May is here. After waiting nearly five months, we will finally be graced with Phish’s presence once again. Now that 2010 has been tediously taken apart–tour by tour, show by show, song by song, note by note–we will have fresh Phish to enjoy, dance to, gush about, complain about, review, listen to, and put in our history books.
As phans, we have now entered one of the most exciting parts of our cyclical relationship with our favorite band: the home stretch. Many of us are securing last-minute tickets, finalizing travel plans, getting the official head count (no pun intended) for our traveling caravans, and speculating on what’s to come.
We are such a rare breed. Many of us wait until we know what dates Phish will be playing before making any other summer plans. I know I held out on a few very important plans until the tour was official. The non-phans we keep close in our lives (other friends, coworkers, family members, etc) think we’re nuts, tossing comments at us like, “are you going on your ‘tour’ this summer again?”, or, “don’t tell me you’re seeing that band again–what a waste of money”, to name a couple–be sure to comment with the ones you hear regularly.
However, many of us also have fixed dates on our calendar–dates we pray a Phish concert won’t land on. There are a few dates out of the year that force me to squint my eyes in expected pain as I brace myself for a possible devastating letdown as I scroll through freshly-released dates. Unfortunately, one of the fixed events on my calendar this year is Fourth of July. While everyone else from OPT will be there, I won’t. Tragic, yes, but everything else I want to see this summer falls on about as perfect dates as my schedule allows. Make sure to high-five anyone at SBIX with an OPT shirt on.
Six of the tour’s first eight shows have got me thinking about Phish non-stop right now. The Bethel shows and the mini-Midwest run have got my full attention right now. Kicking off a multi-legged tour (notice I didn’t say “double-legged”), with a three-night stand at the beautiful Bethel Woods over Memorial Day Weekend is about as good as it gets for us Phisheads. I look back to the first three shows of 2010: Toyota Park, Blossom, and Hershey. To me, those three shows, aside from being fantastic, embodied the best parts of 3.0 Phish. The jams were not forced, and the band came out energized after their five months of rest. While Trey didn’t play as much of a leading role, he made sure the notes he played counted. It was a distinctly new sound from 2009 and a bold leap into the future–this is what I’m hoping for three weeks from now; an energized and creative Trey, a happy band, phenomenal weather, and continued progress.
The fans attending Bethel are going to throw a holiday-weekend party of epic proportions for the return of our lovable four-headed monster–the lot and the venue will be abuzz–hopefully the weather will keep up with us. Bethel seems like prime golf cart-driving real estate, Mike. No doubt, Phish are excited–their excitement mixed with ours should make for a weekend we won’t forget any time soon.
Although there will be a two-nighter at PNC in Holmdel for the transition from the end of May into our first real summer month, I’m looking past that right to the beginning of the Midwestern leg. Energy is certain to be high at the former Pine Knob Music Theater for the band’s first stint at the venue in the apparently beautiful surroundings. As if those two points aren’t reason enough for fans to be dripping with excitement, this June 3 show marks the first time Phish will play a concert on Mike’s birthday since 1989. And, according to Phish Net, the last time Phish played on Mike’s birthday, the concert literally blew everyone’s mind to the point of wiping out their memory.
Mike’s last birthday show setlist:
The Wetlands Preserve, New York, NY
No known setlist!
Mike better get the same treatment that Trey received in Las Vegas in 2000–we’ll have to make sure to sing “Happy Birthday” as they take the stage before one of the sets. I’d hope it’ll inspire some Mike-driven jams, or a Mike-driven setlist.
Blossom has everything lined up to be an amazing show: one of the best venues they can play, seclusion, Saturday night, etc. On the other hand, Riverbend has nothing going for it other than the fact it’s an Ohio show and Phish tends to bring it in Ohio. Riverbend actually is flooded right now from heavy rain in the area. Aside from that, the venue has probably the worst sightlines in the entire world. There are pillars everywhere, between the lawn and pavilion, that appear to have chunks of scaffolding that has never been removed. The venue is absolutely pathetic. I’m sure Phish will make up for it that night.
Before fall tour, I’m usually excited for the crisp weather and the indoor venues; before summer, it’s just the opposite. Right now, I’m looking forward to the hot sun, , cold beer, daytime sets, and nighttime air. Among many, the songs I really love catching in the sunlight are:
- Number Line (type I)
- Water in the Sky
- Sample in a Jar
- Down with Disease (type I)
- My Sweet One
- Divided Sky
I know, I know–I’m just speculating right now. But one thing I’m not speculating on is the excitement my friends and I have right now. To me, the month leading up to a Phish tour is like the night before Christmas as a kid–only much longer…like…a month. I’ll be traveling with the two who are both my best friends and the core of my ‘tour crew’. I’m excited to see other people I know at the shows–people I don’t seem to see much of outside of shows anymore. I’ll also be meeting up with people I’ve never met before–like a couple of the members here at OPT.
I love all the inside jokes that come when you travel with the same group of people on multiple tours. Seemingly meaningless things become sources of laughter and interest when you’re on the road for days strung together, staying in the same hotels and tents together, figuring out problems together, hanging out on lot together, and enjoying the show together.
Some of the things meaningless to most people that my friends will certainly be ready for are:
- salmon shirts
- water bottles
- da beam
- well good
- raw grilled cheese
- phone farts
- the garbage man
- oh i get it, like it’s time to party
- lot socks
Stop laughing at me, you all know you have your own inside jokes with your friends on tour. Let’s hear ’em.