Never has a singular experience, at the same time, been as intimately personal and intensely communal, as a Phish show. Though ultimately navigating this rite alone, with companions on the ride, relationships are forever changed and deepened. Regardless of any psychedelics, Phish provides a drug unto itself, and when people share in the highest imaginable high, bonds are cemented, relationships fostered, and irreplaceable connections made. It’s all a bit different when meeting on the astral plane rather than the local watering hole. And interestingly enough, a Phish show shared in silence can trump hours of beer-driven small talk in forging a personal understanding.
Congregating amidst this phosphorescent fantasy land eliminates a lot of the formalities that one encounters in conventional social situations. Without speaking, people connect through, dance, spirit, and shared energy – meeting points that create intimate relationships. Powerful Phish jams can spark or strengthen interpersonal bonds, as the unspoken experience of the moment allows for ample common ground. Shared moments catalyze legitimate friendships with the understanding that everyone is on the same page.
With an air of universal magic surrounding Phish shows, most people bring their best selves into the arena, leaving their everyday baggage elsewhere to be picked up another time. Shedding these layers of societal pressure, individual worry, and the ennui of routine, Phish shows become beacons for basking in the moment; places where conventional responsibilities fade away. As people enter this realm on individual missions, the similarity of their spiritual goals unite them in a profound way. Raging a monumental “Tweezer” together will bring two people closer to an existential understanding than four martinis could ever do. Interestingly, American culture values surface level interactions lubricated by alcohol, rather than spiritual exchanges facilitated by hallucinogens that have proven, since the beginning of time, to bring people closer to each other and the natural world. But that’s another subject for another day.
Whether people become a close friends, or even just show acquaintances, powerful emotions flow between those who connect on the plane of Phish. More than any other place in my own life, Phish has introduced me to my best friends on the planet — unquestionably, friends forever. Attracting eccentric characters from all walks of life, the Phish community provides a patchwork of unique personalities that radiate vitality. And within this spectrum, friendships naturally arise due to mutual love of Phish and the irreplaceable live experience.
Not to paint shows with the intimate brush strokes of Kesey’s acid tests of lore, but within the many subgroups at Phish, these type of personal dynamics takes shape nightly. And every now and then, a profound moment will occur with someone you never met before. Although you’ve never spoken, for that moment, you both completely get IT. Maybe a nod suffices, or perhaps a high-five or a hug, depending on the context, but that moment of understanding – seeing soul to soul with someone – lives within you forever.
At Phish, we expose our true selves without fear of judgment, allowing our inner core to commune with the music in an unmatchable symbiotic journey. Simultaneously, thousands of others are immersed in the same process of introspection, forming a glowing and connected whole. The energy exchange between individuals, and between the audience and the band, becomes palpable, and the unknown adventure unfolds, in slow motion, before our eyes. Within three hours of a Phish show, one can learn more about themselves and their place in the world than three years in school, as few things provide the perspective of a transcendent experience. Feeling a part of something larger than oneself – a glimpse of a greater potential – everyone donates to something more, and a sense of communal purpose glows.
While this may sound a bit over the top, the unparalleled Phish experience pushes the boundaries of human possibility; conjuring magic like nothing else on earth. And that is exactly why we keep coming back.
Jam of the Day:
This musical triumvirate provided the meat of the second set on the first night of Oswego.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.9.99 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD < Megaupload
Phish made up for an underwhelming first set with a fiery second frame. “Punch, Free” sparked the set with adrenalized textures, while a thick “Mike’s > Twist” with a “Macerena”-laced “Weekapaug” brought things home. And a “Hood” encore to cap things off in style.
I: Limb By Limb, Farmhouse, Back on the Train, The Divided Sky, Train Song, Llama, Driver, Runaway Jim
II: Punch You In the Eye, Free, What’s the Use?, Meatstick, Mike’s Song > Sweet Emotion Jam > Twist > Weekapaug Groove
E: Harry Hood
Source: FOB Schoeps mk4v > KCY > VMS021B > DA-P1