PHISH TOUR 2010: 4th Show
Trey Anastasio ~ Guitar
Jon Fishman ~ Drums
Mike Gordon ~ Bass
Page McConnell ~ Organ
Only seven days earlier I was treated to my first Phish show (Phish @ Hartford, CT (06.18.10)) and miracled into the two that followed (Phish @ SPAC, NY (06.19.10) & Phish @ SPAC, NY (06.20.10). Now, only a week later, I was totally feeling the itch of withdrawal from the party I was introduced to; another wonderful extension of the party that is my life.
Getting on the New Jersey Transit train on Friday afternoon, I had no idea I was about to be handed an opportunity that many would pay tens of thousands of dollars to experience. Somewhere between NYC and Camden, NJ, a member of our teenage posse produced an extra All Access Pass laminate and placed it around my neck. I was later told that this had been planned out and discussed prior to me arriving to meet the group. Heavy 🙂 At the time, however, it seemed excited and immediate. That is because it was supposed to go down with my friend handing it over to me but instead our member of the teenage posse was so excited she couldn’t wait. How cute is that? There were many of us, but only one extra pass. I felt honored, I truly did. To be entrusted with such a heavy responsibility. Because that is exactly what it is, a responsibility. Raging responsibility was a must now, not just a choice. If I had learned one thing during the first few shows, discretion and commanding a ghostly nature were the only way to rage backstage with Phish. It is dry and sober backstage. Fully.
~ Initial Backstage Rage! ~
We walked through the gate, our bags weighing us down but our spirits lifted so high we were floating. Walking in, I spotted Trey Anastasio out of the corner of my eye but continued to walk. “Trey’s outside.” I say to Jay. “Really? Excellent,” says Jay. He takes me back outside and Jay gives Trey the biggest smile. Trey’s face in recognition of Jay got so wide and bright, smiles abounded and they hugged. Then Trey turns to me, as Jay introduces me, and gave me the same giant hug. Finally, he turns to Josh, holding up a stack of papers and says, “I am doing my homework.” And walks inside.
We followed in search for a place to lie down our bags and passed Trey in the Catering Lounge. He was holding up the papers to the teenage posse saying, “Look at all the tapestries this guys has! Anyone with that many tapestries, I wanna make a record with.” Laughter. (This was the only time that I felt comfortable taking a picture with Trey and I kind of froze up instead. Just the hug would have to suffice. )
We find a spot to lay down our bags out of the way of everything past the dressing rooms. There were amazing framed concert posters along the walls in the hall. Once again, the dressing room doors were open and there were scattered childrens toys everywhere. I imagined what this scene looked like 10 years ago. I imagined it would be just where I wanted to be, in the life of the most raging backstage party there ever has been. Jay was there, I have heard the stories.
We head back to the Catering area to say Hi to some friends and grab a bite to eat. The spread was delicious. There were meat, cheese and fruit platters, all kinds of cake and cookies, pork chops and casseroles. Hot and cold. Sweet and savory. I bet the wives LOVE not having to cook 🙂 It also made me wonder what the demands of the band might be in terms of things they want in their dressing rooms and for their children.
~ !! Happy Birthday Richard!! ~
I wasn’t eating because I was too excited. I was anxiously waiting to get back to the parking lot to hang with our krewe. After a few minutes, I noticed the traffic in the Catering Hall get a bit busy. There seemed to be a bustling. A large cake was brought in and all of a sudden Trey, Page, Mike and John were all in the same room together. People were all crowded around Richard, Phish’s manager. It was his birthday. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to him and he let Mike Gordon’s daughter blow out the candles as Mike bent her over the cake.
~ Sound Board vs. Sound Room ~
So, this was cool. While we were backstage at SPAC, there was a room I noticed while using the restrooms where there was a TV with a video of Trey, wonderful sound coming from the room and what appeared to be soundboards. I took a pic from afar and wondered. During the first night of Camden, Jay made friends with the gentlemen who was in the room. His name was John. Today, I was taken to the room and got a breakdown on what it all meant.
