I wonder if I'll ever get tired of talking about this. Bard College's infamous Halloween parties were ordered to be toned down by the brand new "Dean of Alcohol and Drug Abuse" (yes, that was her actual title) Beth Frumkin. As a result, my friend Seth encouraged everyone in the community to drive down to Poughkeepsie to see some new band whose first album he had just reviewed describing them as, "[sounding] like Camper Van Beethoven covering Steely Dan or Steely Dan covering early Pink Floyd."
Well that did sound kind of interesting and I had nothing better to do that night, but mainly I was going for the opening band - Bard's own Shooky Bones. I talked to a member before I left and said, "This Phish band should open for you," but he was having none of it, saying that the guitarist was amazing.
So I drove down to the Chance, paid my $8 or whatever it was and went it. This show doesn't circulate on any tapes - not even the band has one - so all I know about it comes from my fading memories - and I was ... errr... distracted by a certain other audience member throughout the night, but that's a completely different and not as interesting as it should be story - and a review of the show in the next issue of the Observer
I know my first show opened with "I Didn't Know">"YEM". I know there was a "Reba," probably the old arrangement. I know there was a costume contest in which I made the second round despite not wearing a costume because the half filled venue had 30-40 Bardians in it and they cheered for me. I know they played a "Colonel Forbin's" in which Trey said, "I know some of you are confused about what's going on now..." and then told some story which confused me more than when I thought it was just another song.
The main thing I know was the set II closer. It's hard to forget a "Harpua," even if you didn't know it existed; yes I got a double narration second set at my first show. I'm pretty sure the song that Jimmy was listening to was the Doobie Brothers, "Taking it to the Streets," and I remember the long, long buildup to naming the cat.
"I love you so much. I love you so much that when I first found you I had to name you this. This name that meant so much to me. The name... it's not Fluff. It's... it's... the name, the special name... (etc etc etc)... POSTER NUTBAG!!!"
It was at that moment - and perhaps later when Poster jumped off of, "the white... corduroy... shelf," that I was hooked. I didn't know it yet, but the whole, "It's not Fluff," thing caused me to buy Junta at the merch booth hoping that "Fluffhead" was the song that I loved. It wasn't, but I soon fell in love with "The Divided Sky," and the rest, well I'm about to fly to California tomorrow to see them yet again, 20 years later.
So thank you Seth for inspiring me to go see Phish. Thank you band for choosing to play "Harpua" that night - although I bet there were nights where you might have wished you closed the show with "David Bowie" and I never got quite so into you - and continuing to interest me throughout these years.
As the Dude of Life said on 11/28/03, "Here's to 20 incredible years of Phish! And most importantly, most importantly, here's to 20 more incredible years of Phish." My second 20 years starts at Indio and I can't wait!