TVD Live Shots: Phish
at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 7/26

We have a long history of naming bands after animals. To name a few, we have The Monkees, The Arctic Monkeys, The Turtles, Whitesnake, The Eagles, Grizzly Bear, and Flock of Seagulls. There’s Dr. Dog, Temple of the Dog, Snoop Dog, Three Dog Night, and Blue Oyster Cult. We adore acts like The Stray Cats, Kitten, Ratt, The Eagles of Death Metal, Counting Crows, The Black Crowes, and Animal Collective. There’s even Mastadon, and the Unicorns—extinct and/or fantasy creatures. And then there’s Phish.

No one saw it coming when Phish hit the scene in the mid 1980s cleverly morphing the spelling of Fish to Phish, and in doing so, ingraining their brand permanently into musical culture. The band is actually named  after their drummer Jon Fishman, but that’s a whole other story.

If you don’t already know about Phish, they  are one of the most prolific and celebrated jam bands in today’s music scene and Saturday night marked night one of their two-day stay at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.  Phish is known for playing to a very lively, very large and enthusiastic crowds on every stop of their tours. Saturday evening in Maryland? No different.

As singer / guitarist Trey Anastasio took the stage you couldn’t help but see his warm smile as he looked genuinely out into the crowd and went right to his instrument. Without so much as a word, Anastasio picked up his guitar and simply started right into the first of the band’s two full sets of the night.

I suppose when you’re in a band such as Phish, you really don’t have a need an opening act, you just need a twenty-minute smoke break and perhaps a few “happy pills” to get you through the night. Whatever the formula is, it’s still working. Phish sounds as tight as they ever have and the guys look as happy on the stage as I’ve ever seen them.

What sets Phish apart from every other jam band in today’s concert offerings is their huge following. Phish is known for their large-scale, roving fan base who travel in droves night after night to capture as much of the “Phish experience” as possible. Phish sells out large venues often for two to four nights in a row on every tour they embark upon. Their fans are some of the most loyal and devoted fans in music.

Ticket sales alone prove that Phish is one of the biggest touring bands in history—across multiple generations.

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