Basically, when a show is taking place, there is a sound engineer who maintains the sound board inside the venue. It is his/her job to make sure the audience is hearing the best quality sound that the venue can produce for that performance. Now, this special room backstage was for a whole different beast of the same nature. It is John’s job is to mix and master the quality of sound coming from the stage for the RECORDINGS that will be produced for sale after the performance.
Having researched Phish site after writing the previous articles, I found that the Phish website updates the set list every 30 seconds while a show is occurring. Then, only a few hours later, the recordings for each song are posted as well. So, this was just one of those musical wonderland facts that I never knew.
~ Stage Rage #1: Prior to Show ~
After we put our things down, we were walking to head back to our friends when we spotted the door open to the stage. I walked out. Not too far at first. And then a little further and a littler further until I was right behind Fishman’s drum kit and just kinda froze. I was standing on Phish’s stage.
The power that resonated through me as I imagined the place full of ADORING fans in front of me, the lights flying around behind me and the jamming having commenced. Insanity. INSANITY. For those of your who watch Trey, you see his face…you know what he is feeling. You have watched the documentaries of him basically saying that he gets completely off on his performances. Musical orgasm after musical orgasm. It’s written all over his face, in his lyrics and comes out of his fingers. Standing there, I just couldn’t even put myself in their place. I couldn’t fathom the hugeness of it all. I remember dancing on stage to Dumpstaphunk back in April, recalling the feeling of sickness and excitement I felt after exiting the stage. It was overwhelming. I remember it distinctly as I shook like a leaf. This was too much for me to imagine. Not sure what the rules were or how far I was able to venture, I stuck towards the stage door and shot a few pictures from that area.
The part I loved the VERY MOST…the lights. Chris Kurodas’ canvas. They were all placed facing in their upright positions…waiting patiently. I love seeing instruments/equipment on an empty stage because their energy resonates with me. I can feel them wanting to be played. I could FEEL these lights itching to be manipulated.
~ !!Parking Lot Rage!! ~
As we left the birthday celebration, Jay, who is just excited as I was, proceeds to tell me how wonderful and rare that moment just was. Apparently, since a family atmosphere has replaced the partying, it is rare that all four members of the band are in the same room at one time like that. In addition, Trey is rarely out of his dressing room. He hides away most of the time…so I was told.
We walked back through the gates to meet up with our krewe. Tonight’s group was massive. So many people I knew were at these shows. Phish really does have a death grip on people in the JamBand Community. For some,Phish is the end-all-be-all of our music community. And for New Yorkers, well, we are truly blessed to be in the epicenter of all things surrounding music. We have the majority of Phish shows on our coast and NYC is in the middle of them all. Wonderful. Even more wonderful, I now had this little bit of power around my neck that would allow me to rage all over the venue tonight with all my friends without any hassle.
I used this time to play catch up, pre-game and set up various plans as far as knowing where people were initially seated and where I can grab them when the time came to get everyone together in our seats. The cops rolled through the lots frequently and yet my friend was selling beer out of his truck which promoted so many lovely conversations. A large percentage of folks asked us how we got our laminates while the others just started offering us money for them. It was so bizarre to me. While I appreciated the pass around my neck, I felt that many of these folks deserved it so much more then I did. The super fans. I was not taking it for granted, but I also wasn’t flipping my lid over it.
Everyone walked in separately but pretty soon we would all be together. Jay and I walked into the show through the backstage entrance. After a quick bathroom break, I peeked into the Catering Hall and there was Trey again. Surrounded by his teenage superfan base (Members of The Leadheads and THOR) Trey was playing a mandolin for them. Just strumming and coming up with things on the spot. The teenage posse comprised mainly of teenage boys all smiling adoringly and giggling. “We are just getting started,” I heard Trey say as I left for our seats. Neil Diamond was playing as we found our seats for the night. That was funny to me. We had five in a row that would magically expand in a matter of songs.
