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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 25, 2000)
BY KEN MORTON
Most music fans have traveled to Omaha to see
their favorite acts play a live show. A good number will
even travel to Kansas City, Mo. or Denver for a bigger
But imagine traveling from Minneapolis to
Kansas City, then heading to Englewood, Colo., then
packing up and going to Las Vegas for a couple of
days, followed by a trip through California.
For hundreds - maybe even thousands - of Phish
fans, trips across the country are commonplace.
Phish fans, also known as “Phishheads,” have devel
oped a traveling culture in the tradition of the Grateful
Dead, and tonight that carnival atmosphere will pull
into the Sandstone Amphitheater in Bonner Springs,
The Phish phenomenon started over 15 years ago
at the University ofVermont in Burlington. All four
band members were students there and started play
ing together. Drawn together by outstanding musi
cianship and a penchant for free-form jamming,
Phish quiddy gained a following.
Word-of-mouth continued to spread the gospel of
Phish, and by 1989, the band could sell out clubs in
cities such as Boston. Phish landed a major-label deal
with Elektra Records in 1991, and the national expo
sure helped create a following across the country.
Phish began to designate tapers’ sections for
bootleggers at concerts. The band’s liberal taping pol
icy, coupled with the traveling fans that had started to
follow the band, drew obvious comparisons to the
Like the Dead, Phish has not gained much main
stream success. But Phish’s ticket sales consistently
surpass those of pop artists like Celine Dion.
So how can a band that has never had a platinum
record gain such a devoted following?
Alex Marsh, a native of Grand Island, followed
Phish for about three months in the summer of 1998.
Marsh said a lack of money - and no way to get to
Bonner Springs - will keep him away from tonight’s
“I went enough a couple of years ago to tide me
over for a while,” Marsh said. “Besides, the real hard
core Phish fans - and the best shows - are on the East
Marsh first discovered Phish while attending
boarding school in Colorado and experienced his first
Phish concert in Syracuse, N.Y. while he was at college
at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.
“Phish concerts were huge events at school,”
Marsh said. Marsh was instandy hooked after attend
ing the concert
“There’s just this amazing attitude at their shows,”
Marsh said. “It’s like this giant carnival community
outside the show. Everybody’s real friendly, and you
can always find people to hang out with.
“I remember one show in Indianapolis where
they only played three songs all night, but they played
for over two hours,” he said
Phish’s improvisational “jam” style has earned
them fans among musicians. Brian Fisk, a system
administrator for http://www.netscape.org, which
hosts http://www.phish.net, said Phish’s variety and
musicianship naturally draw people that want to lis
ten to music.
“Phish will play their trademark jazz-influenced
rock, some deep funk grooves and some bluegrass all
in one night,” he said.
Fisk, who handles many of the technical aspects
of the Phish Web site, became a fan about six years
ago. At his first show in 1995, Fisk said he was a bit
annoyed by the extended jams.
“I was talking about it with the friend who got me
started,” he said. “I complained about how-Down
With Disease’ went on forever. He went nuts because
I didn’t understand the value of the jams. Of course
I’ve heard enough Phish now to understand the
Fisk said the concerts are so special that people
would rather go to a show, or get a bootleg copy of a
show, than get a studio album.
"Studio albums are done in this cold, sterile envi
ronment, which means Phish’s trademark jams have
to be watered down or left out,” he said. “People know
how different each show can be. Why buy a studio
album when you can have dozens of different ver
sions of each song on tape?”
The spread of the Internet in the last few years has
helped the spread of concert tapes as well, Fisk said.
He also said word-of-mouth remains a vital part
of Phish’s success. Once someone wants to find out
more about the band, then the Net becomes impor
“If you’re looking for a tape of a certain show or
just trying to build a collection, the Net greatly
expands the number of opportunities,’’ Fisk said.
Marsh said he had found quite a few tapes on the
Internet that he wouldn’t have been able to find any
Tapes are also peddled and traded in the parking
lots of the venues where Phish plays. However, Marsh
said tapes, T-shirts and other trinkets aren’t the only
things sold in the parking lot before the show.
“I was surprised that there was a lot more LSD
than anything,” he said. "I thought I'd see more mari
juana than I did.”
Marsh said the absence of police surprised him.
“I saw some security guards and stuff, but I didn’t
really see any cops,” he said. "We bought our marijua
na in the parking lot and weren't worried about it”
For the Sandstone show, an officer with the
Bonner Springs Police Department said he expects no
more incidents of drug possession than at any other
rock show and has no plans to add security, despite
the reputation Phish concerts have earned.
