Step Into the Bieber

Justin Bieber – LA (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It all started in Long Beach. During a setbreak conversation, a friend told me that Justin Bieber was the show and had stood right next to her at the soundboard for much of the set. “Interesting,” I thought. I had heard of Justin Bieber. He was the teen-aged idol of today’s generation of young girls; a teen pop star through and through. I had never heard a lick of his music, but I thought it was cool that the kid came to the LBC to see Phish. After the show, more information came out. Bieber’s guitarist, Dan Kanter, was a huge Phish fan and had brought Bieber and his girlfriend, Selena Gomez (who I had never heard of) to the show that night. The trio had met the band during setbreak and hit it off while talking music. Then more. Since Phish had no plans for fall tour, Chris Kuroda would be designing the light show for Bieber’s upcoming tour (!), which was one of the reasons Kanter brought him to the show. Over the next couple of days, there was some confusion in the Phish community—was Kuroda actually going in tour with Canada’s pretty boy, or was he just designing the lighting schemes? It soon came out that Kuroda would actually hit the road on Bieber’s “Believe” tour while Phish spent time with their families and solo projects. Taking his Jedi-like skills to the most mainstream act around, CK5 would now see how the other half lived, all while lighting up the minds and imaginations of teeny-boppers across the land. Kuroda worked for The Black Crowes, Aerosmith and R. Kelly during Phish’s haitus, but this would mark his most crossover effort to date. Once everyone figured out the truth of the matter, laughter prevailed in community, but Bieber Fever went into remission as Phish went on to crush the second leg of tour.

Bieber and Kuroda Light Up Los Angeles (Jeff Kravitz)

Fast forward to last week when Bieber’s North American tour kicked off in the southwestern states. In scrolling my Twitter feed, I noticed YEMBlog had posted a short piece about Kanter teasing “Divided Sky” in a live show! “Cute,” I thought, but certainly didn’t think anything of it. And I didn’t even bother to check the clip. In addition, the short piece mentioned that Kanter had also threw in a tease of “Fluffhead’s” “Bundle of Joy” section in a different song! Apparently, Kanter and Kuroda were having some fun while getting paid. It’s doubtful if Justin, himself, let alone the thousands of prepubescent girls in the audience, knew anything of the musical trickery.

Kanter and Bieber (Jeff Kravitz)

Then yesterday, the Phish Internet exploded with Bieber talk. Kanter had worked in significant sections of “Sand” and “First Tube” into Bieber’s show! Several websites had written up the entertaining blurb (all which contained priceless comments from a mix of Bieber and Phish fans.) This time I checked the clips. Amidst a more “grown up” part of the show that flashed images of street action and aggressive music, Kanter sure enough tore right into the themes of “Sand” and “First Tube!” It was not subtle. To see Bieber running and dancing around in a multi-million dollar, mega-production to Trey’s melodies was just too hilarious for words. I immediately retweeted the clips to my followers as I watched and laughed. Kanter had taken the prankster spirit of Phish and wove it right into one of the cheesiest shows on the planet! And I can only imagine the shit-eating grin on the guitarist’s face, let alone Kuroda’s, as he did so.

Biebs In Action (Jeff Kravitz)

I jokingly Tweeted to Kanter, “When are you gonna drop “Tweezer” licks in a Bieber show?” Within a minute, YEMBlog responded that Kanter had already posted on Phantasy Tour that “Tweezer” was coming next! My mental response was a fusion of “WHAAAT?!?” and “That’s fuckin’ awesome!” Within minutes, a multi-party conversation started with people making all sorts of Phish/Bieber jokes, primarily focused on the absurd possibility of a Bieber-focused gag on New Year’s Eve. I suggested that Tom Marshall would be announced as Bieber as he descended from the rafters of MSG at midnight with the goth-angel outfit that Beiber has worn for the same stunt to kick off each and every show. Marshall responded, suggesting he would be introduced wearing an overcoat onstage only to have Bieber shed the costume and appear on stilts to sit in with Phish as the clock struck twelve! Everyone was in on the humor! But then people started worrying about Phish embracing the Biebs too much. “Really?” I thought. Fans were actually concerned that Bieber’s fans—and more particularly his music—would cross over to Phish. Now this seemed a bit absurd. Perhaps the guys work a Bieber allusion into a New Year’s joke or tease a pop song in jest, but theories hypothesizing the potential of Justin singing with Phish felt a bit too ridiculous for me. But, hey, he’d probably pull it off far better than Kid Rock did! The bottom line is “Who Cares?!” But for those sweating it out, the Canadian heartthrob is off for New Year’s Eve!

Regardless if the pop star ever steps foot Phish’s stage, I really don’t see an influx of fourteen year old girls and their parents infiltrating the Phish scene. Nor do I see Bieb’d out setlists as even a remote possibility. But to see fans began to sour over the potential was enough for another personal chuckle. Would some Bieberheads get turned on to Phish? Probably. Is that a bad thing? Hell no! But regardless of fan crossover, the real humor here is that Phish music that will continue to be woven into Bieber’s upcoming concerts! While the band is off tour, the question every morning will now be,” What songs did Kanter dropped on the domes of 20,000 unknowing teens last night?” And we will all sit back and laugh. Shit, if you were a Phish fan playing guitar for Justin Beiber, wouldn’t you do the same thing? I know I would.

8.15.12 Long Beach (John Florek)


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 8.17.97 I, Limestone, ME

Something groovilicious for any potential Bieberites stopping by.

