I wore my costume and I realized that you instantly bonded with other people who wore similar costumes. Doctors bonding with doctors. The exchanges usually went like this.
Other Guy: "Doctor!"I also found myself walking up to slutty nurses and fondling them. Only at a musical festival in Las Vegas can I get away with groping women, especially when they are in skimpy outfits and have been rolling on ecstasy for two straight days. For a brief moment, I knew what Frank Sinatra must have felt like.
Like any competent doctor, I took inventory of my party favors. I was well stocked and the Joker, still dressed as an UPS guy, was ready to go after he put together a new batch of packages. On our way in, he handed one package to two girls dressed up like Super Mario Brothers... Mario & Luigi. They were crocked on something and couldn't believe that the Joker was actually giving them a gift.
He also gave a package to a bunch of bumblebee bees. I always thought that people who got dressed up like insects were strange. At any jamband performance, you will most certainly run into at least one girl with some sort of butterfly wings or angel wings on during the concert. I used to joke around with my ex-girlfriend who I followed Phish with about those girls who used to be spun out on acid or molly and dressed up like butterflies. They usually traveled in packs of 2 and 3 other wasted girls. We wondered if they had some sort of process to determine who would wear the wings that day.
Hippie chick 1: "I get to be the butterfly!"Vegoose was populated with a lot of females dressed as insects and pets like cats, mice, dogs, and bunnies. I liked the girls who opted to incorporate cleavage into their cat costumes.
Hippie chick 2: "No me!"
Hippie chick 1: "OK, but you have to be a slutty butterfly!"
We arrived in the fairgrounds to catch the end of Umphrey's McGee's set. I have been listening to them for several years and they have their moments. I kinda like their stuff from a few years ago compared to today. We skipped Michael Franti & Spearhead which is feel good reggae music. They were opening up on the main stage for moe., who I've seen enough to know that I'd rather skip them and see Ween at the Snake Eyes stage.
The Joker knew a lot more Ween songs then me and they were hit or miss for me. Either I really dug how they were playing a song, or I was waiting for it to end. Thank God their songs were short. The crowd at the Ween show was mixed with a lot more weird skater burnouts and indie rock kids than trust fund hippie kids from Colorado and Seattle. Although more people wore their costume on Day 2 of Vegoose, I saw plenty of people who looked freaky and you might mistake them for actually dressing up for Halloween. This one guy in particular reminded me of a pedophile heroin dealer. He was tall and lanky and had a mullet just like Randy Johnson except he looked like Bob Saget. He could not stop sweating and had a very young girl with him. I could not decide if it was his girlfriend or daughter. Everytime he put his hand up her shirt I prayed to God it was his girlfriend.
Ween eventually played my favorite tune Roses Are Free which Phish has been known to cover. We saw the entire set then wandered over to the Joker's Wild Stage and watched the end of set from Spoon, an Austin based band. I was pretty impressed with their sound, partly whiny-indie rock ballads with a heavy influence of Velvet Underground and a splash of Bruce Springsteen. I was bummed when their set end. That's how I can tell if I like a band. I wanted to hear more. As the crowd from Spoon thinned out, we made our way to the front of the stage to get a good spot for the Flaming Lips.
The Joker was busting on the indie rock kids at the Flaming Lips show who were too cool to wear costumes at Vegoose. They would ask him for a free package and he'd tell them straight up that he only gives them out to people who took the time to come up with a creative costume and then wear it. After all, it was a Halloween themed music festival.
The Joker delivered Wayne, the lead singer from the Flaming Lips, a UPS package. He and other band members came out to set up their own equipment. The Joker rushed to the front and screamed, "I have a delivery for Wayne!" I caught a couple of pics of Wayne going along with the joke and signing for it.
Wayne signs for a package
The sun slips away at Vegoose
Because we were the first night after day light savings time, it got darker much earlier. I also felt that bands played better at night because the darkness was more conducive to the music. The sun went down just before the show began. While we were waiting for the Lips to tune up, we befriended a group of four girls who were hanging out next to us. They spoke kinda funny and I knew they weren't from anywhere near by. One of the girls sounded just like Joanne and even said "no" and "show" like her. I figured out they were Canadian. I had three guesses: Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver and went with my gut. One of the girls nearly fainted when I asked, "Hey you ladies wouldn't be from Calgary would ya?"
"How did you kn-oooow that?"
They were giving one of their friends a hard time about passing out too early the night before and one of the girls said, "We're not being mean. We're Canadian and have odd senses of humor."
I know," I said, "I've seen Degrassi. It's my all-time favorite Canadian TV show."
She laughed and admitted it was her favorite show too.
So the set was kick ass. The Flaming Lips were the highlight on Day 2 hands down. They had the best set up with a huge motion picture screen behind the band. There was a camera on the microphone for Wayne and sometimes, they'd cut to that shot and you'd see his huge head on screen. All these people got dressed up in costumes and were dancing on stage... all types of animals and weird things.
Before they started, Wayne came out in a huge plastic ball and walked into the crowd. It was cool to see him actually walking back and forth. I snagged a few photos while this was going on. Simultaneously, the roll I took kicked in and I started to feel pretty groovy. The Joker was shocked I got so many decent photos during the Flaming Flips.
