Phish playing a segue jam between 'Ya Mar' and 'Mike's Song'I used to be embarrassed to tell people that I was a huge Phish fan. The problem with both the Grateful Dead and Phish is that so much crap is slung about them, and so many people think they know exactly what the bands are like despite never having listened to them. At the same time, the fans can be part of the problem. Bob Weir of the Dead once said something to the effect of 'the thing that bothers me most about Deadheads is that all they listen to is the Dead.'
Well, the truth about most of the fans, and Phish fans in particular, is that they are incredibly diverse people with incredibly diverse tastes. Yet there's something about the band that pulls us all together, whether it's their wide array of musical styles (rock, funk, blues, bluegrass, jazz, ambient, etc.), their improvisational jams, their unique songs, or their personalities. In actuality it's probably a combination of the above along with an unspoken X element. For a long time Phish were my favorite band even though they weren't touring. In fact, they've been broken up for over four years now. And though the band members themselves haven't spoken up as to the why's and how's of this reunion, I think it's undeniable that it isn't for the money. It isn't for any selfish or personal reasons. It isn't even for the fans.
This may sound needlessly altruistic, especially coming from me, but I truly feel that it's for the music. It's for the creative act. The desire to reunite four master musicians, frequently brilliant improvisers, and, above all, great friends.
Though there are some lingering doubts, especially given that the band took a break before (from 2000 to 2002) and ended up breaking up in 2004 because it just wasn't the same. But I'm nothing if not cautiously optimistic about music. Here's hoping whatever the band thought they needed to work through over the past four years has been worked through.
Phish reunion announcement video