[audio:] Tags: ,

403 Responses to “Step Into the Bieber”

  1. MiA Says:

    Thanks t3. Grabbed that.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    How hot a show as St. Louis? Caught myself singing along to Sample. Hot ass Sample too. No joke buttsmoke.

  3. mr.palmer Says:

    Leg 2 is a total smoke show, Bingos. OKC is probably the only lackluster show and even that isn’t “bad”.

    Band On Fire!

  4. mmmhmm Says:

    spun the ’03 Nassau show today for the first time in a good while. Forgot how monster that tweezer is…I miss big growling uncompressed effect-laden occasional Trey. Esp when the effects and loops spill over into song changes like in Tweezers and Carinis . Snaps your attention immediately to Trey and he knows it. I feel like the uncompression these days can happen but not with the almost sloppy abandon that it used to. Don’t get me wrong, the Ross is heavenly but I feel like Trey plays with far fewer effects than he used to even before post-hiatus….I think his playing is super tight and on point so nice right now but what happened to all the pedal play? Is this just me thinking this?

  5. mmmhmm Says:

    let me reiterate, Trey’s guitar tone makes me weep for joy esp the ocedoc, but I suppose I am just saying that I miss the gritty effects he used to throw down more often. But that has also left a lot of room for Page to add incredible comps and space age soundscapes where he might have been toned down more in the past.

  6. alf Says:


    do i have the first 66 pressure sounds releases? and if so, where are they?

    mmw tomorrow in ridgefield ct. stoked for that, also a band on fire – a late career renaissance of sorts it seems.

  7. mmmhmm Says:

    alf did MMW really ever have a lul? I have never left a MMW show thinking “man, they really are phoning it in these days”…those guys rip acoustic and electric (obv). Billy Martin is an astounding bass player, Chris Wood reminds me of a 60’s jazz drummer in his prime and Medeski might be one of the best guys on keys around these days. HE puts down the gritty on a regular basis

  8. xpun Says:

    Watch out! MiA is going to try to impregnate that playlist

    @palmer. Day shift v night shift is as American as it gets. At work we either get “day-shafted” or “Marion Barry’d” which is when the bitch(es) sets you up

    Night shift ftw!

  9. alf Says:

    probly not mm, guess it just seems these guys shouldn’t be so consistently awesome this late in their career

    nassau 03 GIN

    that’s some shit
    that i like

  10. xpun Says:

    Parasido Stash even sounds/looks good on paper. Angel making music. Love it.

    Also like Andre Dawson getting pulled out of the ivy by Kerry Wood. When did he lose all his baby fat?

    And samsung galaxy comm is funny. Jeez I’m falling for advertising.

  11. lumpyhead Says:


    lumpy: out!

  12. mr.palmer Says:

    Nice Xpun- I just loaded that Stash up on the Ipod for my drive home in an hour.

  13. mr.palmer Says:

    Trey practicing 9 days out for TAB tour.

    Double that up for the NYE run please.

  14. xpun Says:

    Had ck5 been doing TAB shows?

  15. mr.palmer Says:

    yeah, he had done the last few i think. I’m not up on when Beiber tour concludes….

  16. Snow Says:

    Wow. Crazy article on Romney and dad.

    I like George and old mitt… Until he goes political whore.

  17. joe Says:

    yeah night shift isn’t that bad, except when you also work in the morning. good to get errands done in the day as long as you can tolerate mothers with small crying children and old timers. Just accept the fact that they will take up at least two parking spaces at the grocery store (suburban life, yo). Having said that, I really want that other Monday-Friday 9 to 5’er right now. nights and weekends for far too long for me, and before that full time overnights and full time school/subbing.

  18. mr.palmer Says:

    Fully committed to hitting the Portchester Trey show. Last night of tour in a historic venue just refurbished. Probably skip the Beacon. Once is probably enough

  19. mr.palmer Says:

    Joe- tuesday is the only day I have to do it. Started at 10am. Go until 12am. I’m off completely tomorrow so it’s a little easier to push through.

  20. mmmhmm Says:

    palmer you been to the beacon? hows the lower balcony seating? seems like lodge is the best spot in the house but I have lower balcony railing for Beacon Trey that Im pretty jazzed about

  21. joe Says:

    when I do it, it is two separate gigs and makes time go by better. (well, some of the time I do this gig for 16 hours at a stretch but not that often anymore)

    on that note. I have to actually do a little bit before heading out. scraps of the corner bag await at home. peace

  22. alf Says:

    friend of a friend just started working at capitol theater, might have to call in a favor if somehow tab is good. maybe trey will be on the spice with cyro.

    if only phil & friends was a no bouncing coda jam zone…

  23. mmmhmm Says:

    alf what do you mean “if somehow TAB is good”? Ray brings the heat and Cyro will be a nice addition…although I agree that in recent years TAB can get cheesed out but I have fond memories of 02-03 TAB and Halloween in Asheville. those shows threw down with serious percussion jams and gnarly trey. I guess hes softened things up since then. Seen a good amt of TAB and never been bummed but nothing matched the fire of those phish hiatus tab shows

  24. mr.palmer Says:

    Me too Joe, two separate gigs.

    mmmhmm-Been to the Beacon a bunch, The Loge, lower and upper balcony are not different levels (unless its been remodeled since I’ve been).

    If you are in the first few rows of that loge or lower, you should be fine. I don’t like the upper balcony. It all depends on your row. It’s a great venue. Probably my favorite, besides Radio City, in NYC.

  25. mmmhmm Says:

    Palmer so Im front row D section 2…

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