, attached to 1995-12-09

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

December 9 was a Saturday, the day after classes ended. It felt like another rough term, though in retrospect the students I had in both classes were absolutely wonderful and I really enjoyed working with them. But Saturday I was finally really going to be free. "Freeeeeeeeeee!" Jay and I were driving down to Albany to see Phish.
The weather was really ugly. It was snowing hard: a serious, keep-the-truck in four-wheel-drive-and-pray-that-you-don't-have-to-stop-or-turn-fast kind of situation. Low visibility. The kind of snow that, when I'm rational, keeps me home, wearing slippers, and baking bread or grading papers. But Phish was playing, and rationality and Phish obsessions rarely coexist. Actually, I was already exceedingly rational for a Phish fan -  I gave up going to shows when I had to lecture the next day after Halloween `94, which left me so tired and grouchy and miserable and barely coherent that I almost gave up seeing Phish altogether. But the term was over, see, and I didn't have to give a final until the middle of next week, since the freshmen had already turned in their final projects. So, weather aside, it was the perfect time and place for me to see Phish. I gave Jay the "puppy-dog eyes" look and he agreed to leave really, really early"...before noon. And we really did it, too. And that was probably a good thing, because the drive down was pretty scary. We stayed on the road, though, and got to Albany in plenty of time to check into the hotel and watch TV before going downtown. They had the Discovery channel, which was a treat since we don't have cable at home.
We drove downtown early so we could eat dinner before the show. The roads weren't plowed very well, but we made it to the parking garage with only a little stressful driving around the block and yelling at each other about missing turns. We walked a few blocks from the Knick, trying to get away from the pre-show hordes and find a place that was open to eat. It wasn't easy; I think a lot of places closed down early because of the storm. And, of course, we were tromping through pretty thick snow on unplowed sidewalks to get anywhere. We finally found a little Thai place that was open. After some really yummy chocolate raspberry cake for dessert, we headed back to the Knick to head in.
Our seats were perfect: just off the floor, Page side. And the music"...I don't need to talk about it, you've all heard it. I enjoyed the first set, too, though it was a "Yay! I'm at a Phish show! It's been five months!" kind of enjoyment, not an "omyfreakingodwherehasmybraingone" type of enjoyment. Not that it matters at the show, of course, because enjoyment is enjoyment. I took out my ponytail during "Chalk Dust Torture" because I wanted to feel totally free. Let my hair down. Can't I live while I'm young? Cause I am still young, dammit!
And the second set"...why even bother writing about it? I mean, words just cannot do justice to how it felt to be there, listening to that spellbinding "YEM" as it was being created. Jay, who likes Phish but isn't quite sure what the obsession is all about, got "IT" during the "YEM" jam. It was his first time, at his twelfth show. He called the "Gumbo", too. And he was the one (not me) who figured out what the hell was going on at the beginning of "Wilson".
I am way too easily affected by the emotional state of people with me at shows; if I'm with someone who isn't having a very good time, I don't have as good a time, no matter how hard I try to ignore them and just experience the music. But when I'm with someone having the kind of powerful experience Jay was having, especially when I'm as close to that person as I am to Jay, it's incredible. It magnifies my own experience of the music. Damn fine way to spend my twenty-ninth birthday.


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