Fisk hopes the stereotypes about Phishheads will
disappear as they gain more fans.
“Everybody has this idea of a dread-locked hip
pie,” Fisk said. “But there is a lot more to Phish than j
Marsh said he agrees with Phish to some extent,
but did say drugs and Phish will probably always be
linked in some way. «. With . . !
I think some people use Phish accuse to do j
drugs,” Marsh said. “But even peopjb gf the shows J
who enjoy thejmusic are probably stoi^ji.’'
For Marsh*thedmgs enhanced his Enjoyment of !
the concerts. S,. r /-' IF.
“Drugs or hot," Marsh said, “I would highly rec- ,
ommend going to at least one Phish concert in your
life.” v ■!- j
'Famous'portrays 70s in a rosy light
■This autobiographical love
letter'speaks of an era that is too
for gone for young audiences.
“Be honest and unmerciful,”
grizzled Creem Magazine editor
Lester Bangs snarls to 15-year-old
William Miller, ready to begin his
career as a rock journalist. It’s
1973j the rock ’n’ roll era has come
to, pi fester’s words, “its death
knell^and William, well, he’s
happ^jiist to havegot in c^jhetail
CamiefOn Crowe's sepu-^jtobio
grapraCal love letter to the *19708
music scene, “Almost Famous,” a .
vivid snapshot of Crowe’s experi
ences as a teen-aged rock journal
ist for Rolling Stone Magazine,
which, if we believe the story in
front of us, was a mostly innocent
and beautiful thing, despite the
drugs, the groupies and the occa
sional pool dive off a roof.
I don’t buy it. While “Almost
Famous” opened to across-the
board jubilant reviews in major
cities last weekend, it’s likely to hit
a certain ceiling with audiences
anywhere below 30 years of age,
who are unfamiliar with the era.
Major movie critics are mostly
older white men, most of whom
embrace that era - and the music
that came before it - with a sort of
Crowe does, too, and to his
credit, he admits it in interviews,
in press notes, everywhere.
So here’s a rock movie, while
drop dead accurate and often a
funny recreation of the period,
seen through some of the rosiest
colored glasses on the market.
It's predictable, contrived and,
after awhile, feels like a collection
of sitcoms strung together for
slight dramatic effect. It’s enjoy
able to a point. Beyond that, you
either identify with the era or you
don’t You’ve been forewarned.
As it stands, Miller/Crowe is
played by newcomer Patrick Fugit
with a bright smile and sheepish
antics of a kid in way over his head.
The story is seen through his eyes.
He has a sister and a mother
(Frances McDormand) who rep
resent the opposite sides of his
conscience - curious and protec
When the sister becomes a
stewardess, she leaves her record
albums, including Zeppelin’s “No.
2” and The Who’s “Tommy,” and
attaches a note: “Listen and light a
candle, and your future will
William gets deeply into
music and meets up with Lester
(Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose
performance steals another
movie). William impresses Bangs
with riffs on Lou Reed (“His early
stuff is good, now he’s trying to be
too much like Bowie.”) and gets an
assignment - 1,000 words on
Never happens. William gets
shut out at the concert backstage
door. But he meets Penny (Kate
Hudson), a glorified girl groupie
who calls herself Band-Aide.
Penny’s got the look that not many
women have. Drenched in blonde
curls and big fur coats, Hudson,
the daughter of Goldie Hawn, is a
major discovery - her career will
skyrocket, like that of Renee
Zellweger after she glowed in
another Crowe film, “Jerry
Please see FAMOUS on 9
'Urban Legends 2'
fails to top original
■Though chock full of plot
twists and horror, movie does
n't live up to sequel potential.
BY SAMUEL MCKEWON
Joseph (Joey) Lawrence,
sometimes singer and the former
“WHOA!” guy from the sitcom
“Blossom,” could have a role as
David Copperfield - the illusion
ist, not the Dickens’ character-in
Why, he looks just like the guy,
with a smaller nose. And a less
That was the most significant
observation made during “Urban As executive producer Brad
Legends 2: The Final Cut,” a Luff says in the press notes: “We
sequel so chock full of twists and used a lot of great urban legends
horror, it nearly matches the in the first picture. How could we
standard of the first “Urban top that?”
Legend,” a solid, one-star piece of Indeed. So it made clear sense
entertainment. Alas, some bars -—
are simply set too high to eclipse. Please see LEGEND on 9
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