Sunday, December 06, 2009

Inside the Bee Hive

I joke with my friends that I'm a terrible trader.  Never mind my market prowess, or lack thereof - it extends to other avenues, like procuring Phish tickets.  Although I thought that tickets to the three MSG shows would be virtually fungible: trade-able for each other, I somehow ended up with 8 nearly worthless tickets to Wednesday's show and had my friends bail on me, while I needed 4 tickets to Friday's show which had a Super Bowl aura of impossibility to them.

After spending 4 days staring at the screen on StubHub, prowling Craigslist relentlessly, and reaching out to my network of ticket providers with zero results, I stumbled upon a 4-pack online that looked to be golden.  Section 62, Row C, for a relatively reasonably price (note: it's all RELATIVE!).  I pounced on them, and the only concern now was how I would be able to get them in time for Friday's show, since it was Thursday afternoon.  At Thursday night's show, I noticed that there might be a slight issue with these seats, as Phish has a little soundboard guy on Page's side of the stage, and these seats might be directly behind said soundboard.

Well, Friday came, the tickets arrived without incident, and all fears diminished when Dan, Lee, Mitch and I sauntered down to our seats.  Front row, level with the soundboard guy, right next to Page.  I have been to hundreds of concerts, plays, and other events in my life, but I have never before had a seat that I would not trade with any other seat in the venue.  Until tonight.   I finally got one trade right.

My buddy Alex had bailed on me for Wednesday and Thursday's show, telling me he wasn't going to any of the three.  He got caught when I found out he was taking a former colleague of mine to Friday's show, and was in the 8th row on the floor.  Alex tried to make amends by offering to "stub me up."  "Stub me up?  Stub up my balls bro - your seats are the cheap seats compared to mine!" I taunted him back, thinking of Moe Green's "No, I buy you out, you don't buy me out," from The Godfather.

Things got groovin early in Possum, and then absolutely frenzied during the anthemic Wilson, with the screaming question: "I must inquire Wilson - CAN YOU STILL HAVE FUN?"     I've used the word "anthemic" in each of my three recaps, and it's really the word to describe Phish.  Although so many of their songs are anthemic to the fanatical fan base, there are still a handfull that are really rallying cries for Phish nation.  Wilson is in this basket, in my opinion.  The security guards in the front of the floor were pretty cool - retrieving balloons that ended up over the rail and putting them back into play.  Our section had the most miserable usher in the history of civilization, who was a major buzzkill for everyone, but at least she kept ticketless wooks out of our seats.  Mitch made several leaning reaches to keep balloons up in the air, and I marveled at how dedicated the fans were - having taken the time to draw smiley faces on each and every balloon. 

I also laughed at a guy on the floor holding a sign that read "I AM HAPPY," which seemed to be a partially sarcastic reply to Trey's new craptastic song, "Joy," and it's refrain of "We want you to be happpppppy."  I tried to hit Alex with several glowsticks, but only managed to ding the girl standing in front of him.

The first set closed with an absolutely insane trio of Guyute, Maze and First Tube.    I saw Phish about 5 years ago in Vegas - in the Thomas and Mack Center which is like a smaller version of MSG - a tight bowl.  I will never forget the description by one of the people I was with of the energy at those shows - he said it was like being inside a bee hive.  There is no better way to describe the way the energy ripped around the Thomas and Mack Center that week - like bees buzzing louder and louder in their hive, reaching a crescendo, feeding off each other.  I felt a lot of that on Wednesday night, but not much Thursday.  Friday, during First Tube, there was a bona fide bee hive moment, as the crowd just went ballistic.   As Dr. Pauly described it, everyone went "batshit crazy."  It was, quite simply, a "moment."  Check out Dr Pauly's review for a more detailed description of Trey's on stage orgasmic actions.  In the video below, you can get a sense of the hysteria starting around the 3 minute mark, and you can see Trey waving the guitar at the end.

Alex came up to visit us during the set break, and we busted his balls for having crappy 8th row seats.  I don't know what happened to my memory during the beginning of the second set, because I have absolutely zero recollection of "Scents and Subtle Sounds."   I definitely remember Rock'N'Roll, however, which brought the energy back up.

Mike's Song was one of the highlights of the three nights.  Absolutely RAGING.  It anchored the second set, leading into Hydrogen and then Weekapaug of course.  After the mellow Horse --> Silent in the Morning, YEM closed the set.   Mayhem ensued when the band reached the crescendo and MSG exploded in an ejaculation of energy.   My boy Lee always has Loving Cup on the top of his list of "songs to hear," but he was pleasantly satisfied with the Shine a Light encore closer.

As the lights came up, I noticed that the hippie chicks in the row behind us were barefoot.  Oh man.  Under what circumstances does one go barefoot in Madison Square Garden? None, in my book. Perhaps they needed to take off stiletto heels to dance?  Nope - they pulled on their boots and trudged up the aisle.  I just don't get it.

I woke up this morning, back home in the silence of a snow covered New Hampshire with my ears ringing.  Note that it's Sunday.  The third MSG show was Friday night.  Why are my ears ringing?  I wondered.. Oh yeah - three nights of Phish in NYC followed by the system shock of total silence in the country.  Three nights of raging.  Three top notch nights.  I got out of bed and my knees creaked.  I have dark yellow bruises on the tops of my calves.  Huh?  Oh yeah - I repeatedly smashed into my own chair as I was bouncing up and down during the shows.

My voice has recovered, my calves will recover, and I still have my wallet and my cellphone.  

I'd say it was a raging success.


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