September, 2016

  1. Thank You! An Open Letter To Dean Ween

    September 30, 2016 by RobertPalmerPlore

    Dear Deaner,

    As someone who first witnessed the glory of the Boognish in person on a (not so) hot August night in San Francisco where Queens of the Stone Age were far too fucking stoned and there was actual pussy eaten during the L.M.L.Y.P encore; I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your much needed words about your Lockn experience.

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    (Photo Credit: Ansel Adams)

    Clearly Phish is one of our favorite bands here at the Phunion. The music is top notch, the energy when they play is something from another dimension, and most of the time the community is pretty fucking spectacular. That being said, the community takes itself far too serious and to be blunt tend to be a bunch of fucking pussies. Your dual performances on Lockn proved that by the way these closed minded twat waffles melted faster than a Popsicle in the hot late August Virginia sunshine.

    When Phish plays a song like Fuck Your Face, fans rejoice. Yet these same fans can’t hang over something as innocent as worrying over a pony coughing up snot in the drive way. In a summer where Phish bust outs were few and far between, your band blessed the crowd with the magic of How High Can You Fly>Beacon Light and the crowd looked at you as if you had just shown a dog a card trick. As if that was not worse enough, the fact that you kicked the ever living shit out of Trey Anastasio upon the six stringed fret board during a fantabulous version of A Tear For Eddie should have put the fans of Phish in the palm of your hand. Sadly it did the exact opposite. Unable to acknowledge the fact you kicked the living shit out of the ginger Jedi, the massive crowd of pussies quickly retreated to their tents for the evening.

    Over both nights of Lockn, you blessed ungrateful Phish fans with deep cuts and classic Ween. Much like Phish you covered numerous genres of music, the only difference being you actually sound like a country band or a reggae band or a punk rock band while Phish always sounds like Phish. The lack of appreciation by many for your band screams volumes about just how closed minded Phish fans can be. Yet that’s not the reason we are thanking you today. We are here to pay thanks for the awesome post upon your recently revived AskDeaner blog.

    In a now deleted post (why Deaner, why?), you spoke the truth. You went out to kick the shit out of Phish and you did just that. Drop the fucking banner on the battleship, Mission Accomplished. Phish fans simply can’t handle that fact. They will call you sloppy and yet forgive the Down With Disease train wreck. What’s even better is how you have trolled them through the entire Lockn experience. From the photo of you posing with Trey’s guitar after your second Lockn set to the recent blog post every single fucking Phish fan is once again talking about Ween. Will it move more units of White Pepper? Probably not, but you have managed to rile up a closed minded fan base filled with people who will drop thousands of dollars to see Jon, Mike, Page, and Trey play in Mexico, yet fail to grasp the beauty of Bananas and Blow. Hell Trey begged for you guys to get back together and many Phish fans still fail to grasp the magic of Ween. Way to make these fans look like the assholes they truly are.

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    So thank you Dean Ween. Any true fan of music can find something to appreciate within the diverse catalog of Ween. Fans of both bands marvel in how you have managed to self-promote the joys of the Boognish among the pussies who claim your shows are too sloppy or offensive. #RealJournalists have turned your words into news to generate ad clicks on an otherwise slow Friday. From Twitter to Facebook, cries of Ween suck flood social media from fans who had never even heard of TV on the Radio before the night Anastasio made them famous in Albany. Everyone is talking about Ween on Trey’s birthday and it’s a glorious fucking thing that we are sure Trey is loving.

    So thank you for telling it like it is and thank you for putting those closed minded Phish fans in their fucking place. You sir are a fucking genius. Henry Rollins knows what’s up and so do we. We here at the Phunion salute you and can’t wait to paint Hollywood brown with you in less than two weeks. We also invite butthurt Phish fans to explain why Ween sucks in the comments below. They will try, but they will fucking fail because deep down inside they know that Phish had their Ass Handed to them by Ween at Lockn.

    Best Regards and fuck Olive Garden (sorry Virgil).

