Review by Padraic Swanton, Chicago, Illinois, Online Phish Tour contributor
Reading as part senior thesis, part newspaper rock column, part thank you, part “Esquire-style” experience piece and a mostly straightforward historical reference piece, Go Phish discusses much of the first part of the band’s first era with interviews, newspaper articles and more. The book strikes a balance of the band’s emergence musically as a can’t miss ‘event’ full of stage antics and an insider’s view into the players and the game.
I first read Go Phish in high school when the book hit shelves of the local B. Dalton (RIP). Reading Go Phish then surprised and awed many teachers and cemented my love affair for a band in the midst of one of their best – if not the best – years in history. At the time, my three-show-vet-status was brought down to reality with the stories behind the stories I’d heard from one friend, cousin or another. Building on a previously released reference piece The Pharmer’s Almanac, and the effort of the folks at Phish.net, Go Phish focuses on journalism more than opinion.
Now, 15 years later, I look back fondly on those days – both the band’s and my own – through my re-reading of Go Phish. With every waking move of the band covered, debated and rumored upon online, it’s refreshing to read Thompson’s coverage of what brought us here, albeit without the 1998-2011 period. A band that failed their very first gig emerged through vacuum-solos and the ‘van days’ to take the stage in upstateNew York at the Clifford Ball.
Go Phish is worth the quick read for the vet and noob alike and while it’s free from criticism and sways toward praise, the printed book will always beat the computer screen for me for the longer reads. Pick up a copy and learn a little more about H.O.R.D.E and Santana tours, The Front, the emergence of the tour and online communities and songs like Union Federal.