I was a sophomore at Potsdam at the time. I had seen Phish several times before then, and had been turning a lot of friends at school and at home on to the music. So I was stoked to find out that the school's Environmental Club was working to convince the College to pay for the whole thing and make it a free event. And they succeeded. The school paid for the gig, and no admission was charged for anyone, even non-students.
So, this show was up in the Multi Purpose Room on the second floor of our little student union building. I remember I helped unload Phish's truck, and got to hang around backstage for a while. I remember playing with Trey's dog Marley, running around the floor of the room while the real crew set up the stage. At some point close to the show I ditched all that and went to hang with my friends in the crowd.
I don't remember much detail about the actual show itself, but I do remember having a great time. This was back in the day when I hadn't yet seen a single low energy Phish show. I had seen some Dead shows that blew my mind, but then a few that didn't, and was disappointed in that. Then I started seeing these Phish shows and every single one of them was a least as good as the one before. My mind kept getting blown, and this show was no exception.
Well, because the show was free, word got out, so even though Potsdam College is small and the town is small, the place was pretty packed (at least for little old Potsdam). The school was caught by surprise by the fact that this was a REAL rock show. Big sound, big crowd (for Potsdam), big fun. No meaningful security presence, no tickets, lines, check-ins, pat downs. Just waltz right in and prepare to boogie. It was awesome! Some guys I knew brought a beer ball right in to the room (remember those?). Yeah, it was a fun scene.
Of course security had a fit. I don't remember any trouble that night, but the school did call the Environmental Club organizers in front of some judicial/review board and reamed them pretty good! I think it was mostly about beers (and beer balls) in the MPR, and maybe pot being smoked. I don't remember what punishment was doled out, but I'm pretty sure they thought it was worth it!
Can't believe that's almost two decades ago now...backwards down the number line and twenty years later, eh?