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The Daily Ghost

21 in 21 of 2017: #12 07/29/2017 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – Baker’s Dozen N7 “Cinnamon” (Dianna Hank, @Dianna_2Ns)

 

21 in 21 of 2017: #12 07/29/2017 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – Baker’s Dozen N7 “Cinnamon” (Dianna Hank, @Dianna_2Ns)

Crying is a thing I do at Phish shows nowadays. Not every show, but also not infrequently. It didn’t used to happen… I’m not actually sure when it began, to be honest. Maybe it was after a few years of doing this thing, when I started to realize just how lucky we all are that we have this band & each other to come together, celebrate, laugh, cry, and dance with, time and time again throughout the years. Or, perhaps it was once I started to deal with a lot of loss in my personal life & heard some of that same heartache echoed back to me in the lyrics being sung & notes being played. Either way, there have been both happy tears & tears of sadness shed at Phish shows. Doesn’t matter who I’m with or where we are, it just hits me like a sack of bricks & I’m defenseless against it. But, the trick was to surrender to the flow, right? So why not embrace these emotions, let them wash over me, and appreciate them for what they are? Plus, if it gets really out of control, people will probably just chalk it up to me being out of my head fucked up, and since that’s not too uncommon to see at a show, there’s nothing to worry about there!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Before I talk about how Phish broke me down to the core of my most vulnerable self on Saturday, July 29th as I stood amongst several other 13-nighters in Row 16 of our Section 101 (ONE OH FUN), let’s talk about the rest of this show! The flavor of the night was “Cinnamon” and, prior to lights, as wooks were filing into MSG for the 2nd Saturday show of this magical marathon of a run, an unusual announcement came through the PA system…

Elliot from Harvard, the hitchhikers you picked up need the bills from your car. Please go to the Information Station right away. Uhh, to get back to the uhh… the warning that I’ve received. You may take it with how many… however many grains of salt you wish, that the brown donuts that are circulating around us are not specifically too good. Uhhh, it’s suggested that you do stay away from the brown donuts. Of course, it’s your own trip so be my guest but uhh… Please be advised that there is a warning on that one, ok? Do NOT eat the brown donuts.

Of course, this subtle yet hilarious nod to the “Don’t eat the brown acid” announcement from Woodstock was delivered after most had already housed their delicious cinnamon glazed Federal Donuts. The already-quite-high level of excitement for this halfway point of the run seemed to increase exponentially after Phish Inc. somehow found yet another way to surprise and delight their audience with silly suggestions. Your trip is short? Nah, we’re only halfway there! Let’s do this.

With what I consider to be easily one of the best ways to start a show, the band opened the night with a fiery “Llama” followed by the crowd-participation-heavy “Wilson” that included a solid, extended jam at the end of it. A pretty standard “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” preceded “Ya Mar” which also had an interesting outro jam. The band treated the crowd to the much sought after “Tela” before the only fourth ever performance of the dark, funky “The Birds.” “The Line” came next and, to say that Trey was slightly more excited than the rest of us for that one would be… an understatement.

(^ Actual footage of Trey rocking the FUCK out during The Line)

“Water In The Sky,” “Vultures,” “Train Song,” and “Horn” rounded out a pretty first set-y first set before the rare, set closing “I Am The Walrus,” complete with “Shipwreck,” “The Birds,” and “Your Pet Cat” quotes throughout the tension-filled crescendo.

Set 2 started with a very solid “Blaze On” which is probably most people’s highlight of the evening, clocking in at a whopping 23 minutes and 48 seconds. In that time, it covered a lot of ground. We got dark, airy, blissful, driving, NASTY, hard, weird, and awesome, complete with some serious peaks before fizzling into a gnarly “Twenty Years Later” which featured lots of Trey wailing. Next up, an interestingly placed “Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues” changed the tone of the set a bit before the always-welcome, dance-party-starting “Meatstick.”

At this point, I’m sure some crusty vets had already started packing up their tarps & heading for the doors because, believe it or not, “Meatstick” isn’t an always-welcome, dance-party-starter for everyone. However, this “Meatstick” abandoned the usual reggae-funk groove and took a turn for the weird & spacey, instead. After 3 minutes in this atmospheric, ethereal soundscape, Trey takes our hand & leads us gently into the beautifully delicate “Dirt.” Uh oh… Here we go…

So, back to the crying at Phish shows thing… Over the course of the last 3 years, I’ve lost both of my parents to cancer. My Dad in 2015 & my Mom last June. It has been the most difficult, trying couple of years and, at some points, I didn’t know if I myself was going to make it through. During this period of overwhelming grief and despair, seeing live music with friends, dancing, smiling, laughing, singing and forgetting what was going on in “the real world” for a few hours was absolutely crucial to my maintaining my sanity and general well-being. So, as silly as it may sound, Phish was a huge part of my self-care regimen. While you eventually need to try to claw your way out of the pit of sadness & “don’t live inside the gloom,” it’s also important to allow yourself to mourn and experience the heartache that comes with such profound loss. And that’s exactly what I did as this “Dirt” rang softly through The Garden, a mere two months after my best friend and biggest supporter on this planet had taken her last breaths here on Earth.