    Love,

    The Insane Frat Bros. Known As The Phunion


  2. Album Essay: Haters Miss the Boat as Phish Taps into the Zeitgeist for a Modern Day Masterpiece

    September 28, 2016 by TreyAntipasta

    By Agent Stardog

    Greetings phriends and galactic citizens. Your phriendly neighborhood Stardog was so offended by the Phunion’s trashing of “Big Boat” that I was moved to write this response. This is not to say I have no appreciation for the Phunion’s brand of ribald jamrock humor, heck that’s why I know these phreaks in the first place. But the Phunion has gone too far this time! While other Phishy critiquers had generated low expectations with their gripes, I found the album to be a moving listening experience that kept getting deeper with each track, similar to how a great live set by the band can function. By the end, I could only conclude that Phish had defied expectations once again by delivering a great album full of heart and soul (not to mention some hot jams).

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    “Big Boat” holds together with the kind of thematic cohesion and sonic diversity that we look for in a great Phish show. It also features Vermont’s finest wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Getting a handle on that is what seems to be something which a certain cynical segment of the Phish Nation is sadly unable to abide. This misguided labeling of “Dad Rock” suggests a distaste for music with a sentimental flavor, yet Phish has long been a band that causes our souls to ignite precisely because of their ability to tap into deep emotional territory (in addition to the transcendent jams). It seems like some phans might be happier on Widespread Panic tour, because they want Phish to be dark and dirty all the time (WSP’s forte). Yet these are mostly the same phans that ironically hate on WSP! This does not compute.

    Phish has always been a multi-dimensional band and “Big Boat” is triumphant testimony to that sonic depth, as well as an emotionally bold and timely declaration of where the scene is at in this foul year of our lord 2016. Let’s take a chronological look at the album so we can see how it builds and comes together in sequence as a great album should. “Friends” is a high energy rocker to kick it off and while some phans will quibble with the vocal delivery, this is a soul-stirring message from Phish’s political ambassador Jon Fishman. The lyrics basically describe a “first contact” scenario with our E.T. neighbors that lead to a transcendent evolutionary moment with humanity joining the galactic community. What an inspiring theme for a Phish song!

    “Breath and Burning” is no B-side but rather an infectiously laid back feel good groove that recalls the upbeat mood of fan favorites like “Ya Mar” and “Soul Shakedown Party.” The horns are a great addition that lend a “Blues Brothers”-style rhythm and blues vibe and who doesn’t love the Blues Brothers? I’d say Phish are on a mission from God here, but they worship their own religion and “Big Boat” is full of spiritual sentiment from the Helping Friendly Book. “Home” might sound like a typical Page song at first, but then the band gets rolling into a smoking jam with Trey tearing it up over a crisp snare beat that recalls Bob Ezrin’s great work with KISS on their classic “Destroyer” album. Phans want jams, well here you go!

    “Blaze On” was an instant classic anthem for the Phish Nation upon its debut in the summer of 2015 and the band really captures the song’s free-spirited sentiment with a vibrant performance here. Anyone who can’t dig these lyrics is just a curmudgeon. “Tide Turns” has an upbeat optimistic vibe that feels downright comforting during this turbulent and contentious political season. The horns once again lend a great boost and the uplifting groove conjures some of the spirit of the Jerry Garcia Band. “Things People Do” is written by Page but sounds like classic Mike, with a wry outlook that recalls his endearing delivery on “My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own” (and wherever did that great song disappear to?) The song serves as a fitting prelude to “Waking Up Dead,” with vintage high strangeness that we all know and love from Mike. This song gets jammy, has atmospheric backing vocals, trippy synths from Page and a Beatle-esque bridge. It all adds up to a very Phishy slice of psychedelia.

    “Running Out of Time” is no TAB reject, but rather a heartfelt tune from Trey that seems like it’s coming from the same character featured in “Driver,” some 20 years later. Anyone entering middle age like Trey and the band are should be able to relate. It might seem a bit sappy in the beginning but then the tale unfolds with endearing charm. When the band kicks in, it’s a bouncy feel good melodic groove. It’s also ripe for further jamming.

