs Anastasio wrote, nearby the site of the festival.

“When we lived and breathed Phish, was beyond intimate. It really was,” Anastasio said in an interview in May 2004. “And I don’t know that the people who didn’t see Phish really could understand that. But I know the people who did go see Phish do [understand]. And I know that there’s probably some anger now because we’re taking that away.”

4. String Cheese Incident, 2007: In August 2007, the String Cheese Incident took to the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, for a final four-night run. The band announced that these would be the last shows for a while. During the final night at Red Rocks, the first set was entirely acoustic, the second set featured Keller Williams on a few songs, a rowdy third set and a double encore.

In an interview prior to the shows, Kyle Hollingsworth wanted to reinforce the fact that the band was not breaking up, but said, “I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. We have no plans. But I just want to make it clear from my point of view that the future’s wide open for us.”
5. Widespread Panic, 2012: In an interview with Vanderbilt University’s student newspaper in September 2010, JoJo Hermann let it slip that the band was “probably going to call it [quits] for a while. So we’re looking forward to next year and going out on a high note.” Widespread Panic has since announced an all-acoustic “Wood Tour,” only 11 shows and the only shows in 2012, which will be the last before they begin their hiatus.

Panic has only taken a year off in 2004, having toured regularly since 1986. The band will head to Colorado for three nights at the Fillmore in Denver and then for three nights at the intimate, 450-person venue, the Belly Up-Aspen in Aspen. Look above for a taste of what you can expect during this acoustic tour.
6. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, 2009: In early 2009, Ryan Adams announced that he would be parting ways with the Cardinals, with whom he released Cold Roses and Cardinology, and would be taking a musical hiatus. The band’s final show with Adams would take place in Atlanta in March. In a blog post announcing the hiatus, Adams wrote that he is “ready for quieter times as I think it is very evident I am struggling with some balance and hearing issues.”

“I am excited to step away,” Adams continued. “I lost more than anyone will ever know (hearing, someone I loved, my sense of dignity, a never ending losing battle with stage fright)…” Adams’ hiatus lasted just over a year, releasing the metal-influenced album Orion and playing his first performance in October 2010.

7. God Street Wine: God Street Wine officially broke up in 1999 and played three big farewell shows in December at the New York City venue the Wetlands. The band invited special guests to the stage, including John Popper (Blues Traveler), and released a live album from the shows, Good To The Last Drop.

However, their breakup was short-lived: they played a show in honor of the closing of the Wetlands in 2001, followed by a series of shows for the first time in nine years in their home base city, New York, as well as playing on Jam Cruise, in the summer of 2010. Though these shows may have indicated to fans that the band was going to be touring on a regular basis again, God Street Wine made it clear that they would be returning to the status of “indefinite hiatus.” While GSW won’t be returning to the stage any time soon, Lo Faber and Aaron Maxwell will continue to perform together.