We've got it simple, 'cause we've got a band
January 22, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Trey Anastasio's guitar rig: Part one, part two. Mike Gordon's bass rig: Part one, part two. Page McConnell's keyboard rig: Part one, part two. Jon Fishman's drum kit: Part one, part two. Phish all together: You Enjoy Myself - Madison Square Garden 2012-12-31. Part improvised prog-rock, part classically structured composition, "You Enjoy Myself" is far and away the boys' most played song, clocking in at 557 plays so far. After their 2004 breakup, Trey is apocryphally quoted as saying that he didn't want to go around playing YEM for the rest of his life; in a Rolling Stone interview on the eve of their reunion he reversed on this, saying "I would give my left nut to play that song five times in a row every day until I die."

Previously: Trey, Fishman, Phish, and finally, the Analyze Phish podcast.
posted by Lorin (49 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I keep trying to give Phish a chance, but I end up clicking through this track 2 minutes at a time waiting for it to sound different but it keeps sounding like a bunch of guys dicking around over a little white funk-a-licious groove with some hammond organ in the background. Don't get me wrong, these guys are legit musicians and can really play, but Phish the band? What is so transporting about this stuff except that it's long enough to last through one joint? Or 12.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:45 AM on January 22, 2013 [6 favorites]


I end up clicking through this track 2 minutes at a time

I still haven't found a single genre I enjoy listening to this way.
posted by grog at 10:49 AM on January 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


Analyze Phish was my favorite podcast discovery of last year.
posted by Think_Long at 10:56 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Phish the band? What is so transporting about this stuff except that it's long enough to last through one joint?

It's entirely possible they're not the band for you. That's ok. It's fine to not like stuff. No need to announce it in a thread obviously created for people who do like them though.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on January 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


oh, missed it in the more:inside. Well, then I second the recommendation.
posted by Think_Long at 10:56 AM on January 22, 2013


In before bad joke about Trey and "rig."
posted by gcbv at 10:58 AM on January 22, 2013


Two great Phish links:

Phishows -- huge (completely legal) collection of downloadable concert recordings

Mr. Miner's Phish Thoughts -- frequently updated blog, most interesting in archives for the "Miner's Picks"
posted by Perplexity at 10:59 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've made my share of Phish posts on Metafilter, and they usually don't go so well. But hey, 2012 has been great for the band, and maybe the rig videos are interesting to people who otherwise don't have any use for the Phish from Vermont. I love Trey's enthusiasm describing his, and I barely understand a word Mike is saying.

The 2012 New Year's run was one of the best I've seen. I'd point to these videos: the midnight gag, which involved a golf cart marathon, golf ball cannons, dancing midgets, and the wackiest Tweeprise ever, followed by a golf-themed set with surprise covers of Garden Party, Fly Like an Eagle and Iron Man. The improvisational highlight of the run was the fierce & dark Carini from the night before. For best of the year, turn to the Denver Light.
posted by muckster at 11:04 AM on January 22, 2013


Phish fans seem to have a really hard time comprehending that there are people who simply DO NOT LIKE Phish. They seem to think that if only we heard the right show, the scales would fall from our ears and we'd join them. I sympathize, I've been that way about bands (King Crimson, Weather Report) before.
posted by thelonius at 11:06 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I actually think it's okay to say you don't like Phish in a thread about Phish. Preceisely because, it's Phish - everyone either loves them or hates them.

see also cilantro.
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've read most of the previous posts, so I was fully aware of the trend and don't begrudge anyone their dislike of Phish or right to say so. It's not personal. At the same time, you can hate Phish and still appreciate the genuine and boyish enthusiasm of Trey for his gear, some of which he's played since high school. You don't have to like Phish. I personally don't care if you like Phish. BUT! Even if Phish is merely a bunch of white guys dicking around over a weak funk beat here are a few of my personal reasons why they are still an awesome band worthy of the respect of freaks, geeks, music nerds and anyone on the edges of mainstream pop and pop music culture:

Phish musical costumes in brief: "In the summer of 1994, via a radio interview, Phish announced that they would take votes from phans about what album to play for the second set of Halloween of that year." Since its inception choices of musical costume include The Beatles, Talking Heads, Little Feat, Pink Floyd and more.

