Some people like to travel, some people like to shop and some people like to drive around the country following a band in search of a perfect show. I am proud to say that I am one of those people who throw caution to the wind in search of good music. Many people in my life have always questioned my ability to go out on my own, to do my own thing, to really do those things that others look upon as completly ludicris or a waste of time. To me that is the beauty to what they will never understand. They will never understand the feeling it is to give into somethin gthat is so much bigger than yourself, to hang out or to bond with complete strangers in a surrounding that is so comfortable to both parties that it seems as if you have known them your entire life. This feeling is one of the many reasons why I love going on Phish tour and why nothing in this world can hold a candle to being on it.
Last week Dec 3rd-5th I left Richmond in search of some good times with one of my best friends Beth. Our plan was simple. Leave Wed night, be in NYC for the shows at Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday nights then jump in our car Saturday morning and join the rest of our Virginia Crew at the show in Charlottesville on Sat. night. Easy.
Everything was working out just as planned, we got up to NJ (with no help from the pouring rain) stayed at my fabulous fathers house who sat for an hour with me trying to explain to him that phish tour is different this time because I am actually responsible with a real job. He wasn't understanding, it was a Wednesday night, I should be in Virgina asleep getting ready for work on Thursday instead of a concert run. The conversation went nowhere, fast. The next morning drove into NYC to quite literally "get this show on the road". After a day of doing everything a typical tourist does in NYC during the holidays (30 Rock Tree, Macy's Windows, Ice Skating etc), it was time for the show and most importantly time for a drink. This is when the trip took a fantastic turn.
We were sitting at a bar very close to the venue at MSG having a few drinks discussing our excitement for that nights show when the bartender did a very smart thing. He put on a Phish show. I believe the set started out with Wilson...beth and I high fived, we saw another couple in the corner of our eye start dancing and another two just stand up and get really excited.
We had found our people. Bianca and Jason are from Albany and April and Lorcan were from the great state of Vermont. We all knew right away that this was going to be our crew for the next two days and we were all set for a good time. We sat at the bar getting to know each other, having some drinks getting excited for the show when before you know it, it was time for the show. We all quickly got all of our things together and started making our way to the door, yet not before we yelled out one more thing at our new crew. 5 o'clock tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
We took to the streets of NYC with one thing in mind. Phish at MSG. The last time Beth and I had seen this band here was back at New Years 2002 better known as: The Return. Its been almost 7 years, we were in the greatest city in the world seeing (in my mind) one of the greatest bands in the world, at the greatest venue in the world. There was just about nothing holding us from having a good time. There was this buzz outside MSG that felt just like 2002.These heads out here were ready for a good show and well lucky for us so was the band. That Thursday nights show was unbelievable. With a awesome "Punch you in the Eye" opener the band blazed through what was an amazing first set which also included one of my personal favorite Stevie Wonder tunes "Boogie on Reggae Woman". We knew this show was going to be good but neither one of us were prepared for what was going to be thrown at us during what was probably the most epic second sets I have had to pleasure to witnessing.
To anyone who doesn't know. MSG is a small venue, it holds just shy of 18,000 people and well its known as a small dome. There is hardly a bad seat in the house, to the contrary the place is so fun to see a show in because it feels as if everyone is huddled around each other creating on intimate setting. I have read articles that bands particularly love playing MSG because the "floor moves" and often if a crowd is really jumping down and getting into it the rafters move under the musicians feet, something that bands always say is a real treat.
Anyways, this place went "bat shit crazy" during the second set. The set list was full of heavy hitters: Down w/Disease>Piper>Fluffhead>Cities>Free>Halley's Comet>2001>Bowie. "Are you kidding me!! They really just played that!?!" was pretty much the only thing I was processing during this set. The place felt as if the roof was going to tear off the top and the place was just going to explode. Thats what I love about Phish shows especially indoor shows. You get this sense of community, this sense of looking around the room knowing that you are not the only one dancing your feet off but you are surrounded by 18 thousand people feeling and doing the exact same thing. Its a hard feeling to describe, yet once your in it, you will never forget it. Night 1 was complete and it left me completely speechless. I felt like I had danced my legs off, I had barely a voice and it looked like I had just gone to battle. As Beth and I sat on the subway back to Brooklyn for a quick rest, we looked at each other and said.."Wow, do we really have two more nights of this??"....
To be continued tomorrow....(obviously can write for days about this...)