Thursday, December 23, 2004

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Coventry: Molly's Version

I'm not much of a writer so this won't be as good and detailed as Pauly's version, but I felt the need to blog it :). My flight left El Paso at 6:15am, after a day of flying I got into JFK around 6:00pm est. It was so wonderful to see Pauly :). It had been more than a year since we last hung out. We ran a few errands before we hit the road for Vermont. We spent most of the trip up talking and laughing. I snoozed here and there. By 3:30am we were in the 25 mile long line on I-91. For the next 6 hours we talked, took mini naps, and ate PB & J while we waited. At 6:30, Mike Gordon was on the radio, making an announcement. We were being told to go home, that we couldn't get into to Coventry because of the flooding the had resulted from heavy rains in the previous days. They had no more room for the thousands of cars waiting to get in. People were PISSED. More than pissed actually. As we turned the car around, I could tell it was taking everything Pauly had to remain calm. I tried my hardest not to cry, but the more I thought about it, the harder it was. I had waited months to find out if I was going to get to go. Pauly hooked me up with tickets and everything, and now we weren't going to get to see Phish play their last show? For a few seconds, I was in denial. I kept waiting for Mike to get back on and announce that they had figured something out. So, of course, I started crying. Pauly tried to console me "Don't cry Molly, it's ok, we'll try to score tickets to see the dead in Jones Beach, please don't cry." I calmed myself down and told my self to get over it. Pauly's friend the Joker had been waiting in line for TWO DAYS!!! As we drove south, he called and told Pauly that we could still go. All we had to do was turn around, park in one of the neighboring towns, and hike in. Pauly thought long and hard after he hung up with the Joker. He asked me what I thought. I said I was totally willing to do it. So we did it. We pulled over, gassed up, and packed the bare essentials: a change of clothes,money,and the tent. We had to leave the air matresses I had brought, plus the food and drinks that we had bought. We were determined to do it. Since I-91 was closed, Pauly had to figure out an alternate route to Newport City, a town just north of Coventry. We made it to the town and started looking for somewhere we could park. We were prepared to hike 5 .miles to coventry. As we searched we spotted a little girl hold a sign that said "Phish Park and Ride". Her dad was the owner of Shattuck's Motors, a car dealership. He was charging $25 for parking and a ride to Coventry. One of his employees dropped us off as close as he could get and we hiked the rest of the way in. Everywhere we looked we saw citizens of Newport giving Phish heads rides. We wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for the locals! We were so relieved and excited. When Pauly had spoken to the Joker earlier, he told Pauly to bring gollashes (spelling?), we thought he was joking, man I wish we'd had gollashes!! We found a decent place to pitch the tent, by the time we were finished with that, it was time to head to the show. We started walking, the further we walked, the worse the mud got. The only way to get to the actual venue was to walk through a huge,deep puddle of the stickiest mud I had ever seen. Thousands of people were trying to get through. I refused to do it. I informed Pauly that I would not cross the mud. I had only taken one pair of jeans and sneakers from the car, and I was wearing them. I explained this to Pauly. He sighed, "Do you want me to carry you?" "Yes please", I replied. I hopped on his back and Pauly carried me across the mud. What a gentleman! The mud was so deep that it was sucking people's shoes off, because of this Pauly almost fell twice, but we made it. We found a decent spot and got ready for Phish.

Phish, 8.14.04 Coventry, VT

Set 1: Walls of the Cave -> Runaway Jim -> Gotta Jibboo, You Enjoy Myself* -> Sample in a Jar, Axilla, Poor Heart, Run Like an Antelope**, Fire

Set 2: AC/DC Bag -> 46 Days -> Halley's Comet -> Ya Mar***, [Trey speech], David Bowie, Character Zero

Set 3: Twist -> The Wedge, Stash -> Free, [band waves; Trey speech], Guyute, Drowned -> jam -> Friday

Encore: Harry Hood****

*Trey gives away the trampolines to the crowd.
**Guest appearance by Tom Marshall.
***Bass solo with interactive clapping.
****Trey and Mike move closer to the audience and play on the rocks in front of the stage.

The show got off to a rough start, but it smoothed out after the 1st set. We had a great time listening to everything Trey had to say, even though he was a little wasted by the end of the 3rd set. The highlights for me were: YEM, Axilla, Poor Heart, Antelope,Halley's Comet, Ya Mar,THE WEDGE!!, and Harry Hood. I can't believe I forgot to put The Wedge on the list of songs I wanted to hear. I was psyched that they played it. I loved it when Trey and Mike waved at everyone, and I thought it was cool that they gave the trampolines away. We met some nice people from southern Vermont,they let us sit on their tarp in between sets. After the second set, it was getting pretty chilly. Pauly took off to fetch my sweater from the tent (again, what a gentleman!) and I sat and people watched. I noticed a guy stumbling around, at first I thought he was drunk, but after I heard him talking to himself "You're gonna be ok, it's ok, you'll be ok", I realized that he was having a bad acid trip. He dissapeared, and then reappeared a few minutes later. He stop in the puddle of mud I was sitting next to and said "I don't exist" and collapsed on his back in the mud. I fought back the laughter. It's a good thing I'm drug free, otherwise he would have really freaked me out. He lied there for a while, staring at the sky and squishing mud in his hands, then he stood up and proceeded to collapse face forward, back into the mud. By that time other people were beginning to notice. Some guy tried to help him out. After the show, we headed out of the amphitheater for some food. This time I took off my shoes and trudged through the mud barefoot. On our way back to the tent we witnessed some crusty wookie chick announcing "Yay yo for my puppy!" Like Pauly said, you don't trade your pets for drugs man.

Around 9:00 am the next morning, we were awoken by an obnoxious, drunken, yet hilarious neighbor. "Happy Sunday morning! Wake up! It's go time, you're on vacation!! Happy Sunday morning! High of 76 low of 72!". The guy had just finished shouting when the girl in the tent next to us moaned "Ughhh, I am never doing mushrooms again." By that time everyone in our little tent neighborhood was laughing hysterically. One thing drugged up,hippy,Phish heads are good for is a good hard laugh. I slept in kinda late, Pauly took off to go meet friends and grab food. That afternoon we sat in the shade and talked and watched really cool looking caterpillars walk by. We took it easy and relaxed for most of the day before it was time to head out for the second show.

Phish 8.15.04, Coventry, VT

Set 1: Mike's Song -> I am Hydrogen -> Weekapaug Groove, Anything But Me, Reba, Carini -> Chalkdust Torture -> Possum, Wolfman's Brother* -> jam (the sexy bump)** -> Wolfman's Brother -> Taste

Set 2: Down With Disease*** -> Wading in the Velvet Sea**** Glide, [band speech], Split Open and Melt -> jam (blowing off steam) -> Ghost

Set 3: Fast Enough for You, Seven Below -> Simple -> Piper -> Bruno***** -> Dickie Scotland****** -> Wilson -> Slave to the Traffic Light, [fireworks]

Encore: [Trey speech], The Curtain With

*The wolfman's brother is Fishman.
**Trey and Mike bring out their mothers and do the 'sexy bump' dance with them. Then later, 'sandwich' their manager, John Paluska with it.
***Trey plays his guitar with a glow stick.
****Page gets emotional.
*****The band spontaneously writes a song to acknowledge their monitor engineer Mark "Bruno" Bradley. Other crew acknowledgements.
******Same as above, but for Richard "Dickie Scotland" Glasgow

Highlights for me? Mike's, Weekapaug, Reba, Possum, Taste, DWD, Velvet Sea, Melt, Piper, Wilson, Slave, The Curtain With. It was an emotionally charged show. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Page lose it in the middle of Wading in the Velvet Sea. I almost starting crying. After Trey cried, I started crying during the fireworks show. I realized how much Phish really means to me. I accidentally discovered them when I was 16. My dad had bought Billy Breathes and had it sitting in his stack of music. I picked it out, only because of the way the spelled the name. I started listening to them all the time, and then I discovered that there were a bunch of Phish heads at my high school. They changed the way I looked at music. Because of Phish I became good friends with Pauly. I was honored to have the priviledge of experiencing their last show. The last song they ever played was The Curtain With, which was unexpected but cool.

The next morning we got up, packed up and hiked out. Leaving Coventry was bittersweet. I wanted to leave and stay all at the same time. As soon as we were out of the campgrounds it started pouring. We hitched a ride in a pick up back to Newport. I was excited to see the Vermont country side. Talk about gorgeous! It's safe to say that Vermont is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We made it back to NY around 8:00 and I finally got to take a shower! Oh, it was the best shower I've ever taken. I was sad to leave NY. I definetly missed Neto, but I certainly could have used a few more days with Pauly :). Thank you Pauly, thank you so much for making all of this possible. Without you I wouldn't have been able to experience the best trip I've ever taken. And thank you THE PHISH!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Band Destroyer

How the Internet Destroys Jambands is an article written by David "Zzyzx" Steinberg. Here's a bit:
While this is most obvious with political discussions, it also comes up in musical discussion boards. If the majority of the vocal participants of a board don't like a song or a band or a jam it becomes received wisdom. The booing of the "Secret Smile" encore in Camden last year probably would never have happened without the weeks of people mocking the song on the Phantasy Phish message boards. It's not just songs that get bashed of course. One of the most unfortunate trends of the jambands world these days is how people use homophobia to mock String Cheese Incident. There are many things that I don't like about that band these days but a perceived lack of straightness isn't one of them.
Some of the better stuff he wrote was about the relationship with Phish and the internet. Check this out:
One of the lucky breaks that Phish got is that the Internet came along at the perfect time for them. With the exception of that one disastrous Colorado trip, they didn't even leave the northeast for the first six years of their career. It took them nine to get as far as the west coast. Yes, tapes circulated if you happened to know the right people and you could occasionally hear someone playing Phish in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show, but it really wasn't until their eleventh or twelfth year until Phish really became known outside of a small cult crowd, just in time for the net to be at a point to help their growth. Those dozen years were put to good use. They had time to discover what songs worked and which ones didn't. "Lushington Miles," "Anarchy," and "Dear Mrs. Reagan" were dropped. The silly lyrics of the Junta period were replaced with the more intriguing songs of the Rift era. Chris Kuroda had time to become an amazing lightman and Paul Languadoc developed the ability to make any room sound amazing. It's not enough to have talent. You also need the time to hone your skills. There's reasons why so few Phish tapes from the early 80s circulate.
I got to meet Zzyzx a few times at various shows. Nice guy

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Best Show Ever?

