February 27, 2003 |
You could tell from the woo-hoo shouts that echoed through the Spectrum concourse Tuesday night that it's been a rough couple of years for Phish fans. For most of the time since fall 2000, when the hard-touring foursome went on hiatus, its tie-dyed acolytes were forced to subsist on inferior jam. Speculation ran rampant that the beloved band - one of the most successful acts working, despite virtually no airplay - might be finished forever. Phish returned in December with the quickly recorded studio album Round Room, and for the last several weeks has toured to support it, relieving some serious pent-up demand.
March 20, 1992 |
Flashes of deja vu came flooding my way, talking to lead guitar and vocalist Trey Anastasio of Phish, the daringly diverse and intelligent quartet of prog-rockers playing the Chestnut Cabaret tomorrow. While Phish make its home in pastoral Vermont, and got this cool thing together at the ultra-progressive Goddard College, Trey hails from Trenton, N.J.. And he spent his formative teen years (in the late '70s) listening to Philly rock radio. As he recounted early influences - Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, oddball Euro bands like Focus and Pierre Moerlen's Gong, Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, and the progressive country maniacs the Dixie Dregs - I had this unshakeable vision of a precocious 14-year-old Trey, tuning in to my Sunday-night WMMR fusion show.
December 4, 1997 |
Their singing leaves something to be desired, their lyrics are too loopy to mean much, and they look so scruffy their personal hygiene is in question. So what is it with the four guys of Phish, who packed the Spectrum with the tie-dyed throng abandoned by Jerry Garcia's passing? It's the jams, man. On Tuesday, the first of its two nights in town, more than half of the band's show (2 hours and 40 minutes long, not including a 50-minute intermission) was filled with jams. Spacey jams, art-rock jams, reggae jams, country-blues jams, funk jams and straight-ahead rock jams: You name it, and the guys from Vermont can blow your mind jamming on it. It wasn't always so. Just 4 1/2 years ago at the Tower Theater, Phish was annoying, performing self-absorbed songs and solos literally sung into a vacuum cleaner.
September 15, 2000 |
It's not easy being Phish, to hear the guys tell it in their new, self-financed documentary. While the jam band's grass-roots fan base is huge and oblivious to the group's lack of radio or MTV play, the music critics of the world keep flogging Phish for being Grateful Dead wannabes without the chops to always back it up. Then Phish turns up the pressure on itself by staging marathon-length shows and even multi-day festivals. Not only do they insist on being the sole act on the bill, but they keep promising the fans new musical surprises every time they return to the stage.
August 14, 2004 |
Those unschooled in the ways of Phish must have been baffled by what happened midway through a song called "Ghost" on Thursday at the Tweeter Center. Following the verses - and after guitarist Trey Anastasio twice drew applause during his five-minute solo by surfing atop a kicky post-Santana Latin pulse - the lights dimmed and the music nearly collapsed. The Vermont quartet, playing its last show before a two-day farewell festival this weekend in its home state, had abandoned the beat in favor of a murky drone.
August 8, 2004 |
Even in the process of breaking up, Phish is doing things differently. The Vermont powerhouse - which plays its last traditional venue Thursday at the long-sold-out Tweeter Center, and bids farewell next weekend with the two-day Coventry festival in its home state - isn't exiting amid the usual rock-and-roll acrimony. There's no bad blood, no name-calling, not even those nagging "creative differences. " The jam band that built its reputation on thrilling group interplay, and became massively popular with little attention from radio or MTV, is presenting a typically cohesive front.
September 15, 2000 |
The scruffy Vermonters of Phish are an amiable bunch who obviously enjoy performing for their adoring fans, and appear to be in the business of making music for all the right reasons. They even have decent musical taste: In Bittersweet Motel, the wide-ranging jam band covers songs by Ween, Elvis Presley, Los Lobos and Edgar Winter, among others. But if Todd Phillips' banal documentary - which follows the group on tour in 1997 and 1998 and culminates in front of 65,000 people at the Great Went festival in Limestone, Maine - means to portray guitarist Trey Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman, bass player Mike Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell as compelling individuals, or make a case for the band's artistic importance, it falls short of its tie-dye target.
November 26, 2009 |
Conventional thinking on Phish holds that it's love or hate - either you are into the world's largest cult rock group or you shower the quarter-century-old jam band with disdain, predictably accompanied by snarky references to patchouli, a trust-funded fan base, mindless noodling, and the like. But the Vermont quartet invited other assessments on Tuesday, its first of two nights in the vast Wachovia Center before 20,000-plus fans. In a two-set, 20-song performance over three hours - Phish's debut at the center, and the first time in Philly since November 2003 at the Spectrum - the band offered things to excite, turn off, or just be lukewarm about.
October 24, 1997 |
That almost messianic movement known as a Phish tour will make its way to Philadelphia in December. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday for Phish concerts at the Spectrum on Dec. 2-3. The Vermont band is often likened to the Grateful Dead because of its devoted fans, who often follow the musicians from city to city. Its most recent U.S. tour sold out concert halls in 19 cities; 60,000 fans attended the troupe's Great Went festival over the summer in Maine. Phish's eighth album, Slip, Stitch and Pass, contains 73 minutes of highlights from a magical concert in Hamburg, Germany, recorded on March 1 during a European tour.
May 26, 2004 |
Phish is going belly-up. The Vermont-bred jam band announced on its Web site yesterday that it's pulling the plug after nearly 21 years of making music. It will go out after Coventry, the two-day arts festival it will headline Aug. 14 and 15 in its home state. Guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote to fans, saying he got together Friday night with Mike Gordon, Page McConnell and Jonathan Fishman "to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note.