Every try to explain Phish to someone? Try to explain not just the music, but all the things that go along with it? To explain what it means to you? Nobody in the history of Phish has ever been able to do it.
You simply have to show them.
To know us Phish fans is to know that Phish is a massive part of who we are. Phish doesn’t define everything I am, but it certainly defines a huge part of me.
When I return to work after a Phish run and try to explain everything that happened, I’ve never been able to do it justice. You cannot explain life-changing music, or the fact that every second of every day on tour is completely awesome. It has to be experienced.
No matter how badly I fail trying to explain what it is like, it doesn’t matter. Everyone who knows me, knows that nothing makes me happier than attending a Phish show. It’s the WAY I talk about it, the smile it puts on my face, and the enthusiasm when I tell the stories. People can feel how happy I am at Phish simply by the way I talk about it.
So, for this Blossom show, one of my co-workers and best friends just had to see it with his own eyes.
Brian and I have worked together for 20 years. He started one week after me and we haven’t run out of things to talk about. I’ve watched his kids grow up.
Brian is the type of guy that who volunteered to help me move. The type of guy who actually asks how my fantasy team is doing. The type of guy who actually listens to everything you say and asks you about things years later. They don’t make a lot of Brians.
Brian is 45 and as long as I’ve known him, he has worked his tail off. He worked two jobs many of those years. He didn’t do much other than simply work, then head home to spend time with his family. Brian grinded for his family.
Somehow, that wasn’t enough. Despite being a great father to four kids, his wife left him for some dude she met at a bar.
I remember him calling me to tell me when she broke the news to him. Let this be a lesson to you.
Always have great wine at your house. If one of your best friends comes over to tell you about their cheating ex-wife, you don’t want to open a bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel. I opened a bottle of Bordeaux and we hashed it out.
Shortly after he went through this hell, I told him Phish was touring, and he said he was in.
Blossom was the easy choice. Blossom is maybe my favorite outdoor shed (excluding Red Rocks and The Gorge) to see Phish. It has it all. The park is gorgeous, the Shakedown is among the best on tour, and the actual shed is breathtaking and delivers killer sound. It also helps that Phish crushes it at Blossom.
I couldn’t wait to take Brian. He deserved a night at Phish more than anyone.
I told his story on Twitter and how I was taking him to his first show, and people actually sent me money on Twitter to buy him beers at Blossom.
I couldn’t love this community anymore!!!!
We rolled with one of my other good buddies and his wife. Let’s call him Mr. Nasty and his wife Mrs. Nasty.
When Brian met us (we were staying the night in Cuyahoga Falls), he showed up with a toiletry bag. That’s it. Maybe he was going to teach me something about going to see Phish? I was packed like I was traveling to Mars for three months.
When you take someone to Phish, you hope that it all unfolds the way you imagine it.
Brian’s first Phish show had it all.
From the moment we got dropped off on Shakedown, it was full on. We drank world class beers from Tree House, Alchemist, and Trillium. Beers that Brian had never had before. We hit up the travelling bar guy and drank vodka lemonades that I’m positive was laced with something. All I know is I felt much different before that vodka lemonade and MUCH different after.
The first thing Brian said to me was he couldn’t believe how nice everybody was. It was infectious. So, people at Blossom on 6/19/2019, you did your job. Way to be awesome!
When people started yelling “Are you LawnMemo?” at me, Brian couldn’t stop laughing. Telling everybody “Yes! And this is my buddy Brian, it’s his first show!” will forever stick with me. Everyone’s reaction was fantastic. Everyone was so excited and told him how great of a time he was going to have. We can be the most pain in the ass community, but trust me people, we are also the most welcoming.
We had incredible seats directly behind Kuroda. My favorite spot to see a show. Perfect lights and sound. The lighting rig at Blossom is a bit different than the full blown tour rig. Since the shed is so old it can’t support the full blown moveable lights. Instead it was a static light rig, but fear not, it was SICK!
Brian loved every minute and nothing could have made me happier. There is simply nothing like sharing Phish with the people you love. It’s a bond unlike any other. One three-hour Phish show with someone is like spending five years with them.
Then it happened…
After a set 2 opener “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan”, Phish moved into “Birds of a Feather”. This “Birds” quickly went into something special. Just about four minutes into the jam, Phish moved into a major key and life stopped. The summer air, friendship, and a loving community celebrated with the minimalist music.
Then as quickly as the major key had paused the world around us, a minor key jam jump started life and one of the cooler peaks came almost out of nowhere. THAT RIFF AT 6:55!!!
I’m not going full LawnMemo breakdown on “Birds” because I’ve got more story to tell. But, know this… Blossom “Birds” goes full nuclear. It has it all and does everything modern day Phish is good at. It’s simply spectacular and if for some reason you haven’t heard this 23-minute masterpiece, then please check it out. If you know the Alpine “Ruby Waves” note for note like I do, you will hear how this “Birds” laid the groundwork for that jam. Tons of similarities.
I was floored when it finished and knew Brian had just witnessed something special.
When “Birds” came to a close, I looked over and gave a small laugh. “Well, what did you think of that?”
What Brian said I’ll never forget….
“That was a lot to process.”
Somewhere in the middle of the show, something else happened that I’ll never forget. Brian and I have been friends so long that our go-to beer was pretty much the only pale ale that existed for a long time. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. On the way back to the bathroom I spotted it, bought him one, and it was fucking great. What a perfect way to celebrate being friends for so long. We celebrated the past and present at the same time. Food, beer, and wine can bring up some powerful memories.
Brian and I soaked in the rest of the show and didn’t say a word. He totally got it. He danced, and it was like he had been seeing Phish his entire life. Brian even got a taste of two of my favorite things in Phish: blissing out during “Slave to the Traffic Light”, and a dirty evil “Split Open and Melt.”
When the show ended and I asked him what he thought, it was simple for him. “That was awesome!”
We all know that a Phish show is a lot more than just the actual show…..
The Legend of Katie Sullivan
As we took the long walk out of Blossom to catch an Uber, it started to rain. Brian has has had three hip replacements. Yes, I said three. In fact, one of his hips completely detached at my house during the World Cup after Landon Donovan scored a goal. True story, but for another time.
The walk out was certainly Brian’s least favorite part of the night.
When we got the queue for the Uber, we had no luck. While we waited there was a guy hanging outside a parked car.
He started screaming “Katie Sullilvan! Katie Sullivan! Has anyone seen Katie Sullivan? I met her in a Facebook group and I’m supposed to give her a ride. KATIE SULLIVAN!!!!”. Then the guy walked over to all the people waiting in line.
The guy then said, “Can I use one of your phones to try and get a hold of Katie Sullivan?” Nobody even looked at the guy. So, then…
He started screaming, “None of you are nice! You all act like you are but NONE of you are nice!”
He looked over to my buddy Mr. Nasty (who is the most unthreatening guy on the planet) and got right in his face to say, “You are not nice. My dad was in Nam.” Mr. Nasty shrugged his shoulders and replied “Dude…”
The crazy guy yelled “Fuck all of you!” then got into his car and sped into traffic, almost causing like five accidents.
After striking out with Uber for like 20 minutes, there was a sketchy van parked near us with an Uber sign. Brian took it upon himself to offer the guy 100 bucks to take us right now. After smooth talking the driver, he finally agreed.
The half-hour ride to our hotel consisted of our sketchy driver conducting what seemed to be a drug deal on the phone during the entire ride. He had one hand on his phone and one hand on the wheel while weaving all over the road.
Yet, it barely even fazed me. I was just happy to be on the way back to the hotel.
I would never in a million years have gotten in the sketchy van if it was a normal day back in Buffalo. But, on the way back from a Phish show? SURE!!!
Reality is different on tour.
The drive back to Buffalo with Brian was filled with recounting the show and the craziness that followed. We still laugh about Katie Sullivan two years later.
Brian had gotten a true Phish experience from start to end, and he loved it. As much as he couldn’t stop talking about what a good time he had, I enjoyed watching him have fun even more.
It’s a fucking beautiful thing sharing Phish.
One more thing. In true Phish fan style, Brian quit his job the day after the show.
One more thing, I tracked down Katie Sullivan on social media a couple days later and made sure she was O.K.