I’ll never forget the feeling of walking into Albany’s Knickerbocker Arena on December 12th, 1997 an hour-and-a-half before Phish was scheduled to take the stage and going into a state of panic when I noticed the house lights were down and heard music coming through the P.A. It took me a little while to finally figure out what was going on. Longtime Phish friend from their Burlington days, guitarist J. Willis Pratt, was the evening’s surprise opening act along with his band – We’re Bionic.
[Fish and J. Willis by John Kasiewicz]
Pratt and We’re Bionic played for about 45 minutes as extremely confused Phish fans entered the building to hear a heavy metal band on stage. Drummer Jon Fishman has stayed in touch with Pratt, aka “The Heavy Metal Brat,” and somewhat regularly performs with him. On Saturday night Fish played as part of We’re Bionic at Burlington’s Radio Bean. Bassist John Kasiewicz and guitarist Arthur Lafreniere made up the rest of We’re Bionic, besides Fish and Pratt, for the Saturday evening performance.
We chatted with Pratt about the gig and he shared some additional information. “(Fishman and I) met in the mid ’80s and recorded three albums. I met him at Goddard College. When I played Wild for Fish, he dug it and then we became band mates. Some Phish Heads didn’t like us, fuck them. I thought we did o.k. We only got to play for about 20 minutes, but I had a lot of fun as many old Goddard fans and friends came to see us at Radio Bean.” J. Willis also advised us that the next We Are Bionic CD may be recorded in September and that his next gig is on June 1st at South Side Tavern in Barre, Vermont.
Two clips from Saturday’s gig have surfaced on YouTube…