DAY II of Tour / Night I of SPAC
Day II: It had been one day and we were now waking up in this gorgeous villa in Hartford, CT to the sound of Boz and Step’s children running through the beautifully lit, large hallways. The birds were literally chirping in my ear and the wind was literally blowing my hair across my face. It smelled like heaven. In that moment, as I happily woke, I was so aware that I was not in New York City. It was blissful. Granted, I was running on three hours of sleep now but nothing could lay me back down. Too much excitement.
He was right, Jay was absolutely right. He said that once I got a taste of Phish tour, I wouldn’t want to jump off the wagon. Earlier in the month, he had tried comparing Phish Tour to Jam Cruise. Comparing the community and the vibe. I completely understood, even though I don’t think anyone can truly understand Jam Cruise without experiencing it for one’s self. However, Phish tour was still just a music concert with a severe tailgating vibe to me. But, he was right on many other levels. The community was hardcore, dedicated, forum-posting, set-list guessing, phantasy football type, FANATICS. Following one band all across America and sometimes the world takes dedication. It made me wish the bands I adored would tour and if a community like this would follow.
We left the house much later then we planned. But these were the moments I would come to cherish, the before and after travel parties. It was here where we spent time just getting to know our new friends and reconnecting with our old. Driving through the country side knowing that we would be meeting up with more travelers who had come for the same purpose. To have their faces melted by their favorite band. It was always a really big pleasure seeing these Phishheads geek out over things. I knew how they felt. Pretty much, it had taken me one live Phish show (PS: Thank you JESUS For Chris Kuroda) and less than 24 hours to fall for the touring scene and I was already wondering how to do it with MY favorite bands. So, we left Hartford, CT and made the four hour drive to Saratoga Springs, NY. We blasted Jamiroquai almost the entire trip with the windows down and the sunroof open. It was a gorgeous day for a drive to a concert with friends.
The touring world was slowly opening itself up to me and divulging its tiny little nuances that make it an experience. For instance, as we drove, we passed fellow tour goers rocking their Phish stickers and blasting their jam music on the Interstate. Every time we stopped, we were met with more fellow Phish-heads in search of the next bite of music. Caravans forming without even trying. Waves and smiles all along the interstate. Every time we stopped at toll booths, no matter what age, gender or race of the operator, they knew where we were going. “Going to see Phish?,” “Yall going to the Phish show?,” “What? Phish?” Many times we offered to take our booth operator along with us but sadly, and stupidly, they all denied. You can be certain that I would have been the girl jumping out of the booth and into car with strangers if I had been given the opportunity back in my teen years. My parents always had just reason to worry.
Show Karma was once again on our side. When we arrived at the road meant to take us into Saratoga Spa Springs Park, it was backed up to a dead stop for over a mile. There was no way we were having this with Jay in the car. Within a few minutes, a few phone calls, and asking an old runner in the neighborhood for directions, we were entering into the Park through the back way. Flew right on in and right up to Gideon Putnam Spa Resort (GPRS), located on site.
Pulling up to the GPRS, I was reminded of Colonial Williamsburg, my hometown. Anything with that flare of colonial settlement reminds me of home. Our King bed room would hold four that night. The cuddle puddles would be deep and who knew if more would join the party late night. Another lovely plus to add to our superb touring situation was that Jay was aware that these Phish shows would be taking place before they were announced to the public so he had all his friends book rooms in the hotel prior to announcements. Jay and I ran around the hallways barefoot, finding our other friend’s rooms and getting stuck there for welcoming pre-parties. Our teenage posse was on one floor, our Chicago krewe was on another. More scattered all over the place yet to arrive. Finally, we all stopped playing long enough to realize we had a show to catch. And out the door we went in the highest of spirits.
To top it all off, located right behind our lovely accommodations was the venue: The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Seriously, our hotel spot was crucial as the rest of our friends would have to get back on the highway and head to campgrounds off other exits or travel to other hotels off site once the show was over. I even had one friend taking a $60 taxi back to Albany after Saturday night’s show. The taxi never came and his wife eventually came and got him. Ouch and props to wifey for indulging her man to live his musical dreams! Zegs, Get your lady a pretty ring.
