I have been converted to a Phish fan. I feel as though I am writing a confession as opposed to my story of the long and winding road that led me to a full on Phish obsession. My eyes have been opened, my mind has been rearranged and it all makes sense now. Phish is the band that was missing from my life for an outlandishly long 21 years. When Phish announced the end of their hiatus in 2008, I was visiting a friend in Colorado. I clearly remember stating “Fuck Phish, they’re Dead wannabes and I’m a born and bred Deadhead. I hate that Phish bullshit” while witnessing the insanity that ensued in the streets of Boulder after the declaration of their 2009 tour. I was ignorant to the fact that in reality, Phish is the closest thing my generation will ever have to a band as influential and talented as the Grateful Dead and I should have felt honored to learn that they were once again ready to return to the stage.
When people inquired about my extreme hatred for Phish I never had a legitimate reason for actually disliking them. I remember being harassed by my elder cousin constantly about my complete and utter disdain for everything Phish embodied. I was naïve to the profound effect their music had and probably just hated them to hate them. Not very Sparkleberryesque, right?
The first time Phish made my synapses burn was at Festival 8 in Indio, California. I was living in Boulder, CO at the time and my roommate Catherine, and her boyfriend, were huge Phish fans. I was dragged kicking and screaming to the festival against my will. My perception was very seriously altered that weekend. The boys played Joy as I lay spread-eagled on the ground covered in glitter and cried for at least 5 minutes straight. It was a beautiful, soul shattering moment of realization that Phish could potentially knock my beloved Grateful Dead out of the number 1 spot. Halloween night proved to be one of the most hypnotizing shows I’ve ever seen, with beautifully harmonious renditions of Soul Survivor, Shine a Light, Sweet Virginia and the rest of Exile on Main Street. I am forever grateful to Catherine for forcing me to attend the most incredible festival I’ve eve r been to.
After Festival 8 I was hooked. There was no turning back and all signs pointed to Miami for New Years. I ordered tickets for Jess and I and we set out on the 24 hr road trip from Philadelphia to Miami just a few days after Christmas. Christina was fabulous enough to welcome not only us, but also 5 of her close friends from Richmond into her tiny, cramped, two bed room apartment for 10 days. The set list was phenomenal with an AC/DC Bag show opener and the return of NO2, played for the first time since 1999. Ghost, Down with Disease, Suzy Greenberg, Piper, 46 Days and The Moma Dance were show highlights for me, and when the clock struck midnight, the first notes of Party Time filled the air, and the bottle of champagne we snuck in was popped, I was in an out of mind out of body state of absolute euphoria.
Tour ended and I did what I could to feed my addiction in the off-season. I saw Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. Naturally I checked out Phish 3D in April, after all Festival 8 was the catalyst behind my consuming love. Summer tour was announced and tickets were bought. I was fortunate enough to see five shows this tour, including Hershey, two nights in Camden, and the tour closer shows at Jones Beach. The June 24th show in Camden really stood out for me with Fishman’s summoning of the voodoo beast who would ensure the Flyers Stanley Cup victory next year during I Didn’t Know, and a hard rocking cover of The Rover by Led Zeppelin played for the first time. June 25th started out strong with Alumni Blues>Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, and a heart-felt cover of A Free Man in Paris, originally written by the great singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. The energy of The Susquehanna Bank Center was at an all time high as Phish embarked upon 2001>Starting Something>Thriller>Beat It>2001. Duh, it was the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death! The fireworks over the Ben Franklin Bridge didn’t hurt either. The two shows at Jones Beach, complete with a double rainbow on the last night were played extremely well, with quality set lists. Trey, Fishman, Page and Mike Gordon created music as if there was nothing on earth they would rather be doing. They were having a fucking blast on stage, and it radiated outward into the soul of every Phish fan in the crowd.
I know I’m relatively new at this, but I truly believe Phish is back with a vengeance. I’m so grateful to have been enlightened. I can’t imagine my epic summer of 2010 without those five shows. I eagerly look forward to the 3 night Halloween run in Atlantic City and both shows in Charleston in the middle of October. If I hadn’t been turned on who knows what my summer would have consisted of (probably too much electronica). Please, I beg of you, if you haven’t given Phish a quality chance, do it now. It can only benefit your well-being and create a utopia of glitter and love. Go to your first Phish show, I guarantee you will never experience anything else quite like it. Spend some time on Phish lot, get to know some Phish fans, and listen to some old soundboards, then make your decision. Remember to be a true Sparkleberry and throw some glitter while you’re at it.
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