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Senior Member
Username: lbpesq

Post Number: 4036
Registered: 7-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 4:04 pm:   Edit Post

As I mentioned on another thread, I went to see Phish last night for the first time. I was asked for a review from my perspective as a long time Deadhead (I saw Pigpen my first show), so here goes:

First of all, I really enjoyed it ... more than I expected ... and I would strongly consider seeing them again. Definitely a strong Dead influence on the jams. They seemed to get to some very similar places to those that the Dead often visited during extended jams. The difference, as it seemed to me - and I admit this is all my own subjective observation that might be 100% wrong - is that Phish seemed to have carefully planned the excursion while the Dead just happened there during their unscripted musical journey. Also Phish seemed more rhythmic and percussive and less melodic than the Dead. I really would have liked to have heard the keybords more in the mix.

Also, I couldn't understand why Trey, with somewhat less than the best singing voice in the band, sang the great majority of the songs. Mike Gordon is a very impressive bass player.

Someone in another thread stated the opinion that their lyrics where nothing to write home about. I completely agree. While I couldn't make out a lot of the words (OMG, I sound like my parents!), I did catch many that arguably live on the lame side of town. Something about "I have a saxophone, I have a band, a saxophone is an instrument in the band ... I have a cymbal, I have a band, saxophones and cymbals play in the band" and another one that seemed to be about "Suzy ... Suzy ... Suzy ... Suzy Greenberg"

Towards the end of the show, Page McConnell, the keyboard player, got to sing a song. His voice was MUCH better than Trey's. He sang a tune that immediately leapt out at me as, by far, the best song of the evening. It mentioned several diffent names and had a chorus that had something about "nothing" or "not anything" or something like that. I was really enjoying it and pleasantly surprised to hear the first "real song" of the night when I realized the chords and rhythm were the same as "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Stones. Gee, no wonder why I liked it! All in all, I'd rate Phish as a very good band. If they added a rhythm guitar and someone who can write good songs, they'd be a great band. Don't get me wrong, I really liked them, but found the lack of a second guitarist and good material to be glaring.

Bill, tgo
Intermediate Member
Username: kilowatt

Post Number: 109
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 4:35 pm:   Edit Post

Thanks for the review. Sounds like you had a good time. I agree that their lyrics do leave a little room for improvement. I also am impressed with Mike Gordons bass playing. You can tell that he is a Phil Lesh fan, but he has developed a nice style of his own. Phish must be doing something right because they seem to have quite a fan base. Maybe I could catch a show with my nephews, as they are big fans.

Advanced Member
Username: jagerphan84

Post Number: 283
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 4:57 pm:   Edit Post

Hey Bill,

All in all, that seems a pretty accurate review. While I'm with you 100% on the lyrics, I'd disagree that they are lacking in "good material." If you're interested, try to get a hold of a recording of "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday," a set of 9 songs (and a bunch of storytelling) which Trey wrote as his senior study at Goddard College.

There's a version available as lossless SHN files here, though I'm not certain which recording this is or when it was made. From the sound of the recording, I'd say mid-late '80s. Again, lyrics are mostly childish at best, but the music is fantastic and the writing very imaginative, especially considering they had only begun their musical journey.

Glad you got a generally positive feel from the show - I saw them earlier this tour and was fairly impressed considering how long they've been at it (over a quarter century now - not too shabby!).
Senior Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 633
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009 - 5:10 pm:   Edit Post

I actually like their early absurd lyrics best. If I want to listen to good lyrics I'll listen to Bob Dylan or the Dead or something like that. Lyrics like "Let's Go Out To Dinner And See A Movie" (repeat ad nauseam), "The Tires are the things on your car that make contact with the road," etc. were part of the whole experience for me. When they made a shift more towards traditional songwriting (around '94?), I completely lost interest. I'll listen to other bands for that. Give me the classic fugue-like, complex, almost prog-rock music any day.

Oh, and Bill, that's "Suzie, Suzie, Suzie Suzie, Suzie, Suzie Greenberg"!