1992: Phish introduces "a 'secret language' of musical 'signals' – that generate band-audience interaction beyond what any other act has achieved. Five have been 'taught' to the audience during a show, of which the first four were introduced on 3/6/92."

Fall 1995: "Phish decided to challenge their collective audience to a game of chess. Over the course of this tour, a large chessboard hung behind the band, and fans were invited to communicate their chess strategies at the Greenpeace table during the setbreak of each show. At the beginning of each second set, the fans’ and band’s respective moves would be made, pushing the game forward for the next show. "

More Phish stage antics than you can shake a stick at continue here including the big ball jam, acappella songs, trampolines, costumes, swapping instruments, vacuum cleaner noises and then some.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Chris Kuroda is practically the fifth member of the band.
posted by Lorin at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you smoke some cilantro and listen to Clifford Ball, you might actually break the laws of time and space.
posted by dr_dank at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


You ate my fractal. (sorry)
posted by exit at 11:17 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Preceisely because, it's Phish - everyone either loves them or hates them.

I don't love them or hate them, they just don't do much for me. I've liked some individual songs when I've heard them on the radio but not enough to by an album or see them live.
posted by octothorpe at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2013


thelonius has a point though. I honestly do feel like everyone should like Phish. On the one hand, it's this arcane thing with an involved 30-year-history of in-jokes and trivia and obscure references and what have you, but at the same time, it's also the most fun concert I've ever been to, over and over again. Phish manages to absorb everything that's great about dozens of styles of music and make it their own, and it's always new. So, if you like music--any kind of popular music, really--you should be able to find something to like about Phish. And if there's something you like about Phish, there's lots more where that came from. I've stopped trying to convert people though (for the most part anyway); I understand it's annoying. If it's for you, you'll discover it yourself.
posted by muckster at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


You ate my fractal. (sorry)

I love that so much. As a native Vermonter, and Burlingtonian to boot, I get a lot of crap for not being a Phish fan.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:24 AM on January 22, 2013


phish does nothing for me, but i will watch any gear porn video no matter the artist. thanks for the links.
posted by readyfreddy at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I gave it another shot due to this post, so well done! It's not for me, but I'm glad I did it anyway since the last time I tried was in 1999.
posted by josher71 at 11:28 AM on January 22, 2013


As an extension of muckster's comment above, I think it's helpful to look at Phish as a fandom instead of merely a band that people see in concert or buy the albums of. I don't click through to a random piece of Supernatural fanfic and expect to know the characters, nor would I expect a non-Phish fan to know who ...Henrietta is. Hell, I still skip some of the bullshit that shows up on the average Phish tape and I'm an avid fan.
posted by Lorin at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2013


Instead of whining or complaining that I don't like Phish, I'm instead going to suggest a challenge:

Phish fans: Get me to enjoy Phish.

I've listened on occasion and I keep feeling like I'm missing whatever connection is necessary to appreciate what's going on. I don't hate it -- I just don't get it. The lightbulb is not going on. Find the thing that fills that gap, closes the circuit, flips the switch.

You have... 30 days. Go.
posted by ardgedee at 11:33 AM on January 22, 2013


I actually heard about them before they had played outside Vermont. A roommate picked up a hitchhiker who turned into a good friend, he used to come stay with us in Atlanta. Dude was an early Phish fan, and he eagerly played us cassette tapes. He soured on them after they got big - just like R.E.M fans did.
posted by thelonius at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2013


You're late, ardgedee. Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia) actually issued this challenge a while ago.
posted by muckster at 11:37 AM on January 22, 2013


And oh shit, I just realized NPR used one of my photos to illustrate that article. Is that covered by the CC license..?
posted by muckster at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2013


So that's the Leslie speaker sound — all this time, I thought that Rolling Stones song was lead off by an organ. Not much of a Phish fan, but really interesting links all the same, thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:39 AM on January 22, 2013


Analyze Phish was my favorite podcast discovery of last year.

It really is very good. It's Scott Aukerman of Comedy Bang Bang (which you should also be listening to) and his friend (and CBB standby) Harris Wittels listening to and discussing Phish in the context of Harris being a big fan, Scott not liking them at all, and Scott letting Harris try (and so far fail) to convince him that they're actually likeable after all.

As someone who finds Phish likable enough but doesn't really give a shit either way, I find it engaging and funny in the way that's kind of a tonic after experiencing most other conversations about whether or not Phish is awesome/terrible.
posted by cortex at 11:47 AM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phish fans seem to have a really hard time comprehending that there are people who simply DO NOT LIKE Phish. They seem to think that if only we heard the right show, the scales would fall from our ears and we'd join them. I sympathize, I've been that way about bands (King Crimson, Weather Report) before.

This X 100. Took a while to finally learn that, if I found myself trying to find that 5th or 6th version of "Ghost" or whatever that would finally click w/ someone, there was a strong chance that it just wasn't their thing. Life has been much easier afterward (although I will say that, after doing this for so long, I did find that "First Tube" seemed to appeal to people the most-- short, groove-oriented, fun crescendo, no lyrics/singing, and isn't some fugal musical thinkpiece ... everyone wins!).

I will say that the tech-side of Trey's whole set-up is really worth reading about even if you absolutely hate the band. This is a nice feature on how certain devices get used. I know there are several routing pics of how everything set up that I can't find atm, but it's pretty fun. One of the more interesting conversations I've had at a Phish show was w/ a guitar tech explaining exactly how Trey's tube/filter system worked and how the sound-shaping for particular guitar tones got routed. His big point was that Trey should probably be remembered as a genius electrician more than guitar-player.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 12:06 PM on January 22, 2013


The two things that got me into Phish:

4/16/92 Anaconda Theater (also, here), and the A Live One release. Specifically, the Stash (Part 1, Part II).

I'm not a completely jaded vet, but I long for the Trey's tone and ferocity from the early '90s. That Anaconda Theater show perfectly showcased the tension/release that really defines/defined his playing, not to mention serious mastery of guitar. Sadly, I feel he's gotten a bit lazy and predictable since the '09 reunion, but that's just me. Still doesn't prevent me from catching most shows within a couple hours from me. And you're still bound to see some real standouts, though with less regularity.

Then again, it's inevitable that styles evolve -- or at least change, and Phish has had some great eras (e.g., '97 funk, '99-00 ambient-ish, not to mention '94-'95, which was just all-around incredible). I think the 1998 Island Tour showcases a lot of these, and is a fantastic 4-night run on its own.

On preview: I'm definitely not one of those fans who cannot comprehend why people do not like Phish, and am not a proselytizer. In fact, I think most people will not like them. I consider a lot of their songs to be somewhat inaccessible, for lack of a better word, until you are familiar with them. At least, that was my experience. There's a lot of dissonance, odd scales, and a lot of their lyrics can be a bit nonsensical. I would say they're more like, say, Zappa in that sense: Great musicians, but kinda weird, radio-unfriendly music. Not to mention, some (most?) people just don't care for improvisation or risk-taking in music. They are definitely not a band for people who go to concerts to see songs played exactly how they were on the album (or even from 3 nights previously), or to see "greatest hits."

