Thursday, December 10, 2009


Phish was founded while Trey Anastasio, John Fishman, and Mike Gordon were all going to University of Vermont together. That might be the official founding of the band, but to understand the music and the band all together one should go back to while Trey Anastasio was still in high school there he had founded bands along with his friend who goes by the title the “Dude of Life”. They wrote songs that today are used by Phish in performances and songs that have influenced Phish, two songs that Trey wrote in high school that are performed today are Golgi Apparatus and Run Like an Antelope, Antelope when Trey originally penned it and performed it was called Run Like a Space Antelope, Space Antelope being the name of one of Trey’s high school bands. Now we can get back to University of Vermont and the founding of Phish. Originally when Phish was founded the members of the band were Trey, Mike, Fish, and Jeff Holdsworth. At their first performance they titled there band the Blackwood Convention, the date of this performance is not known exactly, it either believed to be October 30th or December 2nd, it was held in the basement of Mike Gordon’s dorm which housed many ROTC members leading people to believe it was an ROTC dance when it was not. They performed using hockey sticks as mike stands, and ran through a set of about 7 cover songs, repeating Proud Mary. As the band took their set break, the people at the show decided to blast Michael Jacksons thriller instead of listening to the band. In September of 1985 Page McConnell joined the band of keyboards. Jeff Holdsworth left the band having graduated from UVM in 1986. Starting in late-1985 after the three band members who went to UVM (Trey, John, and Mike) transferred to Goddard College and there they began recording tapes and circulating them amongst people at the college. This tape became known as The White Tape, a much different sound than is heard from the bad today; it was very experimental in the way that they were using the studio machines to mix sound. For his senior thesis, Trey wrote The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, this was a nine song studio album about a fictional world called Gamehendge, it is a mix between The Chronicles of Narnia and Rush’s 2112. It had nine songs on it all introducing a different character or theme of the fictional world. Wilson is the evil King of Prussia who stole the helping phriendly book, which enables him to control Gamehendge, Colonel Forbin is Wilson’s nemesis he tries to end Wilsons reign as the head of Gamehendge. This was the beginning of Phish following in the footsteps of Grateful Dead. With the following that gathered after the White Tape and with the first album Junta was made Phish started to garner a following that was similar to the Dead in the sense that these people made their lives revolve around the band. They started to have constant touring starting in 1988, and by the mid 90s they had become the band for jam/rock music. Rolling magazine named Phish one of the most important bands of the 90s. Phish also, in a way, created the music festival that we have today. Some of there past music festivals influenced the creation of Bonaroo. The first of these festivals was The Clifford Ball, held August 16th-17th, 1996. This was a two-day festival in Plattsburgh, NY. Around 70-80 thousand people attended the concert; they created a sort of city at the festival with rides, a restaurant, and a post office. The success of this event led to Phish staging other such festivals. The next festival The Great Went was a follow-up to Clifford Ball, it was held on the same two days but in 1997. It was held in Limestone, Maine right near the US-Canadian border. Part of this festival was shown in the movie Bittersweet Motel, a documentary on Phish’s touring in 1997, 75,000 people attended this festival. Lemonwheel was also held in Maine, this time it featured other bands performing, and was attended by 60,000 people. Camp Oswego was the fourth weekend-long festival held by Phish. It happened on July 17th and 18th, 1999 at Oswego County Airport in Volney, NY. 65,000 people attended this festival. Fans, as with the other festivals, camped out in tents, and made a sort of community at the event. Big Cypress was the largest festival held by Phish. It was held at the Big Cypress Indian Reservation in Florida, it took place on December 30th and 31st, 1999. It was the largest millennium concert held, part of the concert was shown on ABC. On New Years Eve Phish played a 7 and a half hour set that lasted from midnight New Years Eve till sunrise New Years day. This was voted by 3 of the 4 members of Phish to be the greatest Phish concert ever, and it was voted by phans in pharmers almanac to be the greatest concert ever. It was the 6th festival to be held, it was held in Limestone, Maine. 60,000 people attended, and this festival made Limestone the only place to hold two Phish festivals. Coventry was the 7th festival held, it was held in Coventry, Vermont. Initially when Phish started to make Coventry it was supposed to be the conclusion of Phish. This was supposed to be the last concert before Phish broke up. It was a very emotional concert, with members of Phish crying during some parts of some songs. Phish Festival 8 was held from October 30th – November 1st, 2009. It was held in Indio, California where Coachella is held each year. As is done on Halloween by Phish often, they had a musical costume which in the past had been voted on by fans, but this year they did an amusing animation to set up which album they are choosing. They had pictures of each of 99 album covers they might cover and they slowly killed each one off until it was revealed the album they are going to cover was Exile on Main St. originally by the Rolling Stones. More than the music the fans (phans) make the band what it is. They are a legion of dedicated people who go to each and every concert that they possible can. They tape shows and distribute them in the parking lots of each concert, along with other “goodies”. The parking lot scene of Phish is similar to the Grateful Dead’s, its even named after a Dead song being the lot being called Shakedown Street. There are many groups that follow Phish and these groups are dedicated to many various activities. Phish is a band, but it is also a sub-culture unto itself. There is a whole group of people whose lives revolve around the band and the music.

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