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Phish in Relix Magazine circa 1989

by William Ruhlmann

It never ceases to amaze me how many great un-signed bands there are out there. Phish, a four-piece that hails from Burlington, Vermont, is one such band. It consists of Trey Anastasio on guitar (he also writes most of the music), Page McConnell on keyboards, Jon (Phish) Fishman on drums and trombone, and Mike Gordon on bass.

Phish has a strong base of highly original material that it liberally laces with jazz, rock, funk, calypso, and blues elements, as well as some truly bizarre lyrics that would do Frank Zappa proud.

The Band has been playing the New England club and college scene for the past five years to ever-increasing audiences, and on the strength of their self-produced cassette release, Junta, it’s easy to see why.

The tape is superbly recorded and shows the band possess a musical flair almost beyond belief. Sure, the songs are a little odd, especially the whimsical “Contact,” a love song to a car, and the poetic “Ester,” but the underlying strength of all the material is the virtuoso musicianship and why sense of humor that runs through it. Guitarist Anastasio’s playing is of a highly exploratory nature and ranges from jazzy runs through the melodic phrases to daring improvisations. Keyboardist McConnell embellishes the sound with some intricate playing, while the rest of the band creates a complex mesh of syncopated and polyrythmic sounds. This is most notable on the lengthy, mainly instrumental “David Bowie” (the only lyrics are the title and UB40 repeated!), and the equally exciting “The Divided Sky” and “You Enjoy Myself.”

According to a spokesperson for the band, the tape only reflect a small part of their complex repertoire of originals. They even have an entire suite that runs an hour and a half! I hope we get a chance to hear more form these extremely talented musicians in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, this tape comes highly recommended. For gig dates and other info call 802-655-9068. For the tape, send $9 to: Dionysian Productions c.o 168 Waver St., Winooski, VT 05404.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHISH - Here’s to another 29!

Phishorama

And who said those fourth grade diorama skills would never pay off?
I present the New Years Phish diorama or “Phishorama”

The second installment in my concert-poster blog series.
No, this is not a poster, but in fact it is a bit more involved. It encompasses over a decade of Phistory. And it features some items that were never sold, but instead, tossed or hit out to the crowd by the band members themselves (hotdog and golf ball.)
In 2010, the members flew out above MSG on New Years Eve in their infamous giant hotdog. They threw the foam dogs, hanging in the centerpiece of this set, as they floated across the Garden descending next to the stage. I managed to film it (here). You can actually see Trey throw me the dog.
In 2012, the band had the golf cart masquerade. As the ball dropped, golf carts raced around the stage as the Phab Phour tee’d up and drove foam golf balls into the crowd (the left of the set.) Unfortunately, I did not catch one of these, but a phellow phan, I met in the 2013 Msg poster line, mailed me a ball this past February, free of charge. His name is Jason, he’s from Philly. he’s a cool dude.
Phinally, the Hockey Puck was sold this past New Years Run for two nights, then pulled from the merch stands in fear of fans hucking real hockey pucks during the show. I was able to snag one on the phish dry goods website, within the hour or so, before they sold out.
I had all this crap but really never had a purpose for it. Until now. Thank god I have a girlfriend who sews. She dragged me to Joanne Fabrics for hours. As I moseyed around, while she ransacked patterns, I came across the shadow box. The rest is Phistory.

Contents in the box:

2003 - Two Phish Summer & Winter Tour Laminents

2010 - Foam Hot Dog (Time for the Meatstick)

2011 - 6 Summer Tour Ticket Magnets

2012 - NYC MSG 4 night Pin Set (Individually dated & numbered)

         - Foam Golf Ball

2013 - 3 Summer Tour Coins (Tahoe, SFx2, Hollywood)

         - Atlantic City Playing Cards (Halloween 10/31)

         - 2 MSG NYE coins (12/30 & 12/31)

         - 1 Ticket Magnet MSG NYE (12/30)

         - 30th Anniversary Hockey Puck (Official Made in Slovakia)

That’s it for now.  I have merit badges from the ‘09 Summer Tour and Hat pins from ‘12 that will eventually make their way in. 

Thanks for recycling.

A fun day indeed! Phish is able to confirm a previously unknown show from Lyndon State College back in 1989! No setlist available.

Here is the article from Phish.com:

This show took place in the Lyndon State College cafeteria with a capacity of 180. This was a 18-and-over show that was not listed in the November 1989 Phish Update and was limited to students-only, although it is confirmed that some non-students did make their way inside. This was the band’s only gig at L.S.C. An article in the student newspaper began with “Phish, known in some circles as a psychedelic band and similar to the Grateful Dead and Max Creek, will be coming to Lyndon State College Saturday, December 2. The band has developed a large following from all over the state, however they will be performing to a limited crowd at Lyndon if the 180 person limit is met.” There are no tapes of this performance in archives and it may have gone unrecorded. The setlist is unknown and any additional information about this event is appreciated.

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