Phish has had such
a profound impact of my life that I'll never forget my first encounters with their
inventive brand of music. Whether it was the time my Dead-loving friends finally spun
Lawn Boy at Camp Westmont in August of '93 after six weeks of playing every
Grateful Dead tape known to man, or the moment I finished listening to "Squirming Coil"
for the first time and knew I had found the band for me or walking out of NYC's Beacon
Theatre after my initial Phish show and immediately tried to figure out how to get to the
next gig. It's been quite a ride over the 20 years since my first encounter with the
Vermonters and I'm so proud that today, as the band celebrates the 30th anniversary of
their first show, that Phish is once again riding high during another peak of their
Whether you were amazed or disappointed with Phish's decision to debut 12 new songs as
Wingsuit on Halloween, you have to admit it's a great sign for their continued
longevity. It also kicked off perhaps the most interesting debate in the band's history as
it seemed everyone had a different opinion on the songs themselves and the decision to
play them on a night that used to be about another act's music. The fact that
Wingsuit came towards the end of the best tour the quartet delivered in over a
decade seemed to show the 30-year ride is far from over.
That's not the way it seemed just five short months after Phish celebrated their 20th
anniversary in Boston, when Trey Anastasio issued a note breaking up the band that stunned
fans. While we all hoped and wished Phish would get back together, the tone in Anastasio's
letter, including the heartbreaking phrase "we're done," made it far from fait accompli
the band would ever reunite. As we approached the middle of 2008 word began to circulate
that a reunion would indeed take place. In fact, nearly four years to the day that Trey
issued his letter breaking up the band, the guitarist gave Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone the clearest sign yet he was gearing up
for a return when he said, "Because at this point in time I would give my left nut to play
that song five times in a row every day until I die" about "You Enjoy Myself," a tune he
had previously talked about not going around playing during those dark days. And then it
happened, on October 1, 2008 Phish announced they would indeed reunite for three shows at
Hampton Coliseum and more.
I looked at this next phase of Phish as the "icing on the cake" of my experience as a fan.
I had already seen them achieve great success musically, while thumbing their nose at the
established norms. Every time you expected Phish to zig, they would zag and their ability
to continually surprise fans is one of the best parts of the past 30 years. Yet five years
after the reunion announcement we're once again seeing them on top of their game. Instead
of simply providing an epilogue to their already impressive career, they continue to make
history and write new chapters of the Phish story.
If the hiatus and breakup taught me anything, it's not to take anything for granted when
it comes to Phish, so I'm enjoying the band's current revival to its fullest. Let's take
today to celebrate what the quartet has accomplished and to be thankful for the ways
they've impacted our lives in ways beyond the music. Happy 30th Trey, Mike, Page and Fish!
Written By: Scott Bernstein