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Wish You Could Tune A Phish

Mon., Nov. 25, 1996

Phish Friday at the Spokane Arena

Fans lumbered their way toward the doors of the Spokane Arena Friday for Phish, while loose dogs circled them and a school of neo-hippie Phisheads begged for spare tickets.

Yes, it was a weird scene.

Sure people traditionally brave the elements prior to a show with the hope of scoring tickets. This only occurs when a concert is sold out, however.

Friday’s Phish concert wasn’t sold out; only about 5,000 people bought tickets. But Phish’s leechlike fans didn’t think it necessary to pay.

These phans, donning tattered hippie garb and dreadlocks, acted as if it was the audience’s duty to hand over all extra tickets so they could watch their band.

“I’ll take your extra ticket,” many blurted. Others said nothing and signaled just by holding up one finger. A few people hawked various trinkets and trash for tickets.

To a certain extent, that was the high point of the evening.

For on stage, Phish often reeked of overwrought, spoiled hippie-music cliches - sedated music with no apparent direction.

The New England band knows neither how to nor when to end songs. Phish’s first three offerings consumed a half-hour. Over and over, the band jammed, relishing in their music like they had stumbled upon something quite cosmic, surreal and brilliant.

Yet, fans, many of whom were rhythm-impaired, applauded, danced and sang with joyous approval throughout the duration of the three-hour performance. Phish was in tune with their loyal throng of followers. And for that they deserve credit.

But the band cropped the tunes on “Billy Breathes,” its striking new album. Now if they would just do the same at their shows.

, DataTimes

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