One week from tonight, Phish returns to the stage in Denver for their annual three-night run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. And I’m going to be one of the lucky ones in attendance, somehow finding myself a three-night pass on one of the Facebook groups and just so happened to be the guy that commented first. I took it as a sign that I need to go, even though my bank account should be telling me otherwise. After Baker’s Dozen, there’s just too much to potentially miss seeing live. And Dick’s, as everyone knows, always throws down.
Instead of going back to Magnaball or Baker’s Dozen highlights, I’ve got Dick’s on the brain. And immediately my mind went back to that special moment last year where Mike Gordon took the opportunity to rip a brilliant bass solo to close out the Saturday night show. The first time “The Squirming Coil” was ever closed by Mike in Phish history. And everyone knew it when it started to go down. We knew we were witnessing something special.
The band played a beautiful show up to the encore as well. I remember thinking that the first four songs were basically already a perfect show for me: “Slave to the Traffic Light, Down with Disease, What’s the Use? > Maze” !!! GAH. That was insane. Everything else was gravy at that point, and we still had a full two hours left of music after that.
SET 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Down with Disease, What’s the Use? > Maze, Farmhouse, 555, Wolfman’s Brother, Divided Sky > Rock and Roll
SET 2: Fuego > Sand > Blaze On -> Simple > Twist > Theme From the Bottom > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood Trey on Marimba Lumina.
Then the band returned for the encore and started “The Squirming Coil”…
ENCORE: The Squirming Coil  With closing bass solo.
If you want to jump right to the solo you can check out this video also.
I’ll tell you, for me, this was exactly the type of moment I needed from Phish at that moment. I had been going through a personally tough time and didn’t have the ability to travel during the summer to see the band, and even the Dick’s run felt a bit out of reach for me. To make matters worse, I had just gotten notified I would be laid off from my job at the end of the next month and suddenly I had nothing to do and nowhere to work and I was feeling a bit lost. Troubled, even. What do I do NOW?
Most good “road trip stories” begin right there with a protagonist facing a similar fate, so that’s what where I went with it. I packed a car, booked a camping spot in Sedona, AZ to kick things off, and decided to drive from Phoenix to Denver to see the shows, enjoy some legal ganja, and visit some old friends and get in closer with new friends. I called it my #VisionQuest but really I was just driving through Utah really stoned on medicinal weed I picked up in Sedona…(pretty much the same thing, right?).
I definitely felt rewarded after night one. “Ghost > No Men in No Man’s Land” to kick off a show was HUGE. And I was with this super amazing friend and life felt like it could turn around in the right direction suddenly. They were bringing me out of my slump.
Night two only further solidified that I had made the right decision. And seeing Mike absolutely rip this solo actually brought tears to my eyes…
Yes, actual tears. That was a first for me at a Phish show. I’ve been overcome with emotions before, and I distinctly remember losing it during “Down with Disease” being broadcast from Coventry through my home speakers in Chicago and losing it when I saw someone write on PT, “that’s the last time we’ll hear that solo…”
But something about this moment really brought it out of me. It got me wondering about how many times that happens at a show that I’m not aware of. Have you ever seen anyone lose it at a Phish show?
I have no idea if the next run at Dick’s will have any of those moments for me, but I’m also flushed with an entirely different set of emotions this year. Life is good. Maybe they’ll bust out something I’m chasing — still need to cross “Harpua” off my bucket list — and maybe those tears of joy will start flowing. If you see someone tearing up during “Harpua” give that person a hug, it’s probably me!