We have reached another crossroads, and the energy is building. So much exists right now which we can tie ourselves into and identify with than every before. Movement in society, explosions in nature, blastoff of music. But back home, where it all count, we must make sure that all is fine...we can extend our reach to encompass everything our minds can imagine, yet when we come back to where we started to look at where we've been, making sure the mission is just and pure is so very important.
The new book, the new album, the new tour...the new phish? Who knows what the future holds or how Phish (or the fans) will react to this explosion in mainstream media. Suddenly we have reporters from all over the country writing about this band they've just discovered that we've known about for so long. Where has everyone been? Where have we been? What the hell is going on?!
But we've seen this before, and we'll see it again. Sure we'll hear the screaches of the boppers when the first chords of Birds of a Feather are rung during the fall tour, and it'll make us cringe...but when they first played the song we liked it, right? And in a few months when it all settles down and the album hype subsides, Phish will still be there for us, jamming their hearts away. Because we've come so far, and we trust them to know what it's all about...and that's the most important thing in the world.
"I hope this happens once again!"
The essense of music is change. Nothing is ever the same twice. Even the same jam listening to 100 times is 100 times different. Our own interpretation of the music leads us to draw our own conclusions as to its worth and impact on our lives. A jam will have a million inctricate moments all intertwined to form a wave of energy. Alone, they are meaningless, but together, in the context of the flow create a beautiful drama for us to sweep oursleves into.
The days between shows give insight, as we return to our daily dilemmas, away from the crowds and the grilled cheeses, and the nights on the hills...we are left to ponder ourselves and how we fit into the scematic of what we hold so pure. When you've been somewhere so incredible and so special, there aren't any other places that you'd rather been. It's not an escape, but rather a commitment to goodness and realization that the world we live in does in fact hold beauty all around.
So, for a moment today as you run through your lives, take a second to stop and look around at where you are, and recognize the beauty of the moment and all it can be.
So, I haven't seen Phish since 12/31/97. It'll be seven months to the day when I go to Columbus next week, needless to say, I'm beyond siked. The power of this band amazes me. Every day as I log on and read the countless e-mails from people proclaiming love for music, analyzing setlists, posting pictures, ranting and raving about this and that....it's a music of its own. A music that creates music is an extraordinary thing. Phish is definately extraordinary.
As reports come in from the west of the glorious nights under the stars, I think back with awe of last summer when I stood amidst the giant scaffolding overlooking the Gorge, and as Koroda turned off the lights on the first night and allowed the band to jam out the Harry Hood to the stars, I felt at that moment that nothing could possible be better. Where would I have rather been than dripping in the moment of that amazing jam. You can't re-create moments like that, those moments exist in a bubble, in an eternal dimension of perfection.
Later that month when I drove across the country to witness the lights go out again so we could stare at the amazing statue which was a physical representation of the music Phish was trying to create, I was once again struck by the same opening. Earlier in the set when they lifted me higher than I've ever been during the Bathtub Gin jam, I saw the door opening. It wasn't the same as the Gorge, of course, nothing could be, but it was another such moment of perfection for me. I was speachless, and when the set ended and Trey proclaimed that they would indeed return for a third set, I felt like my head was going to explode. (in a good way). Dripping with sweat from dancing harder than I've ever danced before (to the Down w/ Disease, Bathtub Gin!, and Harry Hood), I had to walk and connect with people about how truly unbelievable that set was. Thank you to all who connected with me, whether I met you or not. I was so blown away by that experience that I constantly refer to it as my penultimate Phish moment.
When they set themselves up to exceed, you know you're in for a treat. And I think the beauty of the band is that they let you know that they're going to exceed. Before that second set of the second night of the Great Went I turned to my friend and I said, "I don't know how I know, but I have this feeling that the next set of music is going to be unbelievable." Once you become aware of their hints and clues, you can't turn away. They suck you in so hard that you find yourself in an amazing place before you can ever decide if you want to be there. Naturally, we tend to flow to where it is good, and when you find yourself in the center of goodness, everything works.
