Sober Concert-Goers Band Together In New Mini-Documentary

By Bryan Le 02/04/19

Music lovers who’ve chosen the sober life are banding together at concerts.

Trey Anastasio, lead singer and guitar player for the jam band Phish plays his first show of the Summer tour in Bend, Oregon
Sober Phish fans can cleanly enjoy the musical stylings of Trey Anastasio. Michael Albright |

For some concert-goers, and some of the bands, the musical experience isn’t complete without drugs or alcohol to enhance their enjoyment. This makes it a problem for sober people going just for the music as many won’t understand and respect their choices, nor help discourage them from partaking in the debauchery.

Enter the sober jam band community, whose main mission is to support those that decide not to drink or use drugs but don’t want to miss out on a great show.

A new 10-minute student documentary focusing on the sober jam band community documents how they get things done, with a focus on the band Phish and its sober fan club, the Phellowship.

The Phellowship has a special table at every Phish show, marked by yellow balloons, according to the mini-doc uploaded to Mary Gray Johnson's YouTube channel.

“The Phellowship is a group of Phish Heads who choose to remain drug and alcohol free,” the group’s page reads. “The Phellowship has absolutely no opinion on the issue of drugs and alcohol, and neither condemns or condones it. Our simple purpose is to provide 'phellowship,' support and information to those who seek the comfort and camaraderie of other clean and sober people at shows.”

The only requirement to join the table is to remain alcohol and drug-free. While the group is intended for those in recovery, the mission includes anyone who is staying sober at the show. Besides the safe space, the table also offers meetings between sets and guidance from others who are on the same path.

The Phellowship has provided relief for sober super-fans. One fan interviewed in the film was glad to know they did not have to miss out on the fun.

“When I got sober a big fear of mine was ‘am I going to have fun again?’ This has definitely been a gateway to fun for me,” said Greer G.

Others are just glad to have a great time with like-minded company.

“To be able to still go to shows, know that there’s other people like that with you that you could just rage with, dance the whole show with, have the best time but stay sober [is incredible],” gushed another fan.

Other bands also have their own sober fan groups. The Wharf Rats are fans of the Grateful Dead, and now Dead & Company. The Jellyfish love the band The String Cheese Incident.

These groups are living proof that music fans don’t have to be wasted to have fun.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter