We woke up pretty early on Sunday because we had the 9AM-1PM shift at the House of Live Phish. It was a beautiful morning and we were amazed to see that most of the mud had dried out a bit to form a sticky clay. The HoLP was running pretty smoothly - the most common question people had was "how do I get my CD out?" because iMacs don't have a button on the drawer. In case anyone reading this was there during those times, I was the narc walking around the tent with a clipboard making sure you didn't hang out forever on the computers. The job wasn't really in my nature, but someone had to do it, and it did get Ann and I VIP access so NO COMPLAINTS.
After our shift, we checked out the commons a little bit since it was finally dry enough to walk around there. It had gotten hot during our 4 hours in the air conditioned tent. We went back to our tent, cooked up a little lunch and got ready for the last Phish show ever. We went back to the venue, and I grabbed a couple beers at the beer garden (mostly for the souvenir cups and the blackberries in the Long Trail Blackberry Wheat). Nice selection of beer - Long Trail, Harpoon, Magic Hat (and of course, Bud).
For the first set, we picked out a spot way back on the lawn and just chilled out. Mike's Groove was a nice opener, although Hydrogen could have been a little tighter (but then again, I don't think Trey's nailed this song for YEARS). I actually enjoyed Anything But Me in for the first time in my life - the slow slightly down tune fit my mood nicely. I was thrilled that they did the whistling at the end of Reba - it was fitting to play the old school version at the final show. Chalkdust had a decent jam, and during Wolfman's Trey had several interjections explaining the song - Fishman is the Wolfman's brother, Liz is a real person, etc. The band then brought their moms on stage, then the brought out Paluska and Trey and Mike did a grinding dance on each side of him. Following this was a Trey/Mike duet/duel, again illustrating musically some of the tensions involved with this breakup.
Following the set, we made haste to our campsite and put on a bunch of warm clothes for the final two sets of Phish EVER. We went back to the venue and got a little closer than we had been first set, dead center. Then we felt it. A couple of drops of rain. I looked to the west and saw a dark cloud. Ann and I could sense it was getting close to showtime, but I made the decision that we needed our raincoats. So I hiked back to camp. As soon as I got there, I hear the bass noodling that can only mean one thing - DWD. I grabbed the coats and stumbled through the ruts and mud back to the venue as quickly as possible. I got back to the area where we were watching the show, and I couldn't see Ann. Everyone was standing watching the show and the house lights were off. During DWD I stumbled through the crowd, goose-stepping around tarps and toes and creening my neck looking for her. I wasn't worried about Ann, but I was worried be apart for the SECOND TO LAST Phish set ever. I took a break from my search to listen to the start of Wading in the Velvet Sea. Page started to sing and then he broke down in tears, and Trey had to take over for him. I think for everyone there, this was by far the saddest moment of the show, and probably the most memorable. It was so heartbreaking and beautiful and astonishing to think that after all of these years the band still cares about each other that much.
Thankfully Ann saw me during Wading, and called out to me as soon as the song ended. Reunited, we hugged and started bouncing around to Glide, and I was hoping the show would end with a ton of old school favorites. Glide of course contains the lyric "we're glad glad glad that you're alive." After the song, Trey talked about how much the fans meant to the band, and then each of the band members chimed in with their own thank yous - except Page, who was still overcome with emotion. Then after the all look around at each other as if they are going to burst into tears, Trey announces that they are going to blow off some steam, and they kick into a very rocking SOAMelt. The jam was hard, fast, disjointed and excellent, IMHO. Kuroda was at the absolutely top of his game on the lights during this jam. The Ghost that followed was a bit of a let down after the great SOAMelt, but this was a good set.
During set break I could see in all the faces around me that we were all coming to the end of a long journey together. Rather than the typical celebratory atmosphere that surrounds a festival show, with everyone wondering what will be next, people seemed almost content to let the set break go on forever - because if they didn't start the third set, then we would always have more Phish in our future.
But the house lights dimmed, and I heard the opening riff of Fast Enough for You and immediately got a lump in my throat. My favorite slow Phish song, the one I had put on every mix tape I ever made for a girl in high school (who the hell knows why - it's not exactly a happy song). "If time were only part of the equation..." Ann and I looked at each other, started to weep than put our arms around each other and swayed to the beat. It occurred to me for a second that I must look like one of those people I used to make fun of at my early Phish shows - and then it occurred to me that I had a hell of a lot to learn about life back then.
A fun Seven Below followed, with Trey yelling "Seven Below!" to the beat in the latter part of the jam. Then Simple...the whole crowd was singing along and having a blast. The conspiracy theorist in me noted that they didn't sing the "We've got bebop" line (the line that everyone always said corresponded to Trey). The jam dissolved into Piper which in turn had a kick ass jam into the hilarious Bruno and Dickie Scotland improvs. The Wilson that followed featured the loudest crowd chant I have ever heard, with some of it probably a little hostile towards Trey. Me, I just had fun screaming my ass off. After Wilson was a sublime Slave, not perfectly executed, but impeccably placed. The band then left the stage.
I truly had no idea what they would play for an encore when they came back out. But when I heard the opening notes of The Curtain, I knew it was perfect (and I knew it would be "With"), and I felt like it was written for me:
As he saw his life run away from him
Thousands ran along
Chanting words from a song
"Please me have no regrets"
"Please me have no regrets"
Came from the baby's mouth
We follow the lines going South
Trey, Mike, Page and Fish - I have no regrets. Thank you for an amazing 10 years.