An Intro to Phish

“One hour. Give me one hour and I’ll listen to it.”

And thus the challenge was set. One hour to introduce Phish to someone who, despite a sophisticated taste in music, had never sampled the wonders and joys that are the greatest live band that has ever walked the earth.

Though I must say: if you want to give a Phish Phan a mental break down ask them for one hour of Phish music. That’s like, literally, the worst possible amount of time to ask for. It’s longer than one song, but not long enough for an entire live set. You don’t want to blow it all with a studio album because live is such a musical trip.


So I did it in 1 hour 12 minutes.

The sampler goes as so:

This covers their earlier years, starting in 1994 all the way up until last weekend (they’re on fire this summer…just tight and grooving, very easy to pull lots of good Phish from this summer series).

The first two tracks are from their first live album, A Live One, and are tracks from two different shows in ‘94.

The first song was the first song I ever heard from Phish in 1993 (the studio version). I remember stopping what I was doing at the time (I think I was doing some calculus homework or something) and totally losing my shit when the song ended. It was the greatest sound to ever reach my ears. I needed more. I needed it now. I never wanted it to stop. And luckily, with the exception of some dark days in the early 2000s where Trey lost his way, it really hasn’t stopped.

The second is seminal Phish – an intricate, composed rock-jazz thing that turns in to a free form jam like nothing else out there, and then comes all back together to a tight and epic ending. This is what Phish does so well.

Third track, Divided Sky, is peak “Rock and Roll” Phish from their ‘97 winter/spring tour of Europe. This is Trey Anastasio in his blazing phase on guitar. Page McConnell ripping on the keys. John Fishman trying not to blow the roof off the place with the drums and Mike Gordon keeping it all from going off the rails with that bass.

The last four tracks are from this past Sunday night! A funky Mike’s Song with a great “space jam” flows in to a new tune, Fuego, then on in to a classic, Twist, that has this awesome swung blues thing happen in the middle jam that’s never happened in this song ever before at all in all their years playing it live. That’s the great thing about live Phish: you never know what you’re gonna get. Even if you think you’ve heard a dozen times before, even if you heard it the night before: they’re gonna surprise you the next time they play it. Wanted to let it play on from Twist in to the Weekapaug Groove that followed but I had to at least pretend to adhere to the one hour limit, right?

The finale was the finale from their Sunday night set, which capped off a three night run at a HUGE festival they threw in New York called Magnaball. It is their opus. Their masterpiece. The greatest Phish of all the Phish: You Enjoy Myself. And they ended it to a huge fireworks display while doing…well..I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You’ll see.


Written on August 28, 2015