Listen to the Baker’s Beat’s second in a series of phan profiles (spoiler: it’s one of my closest tour buddies!) using the link/audio player above, or read below for the full transcript. We held our conversation in Katz’s Delicatessen after a big lunch, so apologies for the mild restaurant noise and servers yelling, “Come pick it up!” in the background. We wanted to give you a true New York soundtrack! Hope you enjoy it.
Hello Baker’s Beat listeners and Phish fans everywhere. It is Monday, July 24th and we are here on the Lower East Side* reporting live from none other than Katz’s Delicatessen, a true New York institution, and having some hot damn good coffee with me is my friend, my near and dear amigo, Brett Pfautz. He is going to be joining us, resuming our phan spotlight series. Howdy Brett!
Brett, why don’t you introduce yourself to our listeners and friends. Tell them where you’re from, what you do, a little bit about your Phishing background.
I’m originally from Batesville, Indiana. Been living out in Montana for four years now, working in a restaurant, just being a ski bum pretty much and living life.
Phishing background? My first Phish show was in 2009, Festival 8. I caught the whole weekend, I went with my brother Bill. It was a life-changing experience for sure. I took a big break from going to Phish shows for 4 or 5 years or something and didn’t start seeing them again until recently and now I’ve been trying to play catch up and catch as many shows as possible.
Wonderful. I’m with you right there. Why don’t you share your favorite moment, or some sort of pinnacle Phish experience, whether it’s from a show or not, if you could pick some sort of Phish highlight experience from your life, what comes to mind?
I’d have to say my greatest Phish experience was Magnaball weekend, for sure. Second festival, the whole thing just blew my mind. I couldn’t believe the quality of music, the quality of friends, just the whole set up, the camping.
That whole 2015 tour just blew my mind. I caught as many shows as I could. I think I saw 14 that year. I was flying in and out from city to city, flying in for the Tuesday- Wednesday shows, flying back out for a four day work week, making just enough money to make the next shows and then flying back out.
The whole “Drive-In” set and I feel we really solidified our whole Phish crew even more so at Magnaball and it’s just been a great ride ever since then.
Absolutely. I agree with everything you just said. That was a very special weekend that really sticks out in my mind. I would probably choose that too for my favorite, full-on Phish experience, not the least of which is the social part. It certainly brought us closer together and really facilitated us really getting to know each other well last summer in 2016 when we travelled a lot more together. It’s been real good ever since. It’s all been gravy since then!
So, the task at hand: we’re here in New York. We just finished the first weekend of the Baker’s Dozen. You were dancing by my side the whole time. Different spots in the arena each night. We had the opening night, of course, coconut. Saturday we had strawberry. Then, last night we experienced red velvet. So, I’m wondering what you thought musically of the first weekend and what stood out to you?
Each night was really unique. This weekend was a fucking great start to the Dozen for sure. The music was just on-point. If I had to pick a favorite show of the weekend, I’d say Saturday for me has been the highlight so far. The “Foam” on Saturday really spoke to me. It was just beautiful. The “Foam”, the “Disease”, those were some of the highlights of that night that I can think of.
Of course. The covers they pulled that night really stood out to me. “Strawberry Fields Forever” a capella opener and then, coming out of that “Disease”, “Strawberry Letter 23”. That’s an unforgettable Phish moment. Through and through a classic show.
The “Melt”. “Split Open and Melt”
Yep. Man! They just had the flow going. That, to me, was the show that had the best flow of the weekend and I liked the other shows nearly as much…
It was seamless!
It was such a strong weekend of shows in my opinion. Each its own unique flavor as it always is the case with Phish, but I agree that the Saturday show was the best overall. Had the best energy and consistency through and through.
