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Author: Subject: thoughts on Phish?....

Peach Master





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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:20 AM
Was reading the thoughts on the dead thread and was wanting to get some people here's opions of Phish. I love the Dead, not everything, but enough. But Phish, now there is a band I do not get. bad dead can be really bad, but I have heard some horrendous Phish. I do enjoy some of there stuff and do enjoy psycadelic good times, but I am just underwhelmed by them. I enjoy the talents of the keyboard player when I hear them sit in with ABB or Mule, but everytime I give Phish a try, I just can't get into it too much. I have heard some good jams, but few I would consider great. There cover of Whipping Post is one of the worst things I have ever heard. I know a lot of bad dead was from Garcia's health and drug issue later on, but what is Phish's excuse? Seems like they just cashed in on the Dead's scene when the Dead were dieing. All those fans needed somewhere to turn and they were a substitute for the scene. My girlfriend went to many shows, the Lemonwheel , etc. and had a blast, but never just wants to just listen to them. I am sure they are fun to see live due to the scene, but I would probably enjoy the parking lot more then going inside
I was also curious to the follow up to this from the dead thread, but on the Phish response from Pat Metheny
" A couple of other groups that are often lumped together as improvisational bands that created their following that way would be the Grateful Dead and Phish. I've read once before that you weren't really that into the Dead, but given that Trey Anastasio of Phish has seen you perform well over a dozen times and always lists you as a primary influence, I was curious what you thought of them and if you maybe viewed them in a different light than the Dead." well it then showed a quote on the dead but nothing on his thought on Phish

 
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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:31 AM
Tried many times but I just never got Phish. And I agree, many of the Dead's "Touch Heads" became "Phish Heads" after Jerry died.

My old trading list is still hosted over on phishhook, not a single Phish show on it.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:40 AM
Agree. Could never get into them

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 06:24 AM
There is a cross over of Phish/Dead fans just like there is with the ABB/Dead.

I like Trey and Phish. They really bring it live and I really enjoy the concerts. Not so much the studio stuff, kinda like the dead. I do listen to some studio dead, but never phish.

Enjoy some Possum ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhWdIAvC5wk

Glow stick wars are fun




[Edited on 5/10/2013 by jerryphilbob]

 

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Peach Master



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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 06:27 AM
OK, I'll bite. I think most people that dig Phish appreciate the improvisation. All four are excellent musicians, and I appreciate how their jamming has morphed over the years. There is an unpredictable quality in their shows. I can't say that too much about The Allman Brothers. Before you verbally castrate me, I have said before that The Brothers are my favorite band, but they tend to fall in the "long solo" camp as opposed to true band improvisation. Having said that, I have enjoyed some of the changes, stretches, etc. that occurred at The Beacon this year.

Back to Phish. I go for the jamming, and I prefer a lot of the ambient stuff they touch on as opposed to their histrionic peaks of the past (that so many pine for). Those special moments in shows are why I see so many bands that improvise, be they jazz or jambands. For me, a third of Phish and their shows (and The Dead for that matter) aren't my cup of tea, a third is good, and a third is just absoultely stellar. Both bands tend to get generalized about the music, but they actually both cover a lot of ground musically albeit differently. I get something from them I don't get from The Brothers, and if other people don't get it, that's cool

By the way, I agree that a lot of their lyrics are insipid. Makes it hard to recommend Phish to people at times. If I want to turn somebody on, I take them to a live show. If they don't like it after that, that's hunky-dory with me. With any kind of music, it only frustrates me when people say they've given it a shot, but maybe it wasn't a fair one. Please don't take that as a comment as to anybody who has posted in this thread as I have no idea what their listening habits are.

Last year, I took my two older brothers to their first Phish show. To be frank, I really wanted them to see the lot scene, and it was a doozy. One 56 year old brother was fascinated by the scene, enjoyed the music somewhat, and now wants his wife to experience it this year. The other 51 year old brother loved the scene, couldn't get over the energy in the crowd, was on a cloud for weeks, and wants to go back for two nights this year. I wouldn't say he is ready to go on tour, but he got what he refers to as "The Phish."