Also, I'm thankful that this thread hasn't devolved into the same stupid comments/jokes about drugs and liking Phish...yet. It would be great if it stays that way.
posted by ssmug at 12:37 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The prototypical Phish fan archetype is someone who doesn't seem aware that there is any other music on earth. Harris Wittels talks about seeing them 57 times in a year or something on that podcast, which suggests that he has no outside musical interests besides seeing Phish.
posted by anazgnos at 12:40 PM on January 22, 2013


Jam bands have little appeal to me outside the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule. Too little dynamics, middling vocals, most songs stuck in that same lazy midtempo hippie groove. I like improvising but noodling over the same beat for a few hours doesn't work for me. I've had friends that have pressed numerous cassettes and CDs for the Dead and Phish into my palms with feverish intensity and I have always failed to find the intensity in the performance. It's like rock without any ROCK in it.

I do admire the community and spirit of the jam community. I love a band that creates its own world and lives in it without a care if no one on the outside gets it.
posted by Ber at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2013


Too little dynamics

It could have something to do with endless tone-questing and/or squeezing whatever life may be left in a note through 45 effects pedals/rack effects/loops.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:12 PM on January 22, 2013


Curious Artificer: "I actually think it's okay to say you don't like Phish in a thread about Phish. Preceisely because, it's Phish - everyone either loves them or hates them."

not necessarily, some of their stuff has really resonated with me, others just sound like ReeMonster's description up above.

personally my favorite is My Friend My Friend
posted by mannequito at 1:14 PM on January 22, 2013


Man, I was so into Phish as a late teen/young adult. I collected tapes (yes, tapes), went to shows, even went on tour for brief stretch (vegan nori rolls anybody?). I believe I owned a copy of the Pharmer's Almanac at one point. Over time, my interest in jam bands waned, to the point where the only one I still listen to is the Dead -- who I'd argue are more Classic Rock than Jam Band.

Every so often, I'll pull up one of the Phish shows on Spotify and give it a listen. Typically, I'll enjoy it, but rarely will I finish a show. I just can't get past the silliness of the lyrics and just general laziness in songwriting. Always seemed like such a waste, to spend so much time and effort on musicianship and so little on songwriting. This, I believe, is the reason Phish is so often an object of derision, whereas the Dead seems to garner at least grudging respect, even from the indie hipster music snob crowd.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:35 PM on January 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's okay, Afroblanco, I still hate the Grateful Dead, too. Our drunken argument some 7 or 8 years ago changed nothing.
posted by item at 2:47 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh! And as an addendum, I'll mention that I saw them at Outside Lands in 2011, and they totally fucking ripped it up. Best Phish show I'd seen since Kiel Center '96. You could tell Trey's sobered up because they were actually doing some of their more-difficult songs. (He-looo Fluffhead!) Prolly wouldn't have gone to see them on their own, but as a part of the Outside Lands experience, they were phenomenal. It allowed me to envision an alternate history timeline where Phish was never cast as heir apparent to the Dead culture, and instead was just a random alt-rock act that you and maybe some of your friends were into. I'm kind of disappointed we don't live in that world.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:47 PM on January 22, 2013


I think Afroblanco gets it right. I was a fan in the 90s too, saw them live a bunch of times, etc. I do think they're an amazing live band, but part of that is the great energy and back-and-forth they have with their fans, which doesn't necessarily come through in the studio recordings or even the live recordings (though I too had my share of tapes, mostly copied from friends).

I think the thing that finally made me lose interest in them was what Afroblanco mentions - too much noodling. It's a very intellectual, jazz-nerd approach to music and that's never been really my thing. My favorites of their songs are the ones that have some heart to them, but those are few and far between. I also never really liked their more funk-oriented songs - I preferred the spacey, jammy songs, but I think that's pretty rare for their fans.

But I have some great, late adolescent memories associated with Phish - I made quite a few friends my first year of college bonding over Phish. Glad they're still out there doing their thing.
posted by lunasol at 2:48 PM on January 22, 2013


item : you speak as if that argument ever ended....
posted by Afroblanco at 2:52 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could tell Trey's sobered up because they were actually doing some of their more-difficult songs.

