Great blog at NPR from former Sleater-Kinney guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein. She was challenged by one of her readers, Cameron Norbert, to dig into Phish after she posted a blog titled "Justify My Love" with the opening statement: No matter what I think about someone's taste in music, one thing I never cease to appreciate is a well-thought-out argument defending one's contrarian views." Cameron wrote this compelling statement about Phish:
Phish turned me on to My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, Django Reinhardt, The Talking Heads, plus many more. I could recommend any of those bands to you with no trouble, but mention the band that led me to them, and I'm laughed out of the room.
Just by reading the blog, the common misconception about Phish's music is revealed. It goes something like this: "I've never listened to them, but…"
There's a million reasons why to not like Phish without ever listening to Phish. I've heard them all. One fascinating thing with watching the progression of this blog is that Carrie mentions band after band that she's hearing while she's been digesting Phish. And it's all over the map -- everyone from the Minutemen to Beefheart to Malkmus. And classical music, too.
Phish's music is eclectic and one of a kind, and because of that, their fans, for the most part, are serious music fans. I wouldn't know Carrie Brownstein/Sleater-Kinney's music if it wasn't for a good friend of mine who I saw 50+ Phish shows with. He turned me onto them - in fact, his enthusiasm for the band was so contagious that I had to listen to them. Imagine that -- one Phish fan turns another one on to Sleater-Kinney? With Phish back out there touring, it's been a real eye opener to be reminded that Phish fans are everywhere, and despite what the perception is, chances are they're buying tickets to see all different kinds of bands play-- that's why they love Phish so much. They dig a lot of different sounds and styles and love the adventure that comes with it.
Also, after reading this, I've concluded that Carrie has to live it. It comes back to the point of all points - right, there's no seminal album to turn to with Phish, there's a massive catalog, there's thousands of hours of improvisation - yes, it's overwhelming. So Carrie, you can listen all you want, but there's still nothing like seeing them live. It's true. We're not making that up because we don't know where to point you to.
Nonetheless, Phish should invite her to a show (The Gorge is coming up!)

Buying My First Ever Phish CDs from Carrie Brownstein on Vimeo.