March 9, 2009

Phish Swim Upstream

With all the media coverage of the Britney Spears comeback tour and Michael Jackson's announcement that he will soon hit the road with some sort of massive traveling freak show, spring and its accompanying rejuvenation are in the air. The whole extravaganza might make you wonder if spring is an illusion and winter will never end, because Britney's act looks about as rejuvenated as a well-manicured corpse, and Michael Jackson just looks like a dead, gay mannequin. (And we all know Justin Timberlake already took that award, albeit alive.) Despair not, our friends. Springtime is real. You just have to look a little harder. Jamband legends Phish performed three reunion shows this weekend in Hampton, Va. These guys don't need to put on some elaborate three-ring-circus extravaganza to infuse the illusion of vitality into their performance. What a novel idea: musicians reviving their career by getting together and playing great fucking music. I would have advised hiring David Weintraub as an agent and whoring themselves out on reality television, or becoming the first jamband to give birth to octuplets. We've provided a clip of their opener, Fluffhead. In their infinite jammy generosity, the band has provided free recordings of the entire weekend. Which brings us to our original point: with the music industry pushed to the verge of insolvency by the internet, maybe some high-level cororpate flack should take a cue from bands like Phish, who can actually promote the free distribution of their material over the internet and still turn a profit by putting on a great show.