Painting the walls

For a while, from probably 2012 to the summer of 2014, I listened to Phish with an intense and focused passion. I had been listening to them since 2006 and going to shows since 2010, but finally the interest crystallized into obsession. I took notes and spent long nights diving deeper into the mythos of the band. This is one page of my Phish journal from that time:


It’s not organized in any particular fashion, except I’m clearly highlighting “full show recs” and ambient jams on this page. Beyond that, it’s just a list of specific jams from over the years that are worth listening to. From there, I began to develop a sense of how these guys communicated and what differentiated their improvisation, say, in the summer of 1995 from what they were doing in the fall of 1997.

I couldn’t get this band out of my head. Learning about the drivers behind the band’s history made the surface-level moments that much more special. It was a certain form of love, I’d say, and the process of falling into it.

These days, I participate in conversations on’s forum; on r/phish; and on a private listserv called JournoPhish, where journalists from around the world geek out on their favorite band’s latest shows and past high-water marks. I’ve devoted my time and faith — and I continue to — and now I bask in each tour, each moment.

I’ll be attending the four-night New Year’s Eve run in New York City once again, and those shows will bring my love for this band into starker contrast. Each show changes my life in incremental ways; sometimes, it takes years to see where Phish has caused me to take a turn in my own personal narrative. The impact of the Baker’s Dozen hit me immediately, and I’m so glad I made the trip up to New York for part of that run.

Right now, I’m fixated on the 7/19/17 Mr. Completely. I’m studying it, sure, here and there, but I’m also just loving it. Glad I was there for that one too.

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