Blooby


[Edited on 5/11/2013 by Blooby]

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 07:26 AM
I have a couple Phish CD's that I occasionally spin in the CD player but I've never seen them live. However, one of the best shows I've ever attended was a Trey solo gig back in, I think, 2004 at the Stanley Theater in Utica, NY. The tour was in support of his, I believe, first solo CD after the Oyster Head collaboration with Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland.
 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 07:28 AM
I'm a fan, and have often defended them on this website, even though I concede many of their shortcomings.

To me, the best thing about Phish is NOT the jams. It's the elegant, precise compositions like The Curtain, Reba and You Enjoy Myself that made me fall in love with them. Now that Frank Zappa is no longer with is, there just aren't many people writing rock songs in 17/8 and doing the kind of intricate compositional stuff Trey is capable of doing.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good Phish jam, but there are plenty of bands that can do that as well or better than Phish. But Trey is one of the best who ever lived at writing orchestral prog-rock, and to me, that is where their strength lies.

 
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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 07:33 AM
My problem with Phish is/was/will be consistency. Some of their jams are very good, very compelling stuff from Trey. The above link is a great example of their good stuff. However, to my ears, there are way too many times where their "jams" just sound like a rhythm section playing changes, badly in need of a soloist. I seriously followed their music in the mid to late 90's, and it seems to be about the same now. None of them sing particularly well, and the lyrics range from goofy to just plain dumb. One man's opinion. BTW, points for the light shows, whoever does this for Phish is a pro.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 07:37 AM

I fell in love with Picture of Nectar during my freshman year of college. I really enjoyed the funky tempo changes, and found their brand of jazz rock to be dynamic and fun. I still love that album and enjoy most of the other early ones, as well. Billy breathes has a different feel and is another favorite. It is true that many Deadheads, especially some of those that got into the scene in the late 80s/90s, refocused their energies on Phish after Jerry died. But, Phish had a following long before that. They had released a half dozen albums before Jerry died. I saw them in '93 during the Rift tour and the parking lot scene was already huge.
I really like some of their music and have little interest in some of their music. I like the thirds breakdown described above. I have no interest in the "scene" so for me, as it is with the Dead, it is about the songs and the performances. I have a hard time staying interested with some of their extended boogie jams, it gets kind of redundant to me. This is mostly true with some of the stuff from the late 90s and beyond. I think a lot of it depended on whether Trey was on his game. At his best, he is great. The silly lyrics are fun sometimes and distracting at other times. When the music is good, the lyrics often feel clever and fun and fit well. In the net, I like the GD much more than I like Phish, but I still own and enjoy many Phish albums. I guess there is just not enough roots music embedded in the Phish sound for me to put them on that level.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 09:28 AM
Count me in on the "never gotten into them" contingent. I own the "Hampton Comes Alive" boxset but hardly ever listened to it. Can't listen to a single disc without falling a sleep halfway.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 10:50 AM
been seeing both the Allman Brothers and Phish for the last twenty years......


that should say enough.......


 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 11:22 AM
Great players, for the most part ok song writers, below average vocals and arguably the worst lyrics for a band that popular.

This is, I think, really sums it up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNHIFM0Y87c&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 11:29 AM
Phish was a band that took me a while to get into but now that I am into them I'm glad I made the effort. Just finished listening to the "Island Tour" from 98 the other day and that is good stuff. Trying to fit seeing them this summer into the schedule but time will tell if that happens

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 11:39 AM
I don't really get them or loathe them...they kind of just exists to me. I've never taken the countless opportunities to see them live but I do listen to them often when they play them on siriusxm's jam-on channel ~ which they do play often, including "gone phishin' every night. sometimes I listen if it sounds decent enough, other times I change it ~ more often than not I can only do small doses rather than the overfeed that the channel forces upon listeners!
my personal thoughts have always been that their intentions were to induce a dead like following, but to no avail. I think that many of their followers are younger generations who are seeking the atmosphere that surrounded the grateful dead ~ but unfortunately much of the these younger folks seem to be more about the party & the "enhancements" rather than the grasp of the music itself

