Phish is an American band that is often referred to as a jam band. Having formed in 1986, Phish has spent the years since their founding establishing a strong fan base and a solid reputation as one of the best performing bands in the country. Currently, the band comprises of four members including Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell. If you are a Phish fan and want to learn more about them, their history, their discography and how to get the best Phish tickets to see them live in concert, continue reading.
Phish is one of the most popular jam bands in the United States. A jam band is one which is known for their ability to blend a variety of different genres, improvise musically on stage, and carry out extended ‘jams’ during their live performances.
The band came together in 1983 at the University of Vermont. By 1985, Phish had their permanent line-up in place which consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Trey Anastasio, vocalist and bassist Mike Gordon, vocalist and keyboardist Page McConnell, and drummer and vocalist Jon Fishman.
The band performed virtually non-stop for a period of 20 years until 2000. At this point, they decided to take a two year hiatus. After returning to the scene, the band announced in 2004 that they would be playing their last show. They stayed away from music until 2009 when they reunited for a series of three consecutive shows which were held at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. After performing those three shows, Phish has resumed performing regularly full-time.
In terms of their sound, Phish’s music incorporates a wide variety of genres. This includes everything from jazz, funk, pop, blues, progressive rock, folk, psychedelic rock, country, bluegrass, and more.
Over the course of their career, Phish have released 15 full length studio albums and have sold upwards of 8 million CDs and DVDs in the United States. This is all despite the fact that they have received very little mainstream media exposure.
According to Rolling Stone Magazine, the band helped "...spawn a new wave of bands oriented around group improvisation and extended instrumental grooves".
The Formation of Phish
Phish came together in 1983 when the band members met at the University of Vermont. The initial members of the band included Trey Anastasio and Jeff Holdsworth, both of whom were guitarists, and bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman. When they first started out, the band would play Grateful Dead songs. By 1986, the band members were getting ready to graduate from university and a few line-up changes had been made. The permanent line-up for the band was solidified by this time and consisted of Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell on the keyboard, Mike Gordon, and Jon Fishman.
Phish was busy creating music from the moment they formed. They had about six different self-titled cassettes which were experimental in nature. They distributed these tapes freely to increase the band’s exposure. Of the six tapes, The White Tape was their most well-known effort.
The early versions of these cassettes were recorded first in a dorm room in late 1985 and then were rerecorded properly in a studio. In 1998, the songs would be rereleased under the title Phish.
Over the course of their career, Phish have released a total of 15 full length studio albums. These include: Phish (1986), Junta (1989), Lawn Boy (1990), A Picture of Nectar (1992), Rift (1993), Hoist (1994), Billy Breathes (1996), The Story of the Ghost (1998), The Siket Disc (1999), Farmhouse (2000), Round Room (2002), Undermind (2004), Joy (2009), Fuego (2014), and Big Boat (2016).
They have also released 13 full live albums which include: A Live One (1995), Slip Stich and Pass (1997), Hampton Comes Alive (1999), New Year’s Eve 1995 (2005), Live in Brooklyn (2006), Colorado ’88 (2006), Vegas 96 (2007), At the Roxy (2008), Hampton/Winston-Salem '97 (2011), Chicago '94 (2012), Ventura (2013), Niagara Falls (2013), and Amsterdam (2015).
The band also has an ongoing live series which is called Live Phish Series. These are multi-CD sets which include complete shows the band has performed over the course of their career. The first Live Phish Series was released in 2001 and to date there are 20 volumes as well as 38 downloadable performances.
Live Performing Style
Phish is a band that is famous for their dynamic, engaging, and energetic live performances. In fact, most of the fan culture and popularity surrounding the band has everything to do with their concerts.
They are a band that has made a commitment to ensure that no two shows of theirs are alike. This involves constantly changing the set-lists, changing details about the stage arrangements, and adding unpredictable antics of their own.
Their concerts aren’t just about the live event; they are an entire mini-festival. Fans arrive early to the venue which always features a temporary community set up in the parking lot. This community has a ‘Shakedown Street’ which features a food court, garment district, pharmacy, and art district. Many fans go to multiple Phish concerts at a time and travel around with the community that follows the band.
With jam bands such as Phish, since their specialty is their live performances, their concert recordings are often traded commodities. There are a number of official recordings and soundboards as well as unofficial fan tapings. The band has no objections to the fan tapings as long as they are for personal use and not for profit.