We also had the best seats in the house. To me, objectively, Phish fans, we decided: Page side truly is better. We were just five rows up from the side stage from Page, equivalent with the first row of the floor but five rows above the floor. We decided those are the best seats in the house because Mike and Trey are right-handed. So, those musicians out there: don’t you want to be able to see all the fretwork very clearly? Page is right there in the foreground, versus if it’s flipped and you’re in the equivalent seat on Mike’s side you see the back of the necks of their guitars. You don’t get to see their handiwork and Page is that much farther away…
Those really were great seats…
…and just to between the members. Did you notice anything about that, being close?
Oh yeah! After the “Foam” I think it was we got a big ‘ol check mark from Trey, checking off the solid fucking “Foam”.
Yep, did the air check to Page and then laughed to himself as the crowd was cheering. That was a pretty cool, candid moment that we wouldn’t have seen if we were in the 200s like we were some of the other nights. So cool to see the communication when you’re near the stage like that.
Well, you made the call: you’re staying in town for jam-filled Tuesday…
…and whatever it may be Wednesday and we’re trying to persuade others to come in. There’s definitely an excitement and energy in the air moving forward. Tell me what you expect for the rest of the residency, whether it’s jam-filled Tuesday and the Wednesday show you’re seeing, or even beyond that. What are some possible arcs that are playing out in your mind for the rest of the Dozen?
We were speculating that this jam-filled Tuesday might bring about an entire improv set. I don’t know if that’s something they would do but I feel like there’s a chance that something like that is going to happen.
Absolutely. I’d say the options in my head are…there’s a few. It’s an off day today. I assume they’re with their families but maybe they’re rehearsing, but I imagine tomorrow might be the full day of rehearsal or they’re up early. Theoretically, they’ll be fresher.
I wonder if they’ll rehearse some composed jams. Either that, or they just practice more in general together after what was, I think, 8 shows in 11 days. That’s kind of a busy stretch for them amidst travel, too.
Or, I wonder if they’ll try to intentionally elongate the jams that they’re already playing and not go out of their way to try and compose anything like a “Drive-In” or the Hourglass set from New Year’s Eve a few years ago.
The last thing I did see was Julia Mordaunt, one of the creative directors I believe of Phish, Inc., she was tweeting the band The Jam earlier today, who I’m not very familiar with. I’m going to cram for jam-filled Tuesday and put on The Jam tonight because maybe we’ll here a cover, a song by the band The Jam tomorrow. Do your homework, everybody! The Jam.
I’d say for the rest of the residency it’s just going to get better and better from here on out. They’re playing so well right now and going to get more comfortable in the room and it’s going to grow and grow and grow each night.
All bets are off!
Here’s a random one coming at you: If you could ask the band either: A). a question, or B). a song request, and you knew, it was guaranteed, they would answer or fulfill that thing, either the question or song request, which would you pick? What would you ask?
I’m going to have to go with a song request. We’ve already already got an “Axilla I”, but it’s always been my dream and a long-lasting inside joke between Shawn and I here that we get an “Axilla I” opener sandwiched with an “Axilla II” closer. The “Axilla” show. I see it happening in the future, but it didn’t happen last night. They forgot to play the “Axilla II” for us…
Oversight by the band!
…So maybe we’ll get an “Axilla II” over the next two days or so. Hopefully!
Page, Mike, Trey, Fishman: if you’re listening, the “Axilla” show! You heard it from Brett! Make it happen!
Alright my man. Any other questions, comments, or observations you’d like to share with the audience before we sign off here?
Silence! Food coma after a huge pastrami sandwich at Katz’s. You’re hearing the sounds of happy silence of a food coma from us. We’re sipping this coffee and trying to energize ourselves for the rest of the night.
Phish fans and listeners, thanks so much for tuning in to the Baker’s Beat for Postcards, Tellings, and Tastes from the Baker’s Dozen and keep on enjoying the run. Bye!
*=EDITOR’S NOTE: The interview recording misstates that Katz’s Deli is located in the West Village. It is in fact on the Lower East Side, not in the West Village. Sorry, that’s what happens when you enter a food coma after having some amazing Jewish deli food!