After doing the four show run to close tour in Reading->Atlantic City, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the hilarious things that happened on tour. I also want to break down the incredible jams that I witnessed and talk about Trey’s resurrection. Additionally, I have three incredible versions of “Ghost” to chronicle. Instead I’ve decided to post yet another piece about Phish’s Halloween show. I am trying to grow as a writer and enjoy trying to take on challenging topics like this.
My long time friend and touring partner for this run had a terrible streak of bad luck after Glens Falls and was unable to make it. Walking into Boardwalk Hall without him was a huge blow. This was my first Halloween show, and with my UFO costume firmly affixed around my waist I was ready! I wasn’t there to match any of those great Halloween experiences that many of you have had over the years. I was simply ready for my own long awaited first Halloween show! When rumours flew about albums that I loved such as “Eat a Peach,” “Sports,” my excitement only grew. I tried not to think about it and avoid reading as much speculation online as possible. My goal was for maximum suspense when I walked into the venue and was handed my first Phishbill.
When the news finally did break Thursday night, people were almost immediately upset and pissed. I received text messages from people that said they felt “O.K” about their decision not to travel to see the show. While only a day earlier many of them had been ready to commit suicide depending on what album Phish chose; I on the other hand was immediately excited. The feeling of not knowing what I was about to see is one that my mind and body craves. I love the unknown. I couldn’t predict what the feeling, experience, or sound was going to be like, but I certainly was excited. As I read the playbill and the reasons why Phish decided to do this, the anticipation only grew.
After the first set-closing “Bathtub Gin” ended, things got interesting. You could tell some people were angry while still others were genuinely excited. It was a crazy contrasting feeling in that venue. When the lights dropped, it felt to me like the venue was nervous. Then when the first piano melody of “Wingsuit” was played I was instantly thrilled with what was unfolding before me. Hearing those first few moments of new Phish music felt like I was inside a jam, in the sense that I had no idea what was going to happen next.
In the middle of “Fuego” a guy I didn’t know next to me whispered, “What is better than Phish playing Phish?” I remembered how I felt seeing “Roses Are Free” debuted at my first show and how each time I hear it now, I am instantly transported back to that day. That was about to happen to me for 12 songs. I floated through analyzation, wonder, and dreams of jams through the first 5 songs. It was a journey. And then…
“Wombat” hit. When “Wombat” dropped the place turned on its head and when “Abe Vigoda” broke into full dance mode, the place absolutely erupted. All that nervous energy came rushing to the forefront. With one infectious funk groove, a dancing Wombat, and some humorous lyrics, things couldn’t have been more “Phishy.” Before you go thinking I am some crazy fluffer, as awesome as “Wombat” was and as much energy as it generated, I felt it quickly evaporate during “Snow.”
At that moment “Snow” did nothing for me. In fact at that point I began to think about what I would be feeling if instead we had been listening to “One Way Out” from Eat a Peach. A part of me wished for that. The rest of the set (as much I love some of these songs) never recaptured the energy that it opened with and carried through “Wombat.” The last quarter of the set felt a bit anticlimactic.
No matter what your vibe was or what you thought, when Phish opened the third set with “Ghost>Carini” everyone was back on the same page. Phish went for something they wanted to do, and no matter what you thought, they were locked in and the rest of the weekend was going to be incendiary.
So here is the funny thing about that night for me, now that I’ve had a couple days to digest. After witnessing what I thought were the best jams I had heard in years, guess what the first thing I spun was? Yup, “Wingsuit.” I wanted to get to know it better. My curiosity drove me to it. I’ve given the album set multiple spins already and I see many more in my future. The more I get to know it, the more I love it and the fact that Phish played it for us.. The places I think jams might pop up intrigue me. The ideas of what songs might work with some of my old favorites gets my blood flowing. I am stoked to see how the future of “Wingsuit” develops.
I still remember the feeling of hearing twelve songs nobody had ever heard before. It was like 12 wrapped presents at Christmas (or Hanukkah for my Jewish friends, *winks* toward NYC). Some of those gifts were incredible, some of them a bit stale at the time. Given the choice though, and knowing how much the unknown excites me, I would take the twelve unopened presents over anything.
I know many of you were upset, and always will be about what transpired that night. I get it, and don’t want you to change your mind. Phish is different for everyone. We like different styles of jamming, different types of songs. When Phish makes a decision as controversial as they did this Halloween, it is bound to upset some. And you know what? That is O.K!! I don’t think any less of you if you HATED it. Many of you have experiences with other Halloween shows that I am sure are sooooo dear to your heart, and wanted to go there again.
I also can’t help but think what if they had played that set in a different spot. What if it was a first set during that run, or at a random show? You know what though, that is getting greedy. I was so glad I was there, and can’t stop listening and dreaming of where those songs are going. Excuse me I need to go listen to “Wingsuit>Fuego” again.