Dear Phish Fans, Thank You for All the Really Lovely Feedback

Phish fans got really excited about our review of the band's show at Verizon Theatre.
Phish fans got really excited about our review of the band's show at Verizon Theatre.
Melissa Hennings

The Internet can be so much fun. Typically it's a space for fair and rational conversation that rarely gets negative and almost never, ever gets personal. Every once in a while, though, there's someone who comes along and spoils the whole party, and according to Phish fans — or should I say, "phans" — it appears as though that someone is me.

Last week, I offered up my honest appraisal of the band’s show at Verizon Theatre and their music in general. It was eminently fair, and as is their wont, so too was the response of the Phish phaithful. Quite rightly, they concluded that I’m a fecal stain on the profession of journalism and an ignorant douchebag — aren’t we all? — while arriving at the further point of agreement that I am a “troll,” just trying to get a rise out of people. To which I say, "Thank you."

Do you think he expects a reply?
Do you think he expects a reply?
Brian Peterson

Among the delightful assortment of compliments I received over the past several days, were various (and altogether helpful) suggestions for how I could and should commit suicide, investigations into my sexual orientation and a variety of otherwise entertaining correspondences. Unlike the concert, it was a stimulating and mesmerizing glimpse at a side of the human experience previously unknown to me. It's truly heartwarming, if not downright flattering, to have so many people take such an interest in my well-being.

Speaking of flattery, they say imitation is its sincerest form, which must explain why this sentence-by-sentence reconstruction of my original article is my favorite of all the responses. (A tough choice to make, I might add.) All 800 words of the review are delivered in roughly 70 tweets, re-purposed to hold a mirror up to the review itself. The opening is pretty cute, and the whole thing’s really an incredible read, but it's the end where the author girds his loins and goes all-in:

I'm no literary scholar, but something about that allusion makes me uncomfortable. Immediately after this spectacular finish, Mr. Iler invited me to join him at a Phish gig in August, which is sort of like throwing a home-cooked meal in your date’s face and promptly suggesting that she schedule a night out for next week. Tempting.

After this weekend, I can also state with pride that I’ve been subtweeted by a former NBA star, Bill Walton, most recognizable to my generation for his stint as a grating color commentator on the NBA2K video game franchise. He used a meme-tastic quote attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche (which, incidentally, looks entirely legitimate), because of course he did:

I can only assume Walton has never had the displeasure of an aisle seat next to a phan whose preferred bodily response is to prowl up the row and leap from stair to stair. But then, hey, I just wish I could get it, man.

Though not as exciting as a professional athlete, I can’t overlook the Phantasy Tours message board, a safe haven for a neck-bearded cohort of URL badmen that looks like it exists inside of a ‘90s TV show. The users' affinity for gay slurs immediately made me value their opinions, although I'll admit I was disappointed by a bold set of contrarians who offered up qualified defenses of yours truly. (Perhaps they were trolls.) In ascending order of thougthfulness, syntax unaltered:

sleepermonkey: Author is clearly a self-righteous hipster and should promptly KHS
hipster: the dallas observer is such a joke. run by f****** faux hipster f****** who have no decent taste in music whatsoever.
HarryHoodlum: F*** this a******. Let's ruin his career. There are plenty of good journalists who would love to have a chance to objectively review an event like this. Something tells me his daddy works at the pub.
swimmingby: Good it was Texas. We don't wAnt you anyway in our community. Fucktard texans!
mrbrigtonyspagetti: Seems he likes a lot of female based country music. Sounds likes he's perv'y or gay.
jackkai: It's like, Pizzolato bad.
NJsurfer85: Guy just sounds like a d*** that doesnt get laid. Reminds me of that guy who tries to slam vince as aquaman in entourage
iamtiv: his review was a journalistic abortion

Though not shown here, the full seven-page discussion is also a fun dive into the recurring squabble about whether my liking In Rainbows makes me more or less of a tool.

In the midst of this love-in, the more reasonable respondents agreed that I was probably insincere in my distaste for the band. In conclusion, I’d like to assuage those concerns: With absolute sincerity, having seen them twice in concert, years apart, I consider Phish to be practitioners of a particularly virtuosic form of noise pollution. And finally, the confession you've all been waiting for: I found their concert less intellectually satisfying than anything Taylor Swift has ever released.

But, as a show of goodwill to all the kindhearted Phish phans out there who donated so much of their time to trying to make my life better, I’ll leave you with a little something from Phish’s “Friday:” “I crashed, I burned/But then I learned to keep my eye on you.” Blaze on, ye phaithful.

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Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

1001 Performance Place
Grand Prairie, TX 75050


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