The Grateful Dead and Phish are two very talented bands, who in their time, created big names for themselves. Many people make wrongful association with these two groups of musicians. It is said that Phish is trying to be the Dead of this generation. This statement is very untrue. Phish is not a Grateful Dead take-off. Phish and the Dead have much more differences than similarities. There are of course a few similarities between these two bands. If there were none, nobody would compare them so much. Phish and the Grateful Dead are both considered jam bands.
This comes from their live shows, in which they take their songs and stretch them into long improvisational jams. For example, the Dead may play Truckin’, a song that is only seven minutes long on the album, and stretch it out to seventeen minutes. These two bands are also known to sandwich songs. They start one song, play about half of it; then go into another song, play the whole thing; and go back and finish the first song they were playing. A third thing they have in common is their fans (Deadheads and Phans).
The Grateful Dead and Phish have both established quite a following. These fans follow their favorite band around the country to see their shows. They also collect their favorite shows on tape, since both bands have an open taping policy at their concerts. By doing this, Phish and the Dead opened up a new hobby; and other bands have gone along with open taping (e. g. Dave Matthews Band, Black Crows, Blues Traveler). Although these two bands do similar things with their music, the music itself is considerably different.
I think the reason Phish is labeled Children of the Dead is because of their early years playing small gigs at Nector’s bar in Vermont. They were just starting out, and did not have enough original songs to have a complete set list. This forced Phish to do many cover songs. Mike Gordon (bassist), the only real Dead fan in Phish coaxed his fellow band mates to cover some Grateful Dead tunes, along with covers from other various artists and their own originals. The Dead songs were played on very few occasions, and the songs were Fire on the Mountain and Scarlet Begonias.
After a while people started calling Phish a Grateful Dead cover band, even though they covered a few Dead songs and countless other covers. There were people who said the music of the two bands were very much alike. If you listen to a song of each band, you would know how different they sound from each other. Phish is much more funky than the Grateful Dead’s more mellow sound. Grateful Dead’s lyrics have much more meaning behind them aside from Phish’s, sometimes, silly lyrics. Another thing that is different with the sound of the music is the members in which the bands hold.
The Dead has two drummers, Billy Kreutzman and Mickey Hart, and two guitarists, Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia. While Phish on the other hand only has one drummer, Jon Fishman (no relation to the band’s name), and one guitarist, Trey Anastacio. These differences make up totally different sounds. The two drummers in the Dead make for a more rock-steady beat. The one guitar in Phish means that there is no rhythm guitar, just lead. Trey’s playing style is also much different from that of Jerry’s or Bob’s. If you need to refer to the old maxim, Do not judge a book by its cover.
Although the Grateful Dead and Phish are favorites of mine, I do not see too many similarities in their music. Both bands are very talented songwriters and musicians. Comparing the too musically is like comparing football to hockey. They both hold the same purpose and have some similar traits, but in the end are very different. The people who say that the Grateful Dead and Phish sound the same just need to go deeper into the music. If they just do that, they will find that each group holds it’s own virtues that have made, or will make them a classic.