There has been a lot of discussion recently about Phish and their recent performance at Bonnaroo. The complaint I’ve heard is that the music wasn’t very original, the guest performer sucked, and there were a lot of repeated songs from the previous 2 shows in Worcester.
I haven’t listened to their Bonnaroo sets. I attended the two shows in Worcester, but have yet to have time to listen to their sets from Tennessee. That said, Phish has traditionally taken on a different sort of vibe when playing at a music festival that is not their own. At their own festivals, the crowd is there to hear Phish. At a festival with many different acts, especially one as diverse as Bonnaroo, the crowd is there to hear all sorts of different acts. Phish has traditionally played a “festival set” at these types of festivals – that is, a set of “greatest hits” and standard songs. They keep it fun. They give people a little taste of what makes Phish who they are without overwhelming them.
Music festivals with many acts also allow the bands to collaborate. When Phish first played Bonnaroo in 2009, they had Bruce Springsteen join them on stage. By all accounts, it was a good time. This year, they were joined by Kenny Rogers. Also, by all accounts, a good time. While these sit ins may not produce the most spectacular music, mainly due to the little time available to practice together, they can produce a fun once in a lifetime experience for those in attendance. They can also fulfill dreams of those on stage by allowing the artist performing to invite their friends and influences to join them. This happened when Trey invited Bruce on stage in 2009.
When a band plays a concert, they play it for the people at the concert. Phish was playing for the crowd at Bonnaroo, which occurred 2 days after they played in Worcester on the last night of the four day festival. The vast majority of Phish fans in attendance at Bonnaroo were not at Worcester. Having repeated a lot of songs played at Worcester, those in attendance had not already heard them at the previous show. Phish is known for playing a completely different show each night. The Grateful Dead were also known for the same thing. However, the Grateful Dead also commonly played the same songs on multiple consecutive nights, sometimes at the same venue.
I think it’s time that Phish fans lose the chip on their shoulder and learn to just have a good time. If it’s fun, isn’t that really all you could ask for?
So as I mentioned in my last post, I attended Super Ball IX last weekend. It was Phish’s ninth festival and held at Watkins Glen International, the famous auto race track in Watkins Glen, NY that last held a music festival in 1973. The most amusing part of the whole thing is that the people from the area seemed worried that this festival would end up like that one, which saw 600,000 people show up to see the Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers play for a single day. There are plenty of in depth reviews of the music. I’ll just write about my experiences and some brief thoughts about the three shows Phish played over the weekend. Continue reading Super Ball IX
So I know I just posted my thoughts on Bethel. Most of it was already written, I just had to finish it up. Really, I should add some pics, but you can check my Flickr stream for the pics.
Anyway… next weekend, I’ll be headed to Watkins Glen, NY for Super Ball IX (that’s nine, not super ballix). It’s Phish’s 9th festival. I will definitely be reporting back from there… but probably not until after I return. And I hope (no promises here) that it won’t take me a month to post about it like it did my trip to Bethel.
and by “Holy Land”, I mean Bethel, NY.
This past Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Bethel, NY to see Phish play three nights at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Bethel Woods is located on the property that was once part of Max Yasgur’s farm, the piece of property where the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held in 1969. Visiting Bethel was like a pilgrimage for me, having been quite interested in Woodstock and the 60’s hippie culture since I was about 10 or 11. This post is mainly about my visit to the area, along with some pictures, and what it was like being there, and my thoughts on the venue. I will cover the three Phish shows in another post that will follow. Continue reading Journey to the Holy Land
OK, not really. But I am going to be spending this Memorial Day weekend at the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Phish is playing 3 nights at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. It’s on the site of Woodstock. I, personally, am pretty pumped for it. I have been obsessed with Woodstock since I was a kid. I remember one of the first cassette tapes I bought was the Woodstock soundtrack. I think I was 10 or 11 at the time. I plan on visiting the museum there as well. Expect some reports of both the shows and the experience of visiting a place with such rich musical history.
Someone over at the Online Phish Tour wrote an article about why the Mike Gordon Band (MGB) is better than the Trey Anastasio Band (TAB). It got to me. I’ve seen both, though I’ve seen TAB many more times. I’ve listened to both enough to know that the general sentiment is wrong. Now, I know I recently wrote a post about the most recent TAB tour. Some issues will be rehashed, but it’s not quite the same. Continue reading TAB vs MGB
I’m sitting here doing absolutely nothing (though this is being published the following day) listening to the acoustic sets from the Trey Anastasio shows that were released on LivePhish (the audience recordings all have too much audience noise to properly hear the acoustic set). Anyway, I attended the Boston show as a very last minute decision (decided a couple hours before the show that I was going and managed to score a ticket for face value). It was a good decision. I have only seen Trey play solo acoustic once at the Newport Folk Festival a couple years ago. This show was different though. He seemed to be having more fun. The whole show was awesome, including the electric set. It was very loose and laid back, and I think it’ll have a good effect on Phish. Continue reading Trey’s Acoustic/Electric Tour
This topic came up today on Twitter, sparked by a tweet from @JennyMack. My response was Twitter, hands down, for one major reason, the Phish Twibe. I have probably discussed the Twibe here before, probably several times, in fact. But I don’t know that I’ve ever talked about how the Twibe formed and grew into what it is now. So here it is! It’s a great story of the power of social media.
Continue reading The Power of Social Media: The Story of the Phish Twibe
I’m going to write this review a bit differently than I would normally write it. Since I’m reviewing two shows, I’m going to compare them a bit and talk about what I liked better in one over the other.
First off, the Hartford shows on June 17 and 18 were awesome. They were both a ton of fun and featured some great songs, great playing, and great fun from the band. Going completely on memory, my favorite of the two was the second night. I felt the band had more energy to their playing. They seemed to have fewer problems with the sound system. They also seemed to be having more fun. The crowd also had more energy and it was reflected in the band’s playing. Continue reading Phish Hartford Review
Albany-area tweep Jim Stagnitti (@jimstagnitti) will be giving away a pair of highly coveted pavilion seats to the Phish show at SPAC in Saratoga, NY on Saturday, June 19. All you have to do to enter is donate to his cause. He will be doing a 100 mile bike ride to raise money for MS research. See more at his blog.