Monday, August 17, 2009

The Return to Phish

(Concert/Music Review)

Herbie Hancock eased me out of the car and into the past. Okay, not a bad start. I felt like I was 10 years younger, but it didn't take long for old man Morse to creep back in: my friends found it funny and typical that I sported dark jeans and penguin embroidered socks on a blistering summer day. I found it funny as well, until 15 minutes into the parking lot scene I wanted to shoot myself for being a stubborn douchebag. I pressed on and found my safe temperature at 160 degrees. Trey would have wanted it this way.

As I wandered around I reveled in the presence of the old schoolers, drifters, hippies and scumbags. Obviously the economy affects the drug culture as well because the balloons were much smaller than I remember from years past. There certainly were younger people and first timers here, but I would say that a ton in attendance had seen Phish before. I can't quite say why I enjoyed this observation, but it may have something to do with me being a sucker for nostalgia and as much as things change in life, there are some things that will always stay the same, and Phish shows seem to be one of them.

Some things overheard that interested me, or were just repeated over and over and over:

Who's got my mollies?
Got the chocolate.
Who's got my Hartford ticket?
I'll buy that shirt from you for $50. (idiot talking to a kid who had a rare Dead shirt on) Kid's incredibly delayed and confused response: $55.
Where is Shakedown Street?
I only have $6 dollars to buy a ticket with. (He didn't get the ticket)


Sample in a Jar kicked off thousands of tweakers, stoners and partyers twirling, tippy-toeing around each other, and monster-mashing on invisible broken glass. There is something exotic, unbalanced, entertaining and comforting about thousands of white people dancing together. It was awesome.

Young Dan from Connecticut slithered over and introduced himself to me and asked if I've seen Phish, and if so, what years? I responded 1994/1995ish; he suddenly found himself in the presence of a guru, and said longingly, "Man I wish I was around for the 90's. I was like 7 years old. It seemed so different". Hell yes Dan, it was different-lovely, fun, and if I remembered anything I would have spun a few for him but I have Matt Kasten to guide me through the Phish years myself. If I told Dan I used to get the old Phish newsletter (Doniac Schvice) mailed to my house he surely would have forked over every dose, nugget and pill in his possession, and friendly Dan would have danced off into the hazy smoke saturated sunset.

I could have cared less that Dinner and a Movie was a rare tune they play. I'm not in it for bragging rights. Play Harry Hood or die. My friend, My Friend and Possum were super great along with David Bowie and Bathtub Gin, but a lull for me was the contiguous trio of Farmhouse, Sugar Shack and Brian and Robert.

Brendan's new best friend

Sugar Shack is apparently a new tune that from my opinion did not go over so well with the crowd. I commented to Matt that he will be telling me 10 years from now that I was there for Sugar Shack at Darien and it was a special moment and people would be jealous and sweating and twittering at the thought of being present. He says no way, but I say it's inevitable. Sugar Shack will be a cult classic for no fucking reason at all.

On being a grumpy, sober and aging fan.

Mistake #1. I snuck off during Golgi Apparatus to beat the crowd to the bathroom before the end of the first set. I snaked my way through the jagged ebb and flow of the crowd. I was outmatched, swallowed and spit out near the bathroom. Afterwords, I pulled up a piece of pavement where I could stretch out and decided that I would leave the show. I was sunstroked, tired and not looking forward to fighting my way to the car. It was a great first set and I swam in the past long enough. Looking back at this moment, I wish I had been drunk and stoned and not thinking b/c mistakes were clearly made.

Okay, I'll go find my friends and see what happens, I don't want to miss anything anyways, right? The sun was setting, smoke was ripe and the crowd was jittery and I couldn't find anyone. I wandered and texted, but to no avail: darkness fell and the second set started on a nice note, so I stood in between two lazy marionettes while a sniper invaded our space from stage left every other minute or so. He seemed to be doing some cockeyed figure 8. Fucking annoying so I continued to wander looking for friends. Nope.

Mistake #2. At this point I was ready. It was 4th song of 2nd set (Rift) and I like the song, but really? Do I need to stick around and deal with this shit any longer? As I lurched through the crowd again an amazing occurrence happened from person to person: everyone knew the lyrics and were singing: "And silence contagious in moments like these...". Boy, girl, tenor, soprano, burnout, drunk...It was pretty cool to hear the song that way.

Speaking of hearing things: I was probably the only sober moron within 200 miles of Darien Lake. Back in the day you would hear stories about so and so going to a show sober for the 'ultimate' experience. Fuck you and fuck you too. I will say that if in a different setting, say, in an auditorium it would be amazing, but I do not recommend anyone going to a show sober because sadly, the crowd is just too much for our kind. Still fun, but get as fucked up as possible otherwise you start thinking and posturing about life and next thing you know you leave the show early wondering what the fuck is wrong with you. I digress:

Now I'm in the clear and near sprinting to my car. Through rows and rows and rows. Where the fuck is my car?! Silent in the Morning is playing and I really enjoy the end of the tune, but it's nice: I get to listen to it by myself in the misty, lonely and littered parking lot. I would have loved the moment if I wasn't so panic stricken that I couldn't find my car. Sparkle is playing now. Great. This is all for nothing b/c I won't get out any sooner than if I would have stayed in the show. The fatal blow: Run Like an Antelope started.

I had two requests prior to the show: Do not play anything remotely close to Tweezer or I will cut myself on cue, and please, please play Antelope. (I was reminded that I was at the infamous 'Freezer' show at Canandaigua where they basically played it the entire 2nd set and this is probably where my deep seated hatred for the song comes from) At any rate, I still can't find my piece of shit car, Antelope is playing and that fucker over there is still eating his corn-on-the-cob. I am going over my tracks. Antelope is blooming and... there it is! Phew. I slowly leave listening to Antelope wishing I wasn't such a skirt. Wishing I was sleeping. Wishing I was in the show. Wishing I was young...

I am listening to the show as I write this and I heard I missed Fluffhead which is near tragic, but I didn't know they played First Tube as the closer. If I couldn't hear Antelope, well at least give me First Tube or Hood-I SWEAR on Trey's life. I totally suck. It's funny that I hated this band for so long (probably swore them off right after that 'Tweezer' show) and about a year ago I got my jones back and will probably see them again if Trey doesn't melt down beforehand.
Special thanks to Matt for reminding me of our Phish history. I tend to forget what I did yesterday and certainly forgot about the 'Tweezer' show and Doniac Schvice. And to everyone else that was present: Brendan, Jay, Chris, Andre, Jen, Heather, Kelly and Sarah, it was a blast and a few pics should be up soon!

On to another reunion tour: Sunny Day Real Estate,