when phish rolls into town you should probably check it out. you don't necessarily need tickets either to have a good time. (i'll get to the ticket issue in a minute). by "checking it out" i mean that you should at least experience the parking lot because that is where you will find the true spirit of a phish show. indeed it is like no other social setting on earth - these people take the idea of tailgating to a new level. now here's where i must admit that i'm a phish rookie. i have, however, been to a handful of jam band shows and a festival so i'm not completely green to such settings. that said, i learned a lot.
essentially you enter a new world of unparalleled people watching; a modern day gypsy caravan hitching post/performance space. while encountering a potpourri of heady scents you will be witness to impromptu jam sessions, hoola-hooping maidens, and an open market place where anything can be had for cash or trade. and i mean anything: t-shirts, posters, jewelry, crystals, glass pipes, jello-shots, nitrous balloons, beer & wine, not to mention a most impressive selection of street food. roasted garlic-rosemary-grilled cheese sandwich anyone? how about a falafel with fresh-handmade tsatsiki? or is pad-thai more your style? i was also introduced to an array of baked goods, i.e. edibles: aside from brownies and cookies i learned of a delicacy referred to as "goo balls". aside from drugs, the hot commodity was tickets; which is, in fact, the reason i was in this parking lot of wonders in the first place.
the show was conveniently located just 4 blocks from my apartment so i was able to make several rounds starting early afternoon. with supply and demand laid bare, my quest for tickets was a most authentic lesson in basic economics. the number of desperate souls with their finger in the air was intimidatingly high, equalled to the astronomical ticket prices (around the unaffordable neighborhood of $125-150 each). the situation only worsened with time. i needed a new market place. my strategy: an hour before show time hit up the surrounding pubs host to dank brews and eager concert goers. it totally worked. i was able to take advantage of some clueless dude's inebriated state/ lack of ticket price knowledge. jah smiled my friends, for i bought my phish ticket at $50. and with that i let the wild rumpus begin.
i've said it before and i'll say it again: go big or go home. that is why i viewed the concert from the fourth row. make that fourth row floor. did i have tickets for said seats? certainly not. some friends did though and therefore those were my seats by association. regardless, once the show got underway "seats" were no longer an issue. truthfully all you need is a ticket - it was a free-for-all once you got into the theater. (those poor red-jacketed stewards didn't know what hit them.) even though i could see the sweat dripping from trey's brow there are some drawbacks to such close seating. namely the show's technical elements which are geared more towards those sitting near the soundboard - where the full effects of a spectacular light show and optimal sound quality can be had.
this is not to say, however, that the light show wasn't outstanding from balloon spiking distance of the stage. for the color freak that i am, the light show had me on sensory overload. for instance, i can say with absolute honesty that i have never before experienced the color yellow from the inside out - it was awesome. i've posted photos bill and i snapped with an iphone to give you an idea. imagine the intensity of these colors surrounding and gripping you by the soul.
now, i know that a well seasoned phish fan would have much more to say about the music - which is at the core, the foundation, the driving force of the whole experience. i am not well versed enough to make educated claims on their musical stylings, but i can say is it was a lot of fun and i danced my ass off. those boys really know how to play a crowd.