Phish Tour Profile

Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Donny Emerick and Joanne Zola



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Phish performing live.

Phish performing live.

Almost five years after a tearful breakup in a muddy field in their home state of Vermont, definitive jam-band Phish reformed with its original members earlier this year. After a rousing three-night reunion run at the Hampton Coliseum (Hampton, Va.) in early March, the band kicked off a 27-date national summer tour at Boston's Fenway Park with stops headlining the Bonnaroo Music Festival and a four-night run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver.

Warmly referred to by technology-savvy fans as Phish 3.0, the band (and early adopters of Internet communities and digital downloads) have upgraded their live sound system to match their digital roots.

“Everything has changed,” says front-of-house engineer Garry Brown, who is mixing the band for the first time, but has previously worked with guitarist/frontman Trey Anastasio. “We have a line array with a digital console. There is nothing newer that can be brought to the table. The band gave me 54 songs in advance, and now it's just a matter of going with the flow. I have no idea what songs they are going to play, so it's a general mix and any changes [are done] as we go.”

Brown is mixing on a Digidesign VENUE, a board that he has used for three-and-a-half years. “The multitracking is much easier. We're recording 82 channels and it makes it so much easier to plug in some cables and away you go. I've got [the Crane Song Phoenix] on every input and every output. Everything goes through it three times before the signal hits the Crane Song Head. It warms it up and puts a bit of grit and distortion into it.”

Brown is also bringing Waves Platinum Bundle plugs into his mix. “I use loads of C4s; it's a great compressor and a fundamental thing, especially on the bass guitar. It's just so flexible. I also use MaxxBass, Renaissance Bass and the L2.” Other pieces of gear at FOH include Crane Song HEDD, SPL Transient Designer 4 and Apogee Big Ben. [Eds. Note: Brown has switched to using a DiGiCo SD7; a follow-up story will appear in an upcoming issue of Mix.]

Avove, from left: Garry Brown, Mark Bradley, Vince Buller, Kurt Wolf and Jordan Zur

Avove, from left: Garry Brown, Mark Bradley, Vince Buller, Kurt Wolf and Jordan Zur

Monitor engineer Mark Bradley is also on the digital train, mixing on a Yamaha PM5D without any additional outboard processing. “It's all inside,” Bradley says. “There's no effects or reverbs, just a few gates and compressors and that's it. I'm doing the basic thing and they don't require much. This is the boring end of the snake.”

Bradley, who was with the band for years before their five-year hiatus, says that one major change for Phish is the move to Telefunken M80 mics on vocals. He is running about 45 channels into four stereo mixes and a drum submix. The band doesn't wear in-ear monitors; instead, monitoring is via 10 d&b M2s, four M4s, two Q Subs (all with amps) and six Clair Bros. 12AMs with six QSC amps.

“These guys are pretty basic — they're old school,” Bradley says. “Everybody's on two wedges, except Page [McConnell, keyboardist] has three. The key is the wedges sound good and the desk sounds good. They always were pretty level-headed guys. They're excited to be back, as am I.”

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