Gettin’ Phishy wit’ it

I have never written a tribute to my favorite band – I hope I can do it justice. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m an uber fan; I don’t know basically every lyric ever sung like my husband and a bunch of friends; I usually take a minute to figure out which song has come on, unless it’s a hands down favorite; I can’t dance for shit.

My favorite band is Phish – there is something magical about the band members, their music – lyrically and instrumentally. I attended my very first Phish show in Cincinnati way back in 2003 – it feels strange to type that number 14 years later. I saw them again in Indiana that summer – a week after my best friend, Brian, overdosed and died. He was supposed to be at that show.

You know how music evokes memories? Like where you were, what you were doing, what was happening in your life, the times you hear particular songs? I think that’s a big Phishing draw for me – there are so many songs of the band’s that are special to me, especially their words.

For instance, one of my all-time favorite Phish tunes is called Waste. Its primary lyric is ‘come waste your time with me’ and it’s an all-around beautiful ballad. The song always makes me think of Brian – I wish he could still waste his time with me. Of course, I heard that song at the concert he missed due to his death and cried in public – it was rather cathartic.

After 2003, my newly discovered band went on an indefinite hiatus; which devastated me. So, I went back to see them after ten long years in the summer of 2013 in Chicago. Let me just tell you, people in Chicago are SO nice – I met some beautiful people. I don’t know if it’s just the awesome, laid-back atmosphere in the audiences, but Phish seems to bring out the best in people – at least in Phans.

I’ve gotten to hear a bunch of my favorite songs in person, which is of course always exciting, but Phish has so many original jams and does so many great covers, it’s hard to get every song squeezed in. I have a friend who has been to 80+ Phish shows and there is a particular song she is haunted by and has heard in concert a minimum of 15 times!

Anyway, Phish is definitely reminiscent of the Grateful Dead, not only in that they’re a jam band, but have a vast, hippie-type following. I’m no hippie (I don’t think) – Phish draws a variety of crowds, for sure.

One of the best parts of going to a Phish show is the inevitable reunion my husband and I always have with his old friends and friends we’ve just met through traveling to shows and mutual Phish love. We have pals in Oregon and Florida we can almost always count on seeing at a show, regardless of the location.

Phish is definitely the band I would stalk if I had the resources to follow them everywhere and see every show imaginable. It’s so much fun to predict which songs they’ll play at each show. It blows my mind that the band is having a 13-day concert, known as the Baker’s Dozen, this summer at Madison Square Garden! I would adore to go, but there is no way feasibly for us to attend. However, we will be present in spirit, as our Florida buddies are seriously going to all 13 shows!

A cool thing about Phish shows is that they’re all so different – you never know just what you’re going to get. We heard them do a Talking Heads cover – which was awesome – in Nashville last year. For one huge Halloween show – all Phish Halloween shows are epic – the band played the entire White Album by the Beatles. Now, I’m not a Beatles fan AT ALL, but I think I would have enjoyed Phish playing the old school tunes.

Trey Anastasio, the lead guitarist and singer, is fantastic, as are Mike Gordon, the bass player, John Fishman, the drummer whose perpetual concert costume is a muumuu, and Page McConnell, the pianist. Mike’s Song, by Mike Gordon, naturally, is my son Jack’s favorite Phish song, as he loves the drums!

In summary, Phish has been a special band to me for the past nearly 15 years. Listening to them play has opened up my musical horizons greatly – I never would have given the Grateful Dead a chance had it not been for them. Phish has helped me to appreciate MUSIC, not just popular and/or fancy stuff. Also, my many amazing concert memories and the warm and fuzzies I feel when I hear certain songs give Phish a special place in my heart.

Love, Maggie


  1. I’d love to go to a Phish show. It’s on the list of things I really should do, like go to Walden and maybe see an afternoon game at Wrigley. (And I have never even heard one of their songs, and want to see them, just for the experience.)

    • Hey, Eli! Phish shows are unbelievably amazing; I hope you can go to one someday! I may have said this in my post, but I saw them in Chicago at Northerly Island a few years ago – one of the best shows ever! Walden would be amazing; I really wanted to read the book as well! 😀

    • LOL! Yeah, a lot of people aren’t familiar with Phish – totally not everyone’s cup of tea, but so talented! Thanks so much – there’s something about the way music can take me back in time! 😀

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