Tag Archives: Phish

Phish for Non-Phans

Expect a lot more posts about Phish in the next few years (or until they decide to “break up” again).  Anyway, I saw a great article from a Paste Magazine blog about Phish.  It’s basically a guide to Phish for non-phans.  The article takes people through their studio albums and picks out the songs for the Phishheads and the songs for the Phish newbies.

The article has some nice streams of some of the picks.  And, even though they got some information wrong, I have to agree with the majority of their picks.  Here’s what their Newbie Mix looks like:

1. Dirt
2. Farmhouse
3. Sleep
4. Birds of a Feather
5. Wading in the Velvet Sea
6. Roggae
7. Brian and Robert
8. Free
9. Waste
10. Character Zero
11. Lifeboy
12. Julius
13. If I Could
14. Sample in a Jar
15. Fast enough For You
16. My Friend, My Friend
17. Silent in the Morning
18. Run Like an Antelope
19. Lawn Boy
20. Chalkdust Torture
21. Poor Heart
22. Contact
23. Golgi Apparatus

The only song on there I would disagree with is “Run Like an Antelope”, a mostly instrumental song.  I would replace it with “Bouncing Around the Room”, though I’d replace it with the live version from A Live One rather than use the awful Lawn Boy version.  I would also consider adding “Fluffhead” from Junta, but not “Fluff’s Travels”.

Anyway, I know I have a lot of non-phans who read my blog (assuming those people still read it… Ryan, I’m looking at you).  Knowing that Phish is the greatest band to ever step foot on this planet, I am on a never ending quest to prove to everyone that there’s at least something about Phish you’ll like.  Since I know a lot of people who could really care less about Phish, take a listen to some of the songs.  If you know me and really want a more custom playlist, let me know and I’ll tell you which songs to check out.  Keep in mind that this guide is only going through the studio stuff.  Their live stuff is a completely different ballgame and does take some getting used to (unless you’re like me and know how great they are).  Many of these songs sound completely different live, though some of them aren’t too far off their studio sound.  Phish is a jamband, they improvise, they jam, they make shit up on stage.  No two shows are ever the same.  Many of these songs are just leaping points for their jams.

Now onto my issues with this article… The article completely rules out their final two albums, Round Room and Undermind.  While I do understand why, to a degree, I think they do a grave disservice to the Phish newbies and non-phans they’re trying to help with this article.  I’ll take it where the article leaves off and give a newbie and a “head” guide to these albums.  I’ll start with Undermind, it’s the easiest.

The songs on Undermind lack much of the great song structure that the songs from their previous albums contained.  Most of Undermind is very weak.  Some of it is just downright crappy pop (as catchy as it may be).  If you’re a newbie/non-head, check out “Scents and Subtle Sounds” (both the intro, Track 1, and the full song, Track 11), “Two Versions of Me”, a great tune that could even please the heads, and “Nothing”, a fairly poppy song with some nice lyrics (some would say they foretold what happened at the end of their 2004 summer tour).  Those would be my main picks.  However, if you’re really not into Phish (perhaps you do like pop music, nothing wrong with that), check out “The Connection” (total pop), or “Crowd Control” (slightly less pop, but has some good political-sounding lyrics).  If you’re a head, check out “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing”, the only song on the album that has the full Phish musicality to it, or “Undermind”, a song they never played live, but should have.  Everyone should listen to “Grind”.  This song has full on barbershop quartet sound, something very difficult to do well, and they do it really well (they also perform songs like this live, but I don’t think they’ve ever performed this particular one).

