, attached to 2003-12-01

Review by Anonymous

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

Most Phish fans speak of the first time they ever "got it." For most, these stories obviously hold a special place in their hearts. Some border on overly sappy or even religious experiences: a moment where their lives were changed, or some other cliche. The first time I understood Phish wasn't quite so dramatic. It came in seventh grade while listening to “Harry Hood” on A Live One (a rendition which I understand converted many).
My first show was equally special, and nearly every show I've gone to has had that moment where I start smiling and giggling uncontrollably. But it wasn't until this past winter, in Albany of all places, where I finally realized what a special place in my life these four guys hold. I finally understood what the sappiness was all about. I finally, truly, "got it."
My brother and I started our journey from Providence at around 4:00, and soon found ourselves driving in darkness over the Mass Pike, with snow flurries and black ice patches over the Berkshires, to boot. The clouds in those mountains seemed especially threatening that night, and thoughts invariably came into my head of why the hell I was doing this. After all, I had a few major projects to work on for various classes at Providence College, with the semester winding down. I'd be playing catch-up after this, so it had better be worth it. I mean, the Nassau show a few nights before was good, but this kind of work had better be damn worth it for someone as uptight as me, who nearly lost my mind in the traffic of Limestone the summer before.
Finally arriving in the parking lot, I began to calm down. The overwhelming homogeneity of the parking lots outside the Pepsi Arena had a soothing effect on me, and for the first time in a while I was able to laugh at the stereotypes of our scene that we all seem to fit into. With people practically giving away their extra tickets, I began to get the feeling that this could be a very special show.
Then it happened. Completely sober, I became aware of something very special in the air. It came on just as the snow began to fall on those packing into the awesome-looking glass building that is the Knick. The crowd's cheers as we approached the gates were especially electric this night, and those icy roads on I-90 suddenly seemed light-years away.
Then the show. As 8:00 neared I already felt it. That this would be the best show I had ever attended already seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Everything in my body told me it would be. Trey's soaring, orgasmic guitar in “Chalk Dust”, the dark and threatening “Stash”, the majestic “Guyute”, the delicately beautiful “Thunderhead”, and the absolute nirvana of the greatest “Wolfman's” ever, which found its way into “Good Times/Bad Times”, confirmed my earlier belief.
It was only a warm-up, and I wasn't the only one who knew this. The wave from the crowd at set break told me I wasn't, and with the opening notes of “Tweezer” I knew the band was aware of it, too. It seemed inevitable that “Tweezer” would end up going into “2001”; it was just that kind of night. And when they followed with “YEM” it was only a confirmation that this was the show of their four night run. It might not have been their best show ever, but for me it might as well have been. I was connecting with what was happening around me on a level unlike anything I had experienced before.
I was so happy that Jeff Holdsworth got to be a part of this night. Even as a member of the band 20 years ago, he couldn't figure out that something overwhelmingly special was happening, and he went his separate way. Perhaps it was meant to be that he wouldn't be a permanent member of Phish, and I know it wasn't coincidence that the boys found Page to take his place. But on this night, Jeff finally realized the important role that he played in this wonderful band. Jeff has nothing to be ashamed about for leaving, because for those final five songs that night, I know he felt all the joy that music can possibly bring to one person. He finally "got it." And so did I.


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