Phish Podcasts Driving the Next Wave of Fan Content
With Phish set to open a three-show run tonight at Dick’s, here’s a piece originally slated to appear in our Curveball newspaper.
User-generated content has always been a core part of the Phish experience. As people who are starting a fan-centric music media company, we wanted to shine a light on the history and future of Phish commentary and conversation.
Magazines like Relix scratched the initial itch for people who followed the Grateful Dead and Phish and who wanted a place with the latest information and insight. And in the early days of the Internet, there was rec.music.phish (or RMP), where you could get setlists and show information through basic listserv technology. This paved the way for Phish.net, a project of the Mockingbird Foundation, which came on the scene in 1996. In many ways, Phish.net is the cornerstone of the Phish fan universe, providing setlists and reviews of every show, not to mention the great work the foundation has done to bring more music education to more kids.
The term “podcast” was popularized in 2004-2005, along with the sales of Apple’s portable digital music player, the iPod. Progenitors of podcasting were earlier forms of recordings broadcasted and circulated online, like audioblogs, webcasts, and radio shows. Phish appeared on many of these, as interviews, commentary, songs, and sometimes full shows throughout the 1990s.
There were (and are) also countless additional blogs and fan projects that pay tribute to the band in different ways, whether it’s the incredibly detailed look at Trey’s gear, by Trey’s Guitar Rig, or the thoughtful and controversial reviews over the years at Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts. And on the mysterious side, there’s the somewhat secret JournoPhish group, the details of which often play out weekly on MSNBC.
In Fall 2010, Phish fan and excellent photographer Steve Olker started “Type II Cast,” which combined the critical but loving perspective of the “jaded vets” with thoughts about shows and tours as they happened. Steve brought on lots of Phish fans and commentators like Scott Bernstein, Dave Calarco and Scott Marks, along with veteran curmudgeons like Chris Glushko and Charlie Dirksen. This podcast brought Phish audio discussion to the mainstream fan community until it ended in late 2013. (Steve also created “This Week On Lot,” which chronicled the live music scene more broadly and focused a lot on Phish.)
From a different perspective, comedians and friends Harris Wittels and Scott Aukerman started a project called “Analyze Phish” in 2011. Harris, the Phish fan, put in a valiant effort of exposing Scott to Phish to try and find possible entry points for Scott’s fandom. Throughout the course of the podcast, which became incredibly successful, the duo used their shared love of comedy and music to try and turn Scott on to Phish. Unfortunately, Harris’s untimely death lead to the end of this podcast after only 10 episodes.
The Helping Friendly Podcast, or HF Pod, started in mid-2013 as a way for fans to talk about their Phish experiences and to share their favorite jams and moments. (Disclaimer: RJ is one of the co-founders of HF Pod.) We were trying to lift up regular fan perspectives and to talk about the evolution of Phish’s music over the years. In 2016, we added “Quick Hits,” a brief audio recap of each show.
Phish lyricist Tom Marshall has long been an integral part of the community. It’s no surprise that when he launched his podcast, Under the Scales, it was an instant success. As Tom describes it, Under the Scales “captures and brings to light the rich and complex culture surrounding Phish and its diverse, devoted fanbase.” With incredible stories and insightful guests, you really do get to see under the scales of your favorite band.
Launched in early 2017, Beyond the Pond has turned the typical band-focused podcast on its head, by using specific pieces of Phish improvisation (episode 1 was on the Camden ‘99 Chalk Dust Torture) and using that music to turn people onto other bands outside of the jam band community.
And in 2018 we saw the creation of two new podcasts, Phemale-Centrics and The Daily Soundcheck. Phemale-Centrics is the first female-led and focused Phish podcast, which is bringing new and sometimes overlooked perspectives and experiences to the fore. Dawn and her co-hosts have guests, share experiences, and play trivia as well. And The Daily Soundcheck is done by Myke “Lawn Memo” Menio, and he attempts to chronicle every single Phish soundcheck that’s available. More recently, Steve “The Vic” Vickner started Tweezer Tonight with his friend Dan, which chronicles a fan favorite song over the years as well as the happenings in the Phish community, with plenty of stories taboot.
So where do we go from here? We are all passionate music fans. What we’ve seen from the growth of all of these great shows is that conversation and commentary about people’s favorite band can be engaging, unique and exciting. We’re going to keep trying to bring fans more podcasts, events, live experiences and other content that brings you closer to the music you know and love.
Tom and RJ are the team behind Osiris Media. Learn more about them at OsirisPod.com.