10.31.98 Halloween, Las Vegas, NV... Six years ago I saw one of the Top 5 Phish shows of all time and one of the best concerts I ever had the chance to attend. Senor scored tickets through Phish's accountant... and three sets of total sickness ensued in Vegas! I flew down from Seattle (where I was living at the time) with my buddies Ty and Wood. Senor flew in from NYC and his brother hopped a flight from New Orleans. We gathered in vegas and partied it up hard for a full weekend of gambling, Phish, and other tales of insobriety. Yep, six years ago I was completely out of my tits wasted. Senor too. We were messy puddles. After the show I almost got into a fist fight with our cab driver, a foul mouthed idiot who looked like Gopher from The Love Boat.

Axilla opener! They busted out Sneaking Sally. Second set the boys covered the entire Velvet Underground album Loaded... including the first performance of Rock and Roll, which stayed in the rotation until the hiatus and post-hiatus. Rumors were floating all around that Phish was going to cover Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon... which they ended up doing two nights later in Utah. Senor has mentioned to me on several instances how that second set in Vegas was the best set of Phish he got to see... and he's been to many shows spanning the early 90s through Japan. I would say the entire show is the best show I caught in Vegas out of six (98,00, and 04).
The third set was one of the trippiest I ever saw. Three songs... over one hour... Wolfman's Brother > Piper > Ghost. Man oh man.

At the end of the show (after the Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise encore), before they walked off stage, Trey got nailed in the head with a glowstick.

Vegas. Gotta love that place.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Random Phishy Things

Alea sent me a couple of Phishy things. Phish, LSD, and Mushrooms is a funny and interesting thread from PT. Check it out.

I also got a chuckle from some of the pages out of Phish's Security Manual via The Smoking Gun.

Be sure to read Tom Marshall and the Secret Life of Words is an article written by Jack Chester. an appears in Relix. Here's a bit:
I’m not great with goodbyes. When I got there, I quickly realized that this wasn’t your regular Phish festival. I felt the end of Phish weighing on everyone... and it wasn’t just the mud. There was some overall oppression that I had personally weighing on me—don’t get me wrong, I saw PLENTY of people having a wonderful time. But I had flown in with the band and I couldn’t help but be saddened as the reality dawned on them somewhere between Camden and Coventry. The music suffered as well... Trey was emotionally overwrought. I had recently had a great time with him in Hampton and again in Camden. I felt those were really my last shows... and then more and more I began wondering what I was doing at Coventry. So I left in the morning after the first night of music. I was very glad to have gone—to have seen everyone walk in over insurmountable miles of muddy roads and hills to see Phish’s last stand. That was a triumph for Phish, and for me. I have been to every Phish festival, and there was no way I was going to miss the last one, and apparently thousands felt the same way. But when I drove out on Sunday, I felt relieved in many ways. I then went on a week’s vacation where I finally, peacefully was able to put Phish to bed despite the strong emotions that Coventry had conjured.
Great read. Tom rules.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Going home is not an option...

“I think I’m going to throw up.”

Those were Tracy’s exact words on the way back to the car on I-91 after a long morning walk - a walk we took to find out how far we were from ‘the’ exit. We had just heard Mike’s announcement on The Bunny from one of the cars parked on the highway.

I couldn’t speak; I could only think. I thought about how this was our last Phish show and I was not willing to give up. I kept replaying the announcement in my mind. He never said the show was cancelled. Phish was still going to play and I planned to be there no matter what!

Not knowing what my friends’ reaction would be to this turn of events, my mind starting spinning even more. I thought about taking everything that would fit in my backpack and walking to the show and hoping that I would be able to find my friends from Lexington on the inside and catch a ride home with them. We walked past hundreds of people thinking and feeling the exact same things. Some were crying, some were cussing, and some were turning around and going home. Although it was less than two miles, it was the longest walk of my life. I wondered what Sam, the ultimate voice of reason in our group, would say when we finally got back to the car.

After what seemed like hours, we finally saw the car and it was in almost the exact spot it had been when we started our walk. The only real difference was that there were not nearly as many other cars as there had been earlier. That was when I noticed the sun and how it was shining for the first time in two days. At first it felt like a sick joke, but it quickly became a sign that things were going to be fine.

Sam must have sensed our worries, because before Tracy or I could say anything, he said, “Listen, we’re not making any rash decisions. We’ll just sit here for a couple of hours, see how close to the exit we can get and park the car and walk if we have to!” My heart started beating again for the first time since we had been told to turn around and go home. We were all in this together and we would get there somehow. We quickly befriended the couple parked next to us. There were sitting in camping chairs in the emergency lane and weren’t ready to leave either. We decided to stick together and when the time came, park and hike the rest of the way to the show.

For the first time in over thirty hours on I-91, I felt like I could relax. I opened a beer and started making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for my friends - old and new. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and I was in my element. Our trip had just begun.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Coventry: A Vermont Pharewell... Part III

Ask me any question... $1.

During the second setbreak I figured out that I had never been that wasted either without Senor or since 1998. I completed my mission. You can say I had been maintaining a steady high for the last six years... and while stuck in Vermont mud, I managed to push forth past the last exit of sobriety and ended up twenty-five miles past Shithoused City. I told the kid sitting next to me that I don't care what they play as long as they play Slave to the Traffic Light. Before the set began I mentioned to Molly that either Seven Below and Piper (or both) were coming. Those were two of their favorite jam > improv songs post hiatus. The versions I heard at SPAC were some of the tightest improvisational jamming since Japan. My only concern was if they had the proper headspace to play at that level, something I didn't think they could pull of after a highly emotional second set.
Set 3: Fast Enough for You, Seven Below > Simple > Piper > Bruno > Dickie Scotland > Wilson > Slave to the Traffic Light

Fireworks > Molly Crying

Encore: Trey speech > The Curtain With
The girl next to us was having a rough time and lent herself to a bad trip. "Time to get your shit together, sweetheart," I told her. "You don't want to miss the last ninety minutes of Phish." The lights went out and it was time. Last set ever.

I was surprised with Fast Enough For You, but felt it was a solid choice. I had a moment during FEFY. And if you ever had one of those moments... you know what I'm talking about... and I felt incredibly connected with everything around me... from Molly dancing to my left to feeling my feet sink into the muddy grass, to inhaling a fresh breath of Northeast Kingdom air, to feeling the tension and release in every instrument. I had no other thoughts aside from one... I was where I was supposed to be. I finally reached my intended destination.
If time were only part of the equation
Then you could draw the bound'ries of our cage
You wouldn't pile another stone upon me
And I'd be happy just to watch you age

But everything is in it's own dominion
And waiting in the shallows as I do
Appeases me as water slowly trickles out
Which isn't nearly fast enough for you
Molly smiled when they started Seven Below. It's a great tune to listen to when it's snowing outside. The boys like it because they have entire sections where they can go off on a tangent. Unlike plenty of other bands (especially those clustered in the jamband genre), what makes Phish unique is that during sections involving a solo... all four guys are soloing at the same time... and most of the time it works. Seven Below was sloppy but at that point so was I and I didn't care. I looked up and someone tossed an alien my way! I picked him up and realized he was taller than Molly!

Molly's new friend from planet Zippy.

I expected an emotional repeat of set 2 filled with sloppy playing and during Simple we were treated to plenty of fluffs, fuckups, and missed lyrics. Sure I miss lyrics all the time... but I'm not getting paid to sing them. It was up there with Glide and Stash as the musical lowlights of the weekend. On the walk out I composed my own lyrics to Simple which I sang for Molly.
What is a show without a setbreak?
Ooooh.... 8 balls and groupies are grand.
Tequila and 8 balls, groupies and handjobs,
Groupies and tequila, handjobs and 8 balls.
After and ugly Simple, the guys got their shit together for a solid Piper. And Molly gave me that look like, "You called both of them!" Sure the Piper was average but considering the subpar-ness vibe to the music the last 5 sets... Piper was a standout in the third set. For some reason, I was feeling a Lawn Boy after I bumped into Lawn Boy earlier in the night.

Lawn Boy with Dr. Pauly at the first setbreak.

No Lawn Boy. Instead they smoothly segued into a nice funky jam where Trey and the band ended up writing a song on the spot for their beloved monitor engineer, Bruno. Trey was back to being the leader of goofy Phish again. He dubbed the new dance... The Bruno. He made up lyrics on the fly and begged him to come onstage.
Bruno! Bruno! Bruno!
We love you, Bruno!
Bruno! Bruno! Bruno!

Everyone's doing it.
The Bruno!
From Newport to Coventry.
It's the new dance craze sweeping the Northeast Kingdom
All the kids at Newport High,
They're doing it low,
they're doing it high.
They're doing the Bruno.
Trey taught the dance with hand motions (like you're turning a knob) to the audience and I lost my shit when he made a comment to a someone in the front row after she did it right.

"That's it, you got it girlfriend."

