Last Thursday the stars aligned, we got tickets, and saw Phish in Pittsburgh. Well, Burgettstown, officially, a wooded hamlet seemingly nowhere near Pittsburgh (sort of like when the Cavs played in Richfield). The forecast called for overcast skies with the threat of rain, but when the gates opened and the happy crowd streamed into the rolling lots at 3:30 pm, the sun came out in all it's June glory and dispelled any fear of rain.
The scene in the lot was not markedly changed in the approximate 5 years since the "retirement" commenced (this following the "hiatus" of two years previous). This is a good thing. Phishlot is a rarity in society, or at least the society I live in. Everyone and anyone is game for a friendly greeting, a quick convo, and a best wishes for a great show. The anticipation builds as the craft beer supply diminishes. Friends reunite from their disparate cities, and we were no exception; C-Note from Columbus, Wolff just off the red-eye from L.A. Talk of shows, years, now over a decade past; of epic Fluffhead's and incendiary I am Hydrogen -> Mike's Song -> Weekapaug Grooves (and you caught them with the Giant Country Horns!?!? Oh my jealousy knows no bounds). But it's all good, because we're all here now...
And then the gates open... The energy is a palpable thing. It's like waking up on Christmas morning at 4:30 as a kid, knowing you have to wait, but so excited that your head might explode at any given moment. The lawn fills, everyone primes their engines to get down. Sandals are stacked neatly with purses and sunglasses in little piles, and the sun begins to turn the sky that shade of orange that only seems possible on wonderful days like this. Quick, anxious banter back and forth: What will they open with? Prayers for a Gamehenge, but not really believing that any of us will ever see it in our lifetime... but; what if???
Then, the PA music stops and the roar starts from the front of the crowd. Kuroda hits the lights, the boys take their places (in the old lineup, which is nice), and the party really gets started.
I love a place where everyone, everyone, can dance as ridiculously as they are moved to, and not a soul bats an eye. Think about it; have you ever been to a place like that?
A little something for everyone tonight; with a first set that includes tunes from ends of the back catalog; Divided Sky into Heavy Things? Who knew? Buzz around the campfire seemed to be that the general consensus was this was looking like a nice retro mid-nineties show. By this, for the uninitiated, they mean something along the lines of the following:
1. Slightly after the small-show age where you could still walk up and buy tickets at the door and they used to interact with the fans (great examples here), but
2. Just entering the extra-funky peanut butter period where Mike (Gordon, our beloved bass player extraordinaire) really started to hammer out some deep lines, and just as
3. They were beginning to really expand the repertoire; abandoning old favorites like Timber Ho and Faht, while introducing us to new favorites like Guyute and Down With Disease.
I guess I'm rambling... So, I'll just say that overall, being back at a show was like (and I mean this with all sincerity) rediscovering something you didn't realize you'd lost. Not a purpose or a way of life, per se, but a reminder that there always exists an alternative, a reprieve, an escape from the grind that so unforgivingly swallows our hours.
So... anyone want to hit Chicago?