Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Ten (Short) Thoughts On The Baker’s Dozen


I watched a little less than all of the Baker’s Dozen, but much more than none of it, so I feel I’m the most qualified person in the room to discuss the subject.


A butcher’s dozen is 10-and-a-half. A fisherman’s dozen is a net full of perch and an old boot.


Highlights of the run: Backbiter’s Dilemma, Vamoose, Hanging By My Toes, Vamoose Reprise.
Lowlights: the four songs that Sam Cutler saw.


Amanda Petrusich wrote about the Phishes from Vermont in the New Yorker, and the great Jesse Jarnow covered the shows for Rolling Stone, and that is all you need to read about the Baker’s Dozen except for what I write. The rest of the articles fall into one of two categories:

  1. I hate Phish, and have nothing interesting to say.
  2. I apologize for liking Phish, and have nothing interesting to say.


The Baker’s Dozen is more a testament to Phish’s fans than to the band, in a way. Bruce could do 13 shows at the Garden, but if he didn’t play Thunder Road every night, folks would get pissed. On the other hand, it’s easier to not play your hits when you haven’t had any.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am being informed that Phish did have a semi-hit single. Free from Billy Breathes went to #11 in 1996. We apologize for the error.


All four members of Phish have the same voice–a wavering, untrained, nasal tenor–and if you’re just listening instead of watching, then it’s difficult to figure out who’s singing.


As always, the redoubtable Mr. Completely sums it up by saying that “Phish are five different bands, and I like three of them.” I agree with his assessment, but my math is a bit different.

Phishes I do not like:

  • Reggae Phish.
  • Blues Phish. (Holy shit, should those four men not be allowed to play the blues.
  • Whimsical Phish.
  • Acapella Phish.
  • The Phish that Jon Fishman is in charge of. (The vacuum cleaner thing, the song about getting you ass handed to you: it’s a hard pass for TotD. Just play the drums and wear your frock.)

Phishes I do like:

  • 30 minute boing-boing jam Phish.
  • I also enjoy the song Blaze On.
  • That is all.


I cannot state strongly enough that Phish should not be allowed to play the blues.


Just to remind everyone: the entire Anthony Scaramucci saga unfolded between Tweezer and the Tweezer Reprise.


Phish are still trying, which is rare among acts around for as long as they’ve been, and their fans are still buying tickets, and none of them are dead or suing the others. When they closed the last show, they were crying; so were the fans. They played a Willie Nelson song about making music with friends, and it didn’t seem like a lie at all.

The Phishes from Vermont: in and out of the Garden they went.


  1. that new yorker piece is good.

  2. I’ve seen them do a few versions of Jesus Just Left Chicago that burned the house down.
    Halloween 95 is one of them. The version from Germany on Slip Stitch and Pass is also no slouch. Agreed though, they do not normally crush blues tunes.

  3. I watched some of the shows and it was obvious that they were having the time of their lives. At 52 (the same age that Jerry was in 1995) Trey is obviously not bored, turned off by his fan base, or disconnected from his bandmates. Playing 13 shows without repeats is noteworthy, but the really remarkable thing about this run is the amount of creativity and the caliber and consistency of their playing in relation to the rest of their career. If phans debated the peaks and valleys of Phish’s three and half decades (a la “73 Dead is better than 77 duuude”), the baker’s dozen plots well above the median line in pretty much any category that drives people to like them.

  4. One other compliment to Phish and their fans – go to Youtube and search for Phish and MSG or Phish and Baker’s, or similar combinations. There are some results, but for a band that just finished 13 nights at a place the size of MSG, there are relatively few crappy iPhone videos. I don’t think it’s because Phish’s lawyers send out dozens of take down letters. I think it’s because their fans are tripping balls, dancing their asses off (in the awkward white guy manner) and living in the moment. That’s worth something in my book.

  5. Amanda Petrusich wrote about the Phishes from Vermont in the New Yorker

    I’m not clicking on this. she’s the absolute worst.

  6. NoThoughtsOnDead

    August 9, 2017 at 11:34 pm

    Number NINE, man: too much!

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