Honestly, this is the part of the whole Phish story arc that lead me to revisit their music and why watching that video gives me a fuzzy feeling. As a longtime fan, it's just nice to see Trey sober and smiling. When they first started touring again and his playing was a bit rough around the edges it was easy to think that he'd lost it, but the stuff from Summer 2011 and beyond proves he hasn't.
posted by Lorin at 3:23 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't tell you how badly I want that Yamaha CS-60 and it actually hurt a little to watch Page stumble over the model number. I hope someday to do an FPP on its big brother, the CS-80.
posted by sourwookie at 4:51 PM on January 22, 2013


I am indebted to some MeFite I can't remember, who introduced me to a video clip during a previous discussion of guitar equipment. It is now one of my all time favorite guitar pieces, and vividly demonstrates that all the goddam gear in the world is no substitute for a guitar, an amp, and talent.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:24 PM on January 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


After due consideration, I'd actually like to amend my dichotomy into a three-way division: everyone in the world either thinks Phish is the greatest band that ever existed and wants you to realize that as well, hates them, or just doesn't see what the big deal is.
posted by Curious Artificer at 5:26 PM on January 22, 2013


Great! Now is my chance! I've been dying to organize a gathering of metafilter folks at phish shows.

I love the band, love the shows, but I'm not exactly a member of the phish tribe. Anyone else who's interested in meeting up at shows this summer please memail me.
posted by Hennimore at 5:57 PM on January 22, 2013


I end up clicking through this track 2 minutes at a time

I still haven't found a single genre I enjoy listening to this way.


Oh, I definitely have days when listening that way improves all genres immensely . . . . .

And while I'm not a fan of the band, I'm enough of a gear nerd that I enjoyed the rig videos, so thanks for posting those, Lorin.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:19 PM on January 22, 2013


I got home and watched the video; the band sounds great. Maybe I'll try to see a show if they are touring this summer; I'm sure I'd have fun. This is a kind of music that has a lot more impact live than on recordings, really.
posted by thelonius at 6:59 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've played bass since 1978 - badly. I have absolutely no idea what Mike Gordon is talking about. He plays the instrument well, but all the effects and stuff... well. Maybe it was just his terminology. I found it very flambooblous and scantalibidy.
posted by Sk4n at 8:52 PM on January 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wash you fee say, drive me to Valensik?
posted by not_on_display at 9:25 PM on January 22, 2013


"I would give my left nut to play that song five times in a row every day until I die"

This is the music of someone who already gave away two nuts to begin with.
posted by C.A.S. at 3:42 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And we have a winner! You didn't watch that Carini video, amirite?
posted by muckster at 3:51 AM on January 23, 2013


> You're late, ardgedee. Carrie Brownstein (of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia) actually issued this challenge a while ago.

I honestly did not know "Convince me to like Phish" was a recurring meme. Dang!

This doesn't make me less interested, though.
posted by ardgedee at 4:03 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I never became much of a fan of the band as a whole, I did develop an appreciation of them as individuals first, as musicians second, and as a band third after watching Phish - 1994 Bluegrass Sessions, a 9 part YouTube series of behind the scene footage (as well as some concert footage) of the band being coached in/taught how to play bluegrass.

From the description:

"The Rev. Jeff Mosier (Blueground Undergrass) was contracted by Phish in the Fall of 1994, to help them learn Bluegrass. They flew him to Michigan and Gordon picked him up in a limo, and they had their first lesson on 11-14-94, same night as Grand Rapids.

With his blessing, the footage he shot of this whole experience, backstage and onstage, was remastered and is now being shared."

I have to say that I was so totally entertained by these that I watched all 9 of them (total of 1 hour 20 minutes) in succession. They still didn't turn me into a Phish fan but now I do appreciate their style and musicianship and admire their longevity as a band.
posted by ourroute at 5:55 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


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