So, at the end of this month when I once again find myself staring up at the lights and the scaffolding of the stage, once again in the face of judgement if I've been good, I look inward and then allow myself to be inspired from all around, as Phish becomes a mystical temple, where we stand and sit and dance and pray and chant for three hours, and then hopefully, if we've been honest and true to ourselves, we walk away a little bit better and a little fuller. (Ahh, Divided Sky the wind blows high!)
From The Donaic Schvice - Jan '98
Monkey's Logic: The rules we need to live by are the rules of nature which are unspoken. They are written in our souls, encoded in our being and we can access them by looking inside ourselves and around us because they are what made us. We are the physical embodiment of those rules. They are bigger than us and they have come from somewhere else. They are awe inspiring and they command respect. The rules that need to be broken are the rules derived from natural law, but modified and imposed by man. They are written and they tend to try to simplify and increment natural law as if to suggest that man is not capable of handling the wider parameters nature provides. This assumption is largely true however because history is strewn with examples of humans going wild with all that room to move, unable to handle the freedom found within the boundaries of natural law, inching their way towards the limits and eventually breaking them and wreaking havoc on themselves and everything around them. However, if we look at it another way we will also find that when we have evolved to understand the more bite sized versions of natural law we have imposed on ourselves, these man made laws fail to hold meaning for us in the bigger picture and we can have a whole lot more fun in life breaking them while at the same time getting more fulfillment from knowing the value of the higher natural laws that made us. In other words, impose rules to make life simpler. Break them to make life more fun. -Jon Fishman
We need it...it cuts through all the bullshit and just allows you to exist. They don't expect anything from us...require us to do anything, they just play and play and play and we can't help but return the favor by exploding our energies on them. It's great. I wonder...sometimes we go into a show with so many expectations. Like an end of tour show, or a new years show...there's a certain level of expectation that comes with that. I wonder if Phish themselves ever go into a show expecting anything out of the crowd. As we vent to them, they are of course venting to us. Where they meet is an amazing place.
As I listened again to the 2nd set of the 2nd day of the went...my penultimate moment in Phish history...it once again showed me how much Phish really cares about the people that go see them. How could they not..without us, they really wouldn't have any way to base themselves on. We are their stablity, their reality check. When we are out there screaming and yelling and throwing glowsticks and cheering and smiling and laughing and crying and now writing about our experiences, it allows them to fully understand their impact on us and give them a change to feel what kind of an effect they have on us.
It's really important to understand how you effect the world around you as much as it is to understand how it effects you. So as Trey was describing at the Went, they feel that when they are jamming there's a symbiotic relationship going on and the audience is playing the instruments just as much as the band is. That's quality. The fact that they can open themselves up enough to the energies around them and take in all that we have to offer is merit to their cause. As they caused us to come there and are the simply recieving themseves back. As we are reacting to their energy...it's all one in the same, and I Love it....and I miss it...damn, when is there gonna be another show? Europe anyone?
I find myself sometimes unable to be productive, or get past anything in my head until I see it through. I keep going through the same door and ending up at the same place, and it's scary. The cycle must end, and a new beginning must take place in order to move on. It's all internal, and it is influenced by the outside and of course effects the outside...but the lessons must be learned and overcome inside, or else there is no evolution.
So, how does this apply to Phish? Well, I don't really know. Purhaps the jams...those moments when they're not really in a song of any kind, but they're simply just playing...those jams have evolved from somewhere....be it a ghost jam or a bathtub gin jam or an ac/dc bag jam...they all come from a solid foundation. And I think recently Phish has evolved to the point where they know their songs so well that they can count on them. That they are the happy place that they know they can go back to, but exploring with the jams, and allowing their instruments (minds) to wander, is completely natural because they've come from a stable place. They've built themselves up to this point on the songs themselves, and now it's time to take it the next step and feel comfortable exploring, because they always know they can come back home when they need to. I think an amazing example is of how Weekapaug Groove has evolved. On New Years, they took it out to an amazing level and were floating on a pinnacle of an unbelievable jam...and in the end, the brought it back and Trey just played the chords as they were written, and it was all good.
It's nice to be able to come back home.
