How can one date carry so much significance in ones life?
So it was that 12 years ago today I would make a voyage from mid-Michigan to mid-Indiana with a group of college friends to partake in the ritual of live music with a band I had only come to know from tapes, CDs and stories.
I remember a few months before waking up early to call in for tickets. Did we miss mail ordering? I have no idea. We all used different land line phones around the fraternity house and whoever got through agreed to get tickets for everyone. I don't recall who the lucky winner was, but we settled for lawn seats as the pavilion had already sold out.
On the actual day before, Jon, Kenny, Art & I piled into the car and headed down 69 south for the 3-4 hour journey. We stopped about half-way at a campground area and set up shop for the night. Walking around the site we found another ground of Phish travelers at an adjacent fire pit, one of which doned an acoustic guitar. We sat for a while as the young man serenaded us with some classic Phish tunes like AC/DC Bag and even one of his own songs, "Tea Rose", a song about lost love and re-encarnation. While Tea Rose became sort of a theme song of our weekend, it wasn't until many months later that I'd discover the true significance when I drifted into the Small Planet in East Lansing, MI to check out a new rising midwest band, ekoostik hookah, and low and behold on stage was that very same musician, Ed McGee, playing none other than Tea Rose at that very moment.
The next day we made the final jaunt into Noblesville. We pulled into one of the local makeshift campgrounds that are set up just for the Phish invasions, and then headed over the show, not wanting to be late. Somewhere along the trip TimeZones were forgotten, and before long we found ourselve sitting in the grassy waiting area in front of the main gate waiting to get in, only to discover that an hour had been gained and they're weren't going to be opening for quite some time.
We made do, and before too long the gates open and we leisurely strolled our way into the empty ampitheatre. Deer Creek. Over the foot bridge and into the concession area adjacent to the Paviion. Around the corner and up to the lawn, we found a picture perfect spot dead center, front row, where we waited for about 2 hours for the show to start.
As the lights went down and the crowd erupted, "here we go!" was the chant of the moment.
Theme From The Bottom would be the first Phish song I'd ever hear live, and proved to be a fitting beginning for the journey to come.
The entire first set went:
1: Theme From the Bottom-> Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Tela, Punch You in
the Eye, Reba, Strange Design, Rift, Cavern, Run Like An Antelope
There was a cool little Gamehenge nod there with ACDC (thanks Ed), Tela, Punch that didn't go unnoticed, and a blistering Reba. We thought Cavern would close it out with the fitting lyrics but it was The Antelope which ended the set that took the roof off the place.
As the lights came up and it was time to hit the facilities, the theatre was buzzing. What a great first set, literally, first set, ever, to experience live. But little did I know that it wasn't until the second set, where we all now know that the magic really happens, that the floodgates would really open up.
The Simple opener segued nicely into what would become a David Bowie for the ages. Reaching to the farthest limits, and then patiently building back up to the blistering pace of triumphant appreciation, we were in bliss.
As the Bowie ended and the Mango Song begin, it all made sense. The band was on tonight, criss-crossing the musical hempisphere likes a super-sonic jet, and bringing everyone along for the ride. The rest of the set rounded things out, complete with the anthemic You Enjoy Myself I'd come to know and love from hearing it on repeat for the past several months.
2: Simple-> David Bowie, The Mango Song, Loving Cup, Sparkle, You
Enjoy Myself, Acoustic Army, Possum
E: A Day in the Life
The Beatles to close, how fitting. As a slowly made my way off the lawn and back into the parking lot, I had a hard time fathoming how anything could be the same after what I had just gone through. That was an 'experience'. It was something unlikely anything I'd ever been a part of before, and I knew that we were onto something real.
The impact of that day into night were so long lasting, that even now as I remember back to the pre-show moments, the mid-show smiles and the post-show glow it feels ever present in my being...even twelve whole years later.
The best part of all, I suppose, is that we got to do it again the next night...