Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Phish terms

Phish terms — An A to Z Phish dictionary

Posted on

A — AMY SKELTON
Maine native Skelton, 34, works as a Phish merchandising manager — but she’s best known as the official ”First Phan.”

B — BLACKWOOD CONVENTION
Phish’s earliest moniker.

C — CLIFFORD BALL
Named after an obscure aviator, this was Phish’s first major weekend festival. Staged in August 1996 at a decommissioned Air Force base in upstate New York.

D — DUDE OF LIFE
a.k.a. Steve Pollak. A sort of jester in the royal court of Phish, the Dude hops on stage wearing stuff like a sequined jacket and feather boa to belt out vocals. Last jammed in 1998.

E — E-CENTER IN WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH,
where, on Nov. 2, 1998, Phish decided to orbit Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety — complete with the jangle of cash registers.

F — ”FLUFFHEAD”
The six-part ”Fluffhead” suite unspools the saga of Fluffhead — a young man with a horrible disease — and his voyages to track down a cure.

G — GAMEHENDGE
Nickname for Anastasio’s senior project: originally an eight-song Dungeons & Dragons-esque rock operetta about the Lizard people and their war against a wicked despot dubbed King Wilson. An entire Gamehendge performance — the Holy Grail for fans — has occurred only five times.

H — HOT DOG
At midnight New Year’s Eve 1994 at the Boston Garden show, Phish — assisted by men resembling rocket-scientists — boarded a giant wurst and flew to the end of the arena.

I — ICCULUS
Gamehendge’s wise prophet, who lives atop a sacred mountain in the Lizard kingdom. Wrote the Helping Friendly Book, the key to Lizard survival.

J — JUNTA
Phish’s debut album. Cut for about $5,000, the 1988 opus was available only on cassette until Elektra rereleased it in 1992.

K — KURODA, CHRIS
The band’s lighting director; often called the fifth member of Phish, thanks to his psychedelic spectacles.

L — ”LOVING CUP”
A gospel-inflected showstopper from the Stones’ Exile On Main Street — and one of Phish’s most frequent covers since its concert debut in 1993.

M — MARSHALL, TOM
Phish’s full-time lyricist; also has his own musical venture, Amfibian.

N — NECTAR’S
Ground zero: The Burlington spot where Phish staged its first bar gig.

O — OLYMPIA, WASH.
On Oct. 13, 1991, Phish busted out a full version of Gamehendge here — for the first time outside of Vermont.

P — PAVEMENT
Phish’s unlikely indie-rock inspiration. Mention Pavement to Anastasio and prepare for him to gush with praise.

Q — QUADROPHENIA
Scooters-and-parkas teen-identity-crisis rock opera by the Who. Covered from start to finish on Halloween 1995 in Chicago. (As an encore, Phish trashed their instruments.)

R — RED ROCKS
An altercation between cops and phans took place near this beautiful venue outside Denver in 1996.

S — SANTANA, CARLOS
In 17 years Phish has toured as an opener for only one artist: this supernatural ax-slinger.

T — ”TWEEZER”
Song that serves as a springboard into otherworldly jamming, sometimes stretching past 50 minutes.

U — UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
The bucolic Burlington college where Anastasio, Gordon, Fishman, and ex-guitarist Jeff Holdsworth met in 1983. Holdsworth left the band after he reportedly ”discovered Christ” in 1986.

V — VACUUM
Musical instrument.

W — WATERWHEEL FOUNDATION
Phish’s charity; works on projects like protecting Vermont’s Lake Champlain and its watershed.

X — ”X”
If you don’t know, we’re not going to explain.

Y — ”YOU ENJOY MYSELF”
Perhaps their quintessential song; features a sequence where Gordon and Anastasio bounce on trampolines.

Z — ZZYZX’S PHISH STATS
Like baseball fans, Phishheads are obsessed with statistics. David ”ZZYZX” Steinberg’s website (ihoz.com/phishstats.html) meticulously tracks which songs are played when and how often.