Phish Tour Fall 2023 – Phish performing live at American Airlines Ara in Miami in 2009. From left to right: Page McConnell, Trey Anastasio, and Mike Gordon; not pictured: Jon Fishman.
Phish is an American rock band formed in Burlington, Vermont, in 1983. The band is known for musical improvisation, real estate jams, a blizzard, and a dedicated fan base. The band consists of guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman, and keyboardist Page McConnell, who perform vocals, with Anastasio serving as lead singer.
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The band was formed by Anastasio, Gordon, Fishman, and guitarist Jeff Holdsworth, whom McConnell joined in 1985. Holdsworth left the band in 1986, and the lineup has remained stable ever since. Phish began performing outside of New York in the late 1980s and saw a rise in popularity in the mid-1990s. In October 2000, the band began a two-year hiatus that ended in December 2002, but they broke up again in August 2004. Phish officially reunited in October 2008 for subsequent reunion shows in March 2009 and have since resumed performing regularly. All four members pursued solo careers or performed with side projects and these projects continued before the band came together.
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The band is part of a movement of improvised rock groups, inspired by the Grateful Dead’s live performance format and colloquially known as “jam bands”, who gained considerable popularity as touring concert acts in the 1990s.
Phish has developed a large word-of-mouth following, traded live recordings, and sold more than 8 million albums and DVDs in the United States.
Phish was signed to major label Elektra Records from 1991 to 2005, and the band formed their own independent label, JEMP Records, to release archival CD and DVD sets.
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Phish was formed at the University of Vermont (UVM) in 1983 by guitarists Trey Anastasio and Jeff Holdsworth, bassist Mike Gordon, and drummer Jon Fishman. Anastasio and Fishman met in October, after Anastasio heard Fishman playing drums in his room and asked if he and Holdsworth could play with him.
Gordon met the trio soon after, after answering an ad for a bass player that Anastasio had posted at the university.
The new group held their first concert at the University of Vermont’s Harris Millis Cafeteria on December 2, 1983, where they played classic rock covers, including two Grateful Dead songs.
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The band played one more concert in 1983 and did not perform again for almost a year, due to Anastasio’s suspicions about the university after a prank he had pulled on a friend.
Anastasio returned to his hometown of Princeton, New Jersey after the prank and reconnected with his childhood friend Tom Marshall; The duo began a songwriting collaboration and recorded material that would appear on the Bivouac Jaun demo tape.
Anastasio returned to Burlington in late 1984 and returned to performing with Gordon, Holdsworth, and Fishman; The foursome eventually named themselves Phish and held their first concert under that name on October 23 of that year.
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The band members have several different origins for the name Phish. In Parke Puterbaugh’s 2009 book Phish: The Biography, the origin is given as a variation of phshhhhh, an onomatopoeia of the sound of a brush in a box.
In the official 2004 Specims of Beauty document, Anastasio claimed that the band is also named after Fishman, whose nickname is “Fish”.
In a 1996 interview, Fishman, who gave the band its name, died and said the onomatopoeic inspiration behind the name was the sound of a plane taking off.
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Keyboardist Page McConnell met Phish in early 1985 and arranged for him to play a spring concert at Goddard College, the small college he served in Plainfield, Vermont.
He began performing with the band as a guest shortly thereafter and made his live debut during the third set of their May 3, 1985 concert at UVM’s Redstone campus.
During the summer of 1985, Phish went on a brief hiatus while Anastasio and Fishman were vacationing in Europe; during this time, McConnell offered to join the band permanently, moving to Burlington to learn his repertoire from Gordon.
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Phish performed with a five-piece ensemble for about six months after McConnell joined, a period in which Holdsworth left the group in March 1986 following a religious conversion.
While working at Goddard College, Phish began collaborating with fellow students Richard “Nancy” Wright and Jim Pollock.
