In celebration of PhanArt’s 2nd Anniversary of being published, this week we are sharing excerpts from select articles written exclusively for PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish. To read more of this article and other great reviews of the Phish community and unique style of art, pick up the book here
An excerpt from ‘The Open Source Phish Code’ by Benjy Eisen, writer for jambands.com and many other fine publications, originally published in PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish (2009, Allegra)
Unless you know how to see in Technicolor, I admit, it may seem a little thin: For much of my 20s, I followed around a rock band. Thousands of others did too. We spent entire summers traveling all over the country to watch the same band play night after night. When we weren’t at the concerts, we spent our time collecting recordings of the concerts, discussing the concerts (past and present), and preparing for the next batch of concerts. It’s okay, you can think it — it sounds shallow. Like we missed the mark. But we didn’t.
You see, we didn’t merely follow a band around the country; sometimes we led them. Sometimes we led each other, sometimes we fed each other, and always we fed off of each other. Phish was always fond of acknowledging from the stage that tours took more than just the four musicians. You see, when you stepped into a Phish show, you stepped into a different dimension — one in which you became a creative, artistic, free participant. An active participant. You engaged while also being engaged.
Other concerts go something like this: You meet up with your friends, have dinner somewhere near the arena, pay $10 to park, drink a few beers, go inside, dawdle during the opening band, find your seats, watch the concert and go home.
Phish shows weren’t like that. At Phish shows, you were expected to do more. It was in the contract. Part of the deal, you see. Part of the appeal, you see. And if you toured with the band, forget it — you were in deep!
Between 1993 and 2004, I saw somewhere around 150 Phish shows, stretched over 11 years, 25 states, and two countries. I spent the best nights of my life with Phish and I have a hell of a lot to show for it. Most of it is intangible — it’s in my eyes, the way I walk, the manner in which I carry myself, even in my sigh. But physically, apart from a box full of ticket stubs and photographs, I have artwork in myriad forms picked up along the way. The art — whether primitive or skilled — serves as a concrete reminder of all that is divine in my life. They’re sacred objects. I have a silk-screened t-shirt bought on 7/5/94 in Ottawa, Canada from a guy who reminded me of a cartoon drug dealer. The shirt no longer fits, but I look at it and remember getting lost in French-speaking Canada on the way to the show.
To read more, check out the book here