The biggest sham perpetuated by mainstream rock and pop music magazines is the narrow “greatest guitarists of all time” annual issue. In the editor’s defense, it’s probably a dreaded task. Most of these sorts of publications (none specific come to mind, of course) tend to focus their top picks on the straightforward rock guitar heroes. Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman.
Every Phish fan has their favorite year of the band's long and storied career, and will argue to the death why they feel that specific year stands as the group's greatest. For some it's the feisty year of 1993, or the energetic and explosive 1994 tour, and some will even argue that the tight yet loosely woven shows of 2011 rank as their all time high. But for many, it was without a doubt the body of work heard during 1997.
I have to admit, I am not an avid Phish follower. I don’t travel to see them, I haven’t bought an album since Farmhouse, and I hadn’t really enjoyed a live show since Greensboro ’03, but this show reminded me of all the things I had forgotten. I love running into all kinds of people I haven’t seen in years in the parking lot. I love the range of music blasting from the cars parked early for tailgating, and the folks selling all kinds of stuff from food and beverages to art and jewelry.
Though Phish has released a large, strong collection of concert DVDs over the years, the bulk of them were filmed during their peak years of the 1990s where the norm was the old format of standard definition. Muddied colors, blurry camera movements, and sub-par audio couldn't quite do the show the justice it deserved. Not any more.
After much coordination and navigation, our group celebrated the successful creation of a small tent/popup, tapestry and solar light embellished village by partaking in a few ice cold libations before heading toward the music. As we walked in the dark down the windy dirt road in the direction of deep rooted bass and canopy swinging melodies, a myriad of bioluminescent extensions of the forest helped to light our way.
What do you get out of attending a Phish show? What do you get out of attending MANY Phish shows? Why do you see live music performed at all? Surely you’ve fielded this question before; I know I have. A relative looks at you quizzically, or maybe it’s a co-worker... “You’re going out of town to see them, AGAIN?” They’d say, incredulously.
2009 has been one helluva year, hasn’t it?
We all started out in January, with the electric energy of a pending Inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. And we also had the knowledge that Phish was gonna tour again. I for one, recall standing outside on NYE, and holding my hands wide to embrace what was ‘next.’