Permalink for Comment #1378492673 by waxbanks

, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks @JuniorGong said:
Phish has an understated approach to showmanship? We are talking about the same band that road in on a giant hot dog and has used trampolines, correct?
This is an interesting point. When it comes to stagecraft I tend to think of Phish collectively as...Type A hippies, you might say. They seem to approach their pranks and bits of 'showmanship' the way they do their compositions and jams, meticulously planning and then absolutely letting go. Think of this year's NYE prank -- Trey and Mike in flying harnesses, jamming away, weirdly not making a big deal of it while they're up there. Smiling like they're just two middle-aged guys playing music, who happen to be swinging on wires above Madison Square Garden instead of in a garage. Composing almost algebraically, then improvising with attentive abandon -- 'rigorously irresponsible,' a phrase I like.

Trey has talked about himself that way. In The Phish Book he described the first set of Halloween 96 as difficult because he was tense about the rehearsals -- they didn't make it through the whole set until shortly before the show as I recall. But then the second set kicked off and he finally let go, just had a good time playing one of his favourite albums. Fundamentally not making too big a deal of the very big deal he and his friends had made.

'Tight/loose,' as we used to say in a slightly different context.

Put another way: with Phish, even the Very Special Nights of Phish can have this shaggy, easygoing quality. Yeah they rode in a hotdog -- but it was just this one hotdog, right? They had George Clinton and his posse onstage, and just kinda...played around. A spectacle but not a U2-on-a-giant-heartshaped-stage spectacle.

The trampolines are just trampolines. They're just a thing they do during this one part of this one song. And thirty years on, they're still just jumping on the goddamn trampolines, which is showmanship so lowkey you don't even notice it anymore. It's silly, but crucially they're not self-serious about their silliness. They do not give a sense of being impressed with themselves, not at all -- that's the earnestness that saves them, which makes them seem like Such Nice Boys to us (inside the tent) where everyone else just hears 'spectacle happened' and assumes it's gaudy rock bullshit.

Anyway -- Dianna can speak for herself, obviously, but this is how I resolve the seeming subtle/showmanship paradox in my own head.


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