    The most mind-boggling, shark-jumping aspect of the Phunion’s review was the completely insane assertion that “No Men in No Man’s Land” has “overstayed its welcome. Talk about cognitive dissonance upon reading that crazy talk because NMINML is not only an instant classic Phish song, it’s one of the best rock songs of the 21st century by anybody. Biting the Dead’s mid-’70s rendition of “Dancing in the Streets” for a funky jam with lyrics that conjure vibes of a modern day “Throwing Stones” is pure artistic brilliance. This song became a prime Phish jam vehicle in just its second ever performance (at the epic 7/25/16 Day Out of Time show in LA) and taps into the modern zeitgeist so well. Far from having overstayed its welcome, the song is poised to pump up Phish shows for the conceivable future. This version smokes and in fact features one of the hotter jams that Phish has ever recorded on a studio album. The horns add further energy again and with three tracks featuring horns, one could wonder if a live horn section might be waiting in the wings for fall tour.

    “Miss You” is arguably the weak link of the album if there is one, although it clearly comes from the heart. It’s at least better than “Joy,” although not as endearing as “Show of Life.” Then just when you think the album could be about to tail off, Phish flips the script again with a dope ass electronica jam on “I Always Wanted It This Way.” Perhaps the vocals could have been recorded with more clarity but this Page tune suggests an ingenious blend of ‘70s power pop, ‘80s new wave synth rock and the late ‘90s/early 2000s trance dance jamtronica from the second wave of younger jambands that were influenced by Phish (SCI, Bisco, STS9, etc). You want jams? This song has Sirius jam potential and should soon be a fan favorite.

    “More” also has great jam potential with Trey really opening up his soul to speak for our entire counterculture generation. Is he not speaking for all of us when he sings of “pulsating with love and light in a world gone mad” and urgently feeling that there must be something more to life on Earth than just the corrupt rat race of Wilson’s foul domain? It’s another timely anthem for the Phish Nation that pulses with vibrant melodic goodness, with a sweet jam that could really hit some righteous heights on tour.

    Seeing “Petrichor” conclude this album instead of “Mercury” was a curveball, as it didn’t scream Phish jam vehicle when Trey played it at his orchestra shows. But what a transformation with the quartet dynamic. Is this not the type of intricate composed prog-rock jam that phans have been clamoring for? The song really takes a sonic journey and the jam that follows the “clouds will open/rain came down” section is pure Phishy goodness at its finest. 13 songs for the band’s 13th studio album is no coincidence either, the Mayan galactic prime number in action, and in the year that Phish finally made it to the Mayan Riviera taboot taboot.

    You have to tip your hat to the band for following their hearts and turning out a soul-baring album that really holds together as a thematic statement when they know their persnickety fanbase is going to be skeptical of new material in general. In the end, it seems like that certain cynical segment of the Phish Nation that wants to categorize this album as “dad rock” has some emotional issues to deal with. “Big Boat” is a vibrant reflection of the times we live in, delivered with superb musicianship, courageous soul-baring emotion, voice of a counterculture generation sentiment, and oh yeah, at least a handful of dope ass jam vehicles too. What more could #RealFans want from their favorite band?


  3. Album Essay: Phish Sinks ‘Big Boat’ In The Safe Waters of Dad Rock

    September 22, 2016 by RobertPalmerPlore

    (Editors Note: This review was originally published in a Phish Facebook group after a few sips of whiskey on a weeknight. The review has been altered to better fit the classy publication that is The Phunion)

    The new Phish album Big Boat is an embarrassment. Many Phish fans will disagree with this because to criticize Phish is to criticize their entire existence. While the Phish community is capable of so many amazing things, being critical of Jon, Page, Mike, and Sue’s husband is something most fans are simply incapable of doing. So with that said, Big Boat is a massive fucking embarrassment. Before we sink into what’s wrong with it, here is what works.

