By Caleb Calhoun
2016 was a rough one and, just in time for the first weekend of the 2017, Runaway Gin is coming back to The Grey Eagle. After the year it has been what better way to begin the new one than with something fun, energetic, and familiar?
And fun is what these guys are. This band captures the playful side of Phish’s music as perfectly as one can and ties the well-executed songs together with original jams and segues. They also do everything they can to keep each show as fresh as your homegrown stash.
“Everything is really a variation on the golden rule,” guitarist and frontman Andy Greenberg tells me. “Do unto others as you would have Phish do unto you.”
They consistently bench songs that they find themselves beginning to rely on as well as changing up the set list every night.
“Even if we do a three-night run,” Greenberg says, “we usually don’t repeat any songs.”
They also make a point of pushing themselves to do things differently and learn new techniques. According to Greenberg, “I think individually and as musicians we are constantly trying new ideas in new settings. Whether it be using a new effects pedal or a new keyboard or even just a new idea for a jam.”
Beyond all of that however, as the world’s most active Phish band, these guys have developed spectacular chemistry over the last 3 years.
“We are like brothers, over 210 shows now,” Greenberg explains. “We hang out outside of gigs and we do all this driving together. … I think that chemistry is what allows us to really enjoy playing so many shows. We are a singular band in the classic sense of it and the chemistry that we have between us is a living, breathing thing that is constantly changing.”
That chemistry is on display every time these guys take the stage. Known for playing long sets and, even as one set becomes the standard, these guys have stuck to the two-set model. They will also be bringing a light rig with them to Asheville for the first time to help spice things up.
“I guess the whole idea from the beginning for me,” Greenberg explains, “is that when I go to a Phish show I leave with a certain glow. It’s an experience that transcends your consciousness and your every day, nine-to-five life. I think that is really what I am trying to transmit. To help people somehow disengage from the commercialized world and to find something that is true and real and resonates. (To) help them to receive that sense of elation or euphoria and leave them with that same afterglow that we have experienced.”
Having seen these guys live that is exactly what I remember. The fun, the forgetfulness, the opportunity to catch that glow without having to leave the comforts of Asheville. At the end of the day, it all comes back to that same golden rule.
“Do unto others as you would have Phish do unto you.”
Runaway Gin plays at The Grey Eagle on Friday, January 6. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 D.O.S.
Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music at a plethora of clubs and bars across the southeast. He is the author and publisher of Rosman City Blues and currently resides outside of Asheville with his dog and best friend, Dr. Gonzo.