Jump to content



Recommended Posts

Stardate 030609

After the busiest work week I've had in well over a decade that saw me working over thirty hours and waking as early as 7:30am I was very much looking forward to a little time away. I tossed mine and phorbesie's prepacked bags in the bag of the truck, picked up gentlemonkey and moeron and hit the road at 9:30 Thursday night. Intent on driving straight through to the state of ham and smokes I put the pedal to the metal until we got to the border.

Four smiling freshly scrubbed faces beamed at the border dude. "Why you going to Virginia?" "To see some Phish concerts." "Oh," the border dude says, "I used to work with a guy who liked Phish. He quit his job to go to some of their concerts. He was a complete stoner." Then he eyes me. "Well, there ya go," I says, all the while repeating my 'we're not the droids you're looking for' mantra.

We cruised through.

Careful not to speed in the USA I set the cruise control for 64mph and immediately saw the flashing lights on my tail. I failed to notice the 40mph sign. Oops, 64 in a 40 zone.

I only lasted a few more hours before handing the wheel off to Mr. Monkey. He did a splendid job, not a single speeding ticket, while I slept like a baby. I retook the helm at 6am and we cruised into Hampton at 10:30.

Loaded up on booze and snacks, waited in the hotel lot for check in, ate at Applebees for the first time (vegetarians should abstain), checked in, iced the beer, and finally started to get excited about the show. There are hippies all over the place. What a nice feeling.

We still gotta hit will-call and exchange some tickets and get our headies together so our relaxation time is short.

The anticipation is building. I very much look forward to the collective joy in the room when the lights go down a few hours from now. I anticipate the crowd will overshadow the band tonight, but I damn well hope I'm wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 87
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Stardate 030709

Phorbesie and I headed down to the show around 4pm, leaving gentlemonkey and moeron napping in the hotel room. We walked the three or so kilometres to the venue, stopping to arrange a ticket trade for some board members. Phorbesie ran into friends in line who would hold seats for us and we hit the lot for some beer after grabbing our tickets at will call.

The lot was meager, but at least it was no Va Beach. We got our beers in short order (two for $5) and walked the lot in about three minutes. We ended up back in front of the Mothership, it's lights just starting to glow and show off the cool architecture of the arena. There was a fountain with art in it; large white blocks stacked in the shape of a huge robot with a simple smiley face painted on it, and two people dressed all in white and wearing smiley-face blocks on their heads were paddling a canoe through the fountain, which in turn was full of floating smiley blocks. We sat on the edge of the fountain with our beers and watched the scene go by. The lineup to get in deteriorated into a crushcrowd almost immediately after the doors opened. People everywhere were looking for trades, with tonight's ticket at a premium. The standard was two Saturday or Sunday tickets for a Friday, or a ticket plus cash for tonight. Everyone wanted to be inside when Phish started all over again.

We decided to join the crushcrowd about an hour after the doors opened.

That's right, in a thirteen thousand capacity general seating arena, an hour after the doors opened there was still a huge crushcrowd to get in. Phorbesie and I waited about 45 minutes to get in, through one gate and then a second where your ticket would get beeped. It's like they were expecting 600 people. It was ridiculous and completely uncalled for, and it's not like they were putting everyone through the wringer; the security getting in was lax at best.

Hope they have that misadventure solved for the next show.

Once inside the excitement was everywhere. We found our held seats and scanned the room, which was packed to the rafters with a crowd hinging on a celebration five years coming.

When the lights went down...well, you could use pretty much any cliche in the book to describe the surge of sound the crowd made, and it would be an understatement. 'Thunderous', 'explosive', 'manaical', you name it, the crowd went nuts.

And well we should. Here we are, the lucky ones that found ourselves tickets to the re-re-emergence after almost five years of what was quite simply one of the best bands ever. The anticipation leading up to the darkening of those lights was enormous, the collective joy in the room undeniable as the band ended once and for all the "what's the opener gonna be?" game that everyone has been playing. The one-two punch of Fluffhead and Divided Sky may have been chosen to show the audience that Coventry this is not. The band is obviously well-rehearsed and if not on top of their game, they are at least prepared to take a good swing at this.

You can find the setlist anywhere on the 'net, so I won't repeat it here, and aside from pointing to Stash as a personal highlight in the first set, I'll say that the band obviously spent a lot of time meticulously creating a well-paced and extensive opening setlist for their return. Farmouse slid in well between Suzy Greenberg and NICU and David Bowie was the obvious end of a monstrous set that felt like a set and-a-half.

I didn't move during the setbreak - there was no beer run for me as a man in his forties that could pass for a man in his fifties couldn't get a wristband without picture ID. The chatter around me was nothing but positive, with phrases like "The first two minutes beat anything we heard post-hiatus" being tossed around. The crowd that had been surging with excitement was now teeming with satisfaction that the band had done their homework and was determined to blow away all expectations. The anticipation for the second set was huge, and the band stepped up to the plate and delivered.

