The Phish experience always reminds us that we are part of something far greater than ourselves. Uniting with thousands of others to immerse ourselves in universal spirituality can be a powerful process. Often we have left shows in awe of life, its wonders, and its possibilities- all sparked by three hours of music. It is this life-affirming quality, the glow deep down inside radiating through us, that separates a Phish show from most other events in the world. People often connect Phish and religion, citing the parallel qualities of connection to a higher power, a portal directly to the divine. While grandiose, this statement rings true for so many of us that we can not deny the overarching fact that Phish represents the universal spirit. Can this spirit be accessed in other ways? Sure, but never as routinely and consistently than at a Phish show.
Connections to the metaphysical realm often appear when stars align and things occur at Phish shows that seem too perfect to be a coincidence- but similarly impossible to control. While Phish did their best to respond to natural situations with specific songs (e.g “Drowned” during a rainstorm at Darien’00), this synchronicity between Phish, the natural world, and ourselves has at times been striking, even eerie. When we inspect these rare “coincidences” that have taken place so many times at Phish shows, one begins to wonder- “Is something else at play here?”
Many of the significant “coincidences” throughout the band’s career have involved weather. Let’s look at some examples. Would we have witnessed that surreal uber- psychedelic sunrise in Florida if Phish hadn’t just finished the most magical journey of our lives? During the legendary 7.22.97 Raleigh show, was the band orchestrating the storm or the storm orchestrating the band? Either way, there has rarely been such a congruency between stormy conditions and equally stormy music, with the highlight of this confluence being the lightening strike at the peak of the first set “Taste.” Similarly, at Nashville ’99, the rainstorm that had been holding off all night burst wide open with the onset of the monumental YEM jam. At the IT, as Phish improvised a blissful afternoon “Reba ” and began to explore a more abstract texture, simultaneously, a cool breeze blew across the crowd in unison with the musical vibe. During the summer of ’99, a tour that featured a lot of dark music, many times Phish pulled into a new city and like clockwork, clouded darkness and inclement weather would envelop the area. An obvious parallel between the natural world and Phish was the flooded, muddy quagmire that surrounded a particularly gloomy final weekend in Coventry, VT. On the contrary, what artist painted the sky a thousand hues ranging from royal purple to majestic orange on the second night of The Went before the band and their massive crowd had a magical peak experience together? One of these incredibly surreal moments took place in Japan.
Throughout the one outdoor daytime show in central Tokyo, the weather was gray and rainy all day long, yet as the band peaked the uplifting “Harry Hood” jam to close the set, the heavens parted giving way to a brilliant rainbow over the stage. Colors in the void. Coincidence? I’m not so sure.
Transcending mere weather, another facet of Phish’s connection to the higher plane often involve our own personal experiences and thoughts. We have all experienced a time- mine was at Deer Creek ’96- when the band steered a scary, menacing jam into lighter waters just as you were about to lose your grip on reality. Did they do that just for me? It always seemed so. After a 30 minute Mike’s, in which the drum beat was speaking in tongues and the music was overtaking my sanity, “all I needed was a little Weekapaug,” my friend told me afterwards. Could the band read our minds? How did they know what we needed? And what about all those times you knew what song was coming before they played a note? Some sort of connection of consciousness was certainly present. In fact, when my brother called that they would open the last set of The Went with NICU, I corrected him saying, “They won’t open with it, but may segue into it.” Then boom- the set opens Buffalo Bill > NICU. Bizarre? I think so.
These random synchronicities that involve our own lives remind us that Phish is something so much more than music. The stories go on. A friend lost her hoodie during the 4.3 show, and after searching feverishly for it, decided to “let it go” only to find it at her feet when the set break lights came on. In the days before cell phones, we would randomly meet up with our friends at the most bizarre points on the road, only to be heading to the same place. And, this post can’t conclude without a mention of my prophetic “Bohemian Rhapsody” dream. I wrote an entire post on it early on, but many of you probably never read it. It was one of the most metaphysical occurrences of my life. Check out the story right here!
We all know that Phish brings power greater than four musicians to the stage every night. Harnessing the energy of the galaxy through their minds and instruments, the band are prophets delivering the word of the universe directly to our imaginations. Privileged to be part of such mysticism, many events prove too powerful and parallel to ignore. It is these mysteries, these small synchronicities, that often remind us we are part of a greater web of life, our existence unquestionably tied to those around us. Some people call it magic, some people call it religion; we call it Phish.
What are some “Maybe So, Maybe Not” coincidences” you remember form your time with Phish? Respond in Comments below!
8.3.03 IT – photo: phenster.com
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
Let’s keep the Fall ’97 train rolling. Here we have one of my favorite shows from the tour. The second set opening segment of “Character Zero > 2001 > Cities > Yamar > Punch” rates right up there with anything from the run. A sinister trip into the dark side, this Zero evokes the spirit of Jimi as Trey guitar screams in honor. An often overlooked first set contains a chunky show-opening “Tweezer,” a thick “Gumbo” and a twisting “Split.” Enjoy this gem from the fall that never stopped giving.
I: Tweezer > Sparkle, Gumbo, My Soul, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Dirt, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Taste
II: Character Zero > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cities > Ya Mar > Punch You in the Eye > Prince Caspian, Poor Heart, Tweezer Reprise
Tags: Culture, The Moment