Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Phish: The First Week...And Then Some

I haven't been a Phish fan for very long. In fact, the first time I gave them a listen it didn't stick with me at all. Then came their three night reunion back in March of 2009 at Hampton. The excitement of the band returning coupled with their amazing live renditions of classic Phish tunes was enough to get me hooked.

And now, about three months later, the jam band is at it again, absolutely possessing my musical soul since the group opened its first leg of the hugely anticipated summer tour at Fenway Park in Boston, MA on May 31. After tonight's scorching set in Asheville, NC, the band has played seven shows of new and old material for its dedicated fans, not including the three original shows back in March.

Fans who might be among the most devout in the business today. They love the music, they love the experience, they love the band and I can see why. Phish caters to its fans. One particular way is changing the landscape of show trading Phish fans have become known for. See, back in the days before internet, Phish fans would send tapes of shows to one another in exchange for a show they did not have yet. Obviously, the internet has changed everything, and for Phish it's no exception.

Live Phish, the official MP3/FLAC downloaded site of Phish, provides the shows for $9.99 each for MP3 and $12.95 each for the higher quality (to some ears) FLAC files. Of course, it's no secret that these become available for free around the net shortly after they are officially uploaded by the tech guys.

What's mindblowing is just how quickly the shows hit the internet. In the increasingly impatient country we live in, it should be no surprise to find out that the Phish shows from this current tour typically hit the internet later that night -- usually just a few hours later. Impressive if you ask me, and a motion that shows dedication to the band's fans. The quality of the audio files are crisp and clear, real choice stuff.

As far as the first run of shows goes, I've been impressed. Now, I say this from the perspective of a brand new fan who personally is hooked on every single live track I can get my internet hands on. On the popular Phish message board site, Phantasy Tour, I've read posts by some fans claiming "worst setlist ever!" and other such malarkey. Whether this is a cranky veteran or a two-bit troll, I'll never know.

But for all the negative vibes there have been more positive ones. I don't know about you, but if the band I loved for years returned to the live and studio scene, I'd be grateful for whatever show I could get. Not that a half-assed attempt would cut it, but that certainly isn't something Phish is guilty of thus far.

The band hits Connecticut in August, making a stop at the Meadows -- erm, the "Comcast Theater" I think it is now. Or did it change sponsors again? Regardless, Phish will be there, and I hopefully will be taking in my first show as a Phish fan. All those interested in expanding their musical ventures are welcome to join me.

Below you can check out one of the brand new songs Phish has been playing, "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan":

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