With the first Phish tour in five years about to explode in only a month, there are many facets of the experience we will be reacquainted with after an extended absence. From navigating the summer lot to scheming for your perfect show location, a whole new realm of critical thinking will be reopened. We will be confronted by traffic jams, bathroom lines, and maps every day for the first time in quite a while, and security guards will be factors in our lives again as we engage in our secret mission seeking the ultimate- those frozen moments where thoughts go blank and we forget who and where we are- utterly engulfed by the psychedelic monstrosity of Phish.
Yet on our mission, and while reacquainting ourselves with the flow of tour, we will inevitably be confronted by some of the same boneheaded trends of shows past. And as we enter this summer, the most anticipated tour in memory, here are a few of those in-show behaviors that would be better off left behind.
Clapping: There is nothing more absurd than when the band enters a slammin’ dance groove and half the pavilion starts clapping to the beat. It may be subconscious, or it may be a meager attempt at getting involved, but if I had the ability to make one thing vanish, it just might be the constant clapping. Not surprisingly, the band often gets annoyed by this trend as well, intentionally jamming in another direction, leaving the clappers wondering where their downbeat went.
Throwing Glowsticks: If Trey hadn’t said how cool these things looked during The Great Went, would things be different now? What used to be reserved for rolled-out raver kids became mainstream in the Phish scene’s later years, posing annoyances and safety hazards for the band and audience alike. There is nothing like being blissed out, eyes closed, in the middle of a “Hood” jam and getting slammed in the skull with a glowstick; poetry in motion. Although those glowrings don’t hurt as much when they come crashing down, get ‘em outta here too. What’s the point again?
Talking Loudly: One of the most annoying things possible at a show is when your two or three neighbors, who clearly don’t care about Phish, are yapping away over beers like they are at a crowded college bar. Sure, it’s loud in there, but it’s a huge rock concert- it’s supposed to be! Yet some people insist on conversing like it is their last living moment together on earth- in your ear. A completely obnoxious behavior, you wonder how people like that get their hands on Phish tickets these days. I’m all for talking- but let’s catch up after the show. During the show, shut it.
But, alas, with 20,000 person concerts, I don’t really expect any of these things to come to a halt, but if I had my ‘druthers, they would vanish from the universe of a Phish show. But the overarching beauty here is that we have a Phish universe again, and no number of clappers, glowstick throwers, or obnoxious conversationalists can take that away.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
9.21.99 Pima Co. Fairgrounds, Tucson, AZ < TORRENT LINK
In an open fairgrounds in the desert, Phish played the most random venue of Fall ’99, and played it well. The band assembled a creative second set, combining some diverse songs and improv in “Carini > Bug,” and “Vultures > Limb,” the cover “Will It Go Round in Circles,” and a monstrous “Antelope” to close. This one is not so widely known, but even the first set brings some heat with “Split” and “Drowned.” Plus, a virtually aunheard of “Reba” encore. It’s hard to call this show underrated, because nobody ever talks about it; it’s more like unrated. Check it out.
I: Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, Split Open and Melt, Drowned, I Didn’t Know, Get Back on the Train, Birds of a Feather, Theme from the Bottom, Golgi Apparatus
II: Carini > Bug, Strange Design, Vultures* > Limb by Limb, Will It Go Round In Circles, Dirt, Run Like an Antelope
E: Reba*, Bold as Love
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