The scene outside the Onondaga War Memorial was as tumultuous as the torrent of thoughts cascading through my brain. It seemed there were a couple thousand more people hanging around in the parking lot than there were seats in the arena. People seemed rabid, frothing at the mouth to get into this show. Could they really all want to be here as badly as I did? The steady stream of fans climbing on each other’s shoulders to sneak into the second-floor bathroom window of the War Memorial answered that question with a resounding HELL YES. This show was going to be even more crazy than the one down in Binghamton in April. I was experiencing true ecstasy and had yet to hear a note. Finally, I made it through the turnstile and down onto the floor. A general-admission show and the floor was covered with seats? What was the meaning of this? Slowly but surely the chair trees sprouted from the floor — Row upon row of chairs, separated and stacked. Higher and higher they grew, a forest of plastic and steel, lofty perches for those brave enough to scale them for a better view of the stage.
The lights went down and the roar of the crowd rose up to the rafters. The first set opened with a paint-by-numbers version of “Sample in a Jar”. But the colors…the colors they used…so alive…so liquid. With the exception of “Bouncin’” (which reminded me of her!), the first set was an incredible orgy of light and sound. I felt so alive. Such a stark contrast to the Dead shows I had been to a couple weeks before at the Boston Garden and MSG. “David Bowie” ripped off the top of my head with its intensity. With my scullcap pried loose, there was nothing to prevent the “Vibration of Life” from seeping into my brainstem and coloring it paisley forever. I was indeed tuned in to the universe. There was so much room in this music to think about things. Sometimes I felt forced to consider things I'd rather forget, other times images I was sorry I had forgotten flooded into my consciousness. It was amazing, truly magical, and at times hilarious. “Chalk Dust Torture” finally (it seemed like time stood still for a while) closed out the set and I found I definitely wanted to live while I was young.
During the setbreak I tried to come to terms with my latest Phish experience. Garbled sentences sprung from my mouth and impacted wordlessly on the ears of my friends. I could not find the words to express the joy I felt. I had been to Gamehendge, I was saved.
The lights went down once more and I saw my life run away from me. Thousands of friends I had yet to meet ran along…singing words from a song. My song. Our song. The song of the universe. Have no regrets. Never put yourself in a position where you wish you had or had not done something. Better to love and lose than never love at all. Profound philosophy being injected into my thoughts by the vibration of light and sound and energy swirling around me. Was this happening to everyone? One look around at the radiant smiles told me all I needed to know. This band is so damn good. I can't believe a concert can be like this. Pummeled by thoughts, by light, by sound…it's relentless. I'm trapped in time. I don't know what to do. Ah yes…just share in the groove. Sure, I can do that. This is “Simple”. Just because we've got a band. Our band. Skyballs, saxscrapers, cymbop, and beebophones. What? By the end of “Weekapaug” I had been reduced to a gibbering simpleton. The rest of the set was a blur.
The encore brought me my first sip from the “Loving Cup”. A song that plays such a huge role in my life to this day. It is a song of hope, a song of frustration, a song of love, and a song of life. I can run and jump and Phish but I won't fight…you if you want to push and pull with me all night. Just gimme little drink…from your loving cup. Just one drink…and I'll fall down drunk. Yes you.