Anastasio has never understood why the elemental force of rock can't be extended into forms more complex than a three-chord, three-and-a-half minute pop song. The consensus among the phans is that, so far, this string of concerts is one of the best ever. Phish has been known to jam for 30 minutes on a song that may take only three or four minutes to play straight. And hardly a word is exchanged either way. The band has flown into that free space, where as Anastasio says, "everyone is feeling the inherent foundation of the song so strongly, so obviously, that we're all free to completely let go of any worries about keeping the song together. He's the one responsible for uniquely Phish-style anthems such as Guyute, a weirdly triumphal march whose chromatic harmonies lie entirely outside the ken of most rock musicians. They sauntered toward the desk at the Holiday Inn, blond dreadlocks hanging lank, wearing T-shirts printed with catch phrases such as Clifford Ball and Gotta Jibboo, or in A-line dresses of quilted cotton. Such kaleido-phonic episodes seem to merge the four personalities of the players guitarists Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon, keyboardist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman into a whole guided by no individual. We don't even want to think about [how long that might be] we just want to go into a period where if somebody wants to backpack around India for six months, they can go do it.
Part of Phish's appeal seems to come from its ability to merge a comic, free-wheeling group persona with a determined assault on established pop-music form. For true believers, Phish is not a band, but a seasonal way of life. The consensus among the phans is that, so far, this string of concerts is one of the best ever. Visually, it's a very homogeneous scene, where beards, tie-dye and quilted cotton dresses are ubiquitous. Published July 5, Updated April 3, They were not hard to spot. Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre, where the Phish plays Thursday night. Stevens died before Phish was born, yet his couplet from The Blue Guitar captures the nomadic intimacy of the band and its public. And hardly a word is exchanged either way. The tunes as written, or as recorded on the band's albums, are the raw material for what they become in concert. Between the two songs lies a new kind of music that may not have much to do with Phish in its present form. But at the tune's end, the undanceable dance drew a huge ovation. These one-shot musical masquerades, which have taken months to prepare, are a way of invading the body of another band's work and absorbing some of its DNA into Phish. It rode and played above the audience on a giant flying hotdog in , and dropped 80, balloons on the crowd and itself in Bittersweet Motel, a feature documentary about the band, will be released later this summer. Story continues below advertisement Story continues below advertisement Phish sold more than one million concert tickets last year, and the current summer tour sold out almost everywhere before it began on June 22 a rare exception: The groove, which for most bands is a solid rhythmic foundation not to be messed with, became something liquid and alive. When Phish is on the road, its "phans" are too. They seemed to know each other, moving to embrace some friend last seen, perhaps, two nights before in another hotel in a different city. Story continues below advertisement The band has devised many moments of nutty spectacle for the phans, especially at its New Year's Eve shows. Phans seeking tickets signify their need by walking around with their index fingers in the air, or with handwritten signs. The Inlaw Josie Wales is an acoustic instrumental in the finger-picking style beloved of bluegrass players. The band has flown into that free space, where as Anastasio says, "everyone is feeling the inherent foundation of the song so strongly, so obviously, that we're all free to completely let go of any worries about keeping the song together. Like the band at the centre of their devotion, Phish phans like to go somewhere they haven't been before, perhaps somewhere their bodies can't even understand. In First Tube, Anastasio plays a long-breathed tune in moderate three-quarter time over a faster, apparently incompatible two-stroke beat in drums and bass. The self-less jam is a kind of holy grail for Phish and Phishdom.
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