Why People Love Phish

Categories: Phish

Happy Phish Phans Felicia D'Ambrosio and Nick Cejas
Perhaps no band or its fanbase is more derided than Phish. They're divisive, to say the least. Only that doesn't quite cover it. If you don't get it, you really don't get it, and non-fans usually aren't very quiet about their distaste. Plus, opinions based on sweeping generalizations are the easiest kind to make, and people are lazy. So, instead of falling into that trap, in advance of the band's three weekend shows at Randall's Island, we reached out to a couple of very smart people we know who really, really love Phish and asked them to explain the band's appeal to those who may turn up their nose.

See also: The 10 Best Concerts in NYC This Weekend

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A Guide to Phish's On-Stage Hand Signals, From Drunken Bar Swing to Pork Tornado

Categories: Phish

Eric Gruneisen
You're not a real fan until you know the hand signals. These fine folks definitely know the hand signals.
When a band doesn't rely on a set list, they often find other ways to communicate on stage during the music. Phish, a band utterly reliant on improvisation, has gotten particularly good at this. In fact, they have created a whole non-verbal language to let its members know what song to go into next.

We've put together a collection of hand signals that have been caught on tape and created a handy guide and naming system so you can figure out what they're doing up there. Some of the signals make sense, others...are a bit of a stretch. So we've also graded each of them from one to 10 Mike Gordon fight bells. For the uninitiated: More fight bells are better. They're like cowbell in that way.

See also: Eight Things You'll See and Hear At Phish's MSG Run

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Why Do Jam Bands Carry Such a Stigma?

Categories: Phish

Jam. Band. Apart, these two words are innocuous. Put them together, though, and for whatever reason they become instantly polarizing. Whenever the subject of jam bands comes up, it seems to send some people into a frenzy of dogmatic snideness. So why the stigma? Well, to answer that, we've probably got to go back to beginning.

See also: Eight Things You'll See and Hear At Phish's MSG Run

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Eight Things You'll See and Hear At Phish's MSG Run

Categories: Phish
Popular Vermont improv-rock quartet Phish turned 30 on December 2, ending their strongest year together since, oh, 1998 or so. Is it coincidence that the group's subsequent bad juju -- first a hiatus, then a breakup -- occurred during the horrific Bush administration? Or that the group reemerged with Obama in 2008? Affordable care indeed! On Saturday, Phish kicks off yet another multi-night stand at Madison Square Garden, a venue they've played more often than any other - excepting their earliest gigs at the Front and Nectar's during their late-'80s Burlington, Vermont, club days. Here are some things you may notice at the Garden should you choose to partake.
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Big Ups: Jam Band Weedeaters and Jesus Lizard Fanatics

Categories: Interviews, Phish

Photo Danny Krug
Big Ups
The twenty-something, NYU-bred noise-rocking brainiacs in Brooklyn's Big Ups are nestled in a corner booth at Greenpoint's Manhattan Inn, downing Buds while barely looking old enough to drink, cracking wise-ass all the way. They shoot down their own goofy name ("It's a really bad band name"), squash the hardcore punk comparisons (Black Flag? They "don't hear it at all') and they even bestowed a silly nickname upon guitarist Amar Lal he's not exactly fond of (or wants printed here).

See also: The 10 Best Bars in Greenpoint

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Live: Phish Bring The Phish Experience To Jones Beach

Jones Beach Theater
Wednesday, July 4

Better than: Putting the freak flag in permanent cold storage.

"Goddard College!" Phish leader Trey Anastasio called out between verses during "Alumni Blues," the band's opening number at Jones Beach on Wednesday night, a rare onstage shout-out to the band's Vermont alma mater. Anastasio wrote the doofy blues-funk number around the time he transferred into Goddard in the mid-1980s, a school with self-structured curriculums that make Hampshire look comparatively square. The band members threw themselves into their obsessions, studiously following their curiosities through jazz, fugues, classic rock, improvised music, and intense practice routines, absorbing the idyllic weirdness of the place as they formed their identity. In a sense, Goddard thusly became the spiritual alma mater for pretty much every jam band formed in the past 20 years. Nobody to blame or credit but the wonders of progressive liberal education.

Wednesday night, during the second of two sold-out shows at Jones Beach, the Vermont quartet celebrated the birth of the nation during a pleasant evening at Robert Moses's cement and sandstone jewel, but mostly showed why they're Goddard's most distinguished alums (give or take David Mamet). Long before it became fashionable to hate Phish—or even to like them—the band was blessed with a profound and palpable outsiderness, which they channeled into their music and made a successful career. This outsiderness keeps away many and draws others defiantly close. During the two set, three-hour show, the band did almost nothing to invite in the former, plenty to please the latter (plenty to confound them, too), and continued their decades-long battle with whether or not to let their freak flags fly. Sometimes, they flew.

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Phish Playing Three Nights At Madison Square Garden, Including Their "First-Ever New Year's Day Show"

phish MSG.jpg
Trey at MSG last year
I got in a lot of trouble the last time I suggested you go see Phish at least once, but the suggestion stands, and as 2010 morphs into 2011 you'll have three chances: They're playing Madison Square Garden December 30-31, plus an apparently wildly anomalous January 1st gig, presumably because the chance to play on 1-1-11 was too good to pass up.

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Phish Fan's Jones Beach 25 Foot "Horror Leap" Was Nonfatal, Somehow

Despite launching himself off of Jones Beach's dauntingly tall mezzanine and falling 25 feet into the seats below, the Phish fan who was carted out of the band's Wednesday show by paramedics will live. The Post is reporting that the guy, who remains formally unidentified (Gothamist pegs him as 25-year-old Luke Southworth), came away from his plunge with relatively minor wounds. "It's really a miracle, man. He's just got some broken bones, but he's going to be fine," a friend said. Southworth, or whoever he is, remains sedated at Nassau University Medical Center, and his pals profess ignorance as to whether or not he was on drugs when he decided to push through the crowd and leap. A happier outcome than the one today out in California, that's for sure. Let's not do this anymore, OK everyone? [NYP]

Phish Fan Leaps 25 Feet From a Jones Beach Balcony: "Blood Everywhere"

Click on the photo that is being linked to there at your own peril.

In what the New York Post is already dubbing a "horror leap," a 25-year-old man at last night's Phish concert dove headfirst off a 25-foot Jones Beach balcony, landing "with a sickening thud" on the seats below. It happened around 10 p.m., during an intermission, which meant that hundreds of the roughly ten thousand people in attendance saw the fall. Said one witness: "I was sitting two rows behind from where he hit. He hit a chair and he broke the back of another chair. There was blood everywhere. Everyone was yelling, 'Clear the way! Clear the way!' "

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Tonight They're Gonna Rock You Tonight: Phish!

Props to Zach for intentionally running the words "Phish in a barrel" on this website. Starting today, the legendary jam band wanks three nights away at Jones Beach.

Isis do metaphysics by way of doom metal at Irving Plaza, plus a set by sludgy post-rockers Pelican.

Sweden is weathering the recession by exporting delicate pop stars: Love Is All play giddy dance-punk at Maxwell's in Hoboken.

Emmylou Harris, the most soulful voice in country music, is touring with fellow heavyweights Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, and Buddy Miller. They play the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey.

Rock Plaza Central, a new batch of indie-minded, collectivist Canadians, have a gig at the Bell House. They're likely to play their rendition of "SexyBack."