, attached to 2003-07-23

Review by Anonymous

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

A look inside the mind of an eighteen year old at his first Phish show:
What awaits me inside the gates of the amphitheater in Raleigh? Stories of the greatest audio/visual show on earth echo in my head as I present my ticket to the out of place looking security officer, a middle aged woman who looks like she has seen enough dreadlocks and smelled enough weed for a lifetime. Slowly we make our way to the section on our ticket, weaving in and out of the throngs of people gyrating to the recorded sounds of the pre-show music. Finally we make our way to Section 9, Row U, seat 27, and behold the stage.
At first, it strikes me as not what I had expected, looking like a normal stage in the waning hours of the day. But all I needed to see to know that it was far from normal was the neon day glo Phish... well Phish fish, I guess...on the drum set to know that this was something different.
7:30. Half an hour to show time. I sit in the Section 9, Row U, Seat 27, shirtless, basking in the steadily disappearing sunrays. And as the sun disappears, I see a face I have only seen in photographs, then another, another and one more. These four faces I have been waiting to see take their places behind their instruments, beginning to strum to make sure everything is exactly perfect. Then, before I know it, I am lost in ethereal sound. The guitar blends perfectly with the bass blends perfectly with the drums blends perfectly with the keyboards...perfectly.
Before I know it I am lost in a “Divided Sky” that is not as good as some versions I have heard, but at the same time is perfect, because I am actually seeing the movements on the frets of the guitar, seeing the sweat drip off the faces of the musicians as they pour their heart and soul into making our evening...perfect. A “Llama” that makes me want to scream it is so good. Then lights, and I sit in Section 9, Row U, seat 27 and bask shirtless and oblivious in the neon glow of the false lights overhead. I slip in and out of reality, finally wrested back to the only reality that matters, the thumping bass of “Ghost” opening the second set. I don't remember which song it was when I looked back at the seemingly innumerable masses gathered together and saw a sea of fire emitting from their hands, lighters held high. The world I was living in ended with a single man symphony as the piano played a beautiful ending to a song with a very peculiar name. Left alone on stage at the end of “The Squirming Coil”, the genius behind the ivory keys sent me and the thousands who populated Phish's sea of fire into a place very few are able to go...a perfect utopia.


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