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 12:04 PM
quote:
my personal thoughts have always been that their intentions were to induce a dead like following, but to no avail. I think that many of their followers are younger generations who are seeking the atmosphere that surrounded the grateful dead ~ but unfortunately much of the these younger folks seem to be more about the party & the "enhancements" rather than the grasp of the music itself


I agree 100% with that. And I don't hate Phish. I just don't care. Frankly "the scene" was what turned me off over the last few years of the GD. Too many idiots who I doubt even came for the show.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 01:34 PM
quote:
And I don't hate Phish. I just don't care.


Agreed. But I need to add that Imho, Trey just "Noodles"...on and on and on, no structure, just moving his fingers up and down the fretboard.

B o r i n g

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:10 PM
I enjoy them - I've seen about 10 shows and plan on a couple this summer.
I agree with RobJohnson - one of their strengths is the precise, complex composition that are clearly influenced by Zappa and classical fugues, among others.
Their jamming can be great - it can be mediocre. In later years, Trey's playing has suffered, imo, but Page and Mike lay down some interesting stuff. I saw them at SPAC last year and thought they were very strong, in general.
Unfortunately, their best years are behind them (93 - 97 or 98).

I don't think they intentionally tried to create a post GD scene - in fact Trey said that he stopped listening to them for a while because they were accused of trying to be GD copycats. I just think they came along at the right time, and offered the fans something special (free weekend shows at Amy's farm, chess games with the audience), and a combination of psychedelic music and "goofy humor".
Bottom line, I think they are creative musicians, I enjoy the music. I'm not going to get upset or insulted if someone disagrees with some of my musical tastes (of course, if you disagree with me, you're clearly wrong )

[Edited on 5/10/2013 by stormyrider]

[Edited on 5/11/2013 by stormyrider]

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:33 PM
quote:
I'm not going to get upset or insulted if someone disagrees with some of my musical tastes (of course, if you disagree with me, you're clearly wrong )



Got that right

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 05:46 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cejCeJLjxU4

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 06:31 PM
I'd like to dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, Phish did not "cash in" with the disbanding of the Dead. If you look at Phish's career path, they enjoyed a very steady rise to where they got. Sure, there was some cross-pollination of the fan base in in 1995 and '96, but it was minimal at most, and had pretty much settled by '97. While the improvisational nature of the 2 bands is similar, musically, they sound very very different.

As far as their cover of Whipping Post goes, they performed it regularly back in the '80s, when they were still cutting their teeth, and most covers sung by Fishman are usually some sort of inside joke among the band members, so please don't take it seriously.

That being said, Phish is just like so many other bands that the members on this board like. You either love 'em or hate 'em. No in between.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 06:34 PM
A couple more quick thoughts in response to other posts...

"their intentions were to induce a dead like following, but to no avail."

Whether you like Phish or not, and whether it was their intention to build a "Dead-like following" or not, they have been spectacularly successful by any reasonable measure. They just sold out 4 shows at Madison Square Garden, and the ABB couldn't sell out one. Sorry, can't agree with the "no avail" part.

"Imho, Trey just "Noodles"...on and on and on, no structure"

If you're talking about jams/solos, then I can see your point BigV. I especially dislike when Phish plays 20-minute funk jams that go nowhere. I used to live in New Orleans, I know good funk when I hear it, and Phish is not a good funk band. Some of their fans lap it up, and I just chalk that up to the fact that they need to listen to more Meters and get educated on how it's done right

However, back to my original point, the thing that makes those lazy, noodly jams so frustrating is that Trey is capable of being as "structured" as any musician in rock music. How many other guitarists could even get through the "composed" sections of songs like Reba? Not many.