Isn't it amazing how they can just do that. Open a show with such a powerful combination. Makes me wonder where I was that night and why I wasn't in Hampton. Who cares? Right. The fact that the show exists...that it happened, that it was recorded in history for all to enjoy. But for those of you who were there...you have that gift of knowing you were present at the moment when only that show was going on, and that's something to take home with you.
(I haven't even talked about the Halley's Tweeer BEKaty Piper Antelope second set which probably blew everyone away).
Phish, catch the wave.
It's so raw!
I've been thinking lately of the "Cycle Of Phish" as being particularly important. What has happened to me in the past few years has been the desire to see as many shows as possible while they're still playing for a while. I know that once tour is over, I'll be surely craving that show energy and want so desperately to be jumping in my car for the chance to see anything. What ends up happening, however, is while on tour I get cynical. I start to try and predict what I think they'll play, I go in with expectations, and sometimes, I am let down.
By the end of the tour, I think to myself, "I think I've been seeing Phish too much lately." I crave the break. I get excited when there's not a show one day so I can rest while on tour. It's quite an odd sense of reality, being on the road, touring, always going to a show. By the end, I'm worn out, Phish'd out, and pretty much had my fill.
Right around the time that I say that I think I've seen Phish enough, they stop touring. Thus making it impossible for me to even consider seeing them. What then happens is I get the cravings back and want so desperately for there to be a show.
This is what is about to happen to me.
My Phish experience began in 1995 as I saw them at Deercreek. A night which changed everything for me and truly demostrated to me the power of the music. We went to blossom the next night and that was it for the summer tour. Immediately after summer tour I began craving that Phish energy. So Kenny and I flew to Shoreline to catch that wonderful show. A few weeks later we were on the road to Kalamazoo, the Palace, and Chicago for Halloween. Once those shows were over and Phish was nowhere in sight, the desire returned, and we bought tickets for the South Carolina and North Carolina run...amazing. (Being from Michigan at the time). The fall tour was closing down and I organized a group pilgrimage to Lake Placid to catch the end of that tour, which I had travelled from one coast to the other and back again, missing a few in-between. At Lake Placid I had already decided that the New Years run was the plan for me, so I was content knowing I'd see them again. That show was a night of pure exhilleration. Never in my Phish history to that day had I experienced something so great. I am speaking more of the second night, which made me happier than any previous evening I could recall. On to New York! New Years happened and that was that. No more Phish for a while. Which I thought was fine for me. Little did I know how much I had come to rely on that energy which the show allowed me to express. It put me in such a place that I could truly be free and know exactly what I wanted.
As Phish took the first half of '96 off (minus europe) I was once again craving show time. What better way to quench that thirst than to mail order for every show on the summer tour. We got 'em all and were on our way. After a pre-tour trip arounf the U.S., we landed in Utah, did Red Rocks...which put things in a whole new light and then returned to the midwest to catch those shows. I had to ditch out before Herhshey and the Ball for family reasons, but at that point I think I was ready. The shows weren't doing for me what I thought they were once intended. The fans weren't right, the energy was a different mix, things were looking not as powerful as I thought they once were. When the summer tour ended, I was glad that I wouldn't have to decide if I was going to travel half way around the country once again. Fall tour came and I saw a nice run of Champaign, Palace and Grand Rapids. Plenty of fill for the moment. Then the decision came again. New Years run. We did it...and it satisfied my every desire for Phish energy at that time. :w!
Wow, these guys are amazing. New Years put me in a whole new world! I was so high on Phish for so long after that. The immediate desire to see a show plagued me through the cold early 97. Then, when they decided to go to Europe instead of a Spring show, I was once again put to the test of waiting. For Europe was not in my game plan. Then instead of an early U.S. tour, it was back to Europe for them. The waiting is the hardest part. Then came the U.S. Tour of '97. I decided that I would do it right. Only catch a few shows, limit myself to what I wanted to do. So off we went to Virginia Beach to catch an amazing tour opener. Back to Michigan to switch passengers and then off to Colorado for some sight-seeing and finally landing at the Gorge. We missed the whole first half of the tour after Virginia Beach. The energy coming from Shoreline blew me away. I didn't catch the show, but hearing people talk of it made me feel like I'd missed the show of the tour, along with the sense that I'd felt that way before and just knew what people were feeling. The Gorge came and purhaps we EXPECTED a little more than what we got. I dunno, that place is magical and I think I'll go back if they play there again. The drive from the Gorge to St. Louis put us all to the ultimate test. We decided on that drive that we were going to do it right. No more silly business. Phish was the ultimate challenge and we were going to ride the wave.
