26 in 26 of 2019: #16 07/03/2019 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY (Mike Bailey, @Mike_Bailey7)
Bussy the Real MVP
By Mike Bailey
There she was.
Big, Beautiful and glowing a fierce yellow not often seen in these parts of Fort Ann, NY. The sight of her was so much sweeter after the long walk down the unpaved road from camp to meet her. She had a place for our heavy and overstuffed coolers and offered a resting place for our sweaty but ready-to-rock bodies.
We all knew this pretty lady was going to give us the ride of our lives.
You see, SHE was a school bus and was tasked with taking all 12 of us eager Phish fans 30 miles south down the I-87 to Saratoga for both nights of the early July 2019 shows. On the verge of Independence Day, she offered the freedom to get a little squirrely at SPAC without having to worry about issues after the show.
In a crew that has made a lot of bad decisions, she was one of our best. She took a few calls, many emails and some money transfers to actually materialize, but ‘Bussy’ was the real MVP.
And while most of us could have sat on that bus all day and night enjoying each other’s company, getting off to see our favorite band was no small consolation prize. Especially when the lady whose house we parked in front of took $20 to let a few Bussy riders use her bathroom.
After hours in the cavernous SPAC lots on July 3, we were greeted with a Fluffhead opener as we made our way in. Felt like I was transported back to Hampton 2009 for a minute. The whole first set had a time travel feel for me. Always enjoy when old and new Phish collide well and that happened a lot in Set 1.
They seemed to skip decades between songs after the OG Guyute followed Fluffhead. Martian Monster took us back to Vegas, Llama to the early 90s, a banger Steam, then way, way back with a fun Poor Heart. Set 1 also saw a rare Sleep that hadn’t been played in over 8 years according to the great phish.net.
The jam of the show for me was the Set 2 opener No Men in No Man’s Land. On relisten I had to laugh as Trey seemed to be heading into a dark place with the jam around the 6:20 mark but thought better of it and turned the path of the tune around with a more upbeat feel and by 7:00 was shredding the happy dance jam again. Page was a driving factor throughout and really stoodout in this one.
The set had it’s fun moments including Tweezer Reprise coming out of We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains, a funky Sneaking Sally and the best set closer possible in Slave to the Traffic Light.
The Rock and Roll encore pumped us up for the ride home and sadly for the Bussy conductor, we played the music as loud as possible and I think he was ready for us to make contact with the road at that point. He did appreciate us all greeting him with $20 bills as we got in though in a hastily prepared tip for his services and patience.
I am glad we tipped him well though as I am not sure he got smarter by listening to us. Brains do tend to go to interesting places on the way home from Phish on a school bus and on this evening the topic came up of could one of our crew members beat Albert Pujols down the line to first base. We can call him Ernie for this essay.
Now Ernie is not fleet of foot and neither is the former MVP. Surprisingly, Ernie received some support from the crew and even said they would wager their hard earned money on him should the race ever materialize. The debate was passionate, the sides for and against were not-so-clearly stated, but much like a cutoff Tweezer, I’m not sure we’ll ever get the closure we really need. Pujols has still has not responded to calls for a race.
Although it has been reported that Pujols gets to first at an average of 4.9 seconds, so if we ever end up on a bus again, we need to take Ernie down to the ballfield with a stopwatch and some gym shorts and settle this once and for all.
Phish continued on to Fenway Park after this Saratoga run so I guess our conversation was apropos. We continued back to our camp, many unknowingly seeing their last show for over two years.
Bussy was really convenient and fun but was there mostly for safety. Let’s keep that mantra as we reunite back in venues across the country this summer seeing the band that has given us so much joy over the years.
From LawnMemo: If you feel in the giving mood you can donate to Mike and his brother’s amazing charity building solar power wells around the world to those most in need of clean drinking water.