Music / Phish
Left to right: Trey "Big Red" Anastasio, Jon "Fish" Fishman, Mike "Cactus" Gordon, and Page McConnell. They can be quite silly.

Phish is a jam band which formed in Burlington, Vermont in 1983. Known for their live shows, they have gained quite a large fan base, especially in the nineties. They have been compared to The Grateful Dead, in terms of just how long they can just go off on a song, fanbase size, having a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor named after them, their encouragement of fans taping their concerts, never performing the same songs in the same order during concerts (look it up if you're not convinced), and this and that and other things. Styles differ quite a bit, though. Phish would fall more under jazz-fusion goofy-alt-rock with a smidge of unorthodox-progressive as opposed to the Dead's psychedelic, bluesy country-folk-rock with heavy old-school jazz tendencies. Like the Dead, Phish only had one minor radio hit - 2000's "Heavy Things" (which didn't even chart) - and a handful of songs that scraped the bottom of Billboard's various rock radio singles charts, yet the band remained a top touring and album act. The band split in 2004, but reformed in 2009, with their tour that year becoming one of the top money-making tours of 2009.

Like The Grateful Dead, the band is best known for their live shows. Like snowflakes, no two Phish concerts are exactly alike (many being not alike at all due to their improvisational styles changing drastically over their tenured career) and you never know what songs you'll hear out the band's exhaustive repertoire of originals and left-field cover songs. What songs are played and in what order vary with every concert; you are very unlikely to hear the same song in two consecutive concerts or hear them perform those songs in the order they were in a given concert setlist ever again. However, the band does play certain songs together: "Mike's Song", "I Am Hydrogen" and "Weekapaug Groove" form the famed "Mike's Groove" trilogy, though Hydrogen is often swapped out for other tracks. The band also performs several dozen songs that don't appear on a studio album, and probably never will. Many claim Phish to be the most impressive live improvisational group of all-time, expecially given their small line-up; the four main instruments in a rock group and none more...

Studio album discography
  • Junta (1989)
  • Lawn Boy (1990)
  • A Picture of Nectar (1992)
  • Rift (1993)
  • Hoist (1994)
  • Billy Breathes (1996)
  • The Story of the Ghost (1998)
  • The Siket Disc (1999)
    • This is an instrumental (and mostly electronic and experimental) album. It is notable as one of the earliest instances of a major musical act releasing an album of new material exclusively over the internet.
  • Farmhouse (2000)
  • Round Room (2002)
  • Undermind (2004)
  • Joy (2009)
  • Fuego (2014)

Live album discogrpahy
  • A Live One (1995)
  • Slip, Stitch and Pass (1997)
  • Hampton Comes Alive (1999)
  • New Year's Eve 1995 - Live at Madison Square Garden (2005)
  • Live in Brooklyn (2006)
  • Colorado '88 (2006)
  • Vegas 96 (2007)
  • At the Roxy (2008)
There's also the Live Phish series, in a similar vein as the Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks series. Between 2001 and 2003, the band released 20 of these concert albums, and as such, it would be ridiculous to list them all.

Phish provides examples of:

  • Album Title Drop: A Picture of Nectar in "Cavern".
  • Assimilation Academy: "Chalkdust Torture"
  • Audience Participation:
    • For a while, Phish used to have their own "Secret Language" of audience cues, used to mess with newcomers, each tipped off by a high guitar trill.
      • If one of the bandmates played the opening bars to The Simpsons theme song, the audience would yell "D'OH!"
      • If they played the opening to Here Come The Gladiators, everyone in the audience would hum a random note.
      • If they played a four-note downward arpeggio, the audience would fall over.
      • If Trey played a Scare Chord on his guitar, the audience would hold their hand up, curl in their middle finger to make it look like it was cut off and yell "AH, FUCK!"
      • And most amusingly, if Trey played the opening bars "Turn! Turn! Turn!" the audience would turn towards the back of the building and cheer as if Phish were playing there.
      • And on the WBCN New Years' 92 broadcast, they handed out a flier with an even more elaborate set of instructions. (source)
    • They also used to throw three giant bouncy balls into the audience and have them throw it around the venue. The band would time their playing to the balls' behavior, in essence making a different composition each show.
  • Audience Participation Song: WILSON! (dunn-dunn dunn-dunn) WILSON!
    • There is also "Harry Hood", "Fluffhead", "Stash", "AC/DC Bag", "Bathtub Gin", and "Harpua".
  • Drugs Are Bad: Zig-zagged. Being a jam band, they've had their fair share of mind-altered experience, but during the breakup, Trey got a DUI and had to go to drug court. He's been clean ever since. Not only did it probably saved his life, it can be assumed the other three have mellowed out significantly as they got older.
  • Epic Rocking
  • Everything Is an Instrument: One of the most well-known parts of Phish's set was that Jon Fishman occasionally played a vacuum as an instrument. Early in their career, this was one of the few things the average music fan knew about them.
  • It's a Small Net After All: In the early 90s, Mike logged into a Phish chat room on AOL under the nickname "FakeMike". People would ask him questions like, "If you are Mike, what are the chords to 'Bathtub Gin?'" or something, but he had a mental block and couldn't think of any of the right answers.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Maze".
  • Limited Wardrobe: Fish almost always performs while wearing a blue and red muumuu. Apparently, it's more comfortable.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Since "Jam Band" isn't a genre, and while "Alternative Rock" certainly would suit them just fine, they're also influenced by jazz, bluegrass, acoustic, reggae, folk, and prog rock.
  • Non Sequitur: During their famous "Big Cypress" concert on New Year's Eve 1999, the band instructed the audience to chant "Cheesecake" instead of cheering after "Heavy Things", because they wanted to screw with television viewers (since the ABC 2000 was simulcasting said performance). Unfortunately, ABC cut away too early to notice the ruse.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Trey was one of two composers for the musical "Hands on a Hardbody."
  • Sixth Ranger: Like how the Grateful Dead had poet Robert Hunter as their lyricist, Trey Anastasio's childhood friend Tom Marshall wrote or co-wrote with Trey a good chunk of the band's oeuvre.
    • An alternate candidate would be Chris Kuroda, a longtime friend responsible for the light shows that accompany their concerts.
  • Visual Pun: The cover of Hoist depicts a horse being held up by a pulley as a pun on the expression "hung like a horse". Hung Like A Horse was a Working Title for the album: They went with a different title, leaving the cover a Stealth Pun.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Fishman almost always wears a muumuu on stage.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Often, with varying levels of meaningfulness and coherence.