St. Louis was a trip. Fun show, I'm glad we had the hotel. Chicago and Wisconsin were a little blurry. Deercreek was amazing, back where it all began. We were doing it right. We got a nice campsite away from the madness, on our own program. We defined the environment. Not the opposite. Then I went back to Michigan and switched cars. Off to Maine I went, missing Univ. Park and Darien. No worries. The Went was everything, if not more than what I expected it to be. I didn't know what to expect, and that made it all the better.
After the Went I don't know how I felt. Had I gotten my fill? Or was I destined to catch every show Phish was to play from now on. Vegas was an option, but I didn't pursue it...work work work. Getting out of school and into the working world made me more aware of my limitations of touring. Grounded in daily routine, I couldn't break away to experience the glory which I read (and posted) about on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong, I did stretch the rules a bit by going to Champaign. Detroit was a nice weekend getaway. Dayton was the big challenge as I drove back to Chicago by myself and got back in time to shower and go to work without really sleeping. I guess I could reach the new limit and see them as I wanted. I felt like I had it in control.
Then we went to Albany. Only the second night. Looking back, it was a crazy weekend, as most of them are. Looking back, I don't think I appreciated it as much when I was there as I do now. I think I was wrapped up in the whole tour ended expectations that nothing could have been good enough for me at the time. Heck, I'd just driven 14 hours to get there. But listening to the tapes, talking with friends, rethinking in my head. This show was magical. They'd given me everything I'd expected from them and more. What was I thinking?
I did New Years Eve on a Flight into New York on the 31st and back on the 1st. It was the only way I could do it and still go to work. That was quite an intense adventure as I met up with my friends who had driven in and had seen the whole run, most of them. All of them had seen the glorious 30th show which so many love. I personally had an amazing night on New Years, as my below story expands on.
So where are we now? Have I gotten my Phish fill? Am I ready for another summer tour? Soon the dates will be announced, Mail Order will go out, and we'll be doing it all over again. Europe maybe? Why not? That seems like the next challenge. We're all talking about it. If I don't stop for a minute and think about where I've come from and the lessons learned in that, I'll never be able to apply the teachings of those moments. What have days on the road from show to show taught me? Phish is quite incredible. But you have to do it right. You have to define the environment which you see the show on. Because when you're standing on that hill looking out at the band. Looking up at the lights. You are faced with the ultimate judgement of whether you've done it right. And where you've come from and where you're going, but most importantly
Where you are!
After returning from an incredible evening of music in New York on New Years Eve I had found myself unable to come down from the energy which flowed through the arena that night.
That word carries with it a moniker of such large porportions that it's impossible to define. They put on a show, and never let go.
Instead of bombarding you with the already reviewed to death synopsis of every song played that night, I will instead give you the New Years show from my point of view, which is the only way I know how to describe the evening.
As we entered Madison Square Garden after completing a medley of ticket organiations and meeting people, I was once again brought back to New Years 1995. The last time I'd stepped foot in Madison Square Garden. The site of one of Phish's most incredible night's of music. (I actually thought the night before 12/30/95 was somewhat exceptional, but I won't get into that now).
Immediately I gazed at the large half ball suspended from the ceiling and thought to myself, "Oh boy, what do they have planned for us this evening?" As we made our way around the arena I noticed the special camera set up around the arena pointing towards the large screen on the ceiling and I knew we were in for a treat. Who knew what incredible images would be displayed tonight.
As the show began, we were off to the races. Woohoo!!! I was quite happy to be there. The only place I could ever imagine myself in. The first set was quite something, lifting me beyond where I'd been in recently days. We were back on the Phish train...dripping with Phish goo...welcome.
