Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Boogie on Reggae Mama

Yea, so Phish - here's the long and short of it.

There's this band - Phish - and as of Sunday I have seen them in concert 73 times (which may sound a lot but really isn't compared to some folks). There's this big group of people I love that have been a part of my Phish story and together we have traveled the country, had some crazy adventures and shared some really amazing experiences on the road.  There isn't really a way to capture everything that Phish shows have come to mean to me over the years, because the reason for the shows continues to evolve as well. Suffice it to say however that going to Phish shows has always been a break from something, a release from something and a journey into something.  I guess we all go to shows for the same reason that people have any hobby/passion - it is a way to set aside the every day experience and replace it (even for just a little while) with something completely "yours."

There's this line from the Phish song "Taste" that captures it pretty well I think:

"...Until you burst into song and unwind, and leave your new life behind for a while...."

Because that really is what it's about - leaving your life behind and just doing something that feels good with people that you love.  And that's the part that just can't be explained to someone who is outside of it, there really is a strong camaraderie among "phans" that is as simple as a glance with the guy next to you when they start the notes of a song they haven't played in ten years, or the smile to the girl you bump into when you realize you are both so completely lost in dancing that you didn't even notice each other.  And then there are the connections to friends that you know are there when Phish breaks out "their song" because you know they are jumping up and down at the anticipation of dancing their pants off. And then there are the songs that remind of you other times (ahem..."David Bowie") and songs that remind you of why you make getting to a show every year such a priority.

So, all this is just the round-about way of getting to Sunday.  Phish was playing at Riverbend here in Cincinnati for the first time since 2000 (which was a bit of a disaster due to horribly epic rains and spending most of the show huddled under trashbags, coincidentally my poor sister's only experience with Phish).  It was a big deal for them to be playing a summer show here in Cincy and I was excited of course. I had to miss last summer's show at Deer Creek (my favorite localish venue) because I was pretty-freshly pregnant with Beatrice and had developed the bloodclot and landed myself of the first of what would be three rounds of full bedrest.  Like a good little Phish phan, I put for Phish's online "mail order" ticket lottery to try to avoid Ticketmaster (like we've been doing for too many years to count now and way back in the day when tickets cost less than $20 and "mail order" was a complicated system of self-addressed stamped envelopes, checks and the US Postal Service).  I have the worst luck when it comes to the lottery, so Lou made me promise that if I got stuck with stinkin' lawn seats again that this would be the last time I did the lottery and I agreed.

So....fast forward to March 8th.  That was the day Sweet Bea was born and it was also the day that I got the email notification on my phone about my tickets.  I did a quick scan on my phone (because obviously I had more important things happening) and I saw "general admission" on the seat number, assumed I had general admission lawn seats again and that was that. I let out a little "Boooo!" and didn't think about it another minute until this Sunday - the day of the show. The tickets had come in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I opened them to make sure all four were there - one for me, one for Lou, one for my dad and one extra for long-time tour companion Bill in the event that I got sweet pavilion seats in the lottery because that's the kinda understanding we have worked out.  I didn't touch the tickets again until Sunday when I gave my dad his ticket and the extra to sell in the lot and sent Dad and Bill on their way to the show where we planned on meeting them later in the event that we could actually pull off getting both girls to bed early enough to still catch the end of the show with Grandma there in case anyone woke up.  (Bea refuses to take a bottle, especially at night but she does stay asleep until morning once she is down so we knew if we could just get her to bed that would be that until morning.)  I was a nervous wreck all day because I really, really, really wanted to go to the show.  We planned on trying to get there by 9 so we could catch the second set.

At about 7pm we launched the bedtime sequence. Lou took Josie and I took Bea.  That's about the time that we got the text and the call that my Dad had some sort of magical ticket that put him in the ORCHESTRA PIT at Riverbend - in the front row of elusive standing room only section.  What the what?!   Seriously, my first thought was that Phish had pulled some sort of Willy Wonka-esque Golden Ticket that magically sent my Dad into Phish Holyland and that's when Bill texted "maybe your tickets too?" to me. And that's when I looked at the tickets more closely and that's when I noticed that they said "General Admission Pit" and not "General Admission Lawn."  (It would've probably helped if I knew such tickets actually existed, but I did not. Although I did always wonder how in the world people got down there!)    Let's just put it this way, getting our buns to that show took on an even greater significance once we knew we had front row seats.  I mean, over 70 shows and the closest I've ever been is about 20 rows back and that was just once a billion years ago.

We hustled both girls to bed and then high-tailed it to Riverbend with our fingers crossed that this might actually work.  And we made it there in less than 10 minutes. No joke! We were sent to the special entrance for our Pit bracelets and we sailed right in during "Reba" and got to our spots before the first set ended. OMG!

This is Dad and I at the end of the first set when we first arrived.  I can't tell you how happy I was!

Excuse the blur, but I phone camera can only do so much in low light. :) Over 20,000 people and there were exactly zero of them between me and the band! (Considering we've been to some of the big Phish festivals with 80K or so folks, this is a pretty big deal.)

During the setbreak, we found Bill. He was up in the lawn because they had sold the fourth PIT ticket in the parking lot thinking it was just another lawn ticket.  We were able to pull some shady bracelet-swapping tricks to get Bill down into the PIT as well until he got busted late into the show and was escorted out (but happily spent the last few songs dancing just a few rows back into the pavilion).

Really, there's no other way to see a Phish show.  And the boys were ON!  There was lots of dancing (videos on Dad's phone that likely have a future on youtube) and cheering and "those moments" when you realize why you do it all in the first place.  And boy oh boy did we need that show!

And I'm pretty sure they placed "Boogie On Reggae Woman" just for me. 

All told, it was one of those crazy nights that I'm still processing. I can't believe it worked out the way that it did. The universe certainly smiled on us and sent us a little Phish miracle (and ya know, I think I had earned it).

In case you're interested, here's  Phish playing Mound Sunday night at Riverbend. Kinda a mellow song so you don't get to see any crazy boogie fest here, but it's a pretty rare song to play so that's the video they chose. (Our spot was right in front of Fishman, the drummer.)

Phish - 6/5/11 "Mound" from Phish on Vimeo.