Pollock and Wright were musical collaborators who made experimental recordings on multitrack cassettes, and had been introduced to Phish through McConnell, who co-hosted a radio show on WGDR with Pollock.
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Phish adopted several of Nancy’s songs into their own set, including “Halley’s Comet”, “I Didn’t Know”, and “Dear Mrs. Reagan”, the latter song written by Nancy and Pollock. In his book Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America, music journalist Jesse Jarnow noted that Wright and his music were highly influential on Phish’s early style and experimental sound.
Wright formed his association with Phish amicably in 1989, but Pollock has continued to collaborate with Phish over the years, designing some of their album covers and concert posters.
By 1985, the group had antagonized Burlington luthier Paul Languedoc, who would eventually design personal instruments for Anastasio and Gordon.
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Since then Languedoc has built exclusively for both, and his traditional designs and wood choices have given Phish a unique instrumental identity.
In the late 1980s, Phish began playing regular gigs at the Nectar bar and restaurant in downtown Burlington and performed dozens of concerts at multiple residences through March 1989.
The band’s 1992 album, A Picture of Nectar, was named after the bar’s owner, Nectar Rorris, and its cover features his face superimposed on an orange.
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As a capstone project for Goddard College, Anastasio wrote The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday, a nine-song prog-rock concept album that would become Phish’s second studio experiment.
Recorded between 1987 and 1988, it was presented in July of that year, together with a written thesis. The song cycle that developed from the project, known as Gamehdge, grew to include eight additional songs. The band performed the series in concert five times: in 1988, 1991, 1993, and twice in 1994 without repeating the set list.
The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday never received an official release, but a bootleg tape has circulated for decades, and songs like “Wilson” and “The Lizards” remain staples of the band’s concerts.
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Beginning in the spring of 1988, the band members began practicing seriously, sometimes locking themselves in a room and playing for hours on d. One of those jams took place in Anastasio’s apartment and the second in Paul Languedoc’s house in August 1989.
They called these jam sessions “Oh Kee Pa Ceremonies”, a reference to the movie A Man Called Horse.
In July 1988, the band played their first concerts outside of the Northeastern United States, when they began a seven-date tour in Colorado.
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On January 26, 1989, Phish played at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston; The club’s owners had never heard of Phish and refused to hire them, so the band stayed with the club for the night.
The concert was Phish’s breakthrough on the Northeast regional music circuit, and the band began booking concerts at other major rock clubs, theaters, and small auditoriums throughout the area, including the Somerville Theatre, Worcester Memorial Auditorium, and Wetlands Preserve. .
That spring, the band self-released their first full-length studio album, Junta, and sold cassette copies at their concerts.
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The album includes a studio recording of the epic “You joy Myself”, which is considered the band’s signature song.
Later in 1989, the band hired Chris Kuroda as lighting director. Kuroda subsequently became known for his artistic light shows at the group’s concerts.
A Phish profile appeared in the October 1989 issue of Deadhead Relix magazine, which marked the first time the band had been featured in a major national music magazine.
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By the late 1990s, Phish concerts were becoming increasingly complex, often making a constant effort to include auditioning in the performance. In a special “secret language”.
The sound would react in a special way based on a special musical suggestion from the band. For example, if Anastasio “taunted” a theme from The Simpsons theme song, the audio would scream “D’oh!” imitate Homer Simpson (help info).
In 1992, Phish introduced a collaboration between sound and the band called “Big Ball Jam”, where each band member would toss a large beach ball into the air and play a note each time he hit his ball. . In doing so, the sound helped create an original composition.
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Sometimes performances of “You joy Myself” and “Mike’s Song” featured Gordon and Anastasio performing synchronized moves and jumping on small springboards while playing their instruments at the same time.
Fishman would also regularly come out from behind his drum kit during concerts to sing cover songs, often being prevented from playing an Electrolux vacuum cleaner as an instrument.
The band released their second album, Lawn Boy, in September 1990 on Absolute A Go Go, a small