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Phish

During the early '90s, Phish emerged as heirs to the Grateful Dead's throne. Although their music was somewhat similar to the Dead's sound -- an eclectic, free-form rock & roll encompassing elements of folk, jazz, country, bluegrass, and pop -- the group adhered more to jazz-derived improvisation than folk tradition. Moreover, they sported a looser, goofier attitude; after all, their drummer regularly played a vacuum during their concerts. However, Phish's main claim as the inheritors to the Dead's legacy was their approach to their musical career. The band didn't concentrate on albums, dedicating themselves instead to live improvisation. Within a few years of their 1988 debut, Phish had become an institution in certain sections of America, particularly college campuses and other liberal locales. While their in-concert popularity didn't necessarily translate to huge record sales (their biggest-selling albums usually halted at gold status, with the notable exceptions of Junta and A Live One), Phish's members were still the de facto leaders of the neo-hippie jam band movement.

Guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman, and guitarist Jeff Holdsworth formed the band in late 1983 while attending the University of Vermont. After meeting and jamming in their dormitory, the trio posted flyers across campus to recruit a bassist. Mike Gordon answered the advertisement and he was soon added to the original lineup. Phish began practicing regularly and soon assembled a demo tape; by the fall of 1984, they'd also begun performing off-campus concerts. At this stage in their career, the band was augmented by percussionist Marc Daubert and, occasionally, a vocalist called the Dude of Life. Keyboardist Page McConnell soon joined the group, too, having previously booked Phish to play Goddard College's Springfest in 1985. Shortly after McConnell's arrival, Holdsworth left the group, and both Anastasio and Fishman transferred to Goddard College during the fall of 1986.

Early in 1988, Phish recorded the debut album Junta, which they sold as a cassette-only release at local shows. The group played their first tour outside of New England the following year, traveling through the Southeast. Phish also recorded another album, Lawn Boy, in 1989, although the album wasn't released until the fall of 1990 (when it was issued by the independent label Absolute A-Go-Go, a subsidiary of Rough Trade). Throughout early 1991, Phish toured America; during the summer, they recorded their third album, as well as a set of sessions with their old friend, the Dude of Life.

Rough Trade collapsed that August, taking Absolute A-Go-Go with it. Phish was left without a record contract, but they were soon signed by Elektra, which released A Picture of Nectar in February 1992. The group then embarked on an extensive national tour to support the album, including a handful of shows on the H.O.R.D.E. tour. That same summer, Elektra reissued Lawn Boy and Junta, which gave fans greater access to the band's early material. Rift, Phish's fourth album (and the first they recorded with a producer), appeared in February of 1993. During Phish's 1993 tour, the group sold tickets specifically designed for those fans who were taping the concert, a major gesture of goodwill. Hoist, the band's fifth album, was released in 1994; one of its songs, "Down with Disease," became the band's first video and received some airplay on MTV. Hoist sold better than the group's previous albums, which was an indication of how large the group's fan base had become. Crimes of the Mind, the album Phish had originally recorded with the Dude of Life in 1991, was released on Elektra Records before the year's end.

In the summer of 1995, the band released the double-live album A Live One, which attempted to definitively capture the Phish concert experience. 1996 saw two additional releases -- one of them a Trey Anastasio solo project (a free-form jazz side project called Surrender to the Air), and the other a full-fledged Phish album entitled Billy Breathes. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, Billy Breathes garnered the group's best reviews yet. Slip, Stitch & Pass, the band's second live LP, followed in 1997, and Phish continued their prolific output in 1998 with the studio effort Story of the Ghost. Hampton Comes Alive, a six-disc release that captured four full live sets over the course of two performances, appeared in late 1999 and went gold, a testament to Phish's rabid following.

Phish's popularity only grew during the latter half of the '90s, as their ceaseless touring had helped make them one of the top concert draws in the nation. In the spring of 2000, Phish delivered the pastoral studio effort Farmhouse, which was hailed as one of their finest and tightest releases to date; they also landed some mainstream exposure thanks to the single "Heavy Things." However, exhausted by touring and separation from their families, Phish decided to take an extended break, announcing a temporary breakup in October 2000. One month later, Elektra reissued The Siket Disc, which was previously available only through mail order; it featured improvisational tracks from the band's 1997 Story of the Ghost sessions.

