I wish I had documented my earlier Phish shows in writing, because these shows were primal to me — everything was new, and the shows were spectacular. I will attempt to rekindle the flame that made these shows so amazing to me, in writing. Up till this point I had been seeing Phish for one year (7/23/93 Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY, was my first show). I had the "phire," as some called it back then. I was seeing them any chance I could. I had kicked off the year by seeing wonderful shows in Binghamton and the Beacon Theater run in April, but nothing could prepare me for this wild weekend.
A couple of my friends and I made the trek up to Great Woods from Long Island. I had just recently seen the Mann Music Center show (7/1/94), and had heard about the "GameHoist" show in Charleston, West Virginia (6/26/94 Municipal Auditorium). Needless to say, I was astounded that they did the most complete Gamehendge since '88. I was thoroughly jealous for not attending the "unannounced" show (it was not in the newsletter, and was announced during the tour — a few showed up nonetheless).
So, as we check into our hotel, we begin talking about the night's show and what we might have in store. We make our way to the venue and check out the lot scene. It was getting crowded, not insane like it is nowadays, but it was crazy for its period. There were quite a few ticketless. As we enter the venue, a beautiful girl walks up to my friend Ryan and compliments him for his "beautiful eyes," and hands him a ticket. Ryan already had a ticket, so he hands it to the first girl he sees, who was ticketless, and compliments her on her beautiful eyes. She gives him the most genuine hug I've seen and beams a smile to us, making us all feel very good. Enter venue…My friend Erick and I go to our seats, which are within the first ten rows, center, and settle down for the show to begin. Finally, the lights dim, and out comes Phish, breaking out my first Llama. I'm very happy and express it to Erick. As the song ends, we hear a siren going off, and I'm convinced there's a fire, but nothing happens. Suddenly, I realize that it is Phish making this noise. Confusion settles into some sort of order for me as I realize it’s “N2O”. I had recently picked up the “Down with Disease” cassette single, which has “N2O” on the B-side. I thought it hilarious that they were playing this orthodontically challenged song. Who'd a’ thunk?
Amidst the drilling and the smooth talking of Mike, the dentist, Trey begins speaking about a fifty-two-year-old man sitting in a dentist's chair…And we stepped through the door….Was this Gamehendge? Erick and I exchange confused glances, as the reality of this event sunk in. Only two weeks later and they were doing Gamehendge again. I will not review every bit of this set — you need to hear it yourself — but I will say that this still holds top honors in my opinion, for one of my favorite Phish experiences, and I haven’t even gotten to the tip of the iceberg yet.
The set ends and we begin mingling with the people around us. Everyone seems transcended, which tends to happen right after the lights come on. We talk to one person and express how much we loved that set. He replies, "It was good, but I wish they had played ‘Chalk Dust’." We agreed, of course, (insert laughing here).
The second set is highlighted by a wonderful “YEM>Frankenstein>YEM” sandwich. The show ends, and we leave fulfilled.
Fast-forward to night two. We park in the lot, and who parks next to us but the Dude of Life. We talk with him for a while and proceed into the venue. Show begins with a solid “Runaway Jim” and closes with a smoking “Antelope”. Second set, well, let me just show you: “Also Sprach Zarathustra->Split Open and Melt->Fluffhead->Poor Heart->Tweezer->Lifeboy->Sparkle->Big Ball Jam->Harry Hood”, “Suzie Greenberg”. 'Nuff said.
As the show ends, I'm walking out and bump into the Dude of Life again. We talk for a bit and he asks me if I'd like to meet the band. Of course I say yes, and he gives me an extra pass. As I enter the backstage area, the first person I see is Trey, with his big shit-ass grin. The Dude asks me if I am going to tomorrow night’s show (SPAC), to which I reply that I am, and he says, "good." He wound up playing with them the next night. Trey and the Dude of Life are ushered out by corporate-looking people, and I'm standing there, knowing no one, and being surrounded by the rest of Phish, phamily, and a few other phans.
I drink a few beers and talk to Page for a bit. Just small talk, but he’s very friendly and amazingly humble. Mike, on the other hand, is a bit stranger. I ask him if they had planned out the Gamehendge (for possible CD-ROM release) or just busted it out. His reply: "We busted." Then he says goodbye and walks away. Not unfriendly, just strange.
I talk to a few other people. Happened to see "Big Phil" who I have seen at every show I’ve been to (and the few times I was at the aftershow party). I tell him that I see him at every show, to which he replies, "I am at every show." He laughed and so does Amy Skelton. After a bit I start talking to Fish (you must realize there were not many people at this aftershow, so the people I felt I knew the most were Phish). Fish was extremely friendly, and I literally feel like I’m talking to one of my friends. He enlightens me to the meaning of “Weekapaug Groove”: they were at a party in Weekapaug, RI, and had a great time, and wrote about it. He said the rumors about the band all sleeping with the same girl were bogus…hmmm?
After a while, I knew my friends were probably getting impatient, waiting at my car with no clue where I was, so I decided I had to get going. I had Page, Mike, and Fish sign my ticket from the night before (Gamehendge), and really wanted Trey to sign it too. Enter fanboy phase…I told Fish that this was probably going to sound lame, but does he know if Trey is coming out. Fish sarcastically replied, "Well I usually keep tabs on him, but he got away this time." Of course I felt really stupid, and just said to him, "hey…," his friends commented to him he was being rude, and he apologized to me, said he was just kidding, and said he had no clue where he was. I, feeling stupid, said okay and goodbye. By the way, when I first asked Fish to sign my ticket, his friends said, "wow, you're a rock star now." This hugeness must've still been so new to them. I left the venue totally in shock about what had just transpired. When I got back to my car and told my friends what happened, they were so happy for me. After all, they had driven Page (don't ask) to a show the previous summer (Waterloo, NJ), and I was supposed to go with them. So, they were happy for my experience.
What an amazing run. Remember, we can stage a runaway golf cart marathon!