What Phish sounds like to people who don't like Phish.
July 5, 2014 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Phish fans: it is not the case that we JUST HAVEN'T HEARD THE RIGHT PHISH yet. We don't like the band, we just do not like them.
posted by thelonius at 4:47 PM on July 5, 2014 [25 favorites]

I'm not a fan, but you have to at least respect anyone that does an acapella version of freebird.
posted by dogheart at 5:01 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

What $type_of_music sounds like to people who don't like $type_of_music

Although I'm not a big Phish fan, as a jazz enthusiast from my early teens I've had to deal with a LOT of this attitude from my peers. Maybe it's made me a bit touchy on the subject. But this sort of thing strikes me as more dismissively ignorant than humorous. YMMV.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't have to respect anyone who does this to Remain in Light.
posted by item at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I like Phish and I thought that Remain In Light was a bad decision.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:14 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

My freshman year college roommate's mother filled out the roommate compatibility form with all the traits she wanted her daughter to develop instead of those she actually had. So my roommate and I were hilariously mismatched, and she listened to Phish literally non-stop.

As a result of this, I can mindlessly recite every lyric to every song on "Rift," in order, with the appropriately-timed breaks between the songs.

I don't exactly dislike Phish, but I feel like maybe those brain cells could be doing something better with their lives.

Her other two incessant albums were "Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack" and "The Very Best of the Grateful Dead." CAN SING THEM ALL. Also we are still friends and she is lovely.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:20 PM on July 5, 2014 [22 favorites]

I read a review of their new album, "their best effort since Farmhouse", I wasn't sure if that was actually an insult, so I checked it out. A solid meh, but I lost my obsession with Phish sometime after Rift.

As a guitar player though, Trey Anastasio is seriously up there. He genuinely takes incredible care and pride in his rig and live sound, he's still using the same pair of speakers/amps from the Junta days.

A ton of people slag him off as jazz-lite, but he really is a fantastic musician, he's a big fan of tension and release, which is why a lot of people find their music grating, atonal and a sloppy mess....but there is music theory behind it. It's intentionally grating. but really, anyone who can remember and play all the arpeggios in "You Enjoy Myself" after smoking a joint is ok in my book.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 5:36 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

i don't know - i want to like phish more than i do, i understand they know how to play and know how to jam, but ... their songs aren't that great and the emotional state they seem to be able to express is one of amused, stoned whimsy

as far as being grating, atonal and a sloppy mess - no, even in their later days, the grateful dead were sometimes capable of taking you right down the rabbit hole by the scruff of your neck

they also wrote better songs and could be very emotional at times
posted by pyramid termite at 5:49 PM on July 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I love Rift and A Picture of Nectar, but studio recordings only please. Like the Grateful Dead, live Phish can occasionally be transcendent but more often dull and annoying.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:57 PM on July 5, 2014

At least with the Dead the vocals go WITH the music, as in Blues For Allah, and just about all their music. But these meatheads will have an excellent jam going and out of the blue start yapping about something seemingly meaningless like a paper bag lunch, for example, in the goofiest of tones. Then they'll be on the verge of yelling the lyrics and that just totally ruins it for me. Some things ya just gotta let go ... to remain spiritually healthy that is.
posted by Ralph at 6:11 PM on July 5, 2014

The Tom Scharpling episode of Analyze Phish is a favorite of mine. Several of Scharpling's comments resemble my thought process when I attempted to appreciate Phish so I could get along better with the guys in my dorm. Everytime I'd start to enjoy something, this really busy/needy sounding piano or organ would come in and destroy any potential appreciation.
posted by yorick at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just want to say that moving to Boulder, Colorado without a corresponding love of all things Phish, Grateful Dead and string band/bluegrass will make you loathe every and any attempt at "local" live music, at least until you find the right people who can get you in with the Communikey scene (EDM / trance / rave / etc.).
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2014

This is great:
Metallica-Enter Sandman (Smooth Jazz Version) yt

Worth the price of admission here.
posted by ovvl at 6:30 PM on July 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm not a fan, but I've never minded them, and I like a lot of what I've heard from them. If nothing else, I give props to this, which is one of the greatest earworms of a musical build on a theme that I've ever heard.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:04 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Appropriately, this is a repeat. It's been four years and it's still a funny video, so...
posted by Dip Flash at 7:04 PM on July 5, 2014

I love how "Phish" and "dorm" are inseparable.