Onto Round Room, which I happen to like (I don’t have a favorite Phish album, it’s just not possible).  Newbies should start with “Mexican Cousin”, a light rocker with some odd lyrics, but it’s catchy.  “Round Room” is loved by heads (they love most Mike songs), but it’s a nice fun little pop tune sure to be enjoyed by non-phans.  The heads get this albums easily because the songs are mostly really long.  They should start with “Waves”, a flowing song that basically sounds like the title.  “46 Days” is a great pumping song, that might even be liked by non-phans for it’s rocking tune.  “Wall of the Cave” actually has movements to it.  It starts out with a piano intro and goes into something completely different and changes yet again before the end.  Finally, there’s “Seven Below”, which became kind of a live staple in the post-hiatus years.

The only other issue I had with that article is kind of a geeky one.  They reversed Lawn Boy and Picture of NectarLawn Boy was actually their second album, released in 1990, and Picture of Nectar their third, released in 1992.

Anyway, as you can see from this article, Phish is for everyone.  There’s at least some part of them you’d enjoy regardless of the style of music you prefer.  They’ve played every genre known to man.  They’ve played with people as varied as Kid Rock, Jay Z, Carlos Santana, gospel choirs, Neil Young, and Elvis impersonators.  They’ve plays covers as varied as “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” (Will Smith), “Sabotage” (Beastie Boys), “Tubthumping” (Chumbawumba), “Highway to Hell” (AC/DC), and “Sexual Healing” (Marvin Gaye)… and they played them all really well.  Give it a try, you might like it.  I know jambands aren’t popular anymore (which might mean Phish tickets will be easier to come by), but Phish transcends jambands.

Phish for non-phans, a reunion playlist [Paste Magazine]

Everyone Wants a Phish Reunion…

… but most of us don’t want another post-hiatus Phish with only a handful of decent shows in a 3 year period.  So to help the band sustain their reunion, Dan Greenhaus over at Jambands.com has come up with a small list of ideas that could help the band sustain their reunion.  Rather than list each one, I’m going to quote the best ideas here.

2) Retire or reduce the appearance of many “old” songs – The great irony of this suggestion is that the old songs are what made Phish, but the reality is that at the time, the old songs is part of the reason the band felt stale. YEM, for all Trey’s longing, has been played at 39% of Phish shows for a total of 472 times. That’s not surprising but it’s also a reason to remove it a bit from the rotation, even an entire tour. Doing so would free up plenty of room for the aforementioned new album, as well as underplayed songs including those from Undermind which never got a chance to grow in the live setting, if they were even played at all.

This idea, in my opinion is the best.  I have been to only 9 shows, randomly picked, between 1997 and 2004.  During those 9 shows, I head a couple of songs played multiple times, most specifically “Tweezer” and “Tweezer Reprise” at 5 times each.  While YEM might be their most overplayed, I actually never heard it.  The one song off Undermind I wish they played was the title track, “Undermind.”  Trey did play it with one of his solo bands, but never as Phish.  They should play the new songs a lot, but also play the lesser played older songs.  Make YEM the next “Destiny Unbound” or “Fluffhead.”

4) Shorter Tours – Nobody wants to put anyone’s health in jeopardy and if three lengthy tours a year does that, then cut it out. Done and done. There’s no reason the group cannot jump out on the road for less than a month, play a bunch of shows, and then go home for a few months before heading back out again. The days of 100 shows a year are long, long gone and the band should plan accordingly. There is no reason to believe they can’t work back up to longer tours. Hell, bands with members way, way older go on longer tours and play more dates than Phish. But at the outset, take your time and feel things out. Get comfortable, and if it’s working, hit the road for three or six months.

5) Multi-night runs – I can only imagine what a toll it takes on ones psyche to be constantly on the move. Musician after musician has cited the constant touring and associated lifestyle as being the main culprit for depression, drug use or whatever. … Ignoring the obvious environment benefits of this strategy, it would go a long way to reducing the strain on both band and crew.

