Finding Phish

No matter how often my friends tried to push Billy Joel on me I just couldn’t get in to his music. Especially “Big Shot” which made me want to reach through the radio and punch Joel in the nose.

One summer Joel toured through Salt Lake City,  and I refused to go with two close friends who could not understand why I wouldn’t tag along. Three hours of Billy Joel tunes would have either killed me or put me in a coma.

But I couldn’t fake it. Music is too personal. Some say certain groups are an acquired taste. That might be the case for coffee, but I haven’t found that translates well to music. I may hear a song and not immediately love it. But I may find a groove or hook interesting and worth another play. But I can’t remember listening to a song that annoyed me on first listen ever making it back onto my playlist.

I never liked Journey. But during the 80’s it was nearly impossible to turn on the radio or MTV without hearing “Don’t Stop Believing” or “Any Way You Want It”.

Yet I loved about anything from Jackson Browne, a musician most of my friends couldn’t stomach. My efforts to get  them into “The Pretender” fell on deaf ears.

About a year ago I came across “Intro to Phish” from Marco Arment, a blogger I read regularly. I’d heard of Phish, but wouldn’t have recognized of their music because they live outside the radio-friendly confines of mainstream music.

Phish is considered a jam-band known for their extended improvisations and “super extended grooves.” I’ve heard people relate them to the Grateful Dead, not in sound, but in how they connect with their audience.  Arment said it best: “The band shows none of the rockstar “screw you” ego: they get on stage, share the spotlight among the four members, play like crazy, have a lot of fun, and humbly thank the fans for our support.”

I can’t convince you to like Phish anymore than my friends could drag me to the Billy Joel concert. But I hope you’ll give them a listen. You may enjoy their upbeat and unique sound. They are one of the few bands I can listen too for extended periods of time without getting bored. I don’t connect with their studio albums, but I really enjoy the energy from their live concerts. That’s where Phish shines.

46 Days was the song that hooked me initially. But Ghost is my favorite song right now. The jam from about 6:50 is amazing. They recently played four sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden to end the year. If you find their music matches your taste, dozens of their live concerts are available for purchase  at the Live Phish website.

Phish–Ghost from Madison Square Garden 12/31/2010