I dunno if anyone else heard it at that time (and it wasn't an auditory hallucination... I confirmed it while listening to the show via Live Phish) but I fell down I was laughing so hard. Seriously, sometimes those guys are a bunch of geeks, other times they make me shit my pants with laughter. Like the scene in Bittersweet Motel when Trey told Fish to show the camera crew his underwear and he dropped his pants and stripped... or how in Great Woods, Trey polled the audience to ask if the Fishman tune kills the show or makes the show. And when Trey asked Mike what he thought about Fish songs and vacuum solo... Mike said, "On a scale of 2 to 3. It's a 3." Ah Fish inside jokes. I almost thought Fish was going to bust out the infamous prison joke.

Trey commented how Bruno was played in the chord of C, which was overrated so they broke into E flat. And then they wrote a song for the accountant, Dickie Scotland... and ended up taking the song into C minor and Trey and Fish would sing "Dickie, Dickie, Dickie" and the crowd would sing "Scotland!" I felt honored to see a rare and intimate moment as the creative process of Phish unfolded before our eyes. And just to be part of the crowd yelling was cool. And if I was Dickie Scotland, I'd be pumped. It's not everyday the boys sing a song for you, right Carini?

Trey jamming with a glowstick during DWD.

Enough joking aside. It was time to get a few more tunes in. "We'd like to sing about another friend of ours. Please for the last time ever..." and Trey voice trailed off as if he was holding back tears... and started the first notes to Wilson.

I guess I'm an old head. Man, when I first saw Wilson...the crowd didn't shout, "Wilson!" Back then, I walked twenty miles to every Phish show. I didn't have email and never would have thought of snorting a drug named after one of the chicks from The Breakfast Club. The crowd was into Wilson for sure. And Trey assured that us "You can still have fun!" and I'm reading into his message as if he's saying "Have a great life without us."

And that's when I almost had an emotional breakdown. I heard the first few notes of Slave to the Traffic Light and I thrust my arms in the air as if I just won the World Series of Poker or a gold medal in the Olympics. My buddy Bruce one told me, "It's always a great show when they play your favorite song." If you didn't read my Slave post... out of the 105 times they played it... I've caught 14 versions of my favorite song in 150 previous shows. That's a main reason why I go see so many shows. I have to see ten if I want to catch my favorite song. It's not like having Harry Hood or YEM as your favorite tune. They'll play it every three shows. I have to put forth the effort to catch a Slave. And yes, at some of the best shows I ever attended (The Gorge in 97, Big Cypress in 99, Osaka, Japan in 00) they played Slave.

I guess this could be an opportunity to tell everyone how important seeing Slave to the Traffic Light at the final Phish show was for me. But honestly, that's the only song I have not listened to after downloading the show. I cannot bring myself to open up myself to all the intense emotions I encountered during those 11 or so minutes. I probably would be conflicted anyway to share with you all what went on inside my head at that time. It was too personal and something's in life are best kept to oneself. Hearing Slave played as the set closer to the last Phish show is one of the greatest moments in my pretty crazy and fortunate life and at least for a while, I'd like to keep it to myself. It was a personal gift from Phish to me... a way of them thanking me for their support over the years... and that yes, you have to keep on living. And yeah... I completely did not deserve to hear it. But I did. I was there. Even reluctantly wanting to write the last paragraph made my eyeballs swell... and I'm completely skirting the moment. I'd be a mess if I had to relive those eleven minutes right now. Some of my readers tell me how my words bring them to the brink of tears... well as the writer, all I can say is that the emotions you feel when you read these words are a thousand times magnified when I bundle them together. Writing these reviews have been gut wrenching, like a rollercoaster ride without a safety bar. And that's why I can't bring myself to hear the final Slave. I might never listen to the last Slave again... because it was so moving, powerful, and meaningful to me. Yeah, I've wandered all over this world, been to obscure places, and met some amazing souls... but words can never describe the love and satisfaction you are overwhelmed with when Phish plays your favorite song at their last show.

When Trey finished Slave he collapsed to the ground and needed to be helped offstage by Mike. All I could think was that Trey and Mike and Page and Fish played their hearts out for us everynight. Sometimes they missed. Most of the time they created magic, the type of unbottled wave of energy that people wander the earth for decades searching. I was blessed to witness 151 of their performances spanning my rowdy teenage years to my drunken college years to my rambunctious 20s, and into the first mellow years of my 30s. You either got Phish or you didn't. I'm fortunate that I was able to easily pick up what they were putting out.

Before the encore, there was a cool and colorful fireworks display. That's when Molly started crying. I told her that everything was going to be OK. In reality, I was just telling that to myself. In the last couple days, I was told by a few friends who saw the simulcast that they were overwhelmed at that point too... because of the obvious, but also because they knew I got to see my favorite song. Alea sent me a text after the show: Phish played Slave for you.

The Encore
As he saw his life run away from him
Thousands ran along
Chanting words from a song
"Please me have no regrets"
I don't think anyone actually called The Curtain With. I figured Squirming Coil or Divided Sky. I knew they weren't going to play Fluffhead, yet parts of the crowd cheered for it. I recently checked my stats and out of the six times the boys played The Curtain With... I caught it four times (Coventry 04, Brooklyn 04, Vegas 00, Deer Creek 00). And ironically... two of those shows were with Heather. Full circle. That's why Trey and Phish picked that song to end their run. I got to see the boys bust out The Curtain (minus the With) in Fukukoa, Japan... one of my favorite shows of all time, but that didn't compared to the emotional energy of the last Phish song... ever. And yeah, Trey even stopped to tell the boys to play it in it's originally arrangement, one step lower. Perfectionists to the end.

The last bow.

The walk out of the venue was solemn. No one was really speaking. Molly was silent. Beano called me from Atlanta. He saw a simulcast and wanted to know what the last set was like. Although fairly wasted, I still knew what was going on, and I felt I didn't miss anything from being too far outta my tits. I was a little quiet, but I wasn't overly sad. I felt fortunate. I got to see the last six Phish shows... with some of my best friends. Overall, since the end of last summer, I saw 28 out of the last 30 shows.

As an artist I was happy that the guys had enough artistic integrity to realize that their music was not moving forward and reached a quagmire of stagnation. Those patches in an artist's life are a living hell. Depressed? Far from it. I was surprisingly happy leaving the show. I know that sounds fucked up... but over the previous week, I slowly replayed all the Phish shows I ever attended... rather, I replayed the faces of all my friends that I got to see shows with. Because the friendship aspect of Phish was certainly something that we all could relate to and that was something that would be the hardest to let go. I've met some of my best friends through Phish. I'm really going to miss them and all our shared memories. I met, dated, and fell in love with a woman I met in the parking lot at a show. I befriend musicians and Phisheads from Japan... and although we have difficult breaking down the language barrier... music and Phish are the only translators we needed.

Late Night

I wondered how I should tie this up in a nice bow. I tried my best to organize my feelings and emotions in some sort of chronological order... but memories don't work that way. I think memories are the best way for someone to travel back in time. It's an internal time machine. And after Molly fell asleep... I was still booming... and I wandered over to Shakedown. I bought a beer and sat down in the runway. I packed myself a bowl and I hopped into my Phishy time machine. I went as far back as I could and until the sun came up... I relived every show with everyone I saw them with. Maybe that night while you slept, I entered your dream life and I took you on a wild ride with me back in time. No flux capacitors needed. Just close those eyes. From sneaking into the Wetlands to see my first Phish show, to hopping in a car at the last minute to road trip to Athens for my second show with Wilkins, to the infamous three show run at the Roxy in 1993 that I saw with Bob, to Beano's first show at the Fox Theatre (to this date one of my Top 5 Phish shows all time), to my first show with Senor at MSG, to my first West Coast Phish show at the Gorge in 1997 with Senor and his brother, to the best Phish show I ever saw... Las Vegas, Halloween, 1998 and I never tripped harder in my life and I lost it when I looked over and Jay was eating a basket of chicken fingers in the middle of Rock and Roll, to the Prince cover 1999 to open at the New Year's show in 1998 at MSG, to encore at Great Woods when Phish covered Tuesday's Gone when Laila innocently asked me if that was the song from Dazed and Confused, to running out of gas in the Pauly Mobile with Modeski and Senor on the Garden State Parkway after a PNC show, to humorously watching Spider's alter-ego Richard appear before my eyes in the second set at Oswego, to meeting Page and his pregnant wife backstage in Tucson, to watching Heather dance in the aisles with her Mom during 2001 at The Woodlands, to the infamous Boogie glowstick show at Nassau in 1999 when in the middle of Harry Hood she threw a glowstick, hit the lighting rigs above the stage, and the glowstick crashed down on page's piano with a loud, "Thud!", to the epic Millennium show playing until sunrise at Big Cypress, to the Radio City Music Hall shows in NYC with Senor, to riding the bullet trains in Japan with Beano and Senor to four different cities, and cracking up when Zobo pulled out his ticket stub during the middle of Golgi Appartaus in Osaka, to Senor jumping up and down during First Tube at the last Japan Phish show also in Osaka, to the infamous Moby Dick show at Deer Creek with Heather, to Gil eating an ice cream cone during the Mellow Mood opener at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, to witnessing the marriage proposal on the floor of the Vegas show with two Japhans and Heather... also during the middle of Mellow Mood. And then there was the first show after the hiatus at MSG, and the crazy rowdy energy that got MSG rocking all night, to the Philly show at the Spectrum where Molly almost peed in her pants because the lines to get in were so long and slow, to the late night Tower Jam at IT in Maine with Alea as we wandered back clueless that was Phish up on top of the control tower, to the 20th anniversary show in Boston that I went to by myself and made a slew of new friends, to the Miami shows with Bruce and the guest appearance of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, to the wild Vegas shows this past April where I was Page side all three nights only a few rows back, to the last Phish show in NYC for me at Coney Island, to the best jam ever in the middle of Piper at SPAC, to selling Bloody Mary's in Shakedown with The Joker at Deer Creek, to almost getting arrested in Hampton, and my last show with Senor at Great Woods hanging with Emi and Junko on the lawn during Makisupa Policeman, to the crowd chanting, "Could you feel good, feel good, good about Hood!" during the encore at Coventry... I had such a short time to replay all those fond memories and the hudreds or so I forgot to mention. How could I feel upset about never seeing Phish again, when I have such amazing and warm memories to keep me buzzed for days on end?