 

“I’ll never hear your voice again…”

 

Tears were simply streaming down my face at that point. There was no use in trying to hide it. It was raw and it hurt, but it was also so incredibly cathartic and important that I just let it happen. The sweet notes soothed my shattered self and wrapped around me, acknowledging a shared sense of pain and suffering that resonated throughout the crowd, and eventually, offered a light at the end of this emotional tunnel from Hell. Wow, what a ride. But then, just as my face seemed to finally be dry once again & I was ready to get back to raging a Phish show like a normal, non-emotional-trainwreck of a human being, came those infamous drum beats that can only signal one thing… Hood.

I think I may have just started physically sobbing at that point. I was already a snively, snotty mess, but the drop into Hood just wrecked me. Out of all the songs they could’ve chosen to play after that gorgeous, heartbreaking tune, they happened to choose my favorite? One that often cuts me to my core and has me crying tears of joy and gratitude anyway? Oof, Phish. You really know how to get to a girl.

Hood is my favorite Phish song because, as soon as it starts, this sense of hope & excitement begins to grow within me, knowing that a beautiful, blissful, joyous jam with one or more jubilant, celebratory peaks is likely on the horizon. The jam usually stays pretty light, upbeat and happy and peaks in a way that makes my heart swell. It just makes you FEEL GOOD! When I’m having a particularly shitty day, I throw on the 12/31/93 Hood & it makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. I don’t know how it does it, but Hood just has this way of healing me from the inside out.

So, as soon as this Hood dropped, it broke me. I fell apart. Any remaining semblance of normalcy was gone. All of the feelings Dirt had brought up — the sadness, the memories, the nostalgia, the longing — plus these new, conflicting feelings of overwhelming happiness, excitement, joy, gratitude, and appreciation? That’s a lot of feelings to feel all at once.

But, as confusing as these incompatible feelings may have seemed, it also just felt so right that Hood followed Dirt. Of course it did. Nothing else could’ve. Hood had to come next. In this incredibly personal and intimate moment I was having, this song choice felt like a message from my Mom, acknowledging the profound heartache I had felt throughout Dirt but then letting me know that it was ok to feel happy again eventually. After years of watching my parents suffer & ultimately succumb to this horrible disease, they were finally pain free and at peace. My recovery from this traumatic event is going to be a long & difficult road, but I think ultimately, they would’ve wanted to make sure I understood & accepted one thing for the rest of my life:

 

You can feel good.

 

So Hood starts and, within the first 40 seconds, Trey goes ahead & teases “Dirt,” because that has only happened five times EVER before, but of course it would happen again tonight. As is usually the case with Hood, there are several huge crowd roars and goosebump-inducing swells that are accompanied by epic glowstick moments even before the jam begins. However, once we get past the slightly sloppy composed section and drop into the jam, that’s when the real magic starts to happen.

That one note after the drop. That feeling of release. Catharsis. Letting everything go. Opening your heart and allowing everything you have inside of you to just flow out into the universe. There’s nothing quite like that.

This jam starts off soft and delicate, with comforting, soothing notes that make me feel safe and warm, like a hug I didn’t realize I needed. At around 7 minutes, Trey takes on a gritty tone and the jam becomes more intense, with Page on spacey synth entering a darker, stranger territory. By 10:30, Trey has moved past the grit to join Page in the space place, while Mike and Fish keep driving the pace to keep the energy up. By 12:20, the full band ascension to the peak has officially begun. For two solid minutes, between 12:27 to 14:32, Trey does what he does best and delivers peak after peak of holy Hood goodness. I was probably crying again by this point, but this time, it was tears of elation, delight, and glee. I can, and most certainly did, feel good about this Hood.

The obvious cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” closed out the night and sent us on our merry ways, bellies full of questionable brown donuts and hearts full of all sorts of feelings that needed a day or year to be fully processed. Thank you for everything, Phish. I can’t wait to see you again soon!

 

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@Dianna_2Ns is a 3.0 kid who lives in Brooklyn with fellow phan @noahitall & their cat, Magnolia. When she isn’t traveling around the country seeing Phish, she can be found out and about taking in all sorts of other live music throughout the NYC area, running around the park training for her next race, taking pictures of sunsets, or filling jukebox queues with Talking Heads and Bowie tunes for the whole bar to boogie down to.  

One of her favorite Ghosts as of late is from Phish’s show at Lockn’ in 2016. That jam was so good that her good friend @KernelForbin made an hour-long loop of it. You don’t think you need this in your life, but trust me… You do. Give it a listen here: https://soundcloud.com/thephishfromturntable/lockn-ghost-one-hour-loop

 

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