The Flaming Lips even did a karaoke session. Using their huge projection screen then put up the words to Bohemian Rhapsody and the entire crowd sung along. It was a little cheesy, but a lot of fun. Wayne would launch these party streamers into the crowds and toss confetti all over the first few rows. They settled into some of their tunes like Fight Test and Yoshi Battle the Pink Robots both Part 1 and Part 2.
Wayne does a Bubble Walk
So we left just before the Flaming Lips ended to cath the remainder of Trey Anastasio Band in the stadium on the main stage. Sadly, he played a lot of the same stuff from two nights before. We missed most of that. We also skipped The Meters, Jack Johnson, The Digable Planets, and The Arcade Fire in order to catch Trey, the Lips, and Widespread Panic.
Trey Anastasio Band Vegoose SetlistAfter seeing Trey close with Low in consecutive, I'm convinced that his best jam out song at the moment. It was definitely the weaker show of the two Trey played in Las Vegas and the crowd was not as jam packed as I thought.
Set 1: Spin, Push On Til the Day, Tuesday, Night Speaks To A Woman, Sleep Again, Shine, 46 Days, Waste *, The Inlaw Josie Wales*, Back On The Train*, Flock of Words*, Brian and Robert*, Air Said To Me, Money Love and Change > Low
Encore: Come As Melody
Show Notes: * solo acoustic
When Trey ended, we moved down from the seated section to the floor which was general admission. We made our way to 10-15 rows back in front of Dave Schools. The Joker gave out the rest of his packages and whatever I had been taking was at it's peak.
Panic came on a little late and started out strong.
Widespread Panic Vegoose SetlistThe first three, Disco > Space Wrangler > Henry Parsons Died, were rockin' tunes and he boys got off to a hot start. George finally has found his groove with the rest of the band and he's playing his best stuff to date. I was faded on some hash about half way through and pulled my shit together during Sleeping Man. I'm a big fan of Ribs and Whiskey and I though Schools showed me why he is one kick ass bass player.
Set 1: Disco > Space Wrangler > Henry Parsons Died, Don't Wanna Lose You > Last Dance > Sleeping Man, I'm Not Alone > North, Ribs and Whiskey, Solid Rock > Give, Slippin Into Darkness* > Thin Air** > Jam** > Drums > Hatfield > Fixin' To Die***, Tall Boy > Chilly Water
Encore: Goin' Out West, None Of Us Are Free
** With Trey Anastasio on guitar
*** With Col. Bruce Hampton
Trey Anastasio came out for two songs and that caught me by surprise. I should have expected a special guest, especially at a music festival. But I was too faded and it didn't occur to me that Trey was still in the building. He tore it up and jammed out harder with Panic than with his own band. Maybe, the boys should kick George out and hire Trey full time? Seriously, download the Vegoose show just for Trey's jam on Thin Air Smells Like Mississippi. "Pure sickness," as Daddy would say.
Col. Bruce Hampton came out for Fixin' to Die and that was a lot of fun. By that point, both the Joker and I were tired and we moved to the back of the stadium for a session and to relax. Panic closed out the set with two kick ass tunes and favorites of mine Tall Boy and Climb to Safety.
Panic played the best show out of all the bands I caught inside the stadium (Phil Lesh & Friends, Dave Matthews & Friends, Trey) and the third best overall behind Beck and The Flaming Lips. I left knowing that they were going to play one wicked show the next night on Halloween.
I made the drive home a lot easier since I was much more awake than the night before. When we got back the Joker was exhausted and passed out. He partied to dawn two straight nights and his body was wrecked. I took a cat nap and headed over to the Mandalay Bay to see of I could get an extra ticket to the sold out Galactic show. No such luck. The only people who had tickets were sketched out locals and they were probably fake and definitely overpriced.
I ran into this guy named Eddie also looking for an extra. He's really from Chino and I knew him from Phish tour many years back. He used to have dreadlocks and I didn't even recognize him at first. He was dressed up like the Baumer from the Royal Tenanbaums. His girlfriend dressed like Gwyneth Paltrow's character from that flick. I dug their costumes. After we couldn't find tickets we retreated to the hooker bar which was swarming with ladies of the night. Eddie was also fascinated by the various hookers doing their deed, even in the middle of a crazy music fesival weekend like Vegoose, where spun out fucked up people who had not slept in three days partied shoulder to shoulder with cowboys in town for the bull riding championships along with high priced hookers looking for their last john of the night.
I hung out with Eddie and his friends from Orgeon in particularly this one dude named Dodger. I never got the explanation of his nickname but he was a squirelly looking guy with a enough acid to dose the entire state of Wisconsin. I looked at my cellphone and realized that it was almost 5am and officially Halloween. Back home in NYC, friends of mine were riding the subways to work on a cheerless Monday morning while Dodger decided that he was going to buy two hookers a few drinks and slip them a dose of liquid sunshine. As one of the girls put a glass to her lips, she glanced at me as she caught her last breath of sober air.
"See you on the other side," I whispered to her across the bar.
I knew that for the next ten hours, she'd be taking a ticket on a mind bending ride that not too many people can stomach, let alone survive. Hookers on acid in Las Vegas. It must be Halloween.