In the 1990s, a number of young "jam bands" (modeled after the musical and social model of the Grateful Dead) began developing a nationwide following, such as Blues Traveler and the Spin Doctors, but none have achieved greater success than Phish. With little radio play or mainstream media coverage, Phish developed a grassroots following that's grown so large they can sell out multi-night arena stands overnight, and the group has staged several well-attended weekend-long festivals in which they are the only attraction, playing multiple sets over several days. Filmmaker Todd Phillips, who previously documented the career of crash-and-burn punk rocker G.G. Allin, spent several months with Phish in 1997 and 1998, chronicling their one-band festival "The Great Went," following them for several arena shows along the East Coast, and tagging along as they played a series of small venues in Europe. Bittersweet Motel was the result, capturing the band's on-stage chemistry, their interaction with their fans, and both the lighter and more serious sides of their lives off stage. Ironically, Bittersweet Motel clocks in at less than 90 minutes -- less than half the length of a typical Phish concert.
by Mark Deming synopsis