I wandered back to the tent and stumbled upon the same girl from the night before who had been trying to sell her puppy for some yay yo. I'll write up this hilarious encounter in a short story for the upcoming issue of my blogzine Truckin'. I eventually fell asleep sometime after first light.

Leaving Vermont

I woke up after a few flimsy hours of sleep. It drizzled for a little bit just after sunrise. As I watched the traffic jam of cars exit, I grabbed an egg and cheese sandwich and an OJ. I had a nice wake and bake session and started to pack up all our gear. I woke up Molly and we headed out. A steady stream of cars, RVs, SUV's, and the such were stuck in a single lane trying to get out for twelve straight hours. A decent collection of walkers began their hikes back to their ditched cars. As soon as we began our five mile hike back to Newport, it began to rain for the first time we arrived in Vermont. Although it started slow, it picked up fast. We had to stop and put on our rain gear. Luckily I saw a pick up truck. It was driven by a local and he was headed for Route 14. I asked him to take me to Main Street in Newport first and he agreed to take Molly and myself for $10 each. We climbed into the back and sat on cubes of hay until he packed ten total people in there. The rain picked up intensity even more as we slowly made our way down Airport Road. One kid said he decided to take his last hit of acid because he knew it would get wet sitting in his pocket. He applauded one of the girls in our group who busted out a tarp to cover all of us up in the back. We each held a little bit on the ends and huddled underneath. It was a ten minute drive to Main Street. We hopped out and our car was safe and sound.

We were tired and wet! We dressed and undressed right in the parking lot with the other dirty, muddy, soaked fans. I stashed my muddy pants, socks, shirt, and hiking boots in a plastic bag. I found some dry socks and shoes and charged up my dead phone. I realized that the antenna on my phone broke again! Oh well. I grabbed some of the food and beverages we brought with us and started chowing down on orange Gatorade, a few granola bars, and a coffee cake. We were ready to go back to NYC. "I had an amazing time," I recalled telling Molly as I drove through Main Street and I wondered if my other friends had gotten into the show.

Phans return to their cars on I-91.

On the drive south, you could see thousands of abandoned cars along I-91. Hundreds of people we hiking back to their vehicles. We stopped at a rest stop to freshen up and I ditched some grabage and checked my messages. A few people still had no idea if I got into the show or not and finally had the chance to tell them about the crazy weekend.

We ate at Cracker Barrel someplace south of Springfield. Molly had a corprate discount card! Plenty of heads were also eating. The wait staff had never been that busy before... at 3pm on a Monday. I was going to get French toast, that's what Molly got with a side of bacon, that melted right in your mouth! However, when I walked in, a woman had ordered a bacon cheeseburger and the looks and smells were too enticing for me to pass up.

Last Thoughts

I didn't go to Coventry to see the greatest Phish show of all time. I had low expectations of out them musically. I was there to say good bye to my friends, the band, and the scene that had ballooned out of control over the last decade. The dark energy of Shakedown and the surrounding seedy element had become a cancer upon the thriving Phish community. I'm glad to see it go.

Was Coventry worth the hassle? Yes. Absolutely. I would have walked from NYC to see those guys one last time. I've heard plenty of negative stuff about other people's Coventry experiences. Some of it is warranted while most of it is coming from spoiled rotten kids who placed unattainable expectations on the band. I feel sorry that they weren't able to focus on the positive aspects of living free in the moment.

When Phish scheduled their summer ending festival this past winter, they had no idea that 1. The worst rain in decades would flood out most of the camping and parking areas. And 2. Coventry would be their last shows... ever. Of course those unforseen elements created serious problems. Several things could have been done to improve the situation... communication be the most vital. Mike and the police gave many people in line ambiguous information, which led to a lot of people driving home who would have hiked in had they known that was possible. I feel bad for those folks. In the end, I'm shocked only a few dozen cars were towed, that only one person died, and that Phish held their emotions in check long enough for us to ctach one last glimpse, one last breath, one last moment of one of the most epic and most intimate expirences of my life.

On the road in the Northeast Kingdom.

The Final Tally... The Last Tour:

Miles Driven: 2713
States Visited: 10 (including NY)
Speeding Tickets: 1
Phish Concerts: 6
Gas + Tolls: $232.85
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Eaten: 7
Random Hugs from Hippie Girls: 15
Times I Was Hit in the Head with a Glowstick: 6
Miles Hiked in Vermont: 4
Al Can't Hang Sightings: 1
Puppy Stories: 2
Lawn Boy Sightings: 1
Times Molly Cried: 2.5
Cell Phone Antennas Broken: 2
Avril LaVigne/Phish Jam References Overheard at the Urinals: 3
Naked Pregnant Women Taking a Dump in Front of Me: 1

Random Picture Gallery

Here's where I'll post the rest of the pics I took with a $5 disposable camera. Enjoy.

This is near where we camped. The grass was very squishy.

A trash pile on Shakedown Street.

Yes, I carried Molly through all that mud!

E.T.s for sale in Shakedown...

The local farmers had to pull cars out of the mud. Average towing rate: $35.

The Canadian Mounties on patrol.

Mmmmm... coookies!

I dunno what these guys were all about.

The sun sets on Phish one last time.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Phish Out of Water Interview with Chris Kuroda

I just read a great article, pointed out to me from Alea. Phish Out of Water is an interview with Chris Kuroda, the lighting tech for Phish. I always said that he was the "fifth" member of Phish... and his lighting direction is some of the best in the business. Here's a bit:
Kuroda started working with the band after an offer from Trey Anastasio, vocalist and guitarist, to carry gear at local gigs around Burlington, Vermont, where the band and crew got started and still reside.

"I was taking guitar lessons from Trey, and he asked one time if I knew somebody to carry some gear locally around Burlington for like $20," explains Kuroda. "I was a roadie, but I wasn't prepared to travel or anything. Within a couple weeks, I was essentially part of the crew in an undefined way. I didn't realize how deep I would get into it."

His lighting career started a few weekends later in New Hampshire, when the prior LD took a mid-set bathroom break."

"There was another guy doing the lights. He stepped out for a minute. I jumped in to push the buttons on the tiny little light board, and I knew the songs from seeing the band 50 times in bars in Burlington. I knew, even then, the changes coming up. After that show, Trey called me and said, ‘You're doing the lights.’ I said, ‘I don't know anything about lights. I don't even know how to set up gear,’ and he said we'd figure it out together."
Check it out. Thanks, Alea.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Vermont Pharewell... Part II

"The phinest in the nation..."
Sunday Morning

Normally as an insomniac, I wake up several times in the middle of the night, usually never falling back to sleep. I passed out hard after the first show due to the serious sleep depravation I suffered from the entire week of being on the road seeing four shows spread out along the Eastern corridor. My first memory of Sunday morning were the wailing screams from a drunk guy. I wiped away the eye boogers and unzipped the door to my tent. It was 8:30am and I was greeted by a shirtless dude wandering around our camping area with a cocktail in his hand.

"Happy Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay morning! It's go time! High temperatures 76, low of 72. Happy Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay morning!!!! Time to get up. You're all on vacation. You're all in Vermont. Happy Sundaaaaaaaaaaay morning!!!!! It's go time!"

He repeated the same phrases for twenty minutes straight. He woke up everyone in our acre of wet grass and mud. Despite her ear plugs, Molly could still hear him. As soon as he calmed down, I heard the girl in the tent next to us utter, "I am never doing mushrooms again."

Everyone in their tents started a domino effect of uncontrollable laughing and giggling. The poor girl next to us from Kansas was still tripping when she woke up. Yeah, Dorothy, we've all been there. Dr. Pauly's advice.... smoke through it. And don't forget... no matter what you might think, you cannot fly.

"Happy Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaay morning. High temperatures 76!"

I stumbled out of our humid tent and began my ritualistic wake and bake session, my first ever in Vermont. That's when I saw the naked pregnant woman squatting down in the woods behind our tent. She was taking a shit. A nasty one too. I heard a several uncomfortable grunts and moans. Only at a Phish festival could you shrug off that scene. Sure it might have been the first strange thing I saw that day, but I was guaranteed that by Midnight, the naked pregnant chick taking a shit behind my tent would be the 136th weird-ass-happening that I'd experience. Now if she gave birth right there... then that would have been definitely blogworthy.

What does one say to a naked pregnant woman taking a shit in front of you while you're getting high?

"Ummm, er.... how about those Red Sox, huh? Want a hit?"

No, she probably didn't like baseball. Plus the Sox suck. That would have been bad. I wandered over to the Common Ground Cafe and I picked up two egg and cheese sandwiches on a wheat roll and two waters for me and Molly. I chatted with a few Canadian Mounties to get the weather report. There were plenty of people still up from the night before as they stumbled back to their tents. We ate a little bit and Molly called her stepfather to get the skinny on the weather via the Internet to verify the information the Mounties gave me. Technology vs. odd Canadians in red shirts on horses. Which do you trust when you're stoned out of your tits and see dark clouds rolling over the hills from the West?

We were going to be lucky because a band of rain was going to barely miss Vermont and hit Cape Cod and parts of Maine and New Hampshire instead. Very cool, I figured, since I had half expected to leave early if the weather got unbearable.

Even Homer Simpson made the show!

Molly fell back asleep and I tried to get in touch with everyone at the festival. I originally scheduled to have a meet and greet brunch at Noon, to allow all the various readers of my blogs and all my different circles of friends (from almost 15 years of my Phishtory) mingle and hang out together... and have a Six Degrees of Pauly group photo!! It was going to be a huge affair! I planned on using the same caterer as Paris Hilton and bring champagne and strawberries and kind nugs. Alas, I forgot the champagne on the ride up... but... I would have left it behind anyway, and not carried it on the hike in.

I checked my messages. Alea sent me a text: Trey super wasted set 3 :( Harry Hood :) have phun 2nite! I started to wonder who got in and who got shut out. Lori and the Joker called on their way inside. I knew they were at Coventry (although I hadn't seen them yet). I had not heard from Daddy, a fellow poker blogger, my friend Sarah from Seattle, nor the japhans Emi and Junko. I was very concerned with Emi and Junko. They flew in from Japan and I dreaded thinking that they possibly got shut out. Zobo had not heard from her either and was hoping I would run into her. That's why I wear the red blazer at shows. I'm easy to pick out of a crowd filled with freaks. My goal was to wander around enough that someone would notice me. If I was meant to bump into people... I would.

I made a mistake on our original meeting place for the Sunday brunch. I realized that the event lacked a central message board that other festivals had. Maybe I flat out missed it, but I could not locate one. I attempted to text message everyone that the meeting place changed to the General Store at Noon. I wandered inside and saw Lori and her friend Sean standing in line. She clutched a few Gatorades and looked exhausted. We hung outside for a few minutes sharing our tales about our walks into Coventry and the insanity of our respective camping areas. She had four people crammed into a four person tent! I had me and tiny Molly in a four person tent. And I forgot about the pile of shit that the naked pregnant chick left behind on my back porch. Lori recanted all the rumors she heard. Trey's a crackhead. Just kidding. You knew that one already. Mike's an alien. Did you know that?

Real celebs were there too. Thanks to Marnie Mitchell for the photo.

OK, here's what Lori really told me... that the security at the gate ran out of wrist bands, so pretty much anyone could walk in at that point. Also, that tickets were available at Will Call for $100 as of Saturday afternoon. I guessed that excess re-release could have been due to the folks who never got in and picked up their tickets. But the real rumor... the infamous fourth set rumor... modeled after the late night Tower Jam the year before at IT... was that Phish was going to play on the little platform/theatre that was in the middle of the Common Area. It was wired for sound and during the day, weird characters in costumes were putting on plays and other random events. Could it happen? Perhaps. But it was fun just thinking of the possibility. I said good bye to Lori and made my way back to the campsite. She was the only one who showed up for my brunch. Even sleepy Molly was too tired to make it!

After Molly got up we wandered around the runway for a bit, hoping to bump into people I knew. I bought a cheeseburger from one guy and we found some shade to settle into for a bit. I busted out my sign: Ask me any question? $1. I love the reaction from people. Some folks are humorless. Other's get it right away and chuckle. Some play along and give me a $1 and ask me a question. And yet others are annoying as hell, trying to figure out "the catch" and grilling me about all the specifics. Folks, I'm fucked up trying to score a few extra free waters! It's not a mortgage application. Drop the cheapskate act for three seconds and just have a fun time!

I got one guy to ask me: "How many tractors will it take to pull all the cars out of the mud?" My answer: 137. Score! I went over to the water guy and bought a free water. As we wandered around, I'd hold up my small sign. One kid from Northern California offered me a few drops of liquid THC for his question... "Do you want some liquid THC?" Now that kid totally got it!

The infamous upside down trees.

Sunday Afternoon

Shakedown was packed with people. I took a few random photos and was kinda irked that I didn't have my video camera to capture the entire scene. Within two minutes a hundred people streamed by us. Half of the folks were barefoot, their shins caked in mud. The rest of the lot used plastic bags and tied them around their ankles. Still others had full blown fishing gear and wading pants to brave the mud pits sporadically located throughout all of Coventry. Everyone had the drug, molly, to sell. I'd poke Molly in the ribs when kids would wander past and whisper "Molly," to us.

"How did they know your name?" I'd tease. It made me recall Haley's first and only Phish show in Albany last November. She had never quite experienced the parking lot scene at a Phish concert and had no idea the amount of shady stuff going down. When she heard hundreds of calls for "molly" she curiously turned to me and asked, "Does everyone know your friend Molly?"

"More or less," I muttered.

Flashback over. I saw plenty of freaks, like the kid wearing the skirt and holding the giant Chiquita banana, that the Joker and I saw in Brooklyn. And the fucked up gaggle of five sorority girls from Michigan, those Dave Matthews Band chicks, who were inhaling Jell-O shots like Britney Spears feasting on a huge cut of tube steak. Then there was the wookie who was passed out in the middle of the airport runway. One girl wearing angel wings was kind enough to leave him a bottle of water. Yeah, plenty of characters and that was all seen in a quick blink of 120 seconds.

A couple of Mounties were trying to hold up the sea of people wandering past a garbage truck that needed to make a necessary pickup of an overflowed dumpster. She was a heavyset woman, and I felt sorry for the horse that had to bear her head-shaking weight. She kept blowing her whistle, attempting to hold back the crowd.

"Get back!" she yelled. "Get back. Don't you kids understand what that means?"

Of course, in my smug, snarky, wise-ass NYC mind all I could come up with was, "No. We don't speak Canadian, eh?" And I blurted that out which got a few laughs from the held up crowd.

I ended up scoring a few Superman rolls from a couple of guys from Ohio. I was set for my last show. I was on a mission. I wanted to get snookered... and make an Al Can't Hang Happy Hour binge look like a choir girl from the Bible Belt enjoying some milk and cookies. Too bad the streets of NYC weren't like Shakedown Street at Phish shows. I'd love to stroll down Park Avenue in front of a few haughty taught yuppies and score a fat bag a shrooms from a crusty with three puppies. Speaking of puppies, the entire afternoon I'd wander through the dense crowd, holding Molly's hand, weaving in and out of all the wasted, semi-wasted, and obliterated kids, whispering, "Kind nugs for your puppy!" I'd walk up to people who had their dogs following them with hemp leashes and tried to barter a trade for their pets. No luck. I wasn't serious of course. Just being silly.

"Kind nugs for your puppy!"

Again, I got some bizarre stares from folks. A lot of them just chuckled under their breath. People will sell anything. And worse, some people will buy anything. I watched some guy hand-blow glass pipes in front of a small crowd. We wandered around some more, past a couple of adorable Phishy chicks selling disposable cameras for $10. Why didn't I think about that idea? I was bumming. I was supposed to bring in a book bag filled with t-shirts designed by my buddy Bruce. He sold eight in the Camden parking lot alone... they were kick ass designs, and I would have spent the better part of my Sunday afternoon taking pictures, getting video footage, and selling Bruce's t-shirts with Molly.

I devoured another BBQ chicken breast sandwich from the Common Ground cafe (the safe choice!) and Molly ate a hot dog. I actually ate two meals on Sunday! We went back to the tent to get ready for the show. I didn't want to take any chances. We packed up all of our gear and wrapped them in the large recycling bags that the Phish Green Crew passed out when we entered the campgrounds. If it started raining during the show, we could sprint back, grab our gear and hike back to the car. I was prepared to ditch my tarp and tent if there was a heavy down pour. At that point I must say we were lucky. No one had gone through our site when we were gone. At Big Cypress, the folks we camped with had gotten some things taken. Coventry was theft free.

Freaky sculptures at the back of the concert area.

The Last Show

We wandered into the concert area much earlier than Saturday. This time we were prepared. We took our rain gear and warm jackets. And most importantly, a plastic bag to sit on. No mud for us! I took my only disposable camera into the show. We found a decent spot, Mike's side... because I felt that Mike had been the MVP of the week... and he was playing the best out of the four. I sweated Page for the entire Vegas run.
Set 1: Mike's Song > Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Anything But Me, Reba, Carini > Chalkdust Torture > Possum, Wolfman's Brother > The Sexy Bump Jam > Wolfman's Brother > Taste
The boys started a little earlier than the day before. Mike's Song was not anything special. The crowd was more into the first set than Saturday, but the boys were a little off on the first few songs. Sure, Mike was solid... and he had been kicking ass all week. He was completely in the moment and hit a few highlights in Weekapaug. Trey walked over to Page after Weekapaug and then admitted to the crowd that he had never been nervous at a Phish show before. Uh oh. I guess that explained the subpar M > H >W. Then they started into a slow Round Room tune that gets plenty of groans from the crowd. Anything But Me was one of those songs that Zobo thinks it sounds like his three year-old nephew singing/whining. It was a perfect, Pauly's going to smoke a bowl song. But the lyrics were touching.
"I am just another shooting star
High above that you might see.
Until I have your full attention,
I'll be anything but me."
Maybe Trey's alluding to the fact that the crowds have been out of their tits wasted since 1998 and too fucked up to notice their sloppiness. It was too early to read into their song selection.

We have the same bald spot!

Reba got me going. Molly loves Reba. What Phishy chick doesn't? It wasn't as tight as the SPAC show opener, but I was pumped to hear it one last time. Somewhere just before Carini... the roll I took kicked in. I really enjoy Carini... one of my favorite songs where Trey goes off. I love jamming hard to Carini. I noticed a group next to us that were getting down as well. I kept giving one girl a thumbs up sign to share my approval of the tune.

Trey played his favorite song next... Chalkdust Torture, a song I can say I have seen almost 60 times... perhaps more? It gets stale after a while... but how would Trey handle his last performance of his favorite song.... ever? He struggled but had a few pretty smoking rifts. The older I get, the more the line... "Can't I live while I'm young?" ...has relevance.

And then they busted into Possum. For some reason my mind set had been focusing on the lyrics for each of the songs... for some hidden messages and meanings into the significance of their last time onstage. The last line of Possum is fitting.
"Your end is the road."
Wolfman's Brother is probably my favorite most popular Phish song or heavy hitter. I fuckin' love the chances they take when they go off the deep end into a funky improvisational jam. I've seen some epic versions... the one I caught in Nagoya with Senor still holds up as one of the best individual performances (of any song) of all time. Trey was a little goofy and giving everyone the historical background of Wolfman's during the song.
"And the telephone was ringing,
that's when I handed it to Liz."
He told us that was his friend Liz Durkin, and he actually handed a phone to her after it rang. And Trey also admitted the big secret all these years, "Everyone knows that the walrus was Paul. When I was 18, Fishman was the Wolfman's Brother."

That was cool to know. Then Trey brought out his mother and Mike's Mom for a a version of the Sexy Bump... before they tagged teamed their tour manager John Paluska.

Trey and his Mom do the Sexy Bump!

The boys ended the first set with Taste and they finally all played together. It's a song where Page can go off on. And he did! At setbreak, I jotted down a few notes, but I was starting to get too jittery, so I stopped writing. I saw Lawn Boy and Molly took a picture of us.
Set 2:Down With Disease > Velvet Sea, Glide, [band speech], Split Open and Melt > Blowing Off Steam Jam > Ghost
What can I say? The sun went down and the boys started to get a little crazy. It was fitting that Down with Disease opened the second set.
"Waiting for a time when I can finally say,
'That this has all be wonderful, but now I'm on my way!'
Then I think it's time to leave it all behind,
I try to find a way to,
But there's nothing I can say to make it stop."
It was a kick ass version. Out of nowhere thousands of glowsticks rained up out of the crowd. It was probably one of the biggest glow stick wars I had ever witnessed. They were everywhere! Trey even picked one up and played slide guitar with one. The jam about twelve minutes in was some of the better jamming they did all weekend.

Check out the evidence yourself. Here's a great video of the glow stick war during DWD.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks...

After a sick DWD, the boys segued into Wading in the Velvet Sea. It's a tune that gets a mixed reaction from the crowd. I get upset when they cheesed it out as an encore. But this version was special.

Page started crying. He couldn't even get out a full line of lyrics. He tried it twice. And just couldn't do it and pushed his microphone away. Wow. When Page lost it the first time, the crowd cheered to try to rally him along. But when he lost it a second time, I got a wave of goose bumps. He was overwhelmed with emotion. Then so was the rest of the band. Even Mike, who has the best poker face of all four was visibly flustered. They never did this before. I looked over at Molly. She was holding back tears. For a second they almost stopped... but they gutted it through. Which was important for me, who also lost it for the first time.
I took a moment from my day
Wrapped it up in things you say
Mailed it off to your address
You'll get it pretty soon unless

The packaging begins to break
And all the points I tried to make
Are tossed with thoughts into a bin
Time leaks out my life leaks in

You won't find moments in a box
And someone else will set your clocks
I took a moment from my day
Wrapped it up in things you say
And mailed it off to you
I can't get into Page's mind. I dunno what flashback triggered the tidal wave of sadness. Last time he'll sing it? Was it for a special girl? That song is special for me because it reminds me of the first woman I was truly in love with and I saw plenty of shows with her in the late 1990s. I thought that I successfully built up a solid fortress of denial about the feelings I still had for her up until that watershed moment. The fortress of denial of my honest feelings quickly shattered and abruptly tumbled down when Page stared crying. Phish just wasn't about music and getting wasted. It was deeply rooted in many of our lives... so far deep that it entrenched itself far inside the walls of your heart. Although I looked calm, I was barely keeping it together. The band ended Velvet Sea and then started an ugly version of Glide. They were still visibly and musically affected with emotion. Trey was sloppy, and this time he wasn't drunk or high... he was fucked up on sincere emotion. He spoke for a few moments after Glide. How he and the boys are going through plenty of "emotional ups and downs.... emotion and confusion."

And then every band member had a little something to say.

"Thank you from all four of us," Page said.

Mike offered up, "This has been a real wild ride. For many, many, many years, I'm the luckiest person in the world to get to play with these guys and for all of you."

And Fishman started off with, "Awwwww. For all of you people who walked in here... that's the greatest compliment that we could every have. Thank you so much. That's unbelievable."

I would have walked from NYC to Vermont to see these guys.

And then Trey said some sentimental things about his friendship with the band and lost it a few times. When he uttered, "We need to blow off some fuckin' steam!", they ripped into Split Open and Melt At that point, I made the decision that it was time to get really fucked up and I popped the second Superman roll. I was pretty plastered at that point... but since there was a set and a half left... it was time to go further. Trey stumbled through the lyrics, but the sharpened up their playing... and knocked off a thirty minute version... with plenty of peaks and valleys in their jamming. They eventually segued a half hour later into Ghost, which I was dying to hear. Man, Mike started off kicking my ass with some vicious licks. The second roll kicked in right away and I was flooded.

Trey had a tough time with the lyrics on Ghost and Fishman picked up the slack right away and sang lead the entire song. Trey could barely mumble the words. He must had peed his pants with emotion. Mike and Fish kept it up and pushed the jam along. They got their shit together for a distrubing ambient/distortion jam that stretched several minutes with Trey screaming unaudible words. They ended the most emotional set of Phish I ever experienced. I wish I had a bar to stumbled into to forget all the intensified memories sticking to my insides.

Coming Soon... Part III... the review of set three, after show and after thoughts!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A Vermont Pharewell... Part I

"Nothing I see can be taken from me."
I picked up Molly at the airport and we grabbed a quick dinner before heading to the grocery store to load up on food, beer, ice and other items. I figured that we'd be stuck in traffic for up to a day and wanted to have enough to snack on just in case we were stranded. For Big Cypress, I was in line for ten hours. Last year at IT, I was stuck in traffic with Alea and her cousin for over 14 hours. With a full car, three small coolers, and Mr. Dickhead... we departed NYC at 10:00pm and arrived near the North East Kingdom around 3:30 am. We hit traffic about 26 miles south of the venue. Somewhere up at the front of the line was the Joker, who had moved just one mile in over a day and a half. I tuned into The Bunny, the local radio station that Phish rented out and broadcasted inside Coventry. The DJs gave steady traffic updates and played some freaky ass music, in addition to some killer Phish soundchecks from Big Cypress and IT.

The line to get in.

After a full day of traveling from West Texas via Phoenix, Molly was exhausted and passed out. At 4:45am I fell asleep and a few cars jumped me in line. By that point every fifteen minutes each car moved up 20 or 30 feet. I woke up to the guy behind me honking his horn. I had no idea how long I was out, probably less than a few minutes, but I lost a few crucial spaces in line. There was a lovely sunrise at 5:03am and despite all the bad weather Vermont had been brutalized with, the day started majestically. I sat on the hood of my rental car and silently watched the orange-red sun peak over the green mountains while listening to a Grateful Dead bootleg and chomping on Drake's coffee cakes and sipping some semi-chilled OJ.

At 9:30am we got the sad news from The Bunny. The DJ said that he was going to play a message from Mike Gordon, who explained to everyone that they were going to be turned away because they had no available space to put the remainder of the cars. He apologized and said that they had no other choice. They were forced by the Vermont state police to turn away fans. Here's part of the email that Phish sent out to people who had not left for Coventry yet...
As a direct result of the severe weather conditions and serious flooding encountered over the past few days, the Vermont State Police and concert organizers, in the interest of public safety, have been forced to limit entry in to the COVENTRY festival this weekend. After exploring all possible options, Police and organizers have concluded that there is no conceivable way to park the remaining vehicles on or in the near vicinity of the concert site, due to the conditions of the grounds as a direct result of the persistent and torrential rains over the past several days.

Effective immediately, all vehicles bound for the concert site not already off Interstate 91 will be turned around and denied entrance to the festival. In addition, roadblocks at additional points of entry have been set up and State Police will be ensuring that people can turn around in a safe and efficient manner.
I turned around and drove South on I-91, headed back to NYC. As I pulled the car around, Molly burst into tears. She came so far and got so close and was devastated. It really felt like getting kicked in the balls when I heard the announcement. I was trying to focus on the moment and safely get us back to NYC after not sleeping for over a day. But the tears from Molly's eyes really got to me. I didn't know what to do. My cell phone had been getting spotty coverage at best up and over the hills and mountains. At that time, I was getting no coverage, which was frustrating. I still had no idea whether or not the entire festival was canceled... or they were just going to play for the fans who got inside. Puzzled for sure, we headed back down through Vermont in silence. About 165 miles south of Coventry, I got my first call on my cell in hours. It was the Joker and he was walking into the campgrounds. He headed north and parked in a town called Newport, then hitched a ride half way and hiked the rest of the way in. The guy was determined to get to the show! And he told me to turn around and come back... that I should get as close as possible and hike because they will accept walk-ins... just no more cars. I told Molly and we stopped at the first exit we saw. I gassed up, bought a map, and made the decision to drive back to the venue! Many thanks to the Joker for being my source of information and inspiration to get to the show!!

Many phans ditched their cars and hiked in.

With all the state troopers handling the Coventry mess, there were none on the highways. I was going as fast as 90 mph to get back the lost time. Lori from Kentucky called. We kept getting disconnected, but she told me that she and her friends pulled over on the side of the road and were hiking in from I-91. She grabbed cash, vodka, and a tent... and headed to the show. She told me that hundreds of other people were doing the same. I got more pumped and told Molly, who grew more excited with every mile we got closer to Coventry. We got as far as three exits south of Coventry when we reached a roadblock. The state trooper asked me where I was headed. I told him Newport and he gave me directions... the same route I picked out on the map. It was a round about way and took almost two hours to loop around east then north and eventually back west into Newport, which was five miles away from Coventry. I drove down Main Street and out of the corner of my eye I saw a young girl, maybe ten years-old with a sign on pink poster board: Phish Parking, Free Rides. I rolled up to a semi-empty parking lot next to a Shattuck's, a local car dealership.

"How much does it cost to park?"

"$25 per person."

"Do I pay you?"

She pointed at a heavy set man off to the side loading up a mini van. "You pay my Dad."

I pulled in and walked over to the guy and handed him a $50 bill. He had his wife and three kids working the lot, trying to flag down Phisheads on Main Street.

"Ok, here's the deal. You can park here as late as Tuesday morning. I'll get you a ride as far as we can take you and you have to hike in the rest of the way. You're on your own for a ride back, but there's gonna be a shuttle that you can take. Or hitch a ride back. Plenty of folks will be looking to give rides on Monday morning. Tell them to take you to East Main Street."

We loaded our gear into the back of a van and was ready to roll when I realized that I left the tickets in the glove compartment! I sprinted out of the van and snagged our two tickets. Whew. That was close. Six of us in all squeezed into the van and we got a ride about 3 miles from the venue. We were let out at a road block. We each took a deep breath and started our hike down Airport Road.

As I began the hike all I could think was, "Never give up. Keep moving forward."

The locals saved the day for over 10,000 Phisheads, maybe even up to 20,000 fans. I must say that the citizens of Northern Vermont did everything they could to chip in and help out in a pinch. They were the X factor that allowed Phish, the fans, and the concert organizers to fight back against Mother Nature. Sure, the Vermont police wouldn't let you drive in, but thanks to the good-hearted people of the surrounding towns... everyone that tried to walk in was able to... and instead of 15 and 20 mile hikes in, they were able to cut down some of the walking to less than a few miles.

Within hours of the announcement, plenty of make-shift parking lots sprung up everywhere in the towns encircling 25 miles around Coventry. Anyone with a large sized vehicle started a shuttle service up to the roadblocks. Anyone with a large property created park-and-rides. Some folks were cool enough to let you park on their property for free or even camp out and set up tents on their front lawns. They fed Phisheads from all over the country and let them shower and take naps in their homes. And these folks did it out of sheer generosity. This speaks volumes about the people in Northern Vermont. I cannot stress how important, and surprising their willingness to help out Phisheads who drove as far as Seattle and Southern California to say goodbye to their favorite band. Sure some of them were in it for a quick buck... and that was the easiest money a lot of these locals saw in a very long time. But you could tell that they genuinely wanted to help out. Kindness from strangers. Kids drove thousands of miles, others spent hundreds of dollars on tickets, fans flew as far away as Japan to see the boys in their home state. The locals knew all that and were also moved by our passion for music and all things Phish. Without the locals of Northern Vermont... Coventry would have been even a huger disaster.

Airport Road is a two lane road. One lane was the out lane reserved for emergency vehicles. All the cars that were off the interstate were eligible to get inside. As I walked past a few cars I'd ask how long they were waiting. Everyone said at least twenty hours. One guy from North Carolina was waiting for 41 hours!! I didn't feel too bad about my situation. I was only in the area for about twelve hours and I caught one of the better shows post hiatus in Camden, NJ two nights before.

Before we hiked in, Molly and I discussed the serious downside about traveling inside with just a sleeping bag and tents. The weather was still a factor. A heavy downpour was predicted for Sunday afternoon. We accepted the possibility that we'd leave when it started raining... even if that meant missing the Sunday show. We'd also have to spend more money on food and especially water and beer. We'd only have a few items of clothing and one change of footwear. If it started to rain heavily, we didn't have the car to protect us. Without the car... no music to listen to or a charger to power up our cell phones. That was crucial and would make it more challenging to make the proper calls to people inside the show and those at their homes who didn't make it. Our dependence upon technology would have to be severed for the next two days. Molly was willing to take those risks, so we headed on in. We made back up plans for specific meeting places if we got lost or if our cell phones ran out of juice.

The hardest thing for me was the lack of necessary equipment I packed to make the trip even more fun that imagined. Out of a page from the Joker's book, I took plenty of props with me... including Mr. Dickhead. I took a camera with several rolls of black and white film looking to shoot footage of Mr. Dickhead intereacting with thousands of fucked up heads. I intended to bring along my brother's videocamera so I could document the entire weekend. I brought plenty of writing instruments, a few journals, that I never got to bring inside. Alas, I just took a pen and a disposable camera on my hike inside. I had to leave Mr. Dickhead behind as well. I'd have to rely on my memory to reconstruct the events in the future. Writing this, I understand how much that aspect of my trip suffered... the historical project of my last Phish shows. I really wanted to create a documentary film about Coventry and sadly, that dream was crushed, when I realized that I had to hike in and leave all video equipment in the car, for fear of theft and being destroyed by rain.

We Made It!!!!

At 4:10pm, We showed our tickets at the front gate, got our wristbands and map of the campgrounds and followed the crowd inside. On our walk down Airport Road, I noticed that several of the adjacent fields were under several feet of water. There was mud everywhere inside the campgrounds. I started to see people wearing huge goulashes. After walking inside for a few minutes searching for a camp site, I saw first hand how horrible some of the conditions were. They were right, they had no place to put cars. People were parked and camped in mud!!

Molly picked a spot near a random grove of trees in between two fields. That ended up being a good spot because the trees provided us a point of reference, which during my later stages of inebriation, allowed me to navigate my way from Shakedown to our camp site. Within a half hour we had a tarp on the ground and the tent was up and ready. Thank goodness that Molly is very skilled in camping and the such. Her dad took her camping outdoors a lot as a kid so she was able to adapt to the situation very easily. At this point, I must say that she was extremely cooperative. Most guys I know would have wilted away hours before. She pulled her own weight and didn't complain once about the long hike in. That was refreshing to be with someone who understood the magnitude of what was going on... that we were in a difficult situation and whining about what's going on would only make things worse. I calmly explained to her on our drive to Newport that we'd have to push ourselves and focus on the tasks in front of us in order to succeed, reach our intended destination, and have a kick ass party with Phish. One guy was joking around with his wife on the hike in... "This is the real Survivor. The winners get to see Phish."

He was right. I knew that if we endured these unpredictable hardships, that we would be rewarded for our troubles. It was 100% worth it and I'd do it again.

With our tent set up we followed the flow of people towards the concert stage. We stopped at a food vendor called The Common Ground Cafe and got some quick eats.

Coventry: Pieces of Pauly #1... So what did I eat on Saturday? At 6:03am, while still waiting in line, Molly made me a PB&J sandwich. It was tasty and I gave Molly some shit because she only spread peanut butter on one piece of bread. Both peices, Molly, both peices of bread and jelly in the middle... that's how it's done. I also ate a coffee cake and drank orange juice. Before the show I ate a BBQ chicken sandwich with melt Monterey Jack cheese and nacho chips. Molly ate some pizza.

We walked down the actual airport runway, which was cluttered with large vehicles like SUVs and RVs and other campers. They couldn't park in the mud so the runway was jam packed. It was a Shakedown type scene with plenty of vendors and kids standing around trying to sling drugs in the wide open. Normally, as you walk by, people whisper the drug they are selling. At Coventry, they help up their drugs in plain view. I saw hundreds of heads holding up magic mushrooms for sale. The same with marijuana. I'd stop to sniff a few different strains. We eventually reached the middle of the runway. We had to cross a huge field the size of a baseball stadium. It was circular with plenty of vendors on the outskirts and a huge tent in the middle (another cafe). On the other side was a path to a road that led you into the concert area. At this point, there was a traffic jam of people. The entire field was covered in knee deep mud and over 20,000 people were walking two-by-two on each side on wood planks and other pallets in front of the food and vending stands. It was going to take forever to get inside and people were falling left and right. The only alternative was to gut it out and walk through the mud. The time was well past 5:30pm and I figured that Phish was less than a half hour away from starting their first set. It was inevitable that you were going to get dirty. Really dirty. I told Molly that she was going to have to suck it up and walk through the mud to reach the concert. But she wouldn't move. She was paralyzed with fear.

Yeah, the mud sucked.

"I can't do it. These are my only sneakers and jeans that I took," she explained. I took a deep breath.

"We got so far! Suck it up, man. Can't you do it a little more?"

She shook her head. There was only one thing to do.

"Do you want me to carry you?"

She nodded and I bent over. She climbed on and I realized that she was much lighter than the backpack I took into the campgrounds. I took a few steps into the deep mud and I knew I was in trouble. I had very little control of where I was going. We were doomed. Then I heard words of encouragement from the crowd. You have to imagine a traffic jam of people walking two-by-two on either sides of a huge circle of mud. A few folks braved the mud and trounced through. Others were prepared with goulashes and other rain gear and easily navigated their way through the mud pit avoiding a half hour wait in line. And there I was... wearing my customary red blazer, with Molly on my back, and I was greeted with a light shower of applause from the crowd, which inspired me to keep moving.

"What a guy!" I heard one Phishy chick yell out.

"I wish my boyfriend carried me!" another blurted out.

I even got a few "ooohs" and "ahhhhs" from the crowd when I almost fell and dropped Molly, but luckily corrected my footing in time to save her from a serious mud bath, and me from the embarrassment of dropping my load of Molly into a lake of mud.

I carried Molly through this.

We finally reached an area of wood chips and I let Molly down. I was covered in mud halfway up my shins, but we made it to the concert area, which was a natural ampitheatre, with the stage at the bottom of a huge field and big rocks and boulders separarting the stage from the audience. A Ferris Wheel was in the back of the concert area with more food vendors and other odd sculptures like a steel moose and upside down trees.

We found our way halfway into the venue and settled in right smack in the middle of the show. I hugged Molly. We finally made it! I was ready for Phish. I celebrated with a victory bowl and then the boys walked onstage.

I was somewhere in the middle of this!!
Phish, 8.14.04 Coventry, VT

Set 1: Walls of the Cave > Runaway Jim > Gotta Jibboo, You Enjoy Myself* > Sample in a Jar, Axilla, Poor Heart, Antelope**, Fire

Set 2: AC/DC Bag > 46 Days > Halley's Comet > Ya Mar***, [Trey speech about Bowie], David Bowie, Character Zero

Set 3: Twist > The Wedge, Stash > Free, [band waves; Trey speech], Guyute, Drowned > Coventry Jam > Friday

Encore: Harry Hood****

*Trey gives away the trampolines to the crowd.
**Guest appearance by Tom Marshall.
***Bass solo with interactive clapping.
****Trey and Mike move closer to the audience and play on the rocks in front of the stage.
The first sets of outdoor festivals are always mediocre. I prefer to see Phish at night with the lights down. They jam harder when the sun goes down. My expectations were low. I was happy to be there but I sensed that the crowd was not very into it... most likely for several reasons. 1/3 of the people had been camped there since Thursday and were fucked up for partying for several days straight. The other 1/3 were waiting in line for up to a forty hours and had no sleep. And the last 1/3 hiked into the venue. Everyone was tired for an average set and saving their energy for later in the show. I decided to live in the moment, because of the bad weather forecast, I figured that might have been my last Phish show, so I got completely fucked up out of my tits. I had been sober all week at the other shows, having to drive from city to city, so I really was waiting for the perfect moment to let loose. I was ready to push myself further than I had ever been. I wanted to sprint way past the last edge of sobriety that I lept off of.
"Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul. You've got to run like an antelope... out of control!"

A view from the stage.

Gotta Jibboo was the highlight of the first set. The roll I took kicked in and the boys shrugged off the initial nerves and found a funky-space driven jam to build up. I started staring at the crowd and looked back up the huge hill. Tons of balloons were floating up and down. During the last ever You Enjoy Myself Trey handed the trampolines to the crowd. They weren't going to need them anymore. And that was the first time it really hit me. These guys are done for good. Axilla was a rager! And the crowd woke up at that point. Antelope was smoking and Trey brought Tom Marshall to utter the first lyrics he ever penned for Phish... Marco Esquondoles! That was pretty cool. At the end of Antelope, Trey spoke to the crowd before they played one last tune to end the set. "Thank you so much. We got so much more music. And it feels very good to kinda have this thing up and rolling finally. And to send our deepest love to those of you who put up with all the traffic and walked in. We love you so much."

Yeah. He was talking to us!

The second set opened with a fat AC/DC Bag which had a nice jam about ten minutes in. They segued into 46 Days which was short and sweet before they sgued into Halley's Comet. Of course, Haley got a call anfd I realized that the played Halley's post-hiatus more frquently than they did in the last two years leading up to their first break. At the end of Halley's, I thought they were going to hit up a Makisupa Policeman next, but they faked me out and broke into a different reggae tune, Ya Mar. Trey faked everyone out... instead of saying, "Play it Leo!"... he yelled, "Play it Cactus!" and Mike went off into a funky bass solo. (Editor's Note: If you don't know, Trey's nicknames for Page and Mike are Leo and Cactus.)

After Ya Mar, Trey addressed the crowd again. He welcomed everyone to the show, then told everyone a story about how he lived in Northern Vermont (a.k.a. the Northeast Kingdom) with his dog, Marley, one summer when he was 20 years old living in a cabin. That's where he composed some music and took long walks in the woods and figured out the direction that Phish ended up taking. He talked about the wide openness of music and how he composed a few new tunes then drove down to Burlington to the house where Page, Mike, and Fish lived (next to the Hood milk plant) and shared what he penned. He was going to play one of those songs (David Bowie) and another one on Sunday, but didn't say which one. He spoke about the concept behind the creation of David Bowie... "I was wondering ow far can you push it in the harmonic and rhythmic language and still have people dancing... the idea that people are dancing right through (his compositions). It was written right near this very spot, so it feels like it's very full circle that years later that it was just a theory and we didn't have any fans or anything and now were back. And now you have to dance to David Bowie."

And then they ripped into David Bowie. I called Modeski and shared David Bowie with him for one last time. A smoking Character Zero closed the set and I was pretty shit faced. The second set was probably one of the shortest, but also the strongest at Coventry and is the one you want to add to your collection.

The ground was muddy and we didn't bring anything inside to sit on. I asked the guy next to us if he minded if we crashed on his tarp space. Brandon and his girlfriend Miranda were cool and invited us over and I smoked them up. They were heads from Southern, Vermont and like everyone I met from Vermont... they were laid back and tons of fun. I realized we were also in such a rush to the show that we didn't bring any warm clothes into the concert area, so I sprinted back to the camp site for a pullover and Molly's sweater. I knew the boys were taking hour long set breaks, but I had to hustle. I stumbled back out through the mud, the most wasted I had been since Deer Creek... past Shakedown which was crowded with everyone offering up more drugs, and finally near our camp site. On the way back, I saw a chick squatting down in the middle of the road taking a shit!! One guy said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."

And she replied, "Can you guys help me out with some sound effects?"

I blurted out a few farts noises and made my way back to the concert field. When I got back, Molly told me about some guy who was having a really bad trip. he was flopped down face first in the mud saying something like, "I don't exist." She was happy I was back. I sent Lori and the Joker a text message telling them to meet me at the General Store after the show.

A spacey Twist Around opened the third set. There were a few stars out, and as long as I saw stars, I was convinced that there would be no rain. They segued into a smooth The Wedge which I'm sure was dedicated to the folks who walked in and those who did not get inside. Then it got a little ugly. Stash was kinda horrible. I'm used to hearing Stash with notes from Trey. He flubbed a few lyrics but it was sloppy and not their best effort. After the show, Zobo called and told me that he saw the simulcast in a movie theatre in Atlanta. He said, "Trey was embarrassingly fucked up in the third set." He could see his face better than me. But he sounded off. Plenty of speculation and rumors hit Coventry after the show. My guess was that he got obliterated at set break and whatever he was on... kicked in or kicked out and he lost his buzz. My guess was that the blow wore off and he lost some energy. cocaine sobers you up for a short period of time and you lose affects of alcohol or whatever. But when you come down, you crash hard and if you were drunk before... you're drunk after. And that's the not so fun place that Trey had to get his internal shit together. Usually we can walk off into a dark corner or go to a bathroom to compose yourself when you get that wasted. Trey wasn't that lucky. He was in front of 60,000+ folks plus all those people watching the simulcast in movie theatres. At any rate, Stash was sloppier than a whorehouse in Minisk at 3am. Mike and Fishman carried the band most of the entire weekend, and that was one instance where they carried Trey.
"I feel the feeling I forgot."
I dunno what happened, but I thought Free kicked ass. I guess Trey got his shit together and started playing notes again. On my scratched notes, I jotted down: "Free was the highlight jam of the show next to Jibboo." Mike was going off in the middle jam, which has a high funk content.

Then Trey and the band waved to everyone. First it was their sound guy, Paul Langedouc, and it was his birthday too. They wanted to wave to C.O.D., the Coalition of Dads... but Trey couldn't find his. I blurted out... "He's back in your trailer snorting blow with 19 year-old groupies!" That got a chuckle from the Vermont kids. Then they boys waved to the crowd. I dunno. Goofy, fucked up, or just nervous. It was kinda weird. Then they busted in Guyute and I called Gil for one last time.

Drowned is a cool cover song that Mike is the man on. The Coventry Jam was intense after Trey asked Chris Kuroda to turn the lights onto the audience so they can vibe off them to create the fifteen minute or so jam. Yeah, pretty cool when Phish makes something out of nothing... on the spot like that... and sound great to dance to. That's why they're so talented. I heard a few 2001 teases in there!

Friday is a song that not too many people like. I'm indifferent, but I knew they were going to end the set with that.

For the encore, Trey and Mike moved out to the rocks to be closer to the audience during Harry Hood. The crowd sung the last lines... Could you feel good? Feel good, good about Hood? That was way cool and gave me goosebumps.

Jamming on the rocks during Harry Hood.

On the way out I told Molly how wasted I was and that I couldn't carry her back through the mud. We agreed that she needed to carry her sneakers and roll up her jeans. We found a decent area with only ankle deep mud and made our way to the General Store where I hoped to meet the Joker and Lori. Molly ate some flafel but no one showed up so we wandered back to our camp site. It was well past 1:30 am on Sunday and I had been up since Noon on Friday. I was spent and needed rest.

I saw a crusty chick holding her dog. She looked no older than sixteen or seventeen and she was shouting out, "Yay yo for my puppy!" I couldn't believe that. She wanted to trade her dog for cocaine. It was one of those nights.

Before I passed out, my mind wandered to all the places I had been since I last slept. I woke up in NYC after driving back from the Camden show and since then I had endured plenty of twists in my game plan just to get to experience the last Phish shows. I made it! I whispered to myself as I drifted off to sleep, drowning out the fireworks being set off by the kids in our field.

Coming soon... part II!