First things first – this is a pro-Phish statement. When the most over-analyzed band on the planet opened up their New Year’s Eve gig last week at Madison Square Garden with Ricky Nelson’s mellow, country-tune “Garden Party,” many presumed it was a reference to the astro-turf lining the stage and floor that night. But as the fake grass would later turn out to be intended for the golf gag accompanying the 3rd set, the song cover was obviously much more of a statement from the band about their constant over-analyzation – “You see you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” Thank fucking God they’ve finally vocalized this in one form or another. There was a time, in Phish’s mid-90′s heyday, when the foursome strived to be the greatest band in the world. And during those times of intense desire and practice, many would argue that they achieved just that. But these days, nearly 20 years later, their main intent seems to just be continuing their dream life of having fun on stage with their best friends, and letting the music goes wherever fate takes it. The joy and playfulness of all 4 nights of this past MSG run showcased that this is a band doing whatever the fuck they want to, as they essentially have always done, but becoming more and more oblivious to ignorant complaints from an overly-critical audience that wants to place them on a pedestal upon which they have no desire to ascend. Relax, the band sounds great – so just have a good time already. I attended all 4 nights of this past MSG run and was befuddled and amused to read the reviews of one specific Phish blogger who has chosen to devote his life solely to this one band and nothing and no one else, and was thus let down by these shows not reaching their most epic level of fruition. This is a guy who apparently abandons his family at home to attend all 37 Phish shows across this country this year, and as far as I can tell only really enjoyed 5 of them. Maybe it’s time you rearranged your priorities bud – or at least tried listening to another band for once. And yes, I know I hated like hell on one of the San Francisco shows I saw this Summer – but that’s because not only was the music piss poor, but the band was clearly not enjoying themselves on stage. So rather than review these 4 shows myself, I thought I’d list the Top 4 things that are wrong with Phish’s audience, as I noticed at the gigs last week.
1) Talking During the Show – Now I’m not referring to talking with your friends, or even the occasional ranty convos that go a little too long. I’m talking about these dumb folks who want to strike up an idiotic conversation with you because they don’t really care at all about what’s happening on stage. Case in point: this withered middle-aged hag from California who I’ve never met, but have frequented the same parties with, who is well known for hating Phish ten years ago. But now she’s finally realized that Garcia really isn’t going to be reincarnated, so she pretends to enjoy this band so that she can have a place to do drugs with her friends. Listen bitch – we’re on the floor standing 50 feet from the band – it’s the jam in “Reba” – I’m clearly focused on the stage and the music, and enjoying all the things that I’ve paid $70 to be here for. I really don’t need you to turn your back to the stage while standing directly in front of me, and try to talk to me about how there’s too many glowsticks on the ground because your friends have gone to the bathroom and you have no one to talk to now. Why don’t you try paying attention to the music for once, and mind your own fucking business? I promise nobody will think you’re not cool becasue you’re being quiet. Moving on…
2) Lying About How Many Shows You’ve Seen - Listen, I really don’t judge Phish fans by how many shows they’ve seen. And I’m truly more impressed with the kid who has only been to 12 shows and is raging his fucking face off, then the kid who claims he’s been to 200 but only wants to talk about the after-party during “Tweezer.” If you’re lying about the past, then it only means that you’re not enjoying the present, and again, maybe you should go find something better to do with your life. I’ve seen people on numerous occasions jump from 60 shows to 160 in a week’s time. Why? Because you think I or anybody else is suddenly going to give you more respect? Live your own fucking life and embrace your own past.
3) Chicks Who Think Fucking the Bassist Gives Them Street-Cred - Now there’s no argument that Mike Gordon is a ridiculously talented bassist. But he is also an incredibly haggard and odd looking man. If you’re going to tell me that you don’t really like the band that much but that Gordo gave you free tix because of a late night rendezvous you had with him, then honestly any iota of respect I had for you as a woman has just been completely thrown out the window. It’s one thing if you LOVE the fucking band, and would do anything to express your infatuation to them. It’s a whole other thing all together when you say you’re not really that familiar with the music, but you know it gives you good street cred when you say you get tickets from the band. Put your tits away, or at least throw them in the face of someone you admire. Again, have some fucking self-respect people.
4) People Who Wonder Why The Band Doesn’t Play “Steam” – Wanna know why? Because the song is boring. It’s got 3 chords, a redundant lick, and no interesting changes – but everyone wants to hear it because it’s got a good funk groove. Sure it’s fun to dance to, and Kuroda hits the steam shit on the stage, but if you watch any videos of the band playing the song though, Trey looks bored as all fuck. I think the band realized that they wrote the song to appease fans looking for a new groove tune, but that it doesn’t really bring the constructive dynamics that they want to showcase at this point in their career. It’s not that it’s a bad song, it’s just a step in the opposite direction of any kind of growth the band could show.
It’s not high-school anymore everybody – you don’t need to be the coolest kid in the room. Grab one friend and go find a good spot in the building to really enjoy the show. That’s what all those “custys” and “noobs” are doing, and I assure you, they’re having the time of their lives.