So, as we are walking to the venue, I swear to god these Phishheads were floating, skipping, whatever you wanna call it, but the bounce in their step was evident. Their happiness was seeping into the grounds to the point that the trees were dancing to the songs I JUST KNEW were playing in my friend’s heads. This was going to happen two nights in a row. And the show the night prior, my FIRST Phish show ever, already felt miles away. Phish in Saratoga Springs, NY ~ Night I was about to rage with a whole new perspective from new seats. So Much Anticipation…
Saratoga Performing Arts Center ~ Saratoga Springs, NY (06.19.10)
Trey Anastasio ~ Guitar
Jon Fishman ~ Drums
Mike Gordon ~ Bass
Page McConnell ~ Organ
At this point it’s about 5pm and the show was to start at 7pm. As we leave the hotel and head to the venue, it is evident that there was a wedding in the process of reception. We openly discussed if the wedding party was happy that Phish was in town saturating the grounds of their wedding site. Asking a party member, they confirmed that the Bride and Groom were well aware that Phish was in town. This didn’t surprise me one bit having recently discovered that TONS Of people get married at music festivals. That never occurred to me until this year.
We didn’t really hit up the Shakedown, not before anyway, at least from what I remember. I am still amazed at what I AM remembering as I didn’t take a single note until my fourth show in Camden a week later. Like Jam Cruise, the tour/Phish world had seeped into my brain letting my live music addiction know it could get exponentially worse. Taunting me.
And now we split up. Jay and I walking right through backstage and the rest of the crew going through the ridiculously long ticket line into the venue. We entered the side of the venue and headed towards the tour buses, no tickets ever being requested of us to produce. And it’s here we meet Tiny Truck Apartment guy. We come across a the side of one of the tour buses and a side panel had been lifted to reveal a small 3 foot by 3 foot space within the side of the bus. In front of that space was a chair and in the chair was Tiny Truck Apartment guy. We asked him if he was having a good time and what exactly his space was meant for. He said it was his apartment, thus his name. I ran into him numerous times to and from bathroom breaks, his TV always watching a race of some kind, nothing to do with the show. In hindsight, I wondered if he was the bus driver.
They BLASTED IT OPEN WITH TWEEZER REPRISE AGAIN!!! Yall just have no idea. For those that were there, only you can understand the rage that erupted from the venue. This would make three times in a row now Phish had played this song. They had done the song two times in a row the night prior closing out the Hartford, CT show. Trey knew what they were doing. They KNEW we would explode. Phun Fact #65: This was the first Tweezer Reprise Opener since 11-9-1995, or 482 shows ago. What a great way to start the set. And they kept the energy up as they rolled right into Chalk Dust Torture. UP UP UP!!!
The venue was STIFLING hot. Feeling the need for air, Jay and I walked towards the lawn during Suzy Greenberg. Now, the members of Phish are promoters of love over war but as we walked towards the lawn we walked into a GIGANTIC GLOW STICK WAR that was taking place on the west side of the lawn. What is a glowstick war, you ask? Said to have begun as a Phish phenomenon, thousands and thousands of glowsticks are cracked and thrown into the air during prominent parts of certain songs. “This is by far one of the biggest I have seen before,” says Jay. (Again our Show Karma rages!!!)
Susie Greenberg also brought one of my favorite jams of the night with Mike Gordon on his bass and Page McConnell on the piano. Their jam a few minutes into the song was one of the highlights of the night in my opinion, with Trey stummin in some of his signature whine here and there was plain NAAASTY!!! Perhaps it was the war but the place was on fire, light bombs dropping in face, in my mind. Listen to the piano in that video….the music was flawless. And with that, they brought the first set to a close.
The second set started slow into Rock & Roll but their jam during that song raised us all up from the lows of intermission. The venue was lit back up so quickly. Trey’s guitar wailed and whined through Rock & Roll and it transitioned effortlessly into Saratoga Jam. They brought the SPACE jam! And Chris Kuroda made it appear that a space ship was landing ON MY FACE. Out of control lights and music. Just unruly. It all felt so massive. Free was next and threw me back to the 90’s…raging through highschool, wishing to see these guys LIVE! Trey’s guitar rift we all know so well leading the way. Mike funking it up in middle. His sound was just rocking this whole tour it seemed.
