Phish tour in July meant that I could plan to see a bunch of shows without fear of missing school or having to rush home after a show to be up in time for students. This summer was filled with incredible music, great times, good traveling from show to show and meeting new friends and experiences along the way. Here’s my recap of Phish tour from Holmdel through Merriweather.
It turns out I could have done some more work on Monday, because I was up until 4am Wednesday packing, editing, writing, even vacuuming before I left. I didn’t get on the road until 3pm, which wasn’t good because New Jersey rush hour is just the worst. I got to the Garden State Parkway around 5pm and sailed to the exit, bypassed it, tried to cut in and was met by the cop parked right there. Gotta admit, good spot if you’re low on that ‘illegal lane change’ ticket quote. Still, I got in and parked within 100 feet of the entrance. I had only been here before for TAB in 2001, which you can read about here
I caught up with Tim and Shaun and Bryan and others, sold a few shirts and went inside. First set was nothing crazy special, although I do enjoy a nice ‘Theme’, but second set contains my vote for 2nd best jam of the summer (after Tahoe Tweezer) – Crosseyed > Hood was incredible for a great 30 minutes of deep jamming and a blissful 4 minutes in the last section of Hood. This second set was the heat and steamy inside, and showed that the band was on track to play better and better each night, which they did for the most part of the summer. It helped I was down low (thanks Tim) and got to see the spaceship aspect of the venue, very underrated in my opinion. I found my way to the Shakedown in Lot 3 that was quite a hike down and up hill, where I caught up with some artists and sold some shirts before taking an easy drive to Shaun’s.
In the morning, I left with Satoshi and Yasunobu to head out to Yankee Stadium, meeting up with Jason and Jules to see the Royals at 1. Bonus – great seats in right field only a half dozen rows back and Ichiro playing Centerfield. IPAs in hand, we brought two Japhans to their first American Baseball game and basked in the sun on a relaxing as hell day. Jeter came back, got a hit and run and promptly got hurt again; the Yanks came back to win 8-4, and Satoshi and I drove to Long Island, where we stayed the night before the Jones Beach show with Amy, taking it very easy and drinking Blue Points galore.
Friday was my last day to finish my SPAC review, and managed to get it done by noon and then get through all we had to take care of before getting to the lots. Yasu took care of his streaming stuff, Mark came over with his kid Henry, it was a crazy day and that was before picking up cases at Swiftway and some Italian next door. Looking at 5% chance of rain and nothing on the radar, things looked good for Jones Beach.
Then we got there, 20-30 mph winds were a norm and this was going to be interesting. This is one of those times when being an Eagle Scout is awesome. We set up the EZ-Up, tied it down to the wheel of the car, put up the tarp and tied that down, and holding one arm of the EZ-Up in place, we had a shelter for a dozen people at a time. For two hours before a show, this was damn fine group work, getting a little comfort in before the show. And we needed it. That was the worst rain I have ever dealt with at a show, on par with Bonnaroo 2004 and SummerCamp this past year. First set was fun though, I was so pumped up because I have this full body orange rainsuit, and I stay pretty dry in it. They are the best. Yet I got wet because gale force winds and driving rain that seemed to blow upward. Set break Sue, Bryan, Jada, Toombs and I took refuge outside the tunnels, and then, the rain stopped, and the second set began with a reward for toughing it through the rain – “Rock n Roll > 2001 > Tweezer”, all of them just driving the energy in the venue higher. The jam into “Cities was greeted as all Second Set Cities™ should be – with freaking out, and again into “The Wedge”. Even Velvet Sea and Zero were good, and now that I was drying off, the night was looking better and better, even though the rain was manageable, to an extent.
Post show, I took my sweet time getting dry and ready for a drive straight to the hotel in Columbia, because it was going to rain on and off and taxing. Satoshi and Yasunobu drove with me, but they stopped for a bit in Jersey. I had to get to a bed before I slept and didn’t want to miss going to the venue at a reasonable hour. I got to the Comfort Suites, a pretty nice new chain, for me, and checked in as soon as I could. The drive down was great, the destination even better.
Lunch was a crawfish boil at Noah’s place, with all the fixins and some incredible spice to the crawfish. It was on the way to the venue and Julie and Lesley were both there, a pleasant surprise for all. Crawfish were tasty, but have so little meat on them compared to other seafood I eat. It was damn tasty nonetheless and a culinary bucketlist item to cross off. We managed to get to the lots around 6, ending up in not the good big Lot, which was chill and brought out the Baynes, Charlie, Herschel and Mike Lawrence, who is shooting a 30th anniversary fan film, look for him at Dick’s and on Fall Tour!
There wasn’t much to write home about with MPP night 1, except that I was really glad I was in the pavilion, that rain during the end of Set 1 looked rough, and with the odd slope of the lawn, fuck that. Actually Taste, Maze and Melt were all good in the first set, as was the Hood, but the heat came the next night. Post show, the cops were happy to rush us out the door and back to our hotels, which had a wide array of late night revelers, some spunions, dudes drinking good beer, tweakers and girls drinking good beer. I met some dudes from Texas I think. It was a late night.
The next day, I was patient for the opportunity to go to a Gastropub for the first time, Victoria’s in Columbia, based on Tim’s recommendation and reminders of ‘duck fat fries’. I ended up with Eggs Benedict, but with prosciutto and crab meat, on a biscuit, with citrus hollandaise sauce. Quite possibly the meal of the tour. We got to the main lot early and got a prime spot – maybe 5 car lengths from the RV the cops were using for surveillance. I put up the Syracuse flag, as I do at most shows, and this year I didn’t get any grief for it. We ended up with a nice lot spread, met some new artists and chilled with everyone who was done with tour and not heading south. In fact, I wouldn’t see some of these folks until Dicks, or even Fall Tour. The first 8 shows there was a good crew of folks, from Twitter and just over the years hanging together. That was cool.
The day was humid as fuck, so inside the circus tent of MPP, it wasn’t going to be any better. The show started out nicely with First Tube and had that pretty awesome debut of the Marimba Lumina in Mule, and as always, a Tube so short you couldn’t take a piss during it. Set 2 with Golden Age > Twist was a perfect combo of songs to get things going, but Light > Boogie Man was where I ended up getting down, all leading up to YEM. Plus a good amount of the Chicago crew I would see in a couple days was there, plus a pair who drove down from Camp Bisco, which ended at dawn that day. There has to be an award for that, driving from a festival you worked at for four days, then to a Phish show. Well done Clownshoes!
Post show, I milked every second out of the lots, because shirts needed to be sold before the unpredictable Alpharetta lots. Back at the hotel, Satoshi and Yasunobu were leaving at 4am to drop off the rental car and fly home (Satoshi) and to Atlanta (Yasunobu). By the time I passed out, I had a big smile on my face, as now my tour was more than half over and it had already been an awesome adventure so far.
Insert appropriate quote from The Curtain here.