Walking through the streets of Los Angeles towards the Greek Theater on that fateful night, I was at the beginning of a new passion in my life. I came up to everyone's belt buckles and had to tilt my neck back to look up at all the adults. I will never forget what I saw, for it became a way of life for me. Men and women wore bright clothing and dreadlocks and sold all sorts of things, from glass items to hemp necklaces to something I later on learned to love, goo balls.
At the time I only had Junta to listen to (it was a gift), and I fell in love with the two disc masterpiece. I made the trek all the way from my native Costa Rica to California to be able to experience this wonderful new sound live. At twelve years old, I didn't know what to expect!
As the crowd grew anxious inside the venue, I looked to my right and saw a beautiful girl (who must have been eighteen or nineteen years old) smile down at me and say, "Enjoy the show little sister"¯. These words have stayed with me at every show I have been to since.
The screaming grew louder and with the lights still dim, I saw four silhouettes climb the stage with a cool ease as if taking a stroll on a Sunday afternoon. That's when it all began: songs I had never heard that blew my mind. A new genre of music to my ears! I had never listened to other jambands, not even the Grateful Dead, so this sound that was coming from these four talented musicians was a new and wonderful experience!
I danced like I had never danced in my life as they kicked off the show with "AC/DC Bag"¯ and kept my groove all the way through "Sparkle"¯ and "Divided Sky"¯. I finally chilled out when "Strange Design"¯ began, a song that I have only had one other opportunity to listen to live (in 1997), after eight years of attending shows. My heart sank with the beautiful words and music that came from Trey Anastasio, a name I would become so acquainted with I would feel as if though I knew him.
After the show I lay in bed and thought about everything that I had seen and heard that night. I knew then that that's how I wanted to live my life. I wanted to follow Phish and live the excitement I had lived that night for the rest of my life.
Almost an entire year went by before I had another opportunity to see Phish live. During that time I acquired most of the albums that had been released up until then and could play some of their basic riffs on my guitar. None of my friends in Costa Rica understood my love for the band, for the music. I was alone in my love of the band, but that never discouraged me from listening and believing that someday I would see them live again.
That someday came July 5, 1996 in Rome, Italy. When I found out that Phish was doing a European tour, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to seeing them again. My mother is remarried to an Italian from Rome, so we spent quite a lot of time there. I was able to convince my mom to leave for Italy a few weeks before schedule so I could see the band perform a second time.
I had hoped that my second Phish experience would be as good as my first"... that show exceeded my expectations. I was more familiar with the music then the first time around and had a much deeper appreciation for the different versions of songs I heard. That night I learned what a kind person was. Some kids I met at the show offered me to go with them to see the rest of the European tour.
Over the years I saw Phish in over 10 states, most western European countries, and Japan. Now, at age 20, standing 5'11, I don't have to crank my neck back to look at everyone anymore, but I still feel the rush I felt that first night back in LA. My knees get weak, my stomach grows knots and my head goes crazy in anticipation wondering "what will they play tonight?"¯!
I've never formally met the band, though I did have a very brief run-in with Trey in Los Angeles once in 2000 on one of his solo tours. But that's another story for another day"...I've often wondered what I would say to the guys if ever given the chance to meet them. So many questions pop to mind, about the words, about the music, about them"... but in the end I know I wouldn't really ask them anything. I would simply say "thank you"¯.
July 10, 2003 was my last concert, at Shoreline in California. It was my fiftieth show and I enjoyed it as much as I did my first, eight years before. I know I will always love Phish and will continue to listen to their music throughout the rest of my life. I don't know for sure how many more shows I will go to in my life, I can't say how long Phish will continue to perform live, and I cannot promise myself that I will get in to every show that I try to. The only thing I am sure of is that I will hear a little voice inside my head that will say "enjoy the show little sister"¯... and I know that I will.