Phish has provided innumerable music lovers across the country with the motivation to save up some cash and start traveling to see music again.
My hubbie and I havent really been spending money on vacations of late, unusual for people who are known for skipping town whenever possible. Our homelocked status has as much to do with our hectic lives as with our finances. Phishs reunion inspired us to start saving and begin the excited, inexhaustive internet travel planning hotel or vacation home? Share a room? Plane or road trip? Rental car or cabs? Whos going? Who still needs tickets? A few days ago, I finally bit the bullet and bought our airfare to Hampton, even though the band's friendly PR flacks weren't able to make any guarantees about access. But even if I'm not given a press ticket for one, two or all three of shows, I'll do some tap dancing, fundraising and whatever else is necessary to get in. If I end up outside staring longingly at the Hampton Coliseum with hundreds of other dejects. Just remember that no matter what happens, I will report back about it here. I'll give a play-by-play in the parking lot as depressing as that may be.
[image-1]Phish will bring a much-needed economic boost to various small communities nationwide.
Youve heard stories about Phishs annual summer festivals, how, for a few days, the fest site becomes the most populated part of the state. The bands first big fest, 1996s Clifford Ball (pictured at left and featured in the DVD), brought around 75,000 people to Plattsburgh, NY, and flushed an estimated $20 million into the local economy. Imagine this on a smaller scale at quaint towns scattered across the country. The average Phish show draws tens of thousands of people, both with and without tickets.
And Phish fans spend money. Period. We get a lot of flack for being wookies or trustifarians or kind, patchouli-smelling hippies (some are, some arent). But they are by and large responsible, regular people living regular lives. Of the people I know who are Phish fans, two are lawyers, several are school teachers and realtors, ones a respected professor at USF, one sells pharmaceuticals, a few are artists and musicians, one manages an insurance company, a few are writers like me. And when we go on vacation, we live it up.
All the members seem to have their shit together.
Really I just mean frontman/guitarist Trey Anastasio. He was the one who couldn't deal when Phish returned from a few-year hitatus, the one whose substance abuse problems ultimately led him to break up the band "for good" in '04, and likely the one who, once clean and done with court dates, suggested they start playing together again. He's been through a lot these past five years, but he seems to have conquered his demons and I hear he's got his A-game back.
The jam scenes current stagnant state will be revived by both the return of Phish and The Dead.
Lets face it, the jam scene is pretty uninspired right now. String Cheese Incident broke up (no big loss there), the Allman Brothers Band are doing what they've done for the past 30 years, though Greg Allman's health has made their touring more sporadic, moe. is good with moments of greatness but who can go see them when they rarely venture from the Northeast and throw festivals in cold, wet locales? The Disco Biscuits and Perpetual Groove seem to have plateaued, Gov't Mule produces damn fine Southern-fried cock-strut rock and that's about it, and can we please not talk about Widespread Panic? Jimmy Herring's glorious licks aside, Panic is not really growing anywhere. Umphreys McGee, Mofro, Keller Williams and My Morning Jacket have somehow become the jam scene frontrunners, and none of them are really what youd lump into the jam band category.
The Phish and Dead tours will saturate the scene with a very specific type of music lover, a new breed of band will sprout up to play for these music lovers, and all of this will force the current breed of jam bands to turn up the heat to hold the attention of fans distracted by the Phish and Dead reunions. Plus, you know, Phish and the Dead are like the anchor stores in a shopping plaza. With them back, others are sure to succeed by default.
Fan appreciation is back. All other bands beware.
Phish has always been known for their dedication to their fans putting out new remastered copies of their shows on a regular basis and more recently, new DVDs, throwing yearly festivals and NYE shows, offering fair ticket prices overall, giving fans the ability to not have to have to deal with Ticketbastard. Phish's return means that other bands are going to have to step it up. Just putting out a CD and touring all the time isn't gonna cut it anymore unless you're good and you make your fans feel special. Phish has gotten creative in the past; I buy their stuff because they are always offering other enticing stuff to go with it. A seven-DVD set, with a bonus DVD of rare footage and performances, and the opportunity to win tickets to all three nights of Hampton just for buying it? Im in.
Each member has been doing their own thing for long enough that new ideas have been percolating and new heights of musical improvisation are inevitable.
Im excited about the possibilities.
Now, on to the Clifford Ball DVD Set.
[image-2]The press folks were kind enought to send me a video clip of "It's Ice" and an audio file of "Harry Hood" from the upcoming DVD release. The seven-disc box set includes six sets, two encores and more than nine hours of bonus footage with live improvisation, rarities (like a soundcheck from August 15, their Flatbed Jam performed late night on the back of a truck), and an interview with longtime Phish artist Jim Pollock (who presents a new solo exhibit in Miami in March).
Here's the 'Hood:
Listen to Phish perform "Harry Hood."
You can pre-order the Clifford Ball DVD Set (and get entered automatically into a drawing for tickets to all three nights of Hampton) by clicking here. You have to place your order by Feb. 27 in order to qualify; the DVD's due out March 3 on JEMP Records/Rhino.
Stay tuned for more Phish news and views coming down the tube; I've got some good content coming up, including that "It's Ice" video clip I mentioned earlier.