I know this is retardedly obvious to say again, but we really are living in some crazy times.

I’m sitting down in my living room enjoying some Phish HD videos on my Mac Mini piping through my HD TV, straight-up balling like I always do, and I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about the fact that about 10 years ago around this time I was probably sitting in a computer lab in Normal, IL and updating my Phish tape list page that was hosted on Angelfire. That got me thinking about the next ten years and what I may be doing ten years from today, and I got especially excited about the possibility that Phish may very well be around and still performing as strongly as they did on their return to rare form this year. The Hampton shows were a new Phish but a very old and lovable Phish. One that took chances on stage. One that smiled constantly. One that played for four hours three days in a row without breaking a sweat.

I think back to what the internet and Phish fandom was like before YouTube, where fans are capturing HD videos of a concert that many around the world only wish they could have seen firsthand. But the internet is seriously allowing me to enjoy more of those concerts than I ever thought possible, so I thought I’d share a few of my own personal highlights of the Phish Hampton internet experience with you today as the return of the always-popular Phish Friday series. Read on for more picks.

#5 – The Opening Notes

Phish: Fluffhead (Part 1) [HD] – 2009-03-06 – Hampton, VA [YouTube]

As I mentioned in my return post, my buddy and I got together the first night of the Hampton run to download the No Spoilers sets and the first roars from the crowd clearly brought an inspiration feeling back to me. Hearing the band go ambitious and launch into “Fluffhead” was a serious treat for all of us, especially the lucky bastards that were in attendance. So good.

#4 – The Glowstick War

Phish: ACDC Bag [HD] – 2009-03-08 – Hampton, VA [YouTube]

Love ’em or hate ’em, you can hardly deny that the famed glowstick wars that erupt at these shows are anything short of breathtaking to see live. I think they happen to bring together that spirit of a concert that the band tries to instill in the audience every time they get on stage, a kinda “we’re all making pretty lights happen at this concert just like Chris Kuroda is…” sorta thing. I’m surprised “AC/DC Bag” was the song that got the treatment, especially considering I thought “Fluffhead” would have the entire arena erupt with colorful lights and random textures flying through the air. I’ll take it, though.

#3 – Insanity

Phish: Sanity / Wilson [HD] – 2009-03-08 – Hampton, VA [YouTube]

I guess that “Sanity” is holding a special place in my heart these days, as I especially love the fact that Trey came right out and poured his heart into this version. “Yes I did!” he yelps in his classic style, much to the enjoyment of every fan that likely had that thought once or twice while mourning the supposed death of their favorite band. And really, all of us have lost our minds just a coupla times.

#2 – Page Steps Up Big Time

Phish: Army Of One [HD] – 2009-03-08 – Hampton, VA [YouTube]

It seemed pretty unanimous in every that I read about the reuinion shows that the undisputed heavyweight performer of the weekend was Page, the one that always seems to have the funniest grin on his face when he plays. The whole weekend had Page really bringing a lot more to the mix than a lot of folks remember, possibly a learning or two from his years fronting Vida Blue and other solo projects. The solo at the end of “Gumbo” is seriously finger-licking NOLA-style goodness, a perfect ending to a funked-out song that I’m really glad they played. But I chose “Army of One” because it totally surprised me, in a good way, to hear this one. It really is a fantastic song and it gave Page yet another chance to showoff a bit and sing his smiling heart out. Highly enjoyable.

And finally…

#1 – The Guelah Hop

Phish: Guelah Papyrus [HD] – 2009-03-07 – Hampton, VA [YouTube]

This was probably the first Phish song I absolutely fell in love with. I’d always skip around the album to find this track and a few others if I was in a hurry or only had a few minutes to listen to music before I arrived at my destination (via automobile, for example). But I just remember replaying the hell out of this song, and I’ve pretty much done the same thing with this video from Hampton. I heard the recordings before I saw the video and I could hear the crowd get loud and rowdy during the end of the song, and I honestly had never seen a “Guelah Papyrus” performed live so I had no idea there was this whole dance at the end. Classic Phish. And the band delivered exactly like nobody really expected they could.

There’s plenty more HD videos on YouTube, including a few more from the collection I grabbed these clips from. Kudos to mkdevo for getting this stuff uploaded. We owe this guy a beer at the next show.

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