I found Phish jams to be more aggressive than the Dead, like they were trying and pushing really hard to hit peak after peak. When I was in college I really liked Phish much more than the Dead, probably because they felt like "my band," but eventually I came to appreciate the depth, breadth and magic of the Dead a lot more. But I'm glad that Phish are making a comeback! I love the new single they put out on iTunes, "Time Turns Elastic."
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 8499
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, August 07, 2009 - 8:20 pm:   Edit Post

Interesting review Bill; thanks!
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 449
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Monday, August 10, 2009 - 10:00 pm:   Edit Post

I've heard these guys and hung out with them a bit since the late 80s. Back then, it seemed like they were part of a musical community that was really exploring things that had been left untouched for a while. My old band and they played a few gigs together and jammed some and we got into great conversations (with instruments in hand, sometimes the talking done just with the instruments) about musical process, especially what it means to play as a band. We both had various rehearsals techniques and ideas about trying to further group playing and I think they took it to some great places. They worked very very hard at playing together and being able to communicate through their instruments. It was a really exciting time when a lot of the vocabulary that became jam band, especially in the places between the stylistic vernacular that had come before (Grateful Dead, bluegrass, etc) and the newer languages, like funk, was being invented. I had put myself on a path to synthesize Bootsy Collins and Phil Lesh some years before and my experience with them, especially Mike, really helped me with that and out of that search, I managed to create some stuff for myself. As the years went by, I was really glad to see them get so much success as it seemed like a vindication of a lot of the ideas we bandied about. I caught a couple of the shows at Red Rocks recently and it was great to hear them play. The Friday night show really caught fire and they became bigger than the sum of their parts. Cliché, I know, but it's great to hear it when it happens.

We also had great fun in those days playing in multiple time signatures, something that we shared with and experimented with Phish.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 8524
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 4:59 am:   Edit Post

Edwin; thanks for that bit of back story!
Senior Member
Username: pace

Post Number: 411
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 3:02 pm:   Edit Post

I first caught them in '91 when they played the hometown ski area. At the time our drummer's brother ran video for the show, and that eventually became an offering from their fan club..... The shows seemed to peak from '93-'96 and from there on out it was a slow downward spiral. I stopped going to Phish shows in '99, and from Bill's review, along with listening to the Hampton Va. shows from earlier this year, it seems as if I haven't missed much the past decade.
Intermediate Member
Username: phylo

Post Number: 123
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 3:59 pm:   Edit Post

Both Gorge shows were pretty damn amazing. I too saw my first show in '91 - the Arrowhead Ranch in Parksville, NY. And also lost most of my interest around 2000. If you're at all curious, probably not a waste of $50 to catch a show. You may be pleasantly surprised, as was I.

(Message edited by phylo on August 11, 2009)
Senior Member
Username: edwin

Post Number: 451
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 9:24 pm:   Edit Post

Ah, the Arrowhead Ranch! We played there a few times as well. Pretty sad story, though.

Senior Member
Username: glocke

Post Number: 630
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 7:36 am:   Edit Post

I did not become aware of Phish until 1995 or so when I was going to college in western MT. At the time I wasn't really that impressed, I think I had problems getting past the silly lyrics that were in some songs. Than in 2000 or 2001 I was in a band that wanted to do alot of phish songs, and I was turned onto some choice song selections by band members that changed my thinking about that band.

Long story short I regret missing the Phish boat in the 90's, but Trey is probably now my 3rd favorite guitar player behind Garcia and Kimock.
Username: smokinbear

Post Number: 26
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 7:45 am:   Edit Post

Strange how alot of people lost interest in phish after about 1998. 10-21-95 in lincoln ne. was one of my fav phish shows i ever saw along with red rocks pre-ban(stupid gate crashers!!!!) but after 98 the music kinda stopped making sense, to me anyways. Not to change the thread but does anyone remember wsp's 96' sit-n-ski tour????? I miss colorado and all the great music there.
Intermediate Member
Username: jerryme

Post Number: 131
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 8:00 am:   Edit Post

The first night in Boulder for Panic's sit-n-ski tour should have been my first show... The Fox wouldn't let me in because I was not 18. Had to wait a couple of months until they played in my homeotwn...

In terms of Colorado music I have seen many Red Rocks shows with Panic over the years, as well as quite a few othe Colorado venues with them as well. Lots of fun.. Still is! Cheers...


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