Phish’s Baker’s Dozen run is quickly approaching. As is tradition for summer tour, there will be an enormous amount of talent surrounding the entertainment with pre- and post-shows galore. Phish’s thirteen nights at Madison Square Garden will be no different, as Live For Live Music plans to take over New York City with over a dozen shows of our own.
As the shenanigans approach, we’ll be discussing Phish with a number of artists who will be in town performing some of these late-night shows. In the first installment of our “Phishin’ With” series, Turkuaz guitarist Craig Brodhead discusses his relationship with the band Phish — ahead of their 7/25 performance at Irving Plaza.
Live For Live Music: Tell us about your first Phish concert experience.
Craig Brodhead: 11/13/1998 CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio. I was twelve years old. My cousin Ryan had gotten my older brother and me into the band, and we all went to the show. I had started playing guitar a couple years earlier, and I had recently learned the “Chalkdust Torture” guitar solo note for note — they opened the show with that song, which made me really happy. Story Of The Ghost had just come out. They were playing a lot of that material, and Trey was doing a lot of the long delay-loop stuff. They did a super high-energy “Run Like An Antelope,” and Trey’s guitar playing that night had a huge impact on me. He made a reference to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in the last verse section of that song and then encored with “Good Times Bad Times.” They were definitely playing up the aspect of Cleveland as a rock town, and it wasn’t lost on me, even at that age. It’s all sill very etched in my mind and I feel really lucky that I was able to witness some of the magic of that late 90’s era.
L4LM: How would you describe the music of Phish?
Craig Brodhead: I usually don’t like the “If artist X and artist Y had a baby” thing, but for Phish I think it’s pretty appropriate: The Grateful Dead meets Frank Zappa. The wide-open improvisational elements, the rootsy Americana, and the overall positive vibe come from the Dead; the challenging and detailed composition, humor, and irony come from Zappa.
L4LM: How many Phish shows have you seen?
Craig Brodhead: I think it’s somewhere around thirty.
L4LM: Do you have a favorite show or most memorable experience?
Craig Brodhead: 12/9/2009 at MSG was a big one for me. I thought it was a great show from top to bottom, but I think it had to do more with where I was in my life at that time. I’ve never listened back to it but it was a pretty transformative experience. I remember a great “Harry Hood” and they encored with “A Day In The Life” — that was extremely powerful — but it was also more of a general overall feeling of the music. I had just graduated Berklee and moved to Brooklyn the previous summer, and I was trying to figure out exactly what I was doing with my life in an artistic sense. They stopped playing in 2004 right as I started being a more earnest student of music, and I was pretty burned out by the whole thing, to be honest. I put it in the rear view and started a new chapter and moved onto five-plus years of digging into more “serious” music. I studied a lot of jazz guitar for years, and then moved to Willamsburg at its absolute Pitchfork hipster apex. That whole summer MGMT and Animal Collective were playing everywhere (I love those records too, by the way), and everything I was trying to do musically just felt a bit inauthentic and forced. Then I saw that show and it all just sort of clicked for me — there’s art music and party music and I’m happier playing party music. The joy that I got from being there made me remember that. I think it’s fair to say that realization directly set me on the path to what I’m doing now.
L4LM: What are your two favorite Phish songs?
Craig Brodhead: 1. Chalkdust Torture, 2. Stash
L4LM: What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever seen at a Phish show?
Craig Brodhead: Onstage: George Clinton and P-Funk coming out during the Miami NYE run and the IT Fest Tower jam (tie)
Offstage: A guy in the parking lot singing the theme song to Fraggle Rock over and over in between nitrous balloons which gave him a super creepy low voice. That one sticks with me.
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