Reasons that You (the Non-Phish Fan) Should Be Excited and Not Excited About the Very Likely Phish Reunion
By Mark Abraham | 2 July 2008
10. You = Non-Hippy Citizen
Masculinity Posturing (Haircut Edition)
I mean, this will be hilarious, right? All those ex-heads who have grown up and gotten jobs and doffed their dreads and whatever? Suddenly they have to grow them back, or risk showing up to a show to face the entirely new Phish-show-coolness pecking order defined by the extent to which an individual did not compromise his sweet do for the sake of not looking like a hippy anymore. In other words, the dude who gave up touring for a professional job and probably makes more money than the dude who still works at the organic produce store and hits up Bluegrass Festivals on the weekend will show up at the show and automatically not have as much cred, inverting the social hierarchy of the real world. And, look: the real world’s hierarchy sucks and is built on bullshit, but all those dudes with massive dreads who used to be all “welcome to our awesome non-hierarchical Phishy community” because they were all “I’m going to enrapture this short-haired kid with my awesome hair” are going to have a much harder time arguing that hierarchy doesn’t exist in Phish-world (oh, how it did) now that they’re trying to get the best campsite but can’t because they cut their locks off.
What you get to look forward to: if your co-worker Fred seems to suddenly be trying to grow dreads again, you can freely find that hilarious, because you know where he wants to be next summer. Tryin’ to make a woman match his moves, to share it in the “Weekapaugh Groove”!
Con: none, really. It ain’t your haircut.
9. You = Indie Rock Fan
A Hilarious Rise in the Glowstick Market
Buy stocks now, I mean.
I was actually in attendance at the first glo-stick fan-participation whatever ever at the Great Went. Not as historic as people might have you believe, especially since, like, the only difference between throwing glowsticks and, uh, regular sticks around a crowd is that the former leave a glowing arc before they wack some unsuspecting fan in the face. But I’m excited because suddenly we’ll see a resurgence in hilarious debates like this one, which essentially place glowsticks at the center of a debate about fan interaction and community, as if the real problem isn’t just that there are fuckheads at Phish concerts just like there are fuckheads at every other concert.
What you get to look forward to: no matter how often some Phish fan tells you that Phish concerts are some holy sacred place of peace and unity, you can know that double-fisting no-shirt jackasses with backpacks on screaming “whoo!” who think that the half-foot of space in front of you is a wormhole to the front of the stage exist at Phish concerts too. And they’re just as fucking annoying there.
Con: Bonnaroo’s slowly changing image? Here comes the reversion!
8. You = Rock Critic
A New Phish Album
To laugh at, mostly, since: Phish albums suck. All of them. I mean, maybe some of the live albums are okay, at least in showing what the band was actually good at, but what the band was good at was decidedly not showing up to a studio and making an album.
What you get to look forward to: smugly snarking on Elektra for not getting this very simple fact.
Con: A new Phish album.
7. You = University Student
The fiction of the benevolent and equal nu-hippy community (in reality, it works more like a lion pride, where men with the largest dreads enjoy the most respect and prominence, while women with the most nurturing earth mother whatevers are treasured (because they do the dishes while everyone is tripping on acid)) is just progressive enough (the women don’t need to be barefoot with babies in kitchen; they can be barefoot with babies in the middle of “Bathtub Gin”) to capture the minds of highschool- and university-aged nascent left-wingers too timid for the similar fiction of the benevolent and equal punk/hardcore community (I alternated between both; I grew to despair about both). In other words: kids looking for a place to fit are going to fall into this shit, and it will be hilarious, because young politicos trying to praise the politics of a band with a song called “Guyute” about a magical pig is just too much.
What you get to look forward to: smugly trouncing 19-year-old dudes in political debates because yours aren’t based on the lyrics of a band that performs some of their songs on trampolines. These are the sensitive guys who think they’re feminist because they don’t want to tie anybody down (i.e. “women’s sexual freedom means I get laid more”). Fuck ‘em up good, people.
Con: Hearing people talk about the politics of pot when they’re stoned. Sigh.
