, attached to 2009-03-06

Review by oohwilson

oohwilson This was my first show, and it was a profound experience to say the least. This show represents the culmination of a significant period in my life, where for years I had been utterly captivated by Phish, but also tormented at times when the thought crossed that I would never have the chance to experience a Phish show. I was too late. My experience with the band would forever remain limited to tapes. And then, after several months of rumors and agonizing anticipation, my dreams realized: the announcement of the reunion -- and a miracle ticket, taboot.

Since this is my first review here at Phish.net, it seems appropriate for me to begin with my own story of how it all began.

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It all began in Baltimore in 2007. I was 21 years old at the time, working part-time, taking classes at community college, living with some friends in my first apartment -- you get the picture. My tastes in music were fairly dynamic, but my bread and butter was progressive rock. Rush and Dream Theater commonly dominated my CD player. If there was dazzling guitar work, I was probably going to dig it.

One day, a good friend of mine had borrowed a CD from one of his buddies and popped it in his car's CD player. I didn't think much of it at the time, but a couple of weeks later the CD somehow ended up in my possession. "A Live One", it read. I was getting bored with the CD's I had in rotation during my commute from work and school, so I figured I'd pop it in and see what Phish was about.

I went through the first disc, skipping a few songs that just puzzled me -- "'Wash Uffizi, drive me to Firenze' ...what the fuck is this all about"? -- Clearly, it didn't click with me. In hindsight, I see now that I didn't give the music a fair chance. I was probably preoccupied in thinking about what my evening plans would be rather than actually listening to the music. The only tune I remember actually appreciating was the Slave. The buildup and release was fantastic, and kept me curious enough to check out disc 2.

"Wiiiilllllsssoooonnn" -- "okay, this tune is alright I guess" The Tweezer that follows, however, was just an absolute disaster. Messy, all over the place, just generally unpleasant to listen to. Tweezer quickly became a casualty of the "next track" button. To give some context here, I was with my friend who borrowed the CD in the first place on a high-ride. We got nice and baked, and by the time the Hood came on, and I was tuned in.

This Hood...this was a game changer, folks. I remember thinking just what a masterfully crafted performance this Hood was. It nearly brought me to tears, it hit my nerves, it resonated in me. At that moment in time, I got it. In reminiscence, it's fascinating to think that just 15 minutes of music would alter my life forever. Beautiful.

Naturally by "getting it", Phish quickly came to dominate my music rotation. Discovering the Live Phish series soon thereafter was akin to uncovering the Ark of the Covenant. The Halloween '98 filler Antelope > Stash > Manteca > Tweezer > NICU, the YEM at Rosemont '95, the Wipeout Weekapaug at the Centrum, and the Tweezerfest at the Bomb Factory -- I must have listened to these a hundred times over the course of 2 years.

Along with my captivation of Phish came a broadening of my musical horizon. I began to go to concerts regularly, Umphrey's McGee and The Bridge ticket stubs soon began to pile up in my drawer. On a whim, I convinced a group of close friends to drive 1,100 miles to Langerado '08 -- the fact it was held at Big Cypress more or less sealing the deal. "Dude, we are going to our first music festival to see Les Claypool, P Groove, STS9, The New Deal, Gov't Mule, 311, Umphrey's, and oh yeah, it's at Big Cypress -- land of 'the show'" -- Our Mecca. Halfway into the festival, and despite being ridiculously tired and hungover from all sorts of festival-related edibles, we made sure to catch Phix's set at midnight to commemorate Phish's illustrious NYE set. We were convinced that this was as close of an experience as we were going to get. While it wasn't a bad experience by any means, and as close as it might have been, it was certainly 'no cigar'.

A few months later the rumors of a potential reunion began to stir. None of them, however, made me really take it seriously -- I was still convinced that I was born a decade too late, and I would live my entire life never having experienced a Phish show.

The moment I came to actually consider the possibility, as many of you may also have, was when Trey reportedly said in an interview to Rolling Stone that he would give his left nut to play YEM five times a day for the rest of his life. Oh. Shit. It's fucking on. ...Right?...I hope..

When the news finally broke it was like unwrapping the best Christmas present I never had. Many phone calls and uncontrollable giggles followed. Unable to score tickets in the lottery, myself and three other friends went The Hunt For the Red October-style the day of public on sale for Hampton tickets -- we had multiple computers and phones locked-down, and friends and family on standby to ensure we would get a piece of the action. In what seemed like a cruel twist of sick punishment, every one of us failed to get through. And as much as I loved the band and wanted to go, there was no way I was going to pay 500+ bucks for a ticket, and I came to accept the fact that it just wasn't in the cards. Oh well, life will go on I suppose.

A couple of weeks after public on-sale, I received a phone call from a friend that made me question my faith (or lack thereof). "Hey, so listen.. I scored two tickets for the first night, and out of everyone I know, I think that you are the most deserving of the second ticket... want to go see Phish?" A few irregular heartbeats later I managed to say "Holy fucking shit" and the next day she dropped by to give me my ticket. Let me tell you friends, I kid you not when I say that I didn't let that ticket out of my immediate possession until the day after the show.

After that, the rest is history. A college degree, 19 shows, and 4 years later, I now treasure Phish more than ever.

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As far as the show goes itself, I'm giving it 4/5 stars -- largely due to the story above. Setting aside the atmosphere, which was an entire thing in and of itself as you can imagine, the playing was very tight, the setlist is classic, but the jamming was nothing groundbreaking. The boys demonstrated their intense practice regiment throughout this show. Aside from a flub in the Hood and the conspicuous YEM restart, they were spot-on.

Stash and Tweezer showcase the jams of the evening, Tweezer clearly being the highlight of the night.

In the end, this show is a special one for every one of us. It is the beginning of a new era of Phish. It reminds us to never take for granted the opportunity to be apart of our favorite band, and for fans my age, this show symbolizes a resounding "YES" in response to the question "Can't I live while I'm young?"

Cheers!


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