In my college sophomore world I lived with two dudes. I was (well, am) a Ween man, the other guy was a Phish fan, and the third guy had no affiliation. A polite and long running war was waged over who's team dude number 3 would side with. Boognish won, is still winning.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:27 PM on July 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

The last episode of Analyze Phish was pretty brutal and not so much about the music anymore or Phish at all. I do appreciate that Scott Aukerman came around and apologized for being so dismissive of what amounts to matters of taste. He's relentlessly hilarious but sometimes can be kind of a dick, which is mostly a running joke, but Harris was unexpectedly facing down some personal demons, and being a dick didn't seem like a great choice after a while. To Scott's credit he recognized this later and mentioned this on the last ep, and for me at least it helps to know these people are human when it matters (PFT getting high and babbling was especially amusing). It's not so funny on the whole but kinda fascinating, people dealing with their own shit and each other while trying to perform for an invisible audience, and a bit of a train wreck by the time drugs entered the conversation- which does happen for a lot of people who get too caught up in it and is definitely a facet of the touring jam band experience, sooner or later.

That said, the Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott podcast about U2 was the most absurdly hilarious thing I've heard in a long time. Harris Whittels shows up a couple times to register his dislike of the band to get in his digs at Scott and Adam, but U2 is not really the focus of most episodes and is more of an excuse to have silly conversations late at night at Earwolf. If you like that kind of thing, it's about as good as it gets and is almost recursively funny at times with podcasts inside podcasts. I've been brought to tears many times... Trying to dig up a link on my phone, but anyway it's called "U Talkin' U2 to Me?"

Phish.... Well, I was kinda into them in the '90s, but they lacked the more soulful elements of The Dead, though Phish has always been a much tighter and more technically proficient band. The Dead were so loose at times that it just fell apart musically, but their prowess as musicians was never the point. It was more about the magic that happens accidentally, which requires a leap of faith and being at peace with the fact that sometimes it doesn't work, and you take your chances. Phish is an amazing band but always seems to be somewhere familiar, no matter how weird it gets, where the conceptual and theoretical take precedence over raw feeling and the ability to find a voice through your instrument. The Dead (especially in the later years of stadiums and Jerry's habit) often felt like a bit of a dog and pony show or a sideshow at a carnival, including the occasional sense you're getting ripped off, but when it worked it was transcendent in a way that has little to do with ego or how impressive anyone is as a musician. They've evolved a great deal, but I still tend to feel like Phish would be a great band if they could just get out of their own way.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:40 PM on July 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I used to think that I liked Phish, but it turns out that I just like drugs. Really changed my life for the better when I figured that one out.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:36 PM on July 5, 2014 [9 favorites]

Can't wait til someone starts writing these about the Dave Matthews Band and we can all cringe about that.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:39 PM on July 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

When I saw this post, I thought "hmm, haven't I seen this at Mefi already?" So I looked it up and, um… it was yours truly who posted it...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:48 PM on July 5, 2014

I don't have to respect anyone who does this to Remain in Light.

I can't believe how few Dr Suess hats there were for a Phish show in '96.
posted by sourwookie at 10:15 PM on July 5, 2014

I like Phish in various moods but have never used weed.

