Jordan Hoffman of has a piece up this week about the largely forgotten 1998 documentary Bittersweet Motel, which chronicles the better part of a year in the life of the popular jam band Phish. Directed by Hangover helmer Todd Phillips, the film follows the band on its 1997-98 tour — considered a high-point in the career of a band that still packs arenas worldwide and now streams all of its shows into eager Phish heads’ homes. Few bands can claim the kind of fan loyalty Phish has of its devotees.

Phillips, who had previously created the compelling and controversial Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, reportedly got the job after saying he’d never heard of Phish. And while Phillips’ unconventional approach to documentary making turned off many of the band’s hardcore fans, Hoffman, an unabashed Phish fan, says it’s well worth a viewing.

From the article:

So why on Earth would I, as a would-be Phish proselytizer, ever want you to see this movie? It’s all about the music, man.

Not even Phillips’ entertaining snark can take away from the main course: Phish’s playing was absolutely untouched in ’97-’98, and he doesn’t shy away from going into the deep dark funk, the hardcore shredding or the spacey jams. If the stink of sweat, patchouli and kind bud has kept you at a remove from this band, but you are, indeed, enamored of highly skilled musicianship and jazzy improvisation, you won’t be ten minutes into this movie before thinking “hey, I should really be paying attention to this stuff.”

Read the rest on the excellent

And to see where the band’s playing is today, check out the second set from last month’s performance at the Hartford Coliseum below.