6. You = Guitar Shop Employee
Phish fans will tell you that Trey Anastatio is a brilliant guitarist and has some of the greatest control over feedback ever. Then they will explain why, detailing his tendency to employ excessive overdrive (two Ibanez Tube Screamers) with a hollowbody guitar, which will then segue into half-an-hour of them explaining his rig to you. It’s like when a Bob Dylan fan starts zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
His rig (with the exception of his guitars) is pretty much exactly the same as what a lot of people use. There is nothing exciting about it, at all, beyond the amount of money he’s been able to spend on it. For example, he uses a Boomerang, which is the expensive version of a phrase sampler, sure, but he’s basically just doing the same shit Feist or Andrew Bird or Jamie Lidell does without their fans falling over one another to tell you how trippy it is: “whoa: that riff is repeating and he’s not even playing it anymore!” Whee.
What you get to look forward to: selling a shitload of Boomerangs and other equipment to the middle class trust fund kids who decide they want to start a band “like Phish” and try to buy Anastasio’s exact rig. And then walking out back and laughing.
Con: stock up on wah-pedals for them to abuse.
5. You = Rural New England Denizen
‘Cause, fuck, right? That’s all they are. And if they want to cumulatively spend a gazillion dollars on toilet paper and Fluff, why not? You’ll have to put up with traffic jams, maybe, but once they all get on the airforce base (or whatever)? You can have a town party that is way more happening than those 50,000 kids are going to have. Rock on, real America!
What you get to look forward to: Scratch.
Con: Millions of enviro-conscious urban dwellers scuzzing up the countryside.
4. You = Vacant Airforce Base
A Reason to Live Again
You might be inanimate, but you still have feelings, and I feel for you. And if nobody else is going to take responsibility for the relics of Cold War hysteria and military zeal, at least Phish fans will show up and build both above ground and black market economies to revitalize the environment. Until they leave, of course, and their trash is everywhere (hippy fiction 24: they all clean up after themselves).
What you get to look forward to: 3 days of vibrant rhythms.
Con: 1 year being hungover and covered in crap.
3. You = Phish
Conflict About Self
Because I’m convinced these guys only partially like what their band has become. They’re geeks who made it by courting hippies; they’re good musicians who made it by acquiescing to their fans’ desire for the least musical parts of their music (the jam, which, when you’re doing it every song, like, it’s not even really improvising anymore); they’re dorky songwriters lyrically, so they cloak that shit up in technically impressive composition, and then dumb that shit down again by jamming it out; they win because most of their audience is on drugs; they’re forced to constantly outdo their own stage antics; and, and let’s face it, a large portion of their audience thinks their shit don’t smell, and what kind of existence is that? I can totally see a small place where the band just wants to play a Brooklyn warehouse between Black Dice and Excepter and play around with new ideas. I mean, they would suck, because Phish is best when they don’t pretend they’re all that innovative, but I can see the desire to do so.
What you get to look forward to: Making a shitload of money off fans you may or may not actually want to play for. You enjoy myself, guys!
Con: Destroying the legacy of bands you love by covering their songs at Halloween.
2. You = Reformed Phish Fan
Which I guess, in a way, means me. I liked this band in high school, yes. I don’t regret that, either; this isn’t me tangling with conflicting feelings or separating myself from anything. I’m not even really that reformed, since the only difference between then and now is that I’ve heard a bunch of other music that is better and worse and therefore can better contextualize what it is about Phish I could care or care less about. I’m just snarking on the shit that’s always existed around this band but so often gets lost in wanky indie fans being all “Phish/[eye-roll]/They suck!” and then leaving it there like that means anything, or like that’s a universal truth that we all understand. Because it doesn’t really matter if it’s true; lots of the shit I’m picking on here is sometimes true of indie music too, I’m saying, though with less of a faux-ideological justification based in Grateful Deadisms, and we would all do better to recognize it.
What I get to look forward to? Walking in on brand new record store clerk conversations where Phish is this super-polarizing thing that is positioned against their love of indie music. Guess what. Phish has never ever mattered at all; they can’t hurt you. They’re just a band you may or may not like.
Con: Nothing, for me anyway. I love laughing at wasted energies almost as much as I love wasting energy making a big deal about it.
1. You = North America
What you get to look forward to: Nothing. The media is stupid. Look at me writing this list…
Con: “Ooh: this youth culture is sooo fascinating. These are hippies, right?”
Welcome to 1968, all over again.