A highlight of the first set for me was the incredible Limb By Limb which reached new heights as far as I'm concerned. I can't wait to see where they take this tune in '98. Lingering Slowly Melting Away....
At this point the energy in the place was booming, this was New Years for crying out load! We were all pumped. The set ended nicely, although I was thinking Divded Sky as Fire came on. But ya know, at this point, I think I'm done trying to predict what song they'll play, or expecting anything, or getting upset when they don't play what I want them to play. The song titles don't even tell half the story. I found myself not even wanting to write down a setlist. What's the point? I should have just written "Jam > Jam > Jam > Jam". The music moments that are created on stage cannot be defined by names or words, they are magical....Phish shows are now done for quite some time and I'm just thinking that I'd love to hear anything at this point. Just hit me with whatever you got! I don't care!
I feel as though over the summer I became slightly cynical in my Phishing across the U.S. After the Gorge we were a little burnt out and the drive to St. Louis definately put us to a new found test. But we knew why we were doing it. Because this is the greatest band on the planet. They've never let me down in the past and why would I think that they'd let me down now. So just hit me with whatever you've got Phish!
After the first set, I decided that I would need an unobstructed view of the screen so we moved from directly behind Fishman (which was cool to see how awesome he is) to a higher position up in the 300's on page's side. There we met up with some of our other friends suffering from energy overload. The second set started rather quickly I thought, may have been the shortest setbreak ever recorded. Timber Ho was a welcome jam session, got me grooving quickly. And as they started up Mike's Song I knew this was what I'd waited for. And what a Mike's! So well crafted, defined the evening as far as I'm concerned. When it came back down and they almost went silent, I heard Big B say, "Piper would be so great right now" and it was. That to me, was the highlight of the show. Pay the Piper the Red Red Worm, woke last night to the sound of the storm. What that means, I don't know. What it does, however, is lift the groove to highest and allows me to dance my bazzongas off. I was dripping in Phish Hose Goo. Wow.
The next two tunes...Circus and Roses are Free were a much needed mental break. I had definately peaked during Piper and was rushing with the energy of a thousand warriors bursting through the door. As weekapaug started I was once again thrown back on the speeding bullet. And what a Weekapaug!
Well, here we were...a setbreak before the midnight explosion. I had seen the previous two New Years Eves, had been completely hosed by 12/31/96...rejuvinated to say the least...so needless to say, I went in with expectations. I'm not going to do that anymore, as I've said above. The third set for me wasn't exactly what I expected, but that's what Phish does, what's not expected. The choice for Tweezer at midnight definately wouldn't have been my first, but who am I? I lowelyPhish webpage guy. I have no say. This is their band. And they're a rock band who wants to just play. Sometimes I think we (I) take them too seriously. I realized this in the middle of Tweezer. I was really really really thirsty and so I took off and went for a walk and got some water for everybody. And I boogied my butt off in the bathroom. It was the best water break I'd ever taken. I was so into the vibrations of the music. It was a midnight mess to say the least! Look at the craziness...scattered remnant of half played songs to balloons popping. The rest of the set which included Maze, Caspian, and Loving Cup was Phish. What more can you ask for? I can say with a certain degree of confidence that I was satisfied and my feelings for this band are even more solidified.
The encore was a treat, cause, well...I was singing New York New York earlier in the day. Fun. I was kind of expecting something to burn down at the end of Tweezer Reprise...but well I guess you can only Went once.
So here we are...back from another run of Phish...why does it go by so fast? When we're there, we're rilling in the moment of amazement. And when it's over, we're wishing we were back. Let this be a lesson...saviour the moments. There's nothing like a show.
I learned many things that night. Most of them I can't put into words, but amoung those I can is that nothing compares to the live musical experience. Sure you can listen to the tapes and remember and look back, but there is nothing like being there at the moment the music is created...to be present at the birth of a jam, and watch it evolve, go off to school, graduate, and then cradle you in it's arms as you dance to the songs of it's praises.
I also learned that New York isn't as scary as you think it is.
I also rationalized that when Dick Clark decides to go grey it will be a major turning point in the history of the world, but I won't go into that now.
Mostly I just learned that Phish is incredible, and I love them.
Peace and Love,