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    Big Boat has some tolerable moments. Tide Turns is shockingly catchy and the way the horns interlock with the guitar licks of Anastasio reminds us of that amazing Halloween night on the sacred polo fields of Indio. Blaze On should have been the first single based off both fan popularity and its FM radio sleekness but for some reason that didn’t seem to happen. Perhaps the band fears it would end up as their Touch of Grey, because three wrong turns can help you indeed get by. I Always Wanted It This Way is a breath of fresh air that finds Phish exploring new sounds and channeling the electro-pop masterpiece Give Up by The Postal Service 10+ years after it sunk into our collective consciousness. While it is exciting to hear the band go new places musically, even that song struggles at times because Trey will never have the pure song writing talent of Ben Gibbard.

    The band also hits it out of the park with Miss You. Be it about Anastasio’s oldest daughter going off to college or some deeper meaning, it’s one of the better lyrical compositions the band has blessed us with over 30+ years. Yet the problem with this song and Big Boat in general is that it is an album that features 13 first set songs. Miss You will kill second sets from now until the final Fishman offspring gets their degree from a fancy four year institution that Bernie failed to make free.

    Speaking of Fishman, Friends is arguably one of the worst opening tracks in the history of studio records. While there is some exciting instrumental play, Fishman is no Neil Diamond and simply isn’t strong enough to carry humiliating lyrics with his weak vocal performance. The unfortunate first single Breath and Burning sounds like a Blues Traveler song that wasn’t good enough to make the cut on a compact disc when H.O.R.D.E even with RAGE WITH PAGE using his keys to mimic the harmonica sounds of that fat guy who almost died masturbating long after he broke a trampoline.

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    Phish has been charting the dad rock waters for years now. If you look up Dad Rock on Wikipedia, it now simply redirects you to a YouTube video for the song Home. How can we rage with a guy who is singing about being Home? This song screams I am excited to get new linens from Bed Bath & Beyond as soon as I get off tour. Yes the song has a few decent sonic moments, but not even the key strokes around the 3:45 minute mark or outro jam can save this train wreck from killing all on board.

    Not to be outdone by Home, McConnell also manages to rhyme ‘Interest’ with ‘Pinterest’ on Things People Do. Why producer Bob Ezrin tried to make this shit sound like Jack White’s Third Man Records recording booth is lost on us. This song should have been a 7 inch B-side actually recorded at Third Man for a Record Store Day release with Ass Handed being the A side as it fails to fit with the overall Adult Contemporary flow of Big Boat. This song also makes us wonder why Mike Gordon was incapable of writing his own bluegrass number instead of using the lyrics of the guy from Vida Blue.

    Waking Up Dead is a metaphor for the vocal performance. Gordon singing this one makes Fishman sound like Eddie Vedder. Meanwhile, No Men In No Man’s Land has overstayed its welcome and the horns make it feel like an undersold TAB show. The song is so lazy it needs a stool to support itself at this point.

    If you can make it past the first twelve songs on the album one would think the reward would be the closing 13 minute number Petrichor. Having not learned their lesson from Time Turns Elastic, this song stinks of an out of touch ‘holy fuck I am old here is my classical piece and me trying to pretend I am not a 50 something sober rocker wearing Banana Republic millionaire bubble’ that Phish now finds themselves entrapped in. Singing ‘rain washed it all away’ is not beautiful, it’s simplistic, but what do you expect from a guy who visits the McDonald’s near Haight Ashbury for Iced Fucking Tea? It’s as if Trey heard Umphrey’s McGee and wanted a participation trophy, and with how those guys are playing in the year 2016 can you fucking blame him? But hey, the flute sounds pretty sweet in headphones; way to go Ezrin.

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    Many fans will disagree and be hurt by this review of Big Boat. They will scream “stay home, more dance room for me!,” or “Go find a new band like Twiddle.” That’s fine, we can handle the blowback and in fact we encourage it. Much like “Joy” and “Fuego” before it, the shit on the lyrically water logged “Big Boat” will quickly sink to the bottom of the ocean faster than the coffee that leaks out of your cup. Thousands will fluff it, and while yes, there are a few nice moments, we have yet another album filled with piss breaks and opportunities to chat with your friends on par with other modern day Phish classics such as Halfway To The Moon, Yarmouth Road, and Kill Devil Falls.