~ !! Let The Show Begin !! ~
The kicked off the show with Alumni Blues into Letter To Jimmy Page back into Alumni Blues. Phun Fact #421: This was the first Alumni Blues since July 24, 1999 (222 shows ago). Phun fact #567: This was the first Letter to Jimmy Page since July 15, 1994 (587 shows ago) . I didn’t really pay much attention to the first few songs as I used this time to gather up my people. The venue grounds were now my playing field and Lauren and Meredith were first to be grabbed. Somewhere behind the soundboard, I ran into Zegs as I was looking for my girls. The seats in the stadium were so odd behind the soundboard and to get to the middle of a row was strangely impossible. So, here come the girls, climbing over all the rows to get to me. So silly but they were on a mission.
~ !! DANCING ON SOUNDBOARD!! ~
As if having an All Access Backstage Pass for this show wasn’t the pinnacle of my music going adventures, the next few songs would stick in my head forever. They will possibly hold the top spot for me as a very special time in my music-going adventures.
Towards the beginning of Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Jay and I took off for the soundboard. AHHHHHHH!!!! This was it. I was about to watch Chris Kuroda LIVE from only a few feet, no, inches away!! If I have said it once, I have said it a million times: Chris Kuroda is my personal favorite member of Phish.
Kuroda is the IT guy when it comes to lighting effects. I am a huge fan of lighting and in my personal opinion, along with millions of others, he is the greatest at what he does. For a while, while Phish was on hiatus, Kuroda did lights for The Black Crowes. I can only imagine his happiness when Phish decided to get back together. Without missing a beat, I am sure Kuroda put in his two weeks notice to The Black Crowes the day he found out.
And so I stared. I stared at Kuroda‘s hands and face during the rest of Big Black Furry Creature from Mars. I would stare at him and then stare at the lights on stage in front of me. It was BRILLIANT. I wish I knew how he manipulated all of that. What an art form. I would have loved to ask but I didn’t want to interrupt his work.
During Runaway Jim, Trey Anastasio’s wife, Sue, joined us on the soundboard. It was also at this time that I shared a wonderfully romantic moment with my friend Jay. A long time coming and wonderfully romantic. Our teenage posse was hanging out on the soundboard as well and everyone hugged in approval of the moment. At the end of Runaway Jim, Chris Kuroda turns around and, spotting us in his sight line, he mouths: “WOW!!” Even Chris Kuroda surprises himself.
We all swayed together in a large embrace for a lot of Army of One as it was mellow and calm. There was a lovely piano solo by Page. Trey’s solo was simple and sweet. The song itself didn’t hold my attention and I found myself losing myself in my own thoughts while watching Chris Kuroda work his magic on the boards. Free Man In Paris was a new debut Jonie Mitchell cover. It was a bit faster but still just a little mellow for my taste. I really wanted the music to rip my head off to coincide with the energy level raging through my body grouped with the excitement of what was going on with the Pass and with my friends. Oh man…the lights were more energetic then the music during this set I felt like.
Summer of 69 was lovely. It was hard not to be dragged into the chicky little tune. I walked up towards the front slowly during this song, taking it all in again. Loving that no one was stopping me. I had heard the debut of this song in Hartford a week earlier. They carried this tune for close to 10 minutes, repeating the lyrics: “And we danced all night” for what felt like a million times.
And then there silence for a good minute before Mike broke out a fat bass line and the playful keys of Page ushered in Split Open and Melt. We got a bit of a jam session during this song but it still felt forced from Trey. I felt Page was just ripping it up…like, I am here ready to rage, yall ready yet? Like they were still warming up. But, not sure if I mentioned this earlier…Phish had a RIDICULOUS opener at Camden the night previous. People were saying it was the greatest show of the tour so far. So, it was no wonder Phish was so mellow and kinda just not bringing the fire during this set. They literally were gearing up. And this certainly wasn’t a bad show but I have high expectations no matter what.
The FUNK and HEAVY was brought in for The Sloth and then the energy was there. The song forced it up and out in my opinion. Page continued his rage on the keys and Trey had to scream to get that energy up and the entire venue was risen up with the band. Mike’s great funky bass behind Trey’s guitar was pretty great.
The fun and bouncy vibe continued on into Time Turns Elastic. This song was all over the place with a pretty melody behind it. For almost 20 minutes the guys on stage just raged their instruments. Jammin’, slammin’, beating, hitting, strumming, screeching, jazz and rock and funk all together. Menacing and bubbly at the same time.
And during Golgi Apparatus, when they sang the lyrics: “I saw you with a ticket stub in your hand,” I giggled inwardly at how I had yet, after four shows, been asked to produce a ticket.
During intermission, the lot of us went to the lawn to decompress and just hang. New perspectives. I was very pleased to hear from others that they found that the first set was a little mellow for their taste. It was definitely too mellow for me. I am very aware that I don’t recall much from the first set. The music didn’t hold my attention for the most part.
We lounged on the lawn until the music started again. Chatting about anything and everything. Everyone smiling wide. And doing exactly what we had hoped and figured, PHISH RIPPED OPEN the second set with Chalk Dust Torture. I sat on the lawn and watched how the party unfolded. Because it was ON after this song.
During Prince Caspian, I made my way down to our seats, snapping the above and below pictures as I walked. The lights were gorgeous. The sound was uplifting and fun. I love this song. Always a crowd pleaser. There were 8 friends left in our area as the rest had remained on the lawn for dancing room. With a few having stepped away, the remaining friends jumped and danced and raged all over those seats. The people around us were singing along, dancing with us, hugging. Every time someone we knew would come or go there was always a commotion of love.
Heavy Things was next and it was during this time that I had another backstage rage. We took over the seats in the sound room and were as quiet as a mouse. John was watching the screen while manipulating the levels and whatnot on the board in front of him. My camera died at this point and Jay went to plug it into the plus that was on the wall. John reminded us very seriously of the fact that the main device was to our left. Of course, we were more then careful. I felt like I was near irreplaceable glass while I was in the room. I was scared to breath. But it was really cool to see how these people work. To learn of what things go on behind the scenes that you might not have known before. That has been the greatest part of this musical adventure I have been on the past few weeks with PHISH.
The funky, bluesy Alaska called us back to the pavilion. A nice, slower jam after the raging first three that finally brought the heat to the Bank Center. But it was 2001 that got me jumping again.
When they busted out 2001, all I could think about is the spectacle I witnessed in Saratoga Springs days earlier when they unleashed it upon us during the second set. It was out of control. The scene was no different here. The Glow sticks erupted everywhere, people were screaming, the dancing in the isles seemed to have gotten a bit thicket as well. Luckily, at this point, we remained up front for the remaining of the set and there was plenty of room to get funky.
I would say that this was my favorite song of the night. Mainly because during the jam, the guys broke out into a few Michael Jackson Tribute songs in recognition of the one year anniversary of MJ’s death. The song consisted of Billie Jean containing a Thriller tease from Trey. They continued to tease it later on in the song as well. Phun fact #215: This was the debut of Billie Jean 🙂
During Light, I grabbed my friend and took her to the front during the piano song. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first and we got a little heckled trying to find a good place to stand out of the way. At first we walked right up middle and there was no way to reach front row. The guard told me: ” you will never get up there. Don’t bother trying to get closer.” So, of course, I grabbed Mer’s hand and we got closer.
There was a pretty sick glow stick war during Possum but nothing compared to the glow stick was in Saragtoga a few days earlier. Trey also brought the heat here with his solo. YUMMY!
For the encore, Jay ran back and got my camera charger allowing me to take the pictures you see above of Trey and the gang. I danced in front of Fishman for the entire encore of Shine A Light and it raged. All my friends had gathered back together in our seat. After a final head count, there were 18 of us raging those few rows and it was spectacular to me. I had never been with so many fans who were literally SUPER FANS. I am normally the super fan of these smaller groups who I love. But it’s rare that I am the one on the outside looking in at the party. That is what was going on all these years.
Set I: Alumni Blues > Letter To Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Runaway Jim, Army of One, Free Man In Paris, Summer of 69, Split Open And Melt, The Sloth, Time Turns Elastic, Golgi Apparatus (1:14)
Set II: Chalk Dust Torture >, Prince Caspian >, Heavy Things, Alaska, 2001, Light >, Possum, Character Zero (1:17)