Phish. Not to be confused with fish, like the slimy little creatures you catch in lakes, rivers and the ocean. No, Phish is a jam band from Vermont that have been attracting a large following for the better part of 20 years. I have been a big fans of them since the mid nineties, shortly before they made a few trips to Northern Maine for the Great Went and Lemonwheel in Limestone. I love the no-nonsense approach to some of the lyrics, the melodic jams and the extreme devotion by "the glide" (one of many terms for a follower of the band).
I remember being really excited to have them come to The County back in 1997 for the Great Went. My buddies Matt and Dustin and I packed up Matt's little Honda Civic and we partied and danced for 3 straight days. It was an experience unlike anything I have ever been a part of. I remember the sheer joy of hearing the news that they were coming back in 1998 to play Lemonwheel. Again, I was one of the 60,000 or so fans in attendance. 2003 saw Phish come to Limestone one last time for the "It" festival. No longer living in The County, and having a little one at home, I packed the VW up and drove up alone for one last weekend of late night disco, grilled cheese sandwiches and patchouli.
Outdoor festivals are an amazing experience, and one I could never begin to explain to someone who has never been. The party never stops. I remember dancing at all night disco tents with a backpack full of beer. I remember the sea of tents lining the outside of the runway on the former Air Force Base. I remember overflowing port-a-potties and the massive amounts of stuff people left behind when leaving town. Pictures and words can't describe the craziness that surrounds one of these festivals.
Sunday night marked the second time I saw Phish at an indoor venue, having seen them ten years ago, also at the Cumberland County Civic Center. I remember it being chaotic at and around the Civic Center, but it all came rushing back to me as we got closer to the venue Sunday night. There are people all over, selling grilled cheese sandwiches, burritos, bottled water, beer, stickers, shirts and any drug you would ever need or want. The police presence is all around, but these people have been doing this for a while, and most know how to be discreet. That being said, there were also 43 arrests this time around, some of which took place on the highway in and out of town. As usual, we had ourselves a good time without the assistance of the mind altering stuff that was being peddled that night, but if you want it, no matter what it is, you could find it.
We had seats right behind the open stage, and were able to be within 10 feet of the band as they entered and exited the stage, which was a really cool experience. We obviously couldn't see all the facial expressions and movements made by the band, but everyone was up and dancing around us, and we had an absolute blast. The band appears to be back from a brief hiatus, and they are on top of their game. If you know one song or a hundred, I absolutely recommend getting to a show. It is something you HAVE to experience to understand, and I promise you, it is so worth it. Whether you are a music fan or just a people watcher, you will go home happy, especially if you eat the brownies. I'm just saying...