A Tiny Space to Move and Breathe: Notes from the fall, 1997

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9781480187160: A Tiny Space to Move and Breathe: Notes from the fall, 1997
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(EXCERPTS are available at blog.waxbanks.net!) In 1997, the improvisatory rock band PHISH could reasonably claim to be the biggest live act in America. Who else could convince 80,000 fans to drive to the northernmost tip of Maine for a weekend-long concert featuring ten hours of music by a single band? Like so many indie darlings, Phish found success without MTV, without a hit single, without mainstream recognition or respect -- but with tour receipts matching Jay-Z's. For all their success, even then, they were still in a sense 'underground,' a blip on the mass-cultural radar: the spiritual successors to the Grateful Dead's psychedelic-utopian legacy were four geeks from Vermont playing music of Zappa-level complexity (and silliness), ranging from trance-inducing ambient chillouts to nasty James Brown funk burners to manic multipart fugues. They'd play shows to nearly empty amphitheaters in Salt Lake City...then sell out Madison Square Garden a month later. Phish's Fall 97 Tour (tagline: 'Phish Destroys America') is regarded by many fans as their musical high point: a month of intense exploration and ecstatic celebration that cemented their reputation as the go-to source for shamanic math and rock'n'roll science. 'A Tiny Space to Move and Breathe' is one writer/fan's impassioned, idiosyncratic, detailed, persnickety, personal, lyrical, scattered, loving, weird, joyful, desperate, and above all rather long celebration of the music and moment of Fall 97: a band, a tour, a guy, and a bucketload of concert recordings. If you're a longtime fan, welcome back to the mountaintop. If you're new to Phish, all the better: Wax Banks wants to show you what the noise is about.

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About the Author:

Walter Holland is a writer, educator, and proud father in Cambridge MA. He's been going to Phish shows since 1995 but isn't, y'know, an obsessive nerd about it. Compared to some folks, anyway. His online home is blog.waxbanks.net; he posts to the phish.net as @waxbanks.

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