Why Phish Will Never Be My Favorite Band
Since 2009, I have seen Phish 37 times. By the end of summer I will have seen them 39 times. Just one show shy of 40, but I have to fly out of Denver a day early because plane tickets are much less expensive that way, and yes it is killing me inside that I can’t be at the final show of their summer tour, especially for the big 4-0.
I guess I can’t complain about only being able to catch them five times this summer, even though this winter will be the first New Year’s run in three years where I won’t be in attendance, and I fear I’ve forgotten what it’s like to hit the stroke of midnight without Trey wailing out “Auld Lang Syne” on his guitar.
I have spent the last four Fourth of Julys with this band, I have spent thousands of dollars on this band, I have spent many hours in many cars traveling to go see this band. Fuck, I even met my boyfriend at a Trey show. But despite all that, Phish will never be my favorite band.
I know about the “vets” and I know about the “newbs.” The vets hate the newbs for jumping on the Phish 3.0 bandwagon now that the group is having more commercial success now than in their previous 30 years. The vets are mad that the newbs never felt the pain and suffering of the initial breakup, and they lack the same war stories that all those Coventry attendees wear like a badge of honor—yes, I know, you walked 30 miles in the mud to go see Trey cry onstage for two days. I’m sorry I wasn’t there, I still had a curfew.
I don’t pretend to be some type of Phish expert—and certainly after seeing a band nearly 40 times in the span of six years you tend to pick up some stuff along the way. I could go study Wikipedia, listen to years and years of music archives. But I don’t want to. Because the truth is, I already gave my heart to another band years ago, and it was fucking exhausting.
That band was Blink 182.
I could tell you the producers of every Blink album, the year, the track-list in order, the keyboardist featured on Dude Ranch, the Southern California city each member was born in, their height and weight. How the first time Mark and Tom met, Mark climbed up a light pole, fell off and broke both of his legs. How the song “Man Overboard” is about their ex-drummer’s alcoholism and departure from the band. How during the recording of the untitled album, Tom was battling a Vicodin addiction that began with a back injury that still haunts him. How the release of the “Stay Together for the Kids” video was postponed because the imagery was too similar to the recent 9/11 attacks, and how that song is deeply personal to all of the members of Blink because of its divorce theme. How when BoxCar Racer came to fruition, Mark said he felt like the “forgotten bassist” and it planted the seed for the band’s hiatus, which was ultimately ended when Travis survived a harrowing plane crash and the group reunited. I could tell you about Flyswatter, They Came to Conquer Uranus, Buddha, and their banned-from-MTV video for “M&Ms.” Hell, I could even tell you what Travis Barker’s dick looks like (hint: it’s big).
At my childhood home sits a mountain of rolled up Blink posters, and folders filled with magazine clippings of the band. I have stacks of VHS tapes labeled “Blink 182 stuff” which is all of their TV appearances from 1999 up until people stopped using VHS tapes. I have all of their behind-the-scenes documentaries, as well as the documentaries of their side projects (not Angels and Airwaves—ew), and in my old dresser lives worn out Atticus and Macbeth t-shirts procured throughout my adolescence. I HAVE THE BLINK BUNNY ON MY LEFT SHOULDER.
I don’t know the plot of Gamehenge, but I could tell you the story behind “Ben Wah Balls.” I’m not sure how old the members of Phish are, but I do know that Mark Hoppus was born on the Ides of March, and Travis Barker shares a birthday with my ex-boyfriend and my current boyfriend’s brother. I was confused by meaning of the hockey sticks at Phish’s NYE 2013 show, but the flaming “fuck” sign at Blink 182’s 2003 tour with Alkaline Trio and NFG stand out in my mind as sharp as a tack. At Blink 182 concerts I literally get so filled with excitement as they are about to take the stage that I will often get a gripping stomach ache; at Phish shows I also get stomach aches, but that’s usually just the acid taking hold.
So when I’m sitting around with a group of Phish fans discussing how many shows we’ve been to, who saw them when, Phish V2.0 and 3.0 and Who-Gives-a-Fuck.0, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to become massively obsessed with another band again. I love seeing Phish live, I love their music, I love the culture and I love the band. But I’m not in love with the band. It’s too time consuming, too all-encompassing to enter that wormhole.
I know I should Read the Book, but I’d rather just check the cliff notes.