, attached to 1994-11-25

Review by Piper72

Piper72 This was my first show, and my first experience with the maelstrom of sound and fury called Phish. We were a group of young, hapless hippies with a few Dead shows under our belt, but otherwise NO CLUE. I don't remember too much about our entry, or who bought the tickets, or the events leading up to the show. I do remember standing kind of near the back of the floor with our group, hearing those few notes of Trey's guitar, Fish's little drum roll, and then "Llama" hit us in the chest like a freight train and we went flying - literally, into each other, bouncing around, communing with these strange happy souls, these "Phans" as they - and we - would be known. The cacophony of "Llama", the deep funk/reggae of "Guelah Papyrus", the majesty of "Reba", the wacky circus dirge "Esther" - I watched these four guys play these songs - in a line! They stood in a line! Who DOES that?? - and my eyes never left. My eyes and ears were forever captivated. I felt suspended from time and space. The sound, the lights - this was what a concert should BE.
At some point, we got up to the front. I don't remember how; it was one of those things. You see an opening, you follow a guy, a girl - or, and I think this is what it was more like - you determine I AM GOING TO GET MUCH, MUCH CLOSER and you just start walking. The crowd before you, sensing your determination, clears a path. And before you know it, you're THREE ROWS BACK, and you're looking at these guys, but they're not guys anymore - they are GODS, they are titans, they are ephemeral beings levitating us over Mt. Olympus and showing us the universe as we had never seen. And with that second set, they blew that universe WIDE OPEN. The "2001>Mike's>Simple" was a slow opening cosmic rift, like the fabric of space and time being stretched to the point of ripping open and letting whatever madness lurking behind it come bellowing forth in a tidal wave of incomprehension. Seriously, at some point in "Simple" a wormhole opened up, and we were transported through a black hole (a la Cygnus X-1) and brought into a mountainous world of angry old men, wild slobbering dogs, an innocent boy and his pet cat. And love beams. Green love beams and Angry red vocal hatred beams. They were everywhere! I had never seen a glowstick war at a concert, and I've never seen one like this since. It was staged, of course, but the audience feedback of retaliation with the "love beams" to combat the "vocal hatred beams" - you'd have thought, witnessing it, that there was really a battle of good and evil going on and Trey was enlisting all of us as his footsoldiers to take up the cause. And ever since, I've thought of every Phish show in that same context, band and audience together charging evil head-on with our "love beams" dancing, smiling, spinning, cheering - supporting our Phour Phearless Leaders. Yes, my first show contained my first "Harpua" and first (some say THE first) glowstick war. Was I the luckiest sonsabitch alive? Maybe. I think so, at least. And there was still that "Weekapaug>Mango Song" (still one of the best transitions they've ever pulled off IMO), still that "Purple Rain" with that goofy little Greazy Fizeek and his silly dress and vacuum cleaner, OWNING that shit like he was Sinatra. And Run Like an Antelope, to spend the rest of our synapses and seratonin. "Good Times Bad Times" was a bit ironic for a cap-off - could there even BE bad times with this band?? - but their masterful take on Zeppelin really "Brought it on home" for us at the end.
In short, everything was amazing and enough to "hook" me for the next twenty years. And I'm glad to see "the boys" most recently continuing to explore that headspace that we all embody, capturing an imagination we never knew we had, the Phab Phour plus CK5 creating the most perfect aural and visual show money will ever buy. Thank you, Phish, for 20 years of ripping open that universal fabric for me, and leaving me never the same.

Mark Lester
November 25th, 2014


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