Obviously it’s no surprise that we’ve been posting about Phish and the members’ respective side projects over the past couple weeks, and it’s really brought me back into an nostalgic mindset. I only got to catch 10 shows in my brief time with the band, but that was clearly enough to have had an impact. And even though we only have rumors so far that the band may be getting back together, I’m already thinking I need to revisit my little archive of shows that I saw myself.
I was fortunate enough to catch the final two shows the band played at Deer Creek as well as the final two shows the band played up at Alpine Valley. Today’s selection for Phish Friday comes from the first night, second set at Alpine where the band opened up with a 26 minute-long version of “Seven Below,” which had everyone so tranced-out by the end that it took people a second or two to recognize when the band segued into “Buffalo Bill.” I was following it (I think), because I definitely remember them switching back to a downtempo reggae beat which was solid after the many peaks and valleys they hit during the opener. To go from a new song to a rarity was one thing, but then to follow up this sandwich with one of the clear fan-favorites, “Lawn Boy,” it really shows where the band’s collective head was that night.
The crowd absolutely tears Page a new one (in a good way) when he hands the bass solo off to Cactus and takes it back, and I remember very vividly that my grin was ear to ear at that moment. It helps that I was about 10th row or something close to that. Being up front and close to the band really allows you to absorb in the art, the sound, and the experience they’re trying to put out onto the crowd, so much moreso than hanging out in the back with the chatty, casual concert-goers. The crowd towards the front has no choice but to take it in, to be a part of it, to get sweaty, to pay attention, etc. It really does make everything better and I definitely remember acknowledging how fortunate I was to be upfront for the experience. If you were there, then you know. For those that weren’t, downloading the entire show might allow you to come close to the experience that me and those other 35 thousand fans had that night.
I did every show on the summer 2000 tour and I carried one of those life-size cardboard cutouts of Spock into each one with the word BRAIN attached. I was up close a couple of times and I know the boys saw it. Then they bust it out in Vegas when I was thousands of miles away. I was happily pissed.
Man, I do miss Phish shows.