The Tweezer was splendid, with a minimized jam that freed up room in the setlist for more songs. Possum was a crowd-pleasing singalong with it's blissful crescendo shared among 13,004 smiling people. Theme From The Bottom was done so well I finally noticed what a brilliant piece of songwriting it is. Hood brought a tear to my eye and I finally "got" the main lyric. I even resisted going to the bathroom during Waste. Mike was on fire all night and Page often sounded like he was channeling Stevie Winder. Trey wins the award as most improved player.

Of very special mention on this opening night is lighting genius Chris Kuroda, who was in control of the visual end of last night's show. Let me start by saying that five years of technological advancement in the area of concert lighting haven't hurt things one bit, and if there is one person involved with tonight's show who wasn't at all rusty is was Chris. The light show has always been integral to the Phish experience, but Koruda was nothing short of brilliant. A fantastic extra feature was the twenty-one ten-foot balloons hanging from the ceiling in two rings, an inner ring of ten balloons and an outer ring of eleven. Each balloon had a light dedicated to it and these balls of colored illumination added so much to the visual spectrum that I really hope they will find a way to incorporate them at the outdoor venues Phish are booked into this summer.

After an evening of stunning visual candy Chris really extended himself during the set ending YEM. (I had been wondering all night if the band had bought new trampolines, and to the immense joy of the crowd, they had) It was all so very very good, but the vocal jam was Chris' piece du resistance. The band and their visual director created a symbiotic relation as Koruda inspired the band by so closely representing the sounds they were creating. As he seemed to land a 747 on top of the Concorde above the stage the band finished their offering and left the crowd in almost a stunned silence, as a select few (me and phorbesie included) were able to muster the wherewithal to cheer for an encore.

After a barber shop start to the set that cutely included the number of days each of the four have been alive they went into Bouncing Around The Room. And tried something brilliant. I was beside myself with glee as the first balloon dropped from the ceiling. I grabbed phorbesie by the arm and jumped up and down. "Dear lord, they're going to drop all these balloons on the crowd!" I was half right, as one by one the inner ring of enormous balloons dropped on the crowd, and I could only imagine the disappointment when all but one balloon burst almost immediately. I hope like hell the try again, with thicker balloons next time.

As the show ended we sat in a bit of a daze. Though a bit rough around the edges the band is obviously well rehearsed enough on this, their second rekick at the can to take a serious shot at becoming one of the greatest bands in the world again. There were moments in the second set where I felt like I was back at my first show again, except there was more than 400 people there and they played Waste.

It helped that Fishman was back on Fishman side. That's perhaps indicative of the band's new/old attitude. Humbled after the embarrassment of Coventry they have gone back to where they began in some respects, and they fostered that sort of amazed excitement amongst the crowd. Without a word to the audience the band left the stage bouyed by an unquestionably triumphant return to live performance.

Afterwards the tanks were flowing and every hotel in the area was devoid of sleeping occupants. I partied a bit, opting to stagger back to the Hampton Inn in a wearied state of numb pleasure before 3am.

The show was so good that I didn't hear a single person mention the chain wreck that was the initial start to YEM. Though he could argue that Fishman through him off, Trey coming in a sixteenth note too late created an out-of-phrase situation that he just couldn't manage to recover from, and likely with hazy memories of Coventry in his head he opted to stop the song and restart it again. The pressure an act like that puts on a musician is great and right or wrong I think it shows how much Trey cares about putting on a quality show. I mean, what if they restart the song and Trey blows it again, what then? Anyway, the fact that nobody was talking about it reiterated that the show was epic enough to instantly set aside such a huge blunder. Good for Phish, and good for the fans.

Unlike last time I was here, I'm gonna be sticking around for the next two shows, and I'm happy about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beautifully captured Todd. I am listening to Bouncing and reading your words. It's like you invented a Time Machine.

Glad they restarted YEM. Imagine the pressure on take 2! I love Trey's "We're starting this song again.....and this time, it's not going to be like the last time we started the song again."

That's a great quote. T-shirt worthy. For some reason, he sounds like Frank Zappa to me there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

no doubt that was by far the best concert experience of my entire life. todd, thank you for describing everything i felt perfectly.

everything about the show was brilliantly thought out. from the venue to the setlist. it was just all so perfect.

everyone inside worked there ass off and was incredibly lucky. nothing was taken for granted. the vibe inside that room was the most inspiring experience i have ever had the pleasure of being apart of.

i am just at a loss for words.

i have been so lucky to have developed a good taste in music so that i was able to truly appreciate how brilliant last night really was. everything in the past was an education and an opportunity to be wise enough to truly appreciate what happened.

nothing is being taken for granted anymore...by the band and by the crowd.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Todd. Much appreciated and well written. As always.

I love Trey's "We're starting this song again.....and this time, it's not going to be like the last time we started the song again."

Just to put into context for you if you dont already realize but Phish restarted YEM at Hampton the last time they came back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Todd. Much appreciated and well written. As always.
I love Trey's "We're starting this song again.....and this time, it's not going to be like the last time we started the song again."

Just to put into context for you if you dont already realize but Phish restarted YEM at Hampton the last time they came back.

I thought that he meant Coventry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...