you won't find moments in a box

Sunday, the Rosens & I drove out to Brooklyn Center, MN to see the end of Phish. None of us had the desire to drive all the way out to Vermont for their sold-out Coventry festival (in Coventry, VT), as none of us had even been to a Phish show since 2000, before their year & a half hiatus during which I lost interest in a big way. But since Phish decided to simulcast its final shows to Regal Cineplexes across the country (in HD video that looked spectacular, btw), we decided the 20 minute drive & the $20 ticket price (which used to get you into an actual Phish show) wasn't too much revisit a group that had provided so many great moments during our formative late teens & early twenties.

Now despite my general lack of interest in them & my penchant for things more indie, I don't claim to be a "reformed" Phishhead. Hell, Phish is as "indie" as it gets, cultivating a gigantic fan base without any real crossover success. And while I rarely ever listen to them anymore, I still love them to death & think they were one of the greatest bands ever.

As they played "Reba" during their first set (of 3) on Sunday, I remarked to Rachel that it was their older, more intricately-composed material that really drew me to them, that didn't sound like anything else out there. Of course, "Reba" and many other songs played during their final show were IMO somewhat sloppy (I'm looking at you, Trey), which only served as a reminder that the band is probably doing the right thing by calling it quits.

There's a nice article over at Glide Magazine (via Phish.Net) that discusses the pros & cons of the Phish legacy. They describe the hiatus as such:
You know when that girl broke your heart, and told you “we need time apart.” Then you spent a miserable year trying to get her back, and when you finally convince her to give it another shot, after two weeks you realize she was right all along. But you have a good couple months of drunken, sloppy sex anyway before you both eventually decide to just break it off for good? That was the hiatus.

And they're right. Phish played a marathon midnite-to-sunrise set on new year's 2000 that they could never top. They toured summer & fall 2K as an encore, and their final pre-hiatus show at Shoreline in California was a much better send off than the show I watched in a movie theater this past weekend. The band got back together to give it another shot, but after another year & a half they realized it just wasn't to be.

I'm sure the sets from Coventry will be available for download over at Live Phish soon, though I won't be making that purchase. While the show had some great moments, I doubt I'd ever want to listen to it again. There were some extemely beautiful moments though, especially during the second set. Keyboardist Page McConnell became too emotional to properly sing the ballad "Wading in the Velvet Sea," but he managed to play through the tears as frontman Trey Anastasio performed a gorgeous guitar solo to cap off the song. Page's tears were contageous as Trey began to cry while speaking to the audience, as each band member took their turn thanking them for 21 years of loyalty, good times, and incredible music. Drummer Jon Fishman gave props to the fans who, after not being allowed to park on the grounds due to the damage caused by the previous week's unfortunate weather, just left their cars at the side of the road & walked the remaining 12 miles (or so) to the camping/concert area. When you've driven hundreds of miles to see a band, what's a little walk after all?

Anyway, my thanks to Phish, who were a big chunk of my life.

MP3 Phish - "Cavern"
I can honestly pinpoint the moment I first got hooked on Phish (no pun intended). I was at Herzl Camp in Wisconsin during the summer of 1994, and my age group (the "Deavers" were the oldest in camp) was having some sort of dance in the old cafeteria (aka "chadar"). Whoever was dejaying put on this song, from Phish 1992 Elektra debut A Picture of Nectar, and I just lost my sh**. I was dancing around like a nut, and I remember vividly getting a natural high out of it. No drugs were ever necessary for my Phish experience, thank you very much.

MP3 Phish - "Sample in a Jar"
When I got home from camp that summer, I promptly received my first live Phish show from my brother Alan, the 12/31/93 performance from the Worcester Centrum on two Maxell audio tapes. And I wore those tapes out. After playing "Auld Lange Syne" at midnite, the band launched into a "Down With Disease" jam that was always my favorite moment on the second tape. "Down With Disease" also opened the second set on Sunday & may have been the peak moment of the whole show for me. I thought about posting "Down With Disease", but decided to post "Sample in a Jar", likewise from the band's 1994 album Hoist, instead. It's not a big jam vehicle or anything, but it's a great pop song. I had to do it.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shout-out to Tyler P, Kerry, Dr. Swain & the other NYC folks from last month's RANA boat cruise who said they were headed out to Coventry. I hope you all made it out there & back in one piece.
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Blogger Jake @ 8/19/2004 02:43:00 PM:

Mr. Gilbert, you and I have much in common when it comes to Phish. I first got Phish at summer camp where we told the metal-head in our cabin that the Phish tape we had was Jefferson Airplane and he even requested the tape by the end of the week. When we let him in on the secret he sure felt dumb for writing "Phuck Phish" on his hat. Most people dismiss Phish before they've even heard a note.

I spent an hour in my car this morning listening to Phish for the first time in months and I had a lump in my throat during Harry Hood as I realized I'd never hear it played live again.    

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