That is why I say Trey/Phish is better off when they stick to what they do best: intensely technical, intricate prog-rock jams that show off their chops and musical theory knowledge. That is where they really shine.

 
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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 10:52 PM
Have almost all of their albums and hardly ever listen to them but I love them live and have seen them many times.

 

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  posted on 5/10/2013 at 11:29 PM
RobJohnson, "Reba" is my favorite Phish song, "Lawn Boy" my fave of their albums.

I think their prog-rock roots bear mentioning. I do not know their material or their history that much. I have only seen them once, have about a half dozen albums and half dozen more bootlegs. I like them a lot and respect them a lot. I felt lucky to see Trey and Paige join the ABB at the Beacon.

I always felt that certain elements in Trey's lead guitar tone owed a nod of the head to Steve hackett from Genesis (when Genesis were great, 1971-77), and I was delighted to see Phish induct Genesis at the R'n'R HOF and play "Watcher of the Skies." I am still waiting to hear them tackle "Selling England By the Pound" as a Halloween choice.

Phish can pull in that amazing prog rock compositional skill yet still have that fusion looseness. It is a very interesting mix that few bands can pull off; many jam bands and even fusion bands do not compose such complex pieces, and many prog rock bands do not improvise (King Crimson is an obvious exception, I realize). It is remarkable to see a band marry the two.

The solo section in "Reba" is such a wonderful journey. After many twists and turns (reminscent of Genesis's "Dance with the Moonlit Knight"), when Trey finally lets loose, wow.

I still see Trey as one of the big post-Van Halen guitar heroes, in terms of guys who really stepped up and did something astonishing, one of the few post 1980 guys who I can say has A Sound without sounding as obviously indebted to another single source. Others for me include Derek Trucks, Billy Corgan, and Nels Cline.

 

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  posted on 5/11/2013 at 06:36 AM
I think Reba might be their most technically challenging song. The fugue section is complicated, the jam is usually great.

as far as lyrics go, some are quite simple minded and silly, some are quite good.
for those interested, here are some of the good ones people don't talk about

If I could
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/phish/if+i+could_20108362.html

Lifebuoy
http://www.lyricstime.com/phish-lifeboy-lyrics.html

Fast enough
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/phish/fast+enough+for+you_20108421.html

Theme From the Bottom
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/phish/theme+from+the+bottom_20108344.html

 

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  posted on 5/11/2013 at 07:49 AM
quote:
To me, the best thing about Phish is NOT the jams. It's the elegant, precise compositions like The Curtain, Reba and You Enjoy Myself that made me fall in love with them.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good Phish jam, but there are plenty of bands that can do that as well or better than Phish. But Trey is one of the best who ever lived at writing orchestral prog-rock, and to me, that is where their strength lies.


Ahh, point taken. As I think back, "You Enjoy Myself" was the first tune that really hooked me for the reasons you mention. I suppose as I have listened through the years, the orchestrated sections I have heard many, many times, perhaps too many times. That initial luster may have worn away for me a bit.

Having said that, I do like Trey's earlier device of having an intricate first part of a song and then letting it unfold into improv ("Reba," "David Bowie," "It's Ice," "YEM," etc. although I could do without the regularity of the vocal jams in the latter). "Reba" starts rather simply but gives way to a super intricate section, but then it abruptly jumps to a simple two-chord vamp that begins in such a very open and sparse way. That section is usually gorgeous to me. It really forms a nice contrast. Sometimes I think it's too bad that opening jaunty part turns people off, but maybe that's what some folks latch on to.

By the by, I am one who enjoys the scene but from a distance. I find the vendors, people, goings-on all terribly amusing...all about once a year. I am not on tour, so for me, it's all part of my brief almost annual Phish live experience. Just like strumming an acoustic guitar late-night at Wanee is part of that experience. Some great music, some memories, perhaps a story or two to be retold, and then back to reality, work, and the like.

Blooby

[Edited on 5/11/2013 by Blooby]

 
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