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Phish Tales: It Was This Big!

Soundbites: Phish Tales: It Was This Big!, Splendor in the Grass, Light Headed, Bite Torrent, Dept. of Corrections


Published March 11, 2009 at 5:11 a.m.

If you were there, you’re probably still high — metaphorically speaking, of course. If you missed it, you’ll probably say you were there anyway. And if you still haven’t returned ... well, you’re probably fired.

I am of course referring to last weekend’s greatest moment in rock history, like, ever, brah: the Phish reunion shows in Hampton, Va. The blogosphere is positively afire with reports of an unprecedented return to phorm for the local jam giants, putting widespread fears of hasbeenery to rest — at least until they resume touring this summer.

By nearly all accounts, the trio of epic performances re-cemented Phish’s standing as “totally, like, the best band in the world and I’m not even kidding.” Righteous. But perhaps more intriguing was the role of technology in the evolution of what many are terming — and I wish I were making this up — “Phish 3.0.”

The Willy Wonka-like travails of acquiring tickets to the reunion shows have been well documented. While ticket scarcity no doubt led to legions of depressed hippies — which is only slightly worse than a legion of sad clowns — the fact that so many phans were shut out of the phun led to the application of social networking tools to keep erstwhile Phish-heads in the loop. Most notably, live blogging and — again, I wish I were making this up — Twitter feeds.

Scads of blogs featured up-to-the-minute reports of the goings-on, largely consisting of set lists and occasional outbursts of near orgasmic hyperbolic glee, as in “Dude!” and “Whoa. Dude.” Yes, those are actual quotes. Several blogs, including noted live-music site FestivalCrashers, even reported — are you ready? — what their friends were text messaging about the show. Really. The constant stream of updates made it feel as though the reader were actually there in person. Only without the, you know, music.

In a true sign of the times, the Phish shows inspired more “tweets” than a presidential address to Congress as average fans and celebs alike offered insights from the show in 140 characters or less. There is now even a “tweet aggregator” called “PhishTwit” solely devoted to compiling Phish-related posts from across the tweetscape. By the way, I am officially mandating that “Phish-twit” replace “Phish-head” as the subculture’s preferred nomenclature. Let’s make this happen, people.

Anyway, some personal favorite tweets from the weekend that was:

• rprice23 (via FestivalCrashers): “ ... sounding distinctly ’98ish.”

• Matisyahu (yes, that Matisyahu): “At phish show in hampton!!! Yeah boy.”

• Auzzie07 (via FestivalCrashers): “First set break. Hour and fifty minute first set. F***ing epic. Phish 3.0 is sick.”

• PhishTwit (via PhishTwit): “security just found baggie with some ‘crystals’ and asked if I knew what it was.”

Welcome back, boys.


Raise your hand if this past weekend’s run of sunny, warm(ish) weather inspired gleeful flights of fancy and dreams of greenery to come. Now, keep your hand raised if Monday’s snow crushed those notions in that special way that only Vermont in March can. Just as I suspected. But take heart, folks. Snow squalls be damned, we’re almost there. And there can be no surer sign of spring than Higher Ground unveiling the lineup for Vermont’s answer to Tanglewood, the annual Concerts on the Green series at Shelburne Museum. Well, Tuesday morning, Alex Crothers and Co. announced this year’s lineup. And as we’ve come to expect, it’s a good one.

The fun begins, rain or shine, on Monday, June 1, with Talking Heads front man David Byrne. If the museum folks will let you — trust me, they won’t — you might as well camp out, as three days later, on Thursday, June 4, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller join forces for what promises to be an unparalleled evening of Americana. On Tuesday, July 14, iconic singer-songwriter Jackson Browne makes his second Vermont appearance in as many years. Closing out the series on Sunday, July 26, are Canadian arena-rockers The Tragically Hip.

Tickets for all shows go on sale this Friday and are available through the HG box office, the club’s website, ticket hotline (888-512-SHOW) and Pure Pop Records in downtown Burlington.


Montpelier’s Halogen Records — you might know them from such shows as The Wailers this Thursday at the Higher Ground Ballroom — just announced that it has inked a “content distribution” deal with Eos Music, a sister company of the Applied Media Technologies Company. For the uninitiated, AMTC is the primary competitor of Muzak, the outfit primarily responsible for watered-down instrumental versions of classic-rock songs that inevitably are stuck in your head after grocery shopping. In other words, they are the original purveyors of elevator music. Bastards.

The difference between the two companies — and this is the cool part — is that Eos specializes in providing businesses with an independent alternative to the industry-standard din of milquetoast synthesizer crap currently piped in to so many centers of commerce.

Halogen’s increasingly impressive roster of local talent includes the likes of The Dixie Red Delights, Aaron Flinn, Tha VT Union and Strength in Numbers. So don’t be surprised the next time you stroll into your local co-op and find yourself bouncing to VTU’s “Handz On It” while checking a tomato for ripeness. Although, given that tune’s lyrical content, said tomato may now come with a “Parental Advisory” sticker. It’s still organic, though.

In other Halogen-related news, up-and-coming hip-pop outfit Strength in Numbers — an early favorite for this year’s Daysies award for Best New Vermont Band — recently announced a string of East Coast tours this May with Jurassic 5’s Akil the MC. Congrats, guys.


With many area colleges away on spring break, it’s kind of a quiet week on the live-music front. Still, there are a few solid options to suit your listening pleasures. In no particular order ...

The Boys and Girls Club of Burlington turns it up to 11 this Sunday. Quite literally, in fact, as they present their eleventh Hardcore and Metal Showcase at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. Slated to appear are Motionless in White, My Hero Is Me, The Hottness, The Things He Carried, Blinded by Rage and Seconds Before Sundown.

Local rock snags a choice Friday-night slot at Nectar’s this week with Close to Nowhere, Gutterpup and Sour Boy. Rock on.

Meanwhile, upstairs at Club Metronome, local jam takes the spotlight as Twiddle and Lucid get their noodle on.

Sadly, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, seriously limiting the degree to which we can all pretend to be Irish and remain gainfully employed. However, I’m officially naming this Friday St. Paddy’s Day “observed,” as renowned local Irish band O’Hanleigh ups the craic at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury.


Last week’s spotlight on local Fela Kuti tribute band Movement of the People incorrectly cited trumpeter Brian Boyes as the group’s bandleader. Though Boyes is a key player — in fact, he also plays keys in the group — MOP’s music director is actually saxophonist Zach Tonnissen.