Phisheads are uniquely known for their close, grassroots community. Fans were originally attracted to the band for the improvisational content of their live shows. The band's manager credits their permissive policy towards recording live shows as the most important factor in Phish's rise in popularity. Even prior to the band's major label debut, Phishheads collected bootlegs of live shows, each with different improvisational flourishes. The band had one of the first Internet communities via a mailing list, and the Internet helped spread specific show recordings. The band also enjoys an uncommonly close connection with its audience, and has historically had large-scale concerts without the usual security issues expected from such crowds or reliance on corporate sponsorships. In 2000, Billboard wrote that music industry professionals "marvel at the relationship between Phish and fans". With a dedicated community, the band tailors shows to both longtime returnees and first-time audience members. As a community, Phishheads socialize new fans and self-police to the extent that concerts resolve more incidents than they create. The group has been noted for its cult and countercultural qualities, in that it has attracted fans discontented with mainstream American culture. Fans have also viewed the community as a family. Former Deadheads, fans of The Grateful Dead, have contended that compared to their roving fan tradition, Phishhead subculture has a more pronounced prep and punk influence, catering to stereotypes of Phishheads as "overindulged white kids who were looking to rebel against their parents, but not rebel so far as to never be able to turn at the first sign of trouble". Of their impact, Billboard wrote that Phishheads are "etched into rock'n'roll history" with a fan passion rivaled only by those of The Grateful Dead and Dave Matthews Band. The New York Times wrote that Phish fans took the mantle of "most ostentatious band-following nomads" from the Deadheads around 1990, though faced with Phish going on hiatus in the early 2000s at the height of their popularity, Deadheads were hesitant to accept Phish fan refugees into non-Phish jam band culture.
Fans have written multiple books on the subject of Phish. Dean Budnick's The Phishing Manual presents cultural, historical, and intellectual analysis from a Phishhead perspective. Other fans made compendiums, such as The Pharmer's Almanac and The Phish Companion, which cover song histories, set lists and venue information, and show reviews. The Phish Book was co-written with the band and adds their autobiographical reflections on their history.
Notable Phish fans
- Sean Avery, hockey player
- Rocco Baldelli, baseball player and coach
- Holly Bowling, pianist
- Brandon Boyd, lead singer of Incubus
- Eric Church, country singer
- Matisyahu, reggae singer
- Nathan Rabin, music and film critic
- Aron Ralston, outdoorsman and writer
- Scott Rogowsky, comedian and game show host
- Danny Tamberelli, actor
- Chris Tomson, drummer, Vampire Weekend
- Katy Tur, journalist
- Harris Wittels, comedian and podcast host
- Waddell, Ray (April 15, 2000). "Phish-Heads Make Band One of the Top Touring Acts". Billboard. p. 102. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Waddell, Ray (July 4, 2009). "Independent Spirits: How Phish Got Its Groove Back—And Started Its Own Label". Billboard. pp. 16–17. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Gibson, Chris; Connell, John (2005). Music and Tourism: On the Road Again. Bristol: Channel View Publications. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-873150-92-4.
- Heffernan, Virginia (January 23, 2004). "TELEVISION REVIEW; A Fan's Life? Hanging With Phishheads, Hunting for Furries". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Dewan, Shaila K. (October 17, 2000). "Trying to Fill the Void When the Music Stops". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Christian, Elizabeth Barfoot (December 22, 2010). Rock Brands: Selling Sound in a Media Saturated Culture. Lexington Books. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-7391-4636-1.
- "Ex-NHLer Sean Avery Talks Phish Fandom In New Book". JamBase. 3 November 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- Boller, Jay. "Apparently new Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is SUPER into Phish | City Pages". City Pages. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "Pianist Holly Bowling adapts Phish and Grateful Dead jams for solo piano in Aspen". www.aspentimes.com. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
- "Brandon Boyd Talks Sons of the Sea, Incubus and Phish - Page 2 of 2 - Jambands". Jambands. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
- "Eric Church on Springsteen, Grateful Dead and 'The Outsiders'". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
- "Phishin' With Matisyahu: How LSD "Turned My Entire World Inside Out"". L4LM. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "Fucking Phish, Man". Nathan Rabin's Happy Place. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "Interview: Aron Ralston - The Listener". Noted. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "HQ Trivia's Scott Rogowsky Talks Phish Memories and Bar Mitzvah Requests - Relix Media". Relix Media. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
- "Danny Tamberelli on Instagram: "20 years ago today at this very venue, I saw a band that changed my life. After 100+ shows, they can still do it. Thanks @phish. #imold"". Instagram. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
- "Vampire Weekend's Chris Tomson Praises Phish". StereoGum. 24 June 2014.
- "EXCLUSIVE: MSNBC's Katy Tur Talks Her Love Of Phish & Sneaking Lyrics Into The News". L4LM. 23 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- "Harris Wittels: The Parks and Rec Writer Gets to "Analyze Phish" (Throwback Thursday) - Relix Media". Relix Media. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- Ratliff, Ben (August 7, 2017). "Why Would You Go to a Phish Concert, Let Alone 13? I Found Out". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Tell, Caroline (July 18, 2017). "Phish Fans Flock to New York for 13-Concert Marathon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
- Wesch, Michael (1997). "Phish-heads: Modern Society, Youth, and Identity" (B.A.). Kansas State University.
- "What Keeps Phish Fans Coming Back for More?". The New York Times. August 11, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331.