What is Helping Phriendly Orchestra? The 2012 Year In Review

Helping Phriendly Orchestra is Chicago's premier Phish tribute band and I'm inclined to believe they're the best in the country. Unabashedly borrowing the Dark Star Orchestra's concept (as explained to The Barn by guitarist Mark Hague) and 1/3 or their name -- their goal is to recreate Phish shows in their entirety. They even attempt to insert improvisation in similar areas (20+ minute 2001 from George '98; thrilling Piper jam when recreating the Prague show from the same summer).

It is only unfortunate that they are somewhat hamstrung from wider exposure due to prior commitments of their principals (Hague gigs most weekends with Chicago favorites Mr. Blotto). Still, they managed 10 shows in 2012, tackling shows from early nineties all the way up to Phish 3.0. Here's a roundup of what they played, with some links to recordings, that will give you a feel for what these musicians are capable of. This was their second full year as a band, and with these shows under their belt, they have really appeared to hit their stride.

8/5/10, Greek Theatre, Berkley, CA (perfomed at Marytrs 1/19/12)

10/18/96, Civic Center, Pittsburgh PA (performed at Reggie's 2/2/12)

5/23/00, Roseland Ballroom, NYC

12/28/93, Bender Arena, American University, Wash. DC (performed in Omaha, NE on 5/5/12)

4/14/94, Beacon Theatre, NYC (performed at Martyrs 5/17/12)

7/6/98, Prague, Czech Republic (performed at ACE Bar

2/27/93, Florida Theatre, Gainsville, FL

7/17/98, Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA (performed at Martyrs 8/16/12)

6/9/09, Asheville Civic Center, Asheville, NC

5/14/94, Montezuma Hall, San Diego, CA (performed at Reggie's 12/27/12)

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