These next two should be put together in my opinion.  Shorter tours concentrating on a certain section of the country to avoid long travel and the wear and tear of travel and multi-night runs at certain locations on each of those tours.  To go along with this, they should be playing venues they never played or thought of playing before.  How many times have they skipped Providence because they went to Hartford, Worcester, or Boston instead (though I would do Boston and Providence, but I’d skip Hartford and Worcester to play Providence)?  They could do a short fall tour in the Northeast with 12 dates, a spring tour out west for another 12 dates, and maybe a longer summer tour.  They should skip their own festivals because those are quite draining, but perhaps play two or three of the other multi-band festivals without headlining them to keep sets shorter.  That will allow them the ability to join other bands on stage.  One of the things they do best is collaborate.

6) Play a few acoustic shows – People have been knocking Phish for years for their “poor” lyrics and songs but the truth is that at any show you go to, the crowd is singing every word. No one is accusing Tom Marshall of being Bob Dylan, but everyone knows every word to “Sample in a Jar.” … If nothing else, it would be interesting and exciting and even if it doesn’t work, it’s something new.

I like this idea, but I think rather than an acoustic show, do an acoustic set at each show.  I don’t think an entire show all acoustic would work for them, but a single set would be easily feasible.  It brings something new to the table.

7) Play one set and have an opening act – Perhaps a controversial idea, at least to those who want the most Phish they can get on any single night, playing one set is still something to consider, at least for a little while. To begin with, the list of bands that would want to open for Phish would obviously be quite long and having a hungry band perform right before you, out to prove to all the Phish fans that they are the real deal, would have to light a fire under Phish. With respect to playing one set, now you send Phish out there with 90 minutes to play, straight through, and you could get a very intense set of music that would cut down on the fat (“Albuquerque” anyone?) and focus in on the songs you really want to hear.

I’m on the fence with this one.  On one hand, it would be good for the band and allow them to concentrate only on certain songs and not have to worry about filling two sets.  On the other hand, I like two sets of music.  It makes each show a musical journey.  The biggest benefit of this idea is what it will do for the opening bands.  Phish has always been all about bringing music to the forefront and helping out smaller bands.  This will do just that.  While I would be willing to bet that the majority of each shows attendees skip the opener to drink/smoke/whatever in the lots, a good number will check it out and possibly discover a new band to follow.  The Phish set also doesn’t have to be limited to 90 minutes.  It could be a two hour set (I’ve seen this done), or at least work up to a two hour set.  This will also allow for some collaboration between Phish and their opener.  Dave Matthews has always had an opening act for as long as I’ve known.  Some were good, others were bad, but it works for them (don’t flame me for bringing Dave into an article about Phish).

Anyway, the article is worth a read.  They’re all ideas the band should consider.  They actually have done some of them, such as shorter tours and recording an album of new songs before going on tour (see Round Room or Undermind, recorded before the return from hiatus and before the final tour, respectively).

I do have one idea to add… ignore the side projects until Phish has been refined enough to sustain itself again.

Regardless of what happens, I do not want a Phish reunion to be a let down.  It’s not worth coming back if they’re not going to make a real effort.

Update: George posted a great link in the comments.  Page put a letter up on Phish.com.  It’s definitely worth a read.  The end of it has the best suggestion for the fans… don’t read too much into rumors.

Phish Reunion?

The interwebs have been abound with rumors since Trey’s latest interview had him saying how he would love nothing more than to play “You Enjoy Myself” for the rest of his life with the other 3 guys from Phish.

Tom Marshall, Trey’s childhood friend and songwriting partner, also said in another interview that he and Trey have been writing songs together again and have about 15 complete.  He doesn’t know if they’ll be Phish songs or used for some other project.

There’s a new rumor (and this is likely just that) that Phish will definitely be reuniting and there will be a new album produced by Steve Lillywhite (he produced Billy Breathes and those famous Dave Matthews Band Lillywhite sessions).

