Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

You may doubt me, but i assure you every single part of this story is absolutely true.

I was in college. Georgetown, senior year, 1996. It was finals time, first semester.  I lived with a couple other guys who were into Phish, and we had just gotten our mail order new years run tickets. Philly and Boston- got ’em all.  Psyched. Very psyched.

One night I was deep asleep in my bed in a vivid dream state.  At the New Years show in Boston, I was awash in purple, pink, and deep blue lights in the middle section of the floor.  I didn’t necessarily see others, but those lights were covering me like waves.  I felt and heard the music emanating from the stage; this was certainly more lucid than my average dream.  Yet, there was a twist.  Instead of hearing Phish play Phish music, they were playing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  They were playing it really well- nailing it!  They built the song masterfully to its classic crescendo, “Beelzebub has a devil put a side for me- for me- for meeeee”….SILENCE!  At the very peak of the song, the Wayne’s World headbanging part-  the whole reason the song is so amazing- the sound went out.  I’m not sure what happened in my dream after that.  I don’t recall anything else.  My dream simply ended there.

The next morning, I went down to the basement to tell my friend, Jon, about the dream. I just told him what happened and how weird it was.  I had to share it with someone.  That was that.  We took finals, partied, and went home for break.  Fast-forward to the afternoon of the 31st.  Jon, a few friends, and I were grabbing lunch at a Boston deli;  one of those delis that has a completely open kitchen right across the counter.  We were eating sandwiches in a booth, and as we ate, “Bohemian Rhapsody” came on the radio station playing in the deli.  As the song progressed into, “I see a little silhouetto of a man. Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango?”,  a chef behind the counter began to sing along with the household lyrics.  Then, the other chefs joined in, prompting some people in line to begin singing the song as well!  We followed suit and sang the different parts leading up to the peak when everyone laughed, and some imitated Wayne and Garth as the ripping guitar line came in.  Oooookaay….That was a pretty strange experience.  A minute or two later, I remembered the dream for the first time since the day after I had it.  I then told the dream to my friend Mark as we finished our sandwiches.  Jon joked, “There’s your second omen.”  We laughed.

Fast forward. The show. Set 3.  2001>1997…Happy New Year!!! Feeling great- smack dab in the moment. I was catching up with myself after a blistering mid-set Antelope.  They were taking a little more time then usual between songs.  Then the stage lights dimmed to nothing.  Four white spotlights lit each member simutaneouslyas they sang–“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.” I had the strangest sensation.  Was I dreaming?  Was I the only one experiencing this?  I was pretty sure I was the only one experiencing it- my own alternate reality-it was the most peculiar sensation. I turned to my left, not totally sure if I would see Jon, who had been there the whole show.  As I moved my head, not sure if I was there or not, I saw him.  “Is this happening?  Is this really happening?” I asked, somewhat desparately, needing figure out what was going on.  While in disbelief, he assured me he was seeing and hearing the same thing.  I didn’t believe him. I kept asking and he kept telling me the same thing, and then suggested that I stop asking and be there and enjoy it.  I was in a state of hyper-reality, I really wasn’t sure what to make of this experience, but I gathered my wits and raged the anthem right through the headbanging crescendo.  The set ending  Julius that followed, though spiced up with the choir, gave me plenty of time to freak out about the surreal nature of what had just transpired.

I had been effected; touched by something that I had never been touched by before.  I felt distinctly different and straight baffled for the rest of the night as we made our way through the frigid, coldest-ever, Boston evening back to a friends apartment for some intense relaxation.  Soon after leaving the show, I remembered the final piece to this bizarre tale.  The night before, the 30th in the Fleet Center, in the middle of the first set Funky Bitch, the PA went out for a couple minutes of silence, as the band pretended to play on!  Really?  Yes.

Enjoy this video memoir to one of my most existential experiences to this day.

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12/31/96 The Fleet Center, Boston, MA
Set III: Also Sprach Zarathustra>Auld Lang Syne> Down With Disease, Suzy Greenberg, Run Like An Antelope, Bohemian Rhapsody*, Julius*
E: Amazing Grace*
*With Boston Community Choir

12/30/96 The Fleet Center, Boston, MA
Set I: Ya Mar, The Sloth, Llama, Gumbo, Reba, Talk1, Funky Bitch2, Theme from the Bottom, Good Times Bad Times
1 Acoustic
2 The PA went out in the middle, however the band continued “playing”, including an “air drum solo” by Fishman

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10 Responses to “Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?”

  1. Shpongleyez Says:

    surreal! i remember that funky bitch well. kudos on the new site.

  2. carla326 Says:


    you and phish = tapped into eachother!! :o)

  3. Rickdog Says:

    Great story. A total affirmation that your where you are supposed to be.

  4. DLewis Says:

    agreed, great story! the magic that emanates from the PH experience is what IT’s all about! good times 🙂

  5. lanser Says:

    me and my crew had kind of a similar experience at 12/31/94. after driving up from nyc we were all starving and could not find anything open around boston garden, except a hotdog stand and we all commented several times throughout the show how amazing the hotdogs were… and then at midnight low and behold the tropical hotdog night. tuned in? yes. awesome story mr. miner!

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ great story!

  7. Danny B Says:

    Lemonwheel was my first festival and I was there with three of my best friends in the world. We were all so pumped for the weekend and more Phish than we could hope for. After the first set we were buzzing from the experience and started to talk about what songs we wanted to hear. All I wanted to hear was a Wedge, my friend was aching to hear his first Gumbo, my other friend said he always had a soft spot for The Horse and finally my last friend said, “I can’t even gather enough Sanity to form a request”. Well we were welcomed by the band with open arms from the first notes of that that set.

  8. Doug Says:

    Damn, Page’s voice is good on this one.

  9. kenny powers Says:

    not nearly as cool, but a couple days before the first night of Great Woods July 99, I was working at the local package store and “Foreplay/Longtime” played over the radio. I was thinking how sick it would be if the boys played it at one of the upcoming shows. Either that or the theme song to Cheers. Then they open the first show with F/LT.

  10. kenny powers Says:

    ^ oh yeah, forgot to mention the extra significance to me was that i was living in Boston and was at the show.

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