There’s plenty you can say about Phish fans, but one thing most people can agree on is that they are an opinionated crowd.
With nearly forty years worth of live Phish recordings in circulation, fans have plenty to voice their opinions about—favorite shows, venues, songs (and specific versions of songs), and even favorite setbreak refreshments. Part of what makes this band so intriguing is that it’s entirely up for interpretation. Two fans can experience the same show and walk out with completely different opinions.
While Phish Radio listeners get a healthy mix of material 24 hours a day, every fan surely has a song, a show, a jam they would choose to play if given the chance. That’s part of what makes the station’s Crowd Control programming such an exciting corner of the Phish universe: The popular program hands the reins to a rotating cast regular fans to choose the setlist and reflect on their own experience as a fan.
Of course, many Phish fans will also tell you, “we are everywhere.” Sometimes, Phish Radio turns up a not-so-nameless Phish fan to host an episode of crowd control—from fellow musicians to Hollywood stars to professional athletes. Here, we’ll run down a few of our favorite “celebrity” Crowd Control episodes now available to stream on demand via Phish Radio on the SiriusXM App. Get a free, three-month streaming trial here.
One featured guest DJ who blurs the line between fan and colleague is Laura Lee of Khruangbin. The lauded bassist shared the stage with Trey Anastasio at LOCKN’ in 2019 when Big Red became first guitarist to ever sit in with the Houston trio. Trey had previously professed a deep admiration for Khruangbin’s music and even invited them to open for Ghosts of the Forest‘s tour closer in Berkley, CA.
Until 2019, however, Lee didn’t know much about Phish. But after realizing how many people in the music industry had entered the profession due to their love for the band, Laura decided to check it out for herself. As she noted, “One show quickly turned into four” and snowballed into a late-in-life obsession.
For her Crowd Control, Lee took listeners back to her first show on June 23rd, 2019 at Meriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. “The crowd energy at the start of ‘Run Like An Antelope’ was one of the most inspiring things to happen to me [in 2019],” Lee recalled.
It’s hard to go wrong with any shows from the band’s memorable 2019 summer tour, and MPP was certainly a winner. Lee chose wisely with live cuts of “Run Like An Antelope”, “Ruby Waves”, and a cover of Talking Heads‘ “Crosseyed & Painless”. Summer 2019 was a good season for “Ruby Waves”, and MPP was no exception.
On the other end of the spectrum of fandom, there’s triple-threat Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Before he became John Blake in Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight franchise or starred in 500 Days of Summer, the actor attended his first Phish show at Ventura County Fairgrounds in California on July 30th, 1997.
During his episode of Crowd Control, in the humblest of “IW@TS” moments, Gordon-Levitt reveled in the creative and overall subjective experience of seeing a Phish show. “After those shows, you’re eating grilled cheese and you go ‘this part worked and that part…no [laughs],'” he remembered. “That difference is you feel like you’re in on the creative process with these four artists.”
For his part, JGL selected the sublime series of segues that is “Free” > “David Bowie” > “Cities” > “David Bowie” from July 30th, 1997, later released officially on as Ventura alongside July 20th, 1998 at the same venue. Gordon-Levitt also chose a cover of Velvet Underground‘s “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” from Phish’s 1998 Loaded Halloween show. Prior to that evening, Joseph was hardly familiar with the pioneering art-rockers, but afterward Phish sent him down a rabbit hole of Andy Warhol and 1960s New York City.
“I ended up being a huge Velvet Underground fan, it helped that my girlfriend at the time was a Velvet Underground fan,” Gordon-Levitt said. “That gave Phish some credibility to her because before that she was like ‘Phish, really?’ [laughs].”
Another fellow artist to share his love of Phish is Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd. In his Crowd Control episode, Boyd recalled how he was first enticed by perhaps the band’s most ubiquitous composition, “You Enjoy Myself”.
“It was one of my first introductions to the band Phish,” Boyd recalled prior to spinning the December 31st, 1995 version. “And when I first heard it I didn’t really understand it. But there was something compelling to me. So I listened to it again, and I still didn’t understand it. But it was even more compelling, so I listened again. And by about the fifth listen to this one song, I knew something strange and wonderful was happening so I took a pretty deep dive into Phish.”
Boyd also opted for the studio version of “Weigh” from Rift. Just before his next selection, Boyd expressed his own inability to mechanize or dissect Phish. As many Phish fans will tell you, however, part of the fun is in that inability, in the freeing sensation of giving up trying to “figure out” the band. With that, Boyd dug up the intricate instrumentation of “My Friend, My Friend” from May 8th, 1993 at the Field House at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.
Of course, creative types aren’t the only ones who can appreciate Phish. MLB pitcher Sean Doolittle, for example, is an avid fan of the Vermont foursome. When he hosted Crowd Control, he dedicated his first pick—”Fee” from June 5th, 2011 in Cincinnati, OH—to the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he pitched 45 games in 2021. The song also carries added significance, as Sean and his wife’s Red Heeler-Husky mix is named Fee.
In 2019, Doolittle won a World Series with The Washington Nationals, and during his Phish Radio appearance, he and credited Phish with helping bring the pennant back to our nation’s capital. “A Live One was good luck getting ready before games in the playoffs and throughout our post-season run,” Doolittle said. “I listened to A Live One every day before the game while I was getting ready, while I was in the weight room stretching and preparing for the game.”
Doolittle even used the November 16th, 1994 “Chalk Dust Torture” from Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as an intro song during the 2020 season. Even when he isn’t blaring Phish from the stadium speakers, Doolittle still carries the band with him with a custom Wilson “Punch You In The Eye” mitt.
MLB pitcher @whatwouldDOOdo says @phish was a good luck charm during the @Nationals‘ World Series run in 2019. Hear his interview with @Finkerton on @PhishRadioSXM 3/30 at 6pm ET: https://t.co/xKkJl7wuYi pic.twitter.com/8lur8t5h3W
— SiriusXM (@SIRIUSXM) March 28, 2021
Check out these and more episodes of SiriusXM Phish Radio’s Crowd Control via the SXM App. SiriusXM is currently running an offer for a free, three-month streaming trial here. You can start streaming the SXM App on your phone, online, and at home—no car required. See offer details.
New episodes of Crowd Control premiere every Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET and Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. Listeners who want to host their own episode can email email@example.com.