I think I may be the only one.
posted by winna at 10:34 PM on July 5, 2014

I have to call bullshit on this. I alternately like and don't like Phish, but to make a super discordant video that nobody will like and call it "what BandX sounds like to people that don't like BandX" is weak. What's supposedly so Phish like about that video?
posted by salvia at 11:08 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The previous comment channeled my Phish-defender. Channeling my Phish hater? That video missed so many opportunities.
posted by salvia at 11:12 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

phish seems to be a social thing first and foremost. it's like an organizing factor for people of a certain inclination. for people who are "in", the music represents all the good times they've had with their friends, late night dorm conversations about esoteric topics, the zaniness of the culture surrounding it, etc. it seems hard to be objective about the music in that regard.

at least that's my assessment. I say this because all the people who I've known who love phish tend to listen to mostly just jam bands, rather than other music that may be closer in actual style, (say, jazz fusion or 1970s era progressive rock.)

Example: a late 20s Phish fan will very likely also listen to Disco Biscuts or Umphrees McGee, despite the only real similarity being that they are "jam bands"; a term that is mostly meaningless other the than referencing the culture that surrounds it. Yet a LOT of the generation of phish fans younger than that group migrated to EDM (and dubstep specifically) when that hit critical mass, as the large-scale dance music festival scene is very similar: a cleaner, neon jam band culture.
posted by young_son at 11:34 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, god, I didn't know about the "shreds" thing. Via knowyourmeme, Kiss Shreds. I'm dying. It reminds me of "Talking cat says Oh Long Johnson."
posted by taz at 1:49 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

That sounds better than Phish. Or The Grateful Dead.
posted by Decani at 2:42 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Metafilter sucks at Phish. We do this thread every year or so (I know I've been guilty), but it never ends well. This one's off to a particularly poor start.

FWIW -- the band is at an amazing late-career peak right now, and if you've ever been into them, check out the SPAC Fuego. Here's the tour opener at Great Woods from 7/1.
posted by muckster at 4:16 AM on July 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

About 18 years ago I was spending a few days with some friends in kristinia, a hippified former Air Force base in Copenhagen. One afternoon, high as an archbishop I noticed a bunch of Americans hanging out playing hacky sack and whatnot over by the big barn where concerts were held. I ended up hanging out with them for awhile, super nice people. There was a sort of expectant vibe in the air which was broken by periodic bits and pieces of horrible noodle rock. "Jesus Christ",
I remarked, "this shit is as bad as Phish, and they're the worst." Long, awkward silence. I should note I was a lot more judgmental and assholic back then but I really was making an innocent sort of remark, or at least thought I was. Finally one of the Americans spoke up "you're joking, right?"

Phish was doing sound check and the group I was hanging with had been following them around Europe for a month. The mood soured. I was no longer part of the circle of trust and I didn't get invited to play hacky sack. Although one girl did try to convince me of their greatness for awhile and even showed me how to peek into the barn "you can see Trey if you turn your head sideways."
posted by chaz at 8:26 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was moderately amused until the vocalist sang "meep der dreep deep ate my fractal," at which point I lost it. Very nice.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:10 AM on July 6, 2014

I have to call bullshit on this. I alternately like and don't like Phish, but to make a super discordant video that nobody will like and call it "what BandX sounds like to people that don't like BandX" is weak. What's supposedly so Phish like about that video?

Agreed. Loads of bands have by now received the "shreds" treatment, and while I've gotten a kick out of several of these videos, this sort of audio tinkering says nothing about the original source material.

As for Phish, nothing I nor anyone else can possibly say about them can convince fellow Mefites of the greatness or lameness of this band. As a musician myself, I'll simply say that what they do as an ensemble, improvisationally, is as tough as it gets. For that reason alone, they deserve every ounce of the success they've found.
posted by vverse23 at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2014

The very best of these is Creed Shreds 3. I challenge anyone to watch that without cracking up.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2014

Also I can't hang with Phish, but it's just a personal thing. Not into noodling, but I can respect the musicianship. Clutch is about as close as I can get to jam bands.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:48 PM on July 6, 2014

Worth the post just to listen to Phish Shreds again.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:34 PM on July 6, 2014

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