How I too learned to stop worrying and love Phish

Back in high school, I, like most high schoolers, went through a hippie phase.

I wore hemp, bathed myself in patchouli and listened to Phish, even going so far as to attend an actual Phish concert.


Aghast! It’s true!

Now, as an Adult Approaching 30, I am decidedly out of my hippie phase. I actually hate hippies and eat their bleeding liberal hearts. OK, not really. But I do despise most of that culture.

Call it Adulthood Rebellion — the act of rebelling against your former, more immature self, ie the inverse of Teen Rebellion, where you rebel against your parents — if you want.  Call it the Hippies Are Lame Theory, which I personally subscribe to. Hell, you can even call it narrowmindedness. I won’t mind.

Like most of my decisions and blanket life-generalizations, I’m having second thoughts. The crack in my hard veneer is expanding. Most likely, I was pig-headedly wrong. I’m working to correct that.

Let me explain.

It all started, as they say, when I stumbled upon an NPR blog written by Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney, one of my Top 10 bands of all time, wherein Ms. Brownstein proposed a question about which band her readers most often have to justify to their friends for liking.

And, you guessed it, most of her readers chose Phish, with several well reasoned replies, including this one from Cameron:

“I love Phish. Phish embodies what I love about all music: excitement, energy, unpredictability and fun. They play because they love it, and it shows. They do jam, but as a group, feeding each other — like Jazz instead of Jam. It’s not the solo-heavy crap that occupies most ‘jam’ music.

They have shared the stage with Neil young, Jay-Z, B.B. King, Alison Krauss and even Bruce Springsteen — so obviously fellow artists take them seriously. But amongst the public, they still carry such a stigma.

Phish turned me on to My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, Django Reinhardt, The Talking Heads, plus many more. I could recommend any of those bands to you with no trouble, but mention the band that led me to them, and I’m laughed out of the room.”

Sounds pretty open-minded right? Ms. Brownstein agreed. And so Ms. Brownstein decided to give Phish a chance.

Carrie Brownstein with her newly acquired Phish CDs

Carrie Brownstein with her newly acquired Phish CDs

All this week, she’s listening to live bootlegs and studio albums, watching YouTube concert clips and DVDs, chatting to fans, or phans, if you’d like, and all in all going all out in her quest to try to like the jam-oriented band.

And I’ve decided to join her. Call me crazy.

It’s been two days and I’ve yet to fully engulf myself in the quest like Ms. Brownstein.  But I’m hoping to begin in earnest tonight.

So I’m asking you, dear readers, to steer me, like Ms. Brownstein’s readers have her, into the unchartered waters of Phish, with which concerts I should download, which YouTube clips I should watch and which studio albums I should own.

I already have Billy Breathes. What else should I add?

Oh, and let’s leave out the patchouli this time. That shit stinks.


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