Phish spent the Eighties in Vermont honing their chops with some unconventional practice techniques: jamming for eight hours straight after drinking mushroom-laced hot chocolate, playing long stretches blindfolded or hitting a single note for an hour. The band let fans bootleg their actual shows freely, and by 1993 they were conquering amphitheaters around the country, even organizing their own gigantic camp-out music festivals. Phish's weirdness wouldn't work without tight songs ("Bouncing Around the Room," "You Enjoy Myself") and vast graduate-level improvisational skills: Trey Anastasio can mimic Bach, Jerry Garcia, King Crimson and John Coltrane on his guitar with ease, and the band can nail entire albums by Little Feat or the Beatles at their famous Halloween gigs. They can also get away with stunts like the Big Ball Jam. "We had huge exercise balls we threw into the audience," keyboardist Page McConnell told Rolling Stone in 2003. "You had to play rhythmically with the way your ball bounced around the room. That's how our whole career has been – stupid ideas that work."
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