It must be mentioned that the location of my seats vs Hartford’s seats was crucial to my enjoyment of the light show Chris Kuroda delivers the audience. I LOVE THE LIGHT SHOWS!!! Being in the front row during yesterday’s show prohibited me from seeing the full light effects that the audience is generally given. This weekend, being in the middle section, about 15 rows back, I was being thrown into mental chaos. This visual art…so great and wild. So on point. I truly can admit that Chris Kuroda has always been my favorite member of PHISH. If I had a better camera, I can only imagine what gorgeous shots I might have gotten. I was so mentally involved in the light show
During Halfway To the Moon , we went closer for some pictures. There, not 7 rows back was the bride and groom from earlier…in their own two seated section…on their feet dancing around. She was wearing her veil and holding her bouquet. He was in regular clothes with the biggest smile on his face. I wondered just how much of the bridal party was in here. I imagined that there had to be so so many.
Saratoga was one FIRE. Just look below if you don’t believe me. Our friends had all been stubbed down and were now located all over the pavilion dancing their heads off where they found space. Most were with us, rolling 12 people deep in our five seat section that spread to three rows. Prince Caspian and Joy were slower songs that still had people deeply involved in dancing as Trey’s guitar wailed throughout them. I particularly like Mike’s bass behind Trey in PC as well.
And Joy, well, the lyrics are stunning. Possibly the greatest wedding vow ever is dropped in that song and I hoped the wedding couple embraced their asses off as Trey sang: “I never thought I could have it so good / You were the song that my soul understood.” And so PHISH sang TO US,
“We want you to be happy, don’t live inside the gloom / We want you to be happy, come step outside your room / We want you to be happy, cause this is your song to. / In time we’ll weather this storm inside together / You’ll see the change when the sun shines through.”
Davie Bowie brought some funky rage. Mike’s bass , yet again slamming me in the face during this song. The obscure fly off jazzy rages are always fun. My friends were dancing around me with the biggest grins. Magic. The lights were SICK!!! I really just LOVED the lights. With it’s slow start, they capped off the second set with Show of Life. Wonderful wonderful lyrics on top of a semi slow rock ballad.
They closed off the night with Squirming Coil and Character Zero. Mike’s bass was so deep and sexy and the song is always an uplifting rage. Trey raging and the keys on fire. And thennnnnnnnn Tweezer Reprise to end the show. Yet again blowing the entire place up like a supernova. History in Phishland has been made with that four song run and it was fun to know I’d been part of it. People will be like: “Remember that time when they closed with it twice and opened closed the following nights show!“
After the show, we all stuck around for about 20 minutes again, saying our goodbyes and gathering the troops would would remain to rage into the wees hours with us. Jay mentioned a path that ran around the venue that people called The Ho Ci Mhin trail. He thought it might be fun to walk through on our way to the Shakedown. This path ended up being pitch dark, a shotty ledge with a shotty rope and just ever so dangerous for even sober folks. It was shocking and wonderful that no none got hurt.
We hung in The Shakedown for what seemed like hours. We ate hummus wraps and pizza. We stocked up on goodies for tomorrow night’s show and gifts for friends/family. And then we walked back to our hotel. This time, through the venue. As you can see in the picture above, the venue was already spotless by 2am. They had giant blower trucks, similar to street cleanser blowing the trash into a pile. As well, men on foot were using hand held blowers to rally the remaining bits of garbage. It blew my mind as I had (and always do) complained about the amount of trash that was left behind after the show. People, pick up your waste, use the damn trashcan. It’s not hard. Anyway, so then we totally got lost finding out hotel but it was so much fun.
As we approached our green, the final adventure of the night revealed itself to us. The golf green behind the hotel was ragin so we took a look. “Well, last year we asked for the clubs and they wouldn’t lend them to us so this year we brought our own.” Said golfer guy #1. I turned and they even had a little light attached to a tiny flag spotlighting the hole. Ah, I love imagination and spunk. All the guys attempted to shoot the hole a few times while I spun in circles on the green. Egging me to try, I grabbed the silly club and birdied the hole in two shots. Yes Sir! Golf is boring as hell, but it doesn’t mean I can’t play it. I am from Williamsburg, Virginia after all.
After 20 minutes it was over. The night was done. What a great night of music, dancing and bonding. Day three began in 8 hours 🙂
~ Continue on tour with me: PHISH @ SPAC ~ Saratoga Springs, NY ~ (06.20.10) ~