Anyway, as much as I would absolutely love for Phish to be back (and I have no doubt they’ll be back), I don’t want them to suck.  They didn’t have too many great highlights post-hiatus and it would just be super sad to see them come back to be exactly what Trey said he didn’t want them to be… caricatures of themselves (and honestly, its sounding like that’s what’s happening right now, though I hope I’m wrong).  However, August 15 will be exactly 5 years since their breakup began, and many on the now defunct People for a Clearer Phish (the best Phish discussion list of their time) had said they’ll be back for a 5 year “reunion”.

Possible Phish Reunion?!?!

As noted all over the place, Phish will be honored at the annual Jammy Awards with the Lifetime Achievement award.  Organizers are hoping to bring the 4 members together to accept the award.  Apparently at least a couple of the guys have expressed interest in showing up and performing (though they didn’t say if they were interested in performing as Phish).  I expect they’ll show up, accept the award, and we’ll see them play with other people, but not as Phish.  I don’t expect a Phish reunion anytime soon, and if there were one, I don’t think it’d be at the Jammy’s.

Phish – Vegas 96

I had picked up Phish‘s Vegas 96 (well, ordered it from Dry Goods).  The album is fantastic (though I haven’t watched the DVD yet; I got the limited edition pack with the DVD and book).  It makes me wish I had been there, it sounds like it was an awesome show to have attended.  They open up with Wilson and move to Peaches en Regalia (a Zappa tune).  The setlist is amazing from the beginning of the first set through the end of the encore when they brought out Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde from Primus and 4 Elvis impersonators.

While almost all the songs are played great, they play Harpua (the encore) a little slow and Trey screws the vocals up a bit because of the speed.  Other than that, it’s a great encore and great story.  Check out the setlist at Phish.Net‘s Helping Phriendly Book for more notes on the guests and covers.

This is a must have for any Phishhead or anyone who just likes Phish.  It’s a great live album of an entire uncut performance.

Phish Reunion Fund: Support Music Education

The Mockingbird Foundation (a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and raising funds to support music education in schools) announced the other day that they’re starting a Phish Reunion Fund for Music Education.

The Phish Reunion Fund will be maintained in an interest-bearing account, separate from other Foundation assets, and will be distributed for the benefit of music education for children programs (in accordance with the Foundation’s guidelines and mission) after whichever of the following events occurs first: (1) it is announced that >PHISH will perform one complete public show (or more) as an entire band; (2) the Foundation announces, for whatever reason, that it is dissolving; or (3) [heavens forbid!] a band member dies, in which case the reunion fund will become a Memorial Fund in honor of the life of the deceased.

The foundation has provided a lot of support to music education programs around the country.  Please support their efforts as music education (and any arts education) is an important aspect of a well rounded education.  I would not be the person I am today without the musical education I received when I was in school (I play(ed) the clarinet in band, and wasn’t too shabby either).  Music and art classes are the first to go when the budget gets tight.  While I fully understand the emphasis on math, science, and reading/writing/literature, music and art should not be forgotten.

If you like Phish (or any type of rock music) consider buying the Sharin’ in the Groove tribute album if you can’t donate to the foundation (or need something in return for your donation).  The album is not your standard tribute album.  The artists are actually artists who influenced Phish in some way, rather than vice versa.  Many of the songs are a different take on some of the classic Phish tunes, and all proceeds from the album go to the Mockingbird Foundation.

Trey Anastasio – The Horseshoe Curve (semi-review)

I had purchased Trey Anastasio’s new album, The Horseshoe Curve, and took a listen (along with the 5 song EP that came with it). I was excited when I read about it being an instrumental album, much like Seis de Mayo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I had expected. I would really like to see Trey get more into classical-type music. While I like the funky beats of the new album, I was hoping for something a little more refined. I have only listened to the album twice now, but I will be listening more. I will admit that I do like it the more I listen to it, but I was hoping it’d be something a little different than it is. I am very happy that Trey has dumped the major record labels and started his own label. Now if only the other 3 will follow him. Continue reading Trey Anastasio – The Horseshoe Curve (semi-review)