30. In the grand scheme of things, 30 years may not seem like a long time. But, in the world of rock music, it’s a lifetime. Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison – none of those superior talents even lived to see the age of 30. Which, brings me to this column. On Wednesday, Phish will embark on the start of their summer tour, kicking off their 30th year as a band. It’s kind of eerie to think that the grandfathers of our scene, The Grateful Dead, only lasted 30 years themselves, before the passing of Jerry Garcia. And while both Phish and The Dead have crafted a legacy for our scene that will last a lifetime, as we compare their 30th years – things couldn’t appear more different.
In the summer of 1995, Phish were nearing completion of the leap to playing summer sheds and amphitheaters regularly, while the ill-fated summer tour for the Grateful Dead would sadly, be their last. While Phish would inadvertently and unofficially (or officially, depending on how you look at it) take the torch from The Dead a few months later with Garcia’s passing, they continued to fly mostly under the radar, except for a newer generation of fans (ironically enough, mostly in our 30′s now). Not to try and beat the dead horse of comparing these two bands – because, they are vastly different in just about every way – but if one looks at a snapshot of where both bands were/are entering their 30th year, it’s almost tough to ignore a few blatant points.