But everything went perfectly to plan and there I was on a Tuesday afternoon in August driving into a Phish lot for the first time. What an experience. I had no prior knowledge of the lot scene or Shakedown Street and I was blown away by it all. I just felt immediately comfortable (apart from the heat which I was really not used to) and at home with like-minded people. I bought some nice-looking chocolate brownies and spent the afternoon in a pleasant semi-daze, wandering round and round the lot thrilled at all the crazy and cool sights and the endless stream of cars full of happy people being slowly marshalled in.
Eventually it was showtime and I passed on my spare ticket for a fraction of what it cost me to someone who didn't even want to go in the pav - I hadn't realised that anyone would actually prefer to be on the lawn. In fact the idea of 'the lawn' was completely alien to me. There are no venues in the UK remotely like the pavilions that Phish play on Summer Tour.
My recollection of the show was that I was so excited in the first set - thrilled that they started with an extended Bag, played PYITE 3rd song in, and all in all dropped a nice first set which seemed to be over in a flash.
Set break gave a breath of fresh air and I queued to get a nice Mansfield shirt then watched everyone milling round meeting up with their friends and sharing thoughts on what would be in Set 2. Back in my (good, page-side halfway down) seat I chatted with the people next to me who had heard my accent and were amazed that someone had flown from the UK for the gig. I was super-thrilled and touched that they shared their bowl with me which only further convinced me that this whole experience was like if I'd imagined what my perfect gig experience could be and here it was - band, music, atmosphere, people, lights, vibe everything....
Set 2 started how I expected a Phish gig to be - Mike's Groove into some laid back jamming and then for me halfway through it all went a bit flat. I wasn't familiar with Makisupa at the time and have always had a bit of a thing against white boy reggae (I'm over it Phish-wise btw), Dog Faced Boy was ok but Friday really bummed me and as much as I liked Hood I felt a bit 'is that it?' as Set 2 ended.
Was very happy that Possum was the encore but all too soon it was back to the car and one of the longest waits I've ever had to get out of a car park. Plenty of time to reflect on an amazing day and how pleased I was with myself and how I'd made it happen.
Next day I had to get back to Boston for my flight back to the UK and kept thinking why hadn't I swapped my spare ticket for one for the second night - surely I could have changed my flight and taken an extra day off work? - but that was it, 2 more shows, then Coventry, then the end and I would never get to see Phish again.
Listening back to the show now, Set 1 is still very good and a 6 song first set is pretty unusual (especially from a 2011 perspective). Set 2 has its moments but I still get a bit bummed by Friday and Trey is clearly not fully on his game at various points in the show. All the same, this show brings back very special memories for me and proved that if you want it enough a little travelling shouldn't get in the way. I'm now up to 13 more shows in 3.0 so have a different warmer perspective on everything... and I love Phish, every day.