by Jason Hicks
Carrie Brownstein, the guitarist of acclaimed, and on indefinite hiatus, indie rock band Sleater-Kinney has been writing a sweet blog for NPR called the monitor mix for the last couple of years. Last week she solicited testimonials from fans of somewhat maligned bands in an attempt to understand their love of said "unlovable" band. Apparently a Phish fan was so eloquent in describing the merits of the Vermont jam band that she decided to take the plunge and listen to nothing but Phish for an entire week to try and get a handle on the band both musically and culturally. Like many who express disdain for the band she admitted that she had never heard a full song by the band, so in an impressive display of open-mindedness she embarked on a journey to find out what all the fuss, and perhaps hate, was all about.
Immediately her blog was bombarded with suggestions from all quarters, ranging from their studio albums, YouTube videos, DVD documentaries, and of course the over 1000 documented live shows that are much cherished by Phish fans. That's right due to Phish fans' obsessiveness you can actually search for and download, legally, over 1000 shows from the band's over twenty year history thanks to the band's liberal taping policy at sites like this one. Of course you can also buy SBD quality downloads and CDs from the band here.
Clearly overwhelmed in a sea of recommendations, Carrie reached out for help from local fans in the form of a meet up at a Portland bar so we could discuss the band's appeal face to face and give her a few of our selected highlights. Being a fan myself, and also harboring a secret crush on the charming Ms. Brownstein from when she used to frequent a record store I worked at, this was an occasion that I could not bear to miss.
She arrived at the bar fashionably late by a few minutes with a camera crew in tow and plunked herself down at our table and introduced herself. Unsurprisingly she was very down to earth and without a hint of snobbishness. Here was a woman, and formidable artist herself, that was genuinely interested in hearing each of our takes on the band and very appreciative of the numerous discs of music that we forked over. After all was said and done she ended up with at least 30 discs of our personal selections and at the very least an appreciation of our enjoyment, and our somewhat OCD style dedication to Phish's music and the culture surrounding them.
In this picture of her haul that she posted you can prominently see the two white spined double disc sets that I myself bestowed upon her, my handwriting is famous! The experiment is still going on so keeping checking the monitor mix page for more updates and hopefully I will make the cut for the video of the meet up.
All in all it was an interesting experience and a pleasure to meet one of the NW's most respected musicians who turned out to be a really cool and authentic person. Now if only she were into guys, not moving to New York and I wasn't married.