Each member branched out into different directions during this period. Anastasio released a series of demos before collaborating with Primus bassist Les Claypool and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland for the bizarre Oysterhead project. He also released an eponymous solo album during the spring of 2002. Jonathan Fishman worked with his own side project, Pork Tornado, as well as the touring jazz combo Jazz Mandolin Project. Page McConnell released the first recordings from his other band, Vida Blue, and contributed keyboards to Tenacious D's first record. Mike Gordon, meanwhile, did some work with friend and former employer Col. Bruce Hampton; he also dabbled in film work, both in front and behind the camera. Finally, both Gordon and McConnell worked on Gov't Mule's The Deep End, Vol. 1.

As for the band, Phish became more a part of American culture than ever before, and they made an appearance on The Simpsons before releasing a massive set of live albums (as well as a DVD) during the spring of 2002. By the end of the year, the group bowed to pressure and announced that they would begin to play live dates again, starting at the end of December. Touring soon commenced and continued for a year and a half; however, following the release of Undermind, the group decided to officially call it quits in the summer of 2004. Of course, this didn't mean that more albums couldn't be released, as a slew of posthumous releases kept the band's spirit alive while maintaining demand for Phish's reunion. 2005 saw the release of a 1995 New Year's Eve concert at Madison Square Garden, 2006 witnessed another live album with Live in Brooklyn, and 2008 brought about the mammoth At the Roxy (Atlanta '93), which compiled eight discs of live concert material into one package.

Phish's official reunion arrived in March 2009, when the band played three sold-out shows at the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia. A reunion tour was launched that summer (with venues including Fenway Park and the main stage at Bonnaroo), and sporadic shows continued throughout the year. In addition to playing live, Phish also released their first studio album in years, having partnered with former Billy Breathes producer Steve Lillywhite for the creation of 2009's Joy; the album debuted at 13 on the Billboard Top 200. From that point on, Phish toured regularly, appearing at festivals of their own making and headlining other events, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Outside Lands, and Bonnaroo. Along the way, some archival releases appeared, including the 2013 box set Ventura, which housed two late-'90s concerts performed at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Niagara Falls

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
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Track List: 2013/10/31 Atlantic City, NJ

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Track List: Time Turns Elastic (Radio Single)

Comments

What people....pe o p l e is craycray
bendyke
Love um or hate um...they still rock! Can't wait for summer tour!
dperez102, and apocryphal story but an urban myth. The original, true quote was from Jimi Hendrix on the Dick Cavett show in the late 1960's. Hendrix's reply was Rory Gallagher. Who the heck is Trey Anastasio ?
Eric Clapton was once asked how it felt to be the best guitarist in the world. His reply was (more or less) I don't know, ask Trey Anastasio
To everyone comparing phish and the dead. They are nothing alike. And neither is better then the other. But it is a matter of prefrence. Both put on incredibly amazing live shows. The difference to me is phish is a goofy fun party and the dead was life affirming, powerfully emotional experience. I understand people liking one more then the other or both. And for me... its the dead all the way I love people who take themselves alittle more seriously when it comes to moving people through li
I've seen phish and as an affirmed Deadhead with dozens of shows under my belt I have to say phish wouldn't even be allowed to sweep the stage at a Dead show back in the day. And what is this vacuum cleaner s**t? What a joke
I'm not particularly impressed. Heirs to the Grateful Dead's throne ? Get back to me in about 30 years.

If you knock Phish, you don't know how truly committed they are. They played through terrible rain in Verizon Amphitheater and continued to do an original acapella at the end of the show. Simply amazing band that I hope everyone gets a chance to see.
Should've covered Frampton on this particular album, and Trey could've made his guitar talk like Peter did.
nice
The Phish ought to release a Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar type album.
And comparison to Zappa and the Dead are the highest compliments. Phish is great.
I don't know why Zappa isn't mentioned they could be his clones.
makes me wanna run
Caught my first show in '01 in Antioch, TN...... I'm always down to step in to yesterday... Thanks Trey, Mike, Page, and Fishman for the memorable moments that will outlive us all!
the lyrics with free for hampton are incorrect.
Phish is great!!!!!!! ! !
On your way
Great song love phish
Phish? heirs to the Grateful Dead?......I think you should ask a few Widespread Panic fans first!!!
My head is still blown from Hampton 97 second show. Wish I could re-live it.
cont. from above... -ure and community of fans that would follow them around the country. They formed a mythology that was centered around them, their music and the characters in their songs. Does this sound familiar? Give credit where it is due. The Dead pioneered this philosphy of playing music. Trey recounts how he was a Metal-HEad prior to his first Dead show www.youtube. c o m / w a t c h ? v = 9 0 I t o M - w r m c
On Phish and the Grateful Dead. Prior to Phish, Grateful Dead were unique in the world of music in their approach to live performance. They did not tour to promote their latest studio release (as nearly every other band) and they certainly did not have a setlist that would be repeated city to city. They also would play runs at venues (2-8 nights), something else that was virtually unheard of by any of thier contempories . They had Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter tours.They created a sub-cult
THE best.
maturner2
Hampton98 was three shows not four
String Cheese, Phish, and Biscuits; Such a healthy diet!
Awesome!!!
dsmccullough 5
I feed from the bottom you feed from the top i live upon morsels you happen to drop
The Phish. Nothing like it.
seen them too many times to count! glad they are back on tour!
Saw them in Cleveland... . a n d got my face melted....go Phish.
amillionmi
I was just reading some other posts, Jeff Long wins the idiot award for his post on Phish not having energy. WTF kind of music do you have to listen to to find energy? Hold on let me guess; pop a bunch of pills and hold on to a water bottle and bounce around at the disco biscuits ? is that the energy you are talking about ? Jackass
amillionmi
I agree with Matt Goth they are on fire right now! there current stuff is simply amazing. I have been a long time Phish fan. I've seen 40+ shows since 97... What cracks me up is reading the description on the Pandora site, they are nothing like the Dead. Just because they play long jams doesn't make them like the dead, in my opinion the talent within Phish is superior to any of their predecessors - s i m p l y amazing and continually getting stronger and stronger!!
I completely dig phish ... great energy ... up beat .. auditory injections of optimism
Been seeing them since 94 and they're jams now are about as toasty as they've ever been if not the best so far.....30 years strong and no disappointin g shows yet!!
zacpitts
they do live night after night for 3 1/2 hours at a time what Steely Dan had to rehearse for for weeks at a time and continually rotate personnel in and out of the studio for... They just get better with age too!!!
peytonlugo
I went to the holmdale and that was the best show
I was at this show!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! Yeaaaaaaaaah h h h h h h h
Jeff Long doesn't know what he's talking about. The scene and the band have evolved, but they are still great. Been going since '87 and for me they are still the best live band out there. No energy since '95???? I'm going to spare you the negativity but you are misinformed my man.
going to see these boys for the first time in over ten years AT THE GORGE! can't wait!!!
Wow, just listened to the Prague Maze.....min d blowing.
Better than the Dead
blah blah f**king blah. youll usually get these type of comments from negative ppl who will say they suck now and youre not old enough to know what they sounded like in the late eighties.... . well we do have recordings.. . . dumbass. Next argument... oh well you cant feel the energy they USED to have back then... Jeff Long go troll somewhere else!
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of you life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
nicko252008
Man, upstate NY in the 90's was all PHISH!! People followed this band everywhere!
why is it phish fans are so offended wen compared to the GD. is it really that big of insult to be compared to the greatest band ever. not a fan by the way. just wondering
I think the intro line comparing them to the Grateful dead is not the way the band should be introduced. Phish is their own band with their own style and their own sound and any correlations can be referenced later but does not necessarily define them. I saw many Grateful Dead shows and also Many Phish shows while Jerry was still alive and people who compare them obviously dont really know whats up. Phish is more like Zappa really
wingsphan76
Comicsnut you sound a hundred you old f**k grew up on phish they still have it you lost it long ago with your arrogance
How about actually playing some Phish on Phish Radio Pandora??!!
Can't wait to go Phishin' again!
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