Boom Boom’s “Coventry Glide” – August 15th, 2012

On August 14th and 15th of 2004, Phish was playing what was supposed to be their last concert ever.  According to Trey, they “were done.”  The scene was right out of the Woodstock Movie.  Except all the rain came before all the hippies got there.  So when everyone was trying to park their cars in the big grassy fields in Northern Vermont, EVERY car got stuck in the mud.  Giant farm tractors were on call to pull every car to a parking spot.  50,000 (?) people in the middle of nowhere with no place to escape from the mud.

The scene itself was not far from parts of Apocolypse Now.  A giant tent village setup in the rice fields of Vietnam.  The constant helicopters overhead only added to the mystique and mayhem.  The band was breaking up partly due to the people in the scene, but mostly due to their own personal demons.  This weekend in Vermont was supposed to be a celebration of the band’s career, but instead turned into a funeral.

So here I am, 8 years after Coventry – sitting at my desk searching for my ticket stub and the wristband that adorned my arm for the entire weekend.  I take out my phone and snap a crappy cellphone picture under the lamp.  My son Boom Boom wakes up.  He had been asleep for an hour and is really good at sleeping through the night.  Boy, who would have thought that 8 years ago in a muddy field in Vermont, I would be writing that sentence?

In the middle of the 2nd set on the last night that Phish was playing – the band was just awful.  They completely broke down in tears during one of their slow ballads – “Wading in the Velvet Sea,” and spoke to the crowd from their hearts.  They were spewing emotion from the stage.  The next song that they attempted to play was a song called “Glide.”  With its upbeat rhythm and childish lyrics, it should have been a nice comic relief from what had just gone down.

And we’re glad glad glad that you’re alive
And we’re glad glad glad that you’ll arrive
And we’re glad glad glad glad glad glad glad
And we’re glad glad glad that you’re a glide

Instead of playing it like the “professionals” that they have been for the past 21 years on stage – they completely butchered this version.  So badly that Phish fans still refer to it as the “Coventry Glide.”  The absolute lowpoint of any concert I have ever attended.

On August 15, 2012 – I walked into Boom Boom’s room and he is sitting up in his crib sobbing – covered in his own vomit.  His bed is a mess, the walls are dripping.  It is in his hair and up and down both arms.  For a kid who is usually such a good sleeper, tonight was his “Coventry Glide.”

Unfortunately this is a trend for both of my kids.  Both Boom Boom and Miss A like to throw up when they getting new teeth in.  Luckily I don’t think I need to worry about Phish throwing up on stage anymore – I’ll take my chances with my kids.

For the record, Coventry is the only Phish concert that I have attended that I have never re-listened to.  I attempted to listen to one song, but my iPod completely froze.  I immediately deleted it out of my iTunes and off my iPod.  I listened to it once – and that was enough.

August 9th, 1998 – Phish – Virginia Beach Ampitheater

The loudest, most intense, meaningful crowd reaction I have ever witnesssed.  Under a full moon on the third anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing – Phish encored with this Grateful Dead song – Terrapin Station.  I still get goosebumps everytime I listen to the first twenty seconds of this.  Even though I never got to see you perform live, we miss you Jerry.

 

August 8th, 1998 – Phish – Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

I spent a week and half in August of 1998 traveling the east coast in my 1985 Toyota Camry with my college roommate and good friend DanO.  We left New Jersey on the night of August 7th and would be staying the first night in Alexandria, Virginia.  We merged onto the Garden State Parkway just as the sun had set and it had just turned dark.  A beat up car with its windows rolled down passed us just as we entered the highway.  The two long haired guys in the car had big smiles on their faces – and a Phish sticker on the back of the car.  We were more than 200 miles and 4 hours away from where the concert was the next night, and the first car we saw when we got on the highway was going to the same place as we were.

It was dark, and they did not have their headlights on.  I pulled up next to their car and yelled for them to turn them on.  “You going tomorrow night?” I yelled.  They both nodded yes.  “We’ll see you there.”  And we drove off into the night towards an adventure that would feature many more moments of magic like this.

I have zero recollection of what we did the next morning and day leading up to our departure for the venue.   We left for the show at 4:20.  The only reason I know that is because we wrote it down on the back of my setlist pad for the night.  The drive was supposed to take about 45 minutes.  It took us more than three and a half hours.  We sat on the exit ramp in the same spot for almost 2 hours.  It was a party on the highway.  People were out of their cars tailgating, riding skateboards, kicking around hackysacks and having a great time.  The most fun you can have in traffic is on the way to a Phish show.   It started to get a little nerveracking once showtime was approaching.  Luckily we found the Smooth Jazz station on the radio and got to listen to some Sade which helped calm our moods.  Traffic finally started rolling again, but we were still quite a way from the parking lots.  We made a decision that would go on to be a common theme for all of my future concert going excursions.  Get off the highway and take the backroads.

It was 8:00 by the time we finally parked our car.  The ticket time said 7:30.  We quickly walked to the venue and found a spot on the back of the lawn.  Just as we sat down – the house lights went down, and the band came on stage.  The stars were aligned for us on this night.  Even though we didn’t have good seats – the fact that we made it there was all that mattered at that point.  They opened with a song called The Wedge.  The chorus of it appropriately sang – “Take the highway, to the Great Divide.”  We had arrived at the Great Divide.

I don’t think I was able to see the band on stage the entire night.  I watched the show mostly on the monitors above the roof of the pavilion.  The show was extremely well played from start to finish, but the biggest memory from this night was the Encore.  The only time I was able to see the stage was when they started playing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.  To put it bluntly, the place went fucking crazy.  I jumped so high in the air that for a brief moment I was floating above the entire lawn and caught a glimpse of the stage.

The first night of our tour was a wonderfully stressful but perfect way to start the week ahead.

August 6th, 2000 – Santana in Hartford, CT.

It is really hard remembering stuff sometimes.   But, I Try…  Just like Macy Gray sang about when she opened for Santana in Hartford on a rainy evening in August of 2000.  I dare you to listen to this song and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.  Macy Gray – I Try

I remember singing this song all night after the concert.  Maybