My first Phish show ever was October 4, 1999 in Normal, IL, and it’s definitely near the top of my “favorite concerts ever” list. It’s unfortunate that it was my first, too — the night before was an epic show in Chicago where the first set alone was nearly an hour and a half. And I’ve only really written about it briefly in the past so it definitely deserves more reflection during Phish Fridays.
I remember (rather vividly) how we walked through the lot scene to get inside the venue to get to our seats — and no one was in the venue even though the show was scheduled to start in about a half hour. “This is odd,” I thought.
And obviously — the show “changed my life, man!”
Here’s one of my highlights…
The show ruled, I got a B on the political science test I had the next day, and all the local newspapers reported that many, many Phish fans got arrested for damaging University property surrounding the venue, including dorms, local gas stations, etc. Fans were bumming money from locals. Fans were throwing rocks at dorm windows. Fans got arrested for carrying and/or selling the usual suspects: ganja, shrooms, molly, blotters, etc. etc. etc. All stuff that is extremely scary to the residents of a town called Normal, IL.
Fast forward to Phish’s final tour, and I find myself backstage at Alpine Valley having a great conversation with John Langenstein, Phish’s security director. We get on the topic of what venues Phish enjoys best — Alpine Valley being one of them — and which venues Phish is no longer allowed to play at. John then told me that the top three venues on their list that Phish was never allowed to play at again were: Red Rocks in Colorado, Redbird Arena in Normal, and Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, IA.
I still find it funny that I happened to have seen one of the shows that ultimately caused that Top 3 List.