7/11/07 marked 15 years of seeing Phish for me! To celebrate, I will tell the tale of my first show...
Growing up in the early 90's meant listening to Blues Traveler. They were a local band with one album out at the time and they played the Wetlands regularly. When I say they were a local band, it means they were a bit like Bob Schnieder is in Austin. Everyone in town is a fan, but elsewhere people don't really know him.
I had also heard a lot about Phish and had been at parties where Phish "bootlegs" were playing in the background. I had little understanding of them beyond that... but was very curious and excited to see them along with Blues Traveler at the HORDE festival.
This was the first HORDE tour. The show was at Garden State Arts Center (now called PNC Bank Arts Center) where I had been kicked out of Buffet Show a few weeks earlier (not a story even worth telling). The show went like this...
We went in early so as not to miss anything... late in ARU's set, the members of Widespread started to trickle on stage until they were all there jamming together... then the members of ARU left one by one until we were left with just Widespread - very cool transition to say the least. Also, for those of you who are into the WSP thing, this means I saw Jimmy Herring play with your boys 15 years ago... but I digress.
Then Phish came on and completely blew my mind. My memories are hazy, but I definitely remember Runaway Jim, Cavern, Suzie, and a crazy vocal jam... like nothing I had ever heard before.
I also remember the gags of the day... the band frozen in a awkward mid-jam position for 5 minutes straight while the drummer played a vacuum solo in a housedress. Three Trampolines were brought out and the bassist and guitarist started jumping in unison on two of them... then Big Fat Johnnie Popper emerged to jump on the third. On his first jump, he busted right through the tramp then walked off the stage looking very dejected with his head in his hands - freakin' hilarious!!
Overall, the show really sucked me in. I was completely blown away by the energy coming from the stage. If I liked this band that much - wait until Blues Traveler plays and I actually know the music beforehand!!
Needless to say, BT was a huge letdown after Phish. Warren Haynes joined in for a great Mountain Cry, but even that couldn't save it. I was spoiled and would never see another band without comparing them to Phish...
What a treat it was, though, to experience Phish in that setting! Changed my life for the better, I'd say!! I would go on to see them 80 times total in venues ranging from 800 people at Five Points South Music Hall in Birmingham, to 80,000 at Big Cypress.