Phish is heading back into the studio in a month, signalling that their latest reunion might be more permanent than anticipated. They have about 20 songs demo’d for their upcoming album.
When it was rumored they were getting back together, no one really knew if it was going to be a fleeting reunion or if they were back for the long haul. Still, for the diehards, just that promise was enough to ignite their passion.
When tickets went on sale for the first announced concerts through Live Nation Ticketing, 10 million requests — from both rabid Phish fans and brokers’ automated Web bots — overwhelmed the relatively new Web site, which nonetheless sold more than 250,000 tickets over a weekend. “This was like a tsunami that they weren’t expecting,” said Coran Capshaw, Phish’s manager who runs Red Light Management.
So the question becomes will Phase 2 be worth it for the fans and for the band? It’s hard to say, but a few quotes provided in Jon Pareles NY Times article have me excited.
As a longtime fan of Depression-era swing bands, Trey Anastasio has been thinking about Phish’s role in the current recession. “For people in hard times, we can play long shows of pure physical pleasure,” he said. “They come to dance and forget their troubles. It’s like a service commitment.”
And, he remarks how polished and ready-to-go the band will be.
Late last year the four band members came together, by themselves, to make music in Mr. Anastasio’s Burlington barn and studio. They liked what they heard. And they resolved to be the version of Phish they prized most: the intently practiced, well-prepared Phish from the mid-90s. They started their Vermont rehearsals not with their countryish three-chord songs but with their intricate, suitelike songs that verge on progressive rock, like “Split Open and Melt” and “Foam.” Although Phish has recorded demo versions of 20 songs for its next album, only one is likely to be heard this weekend: “Backwards Down the Number Line,” a fond birthday song that asks, “Do you know why we’re still friends?”
Figuring out what to play for its first three reunion concerts became “one of those exercises in overthought that Phish is known for,” Mr. Anastasio said. Band members went in a circle naming the songs they wanted to play, deducted some, consulted a list of every song Phish ever played, did some trading and eventually arrived at about 80 songs. Mr. Anastasio started constructing three nights’ sets. “It’s like Tetris,” he said as he showed a visitor the list, a printout full of handwritten changes from six different pens.