I went to Phish and Kind of Had Fun

14 Aug

phishPhish is many things to many people. No wait; Phish is a couple things to a select group of white people. They seem to be either a quirky group of talented musicians who have jammed and improvised their way to cult status, or they are an aging group of cornball rockers who write lyrics about lasagna and shit. While I can’t disprove the first statement, the latter must not be overlooked in understanding their popularity. They are huge dorks, and not in the Zooey Deschanel “adorkable” New Girl kind of way. The only cool thing about them is Ben and Jerry’s kind of named a flavor after them in 1997, yet last week the Hollywood Bowl was packed to see these goobers jam face and melt minds the only way four old hippies from Vermont can.

While trying to find my seat, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. I never listened to jam bands in college, but I did live in the dorms freshmen year and experienced the uncomfortable wardrobe choices that were somehow deemed acceptable. If you ever wondered what happened to the guy who wore baggy cargo shorts, airwalks and was always pretty high, worry not my friend, he is 35 now and he’s at the Phish show. The female fishies were slightly more put together, but still nothing you would want to holler at. If you look past the faded tie-dye and dank weasels, however, there is a palpable energy and enthusiasm that doesn’t always exist at other shows. Whether it was someone’s 106th time, or first like mine, everyone was anxious to see what was going to happen.

Make no mistake haters, it was a show. It was a downright spectacle of trippy lights, good vibes, glitter, and glow sticks. I’ll admit I got swept up in the hype and dare I say…gulp.had fun. One phish head behind me kept muttering, “Tour!” either as some kind of rallying cry, or a reminder that Phish was indeed on tour. He made his allegiance well known when during an improvised light sequence he shouted, “2001!” indicating this wasn’t his first Tour! Another wide-eyed bro was in awe at every pluck of Trey’s guitar strings. He would frequently turn to others around him and high five and shake his head in disbelief. He later told me he has seen Phish over 50 times and that I should have been there for Tahoe night two when they jammed a 36-minute tweezer. I later confirmed this was a 36-minute rendition of a song about the device used to remove splinters. This sounds like my personal hell, but it was in the words of many others, “face-melting.”

This is where my love affair ends. I appreciate different tastes in music and always try to keep an open mind, but I just can’t get down with the Phish sound. They are by all accounts competent musicians. I’ve even heard that Trey is actually a ‘pretty sick guitarist,’ but to me their music is indiscernible nonsense. After the show a friend asked me which songs I liked. I had to think very hard before I remembered that none of the songs had hooks or any real beginning or end. I vaguely recall one song being about pumpkins and destiny and another one where someone had a knife. Other than that I was pretty much staring at the lights and watching the freaks flip their shit.

I came into the experience ready to enjoy Phish ironically, from an outsider’s holier than thou pulpit. I was ready to smile at the weirdos, not with them. Many of us believe our musical tastes are far too sophisticated for this granola goobcore (yes I just coined that impressively accurate phrase), and we might be right, but for one night I was let in to a special community. Phish is a phenomenon, but the band will always play second fiddle to the legion of strange whites that follow them around the country. It’s hard not to love something that is loved so intensely by those around you. I won’t be going back anytime soon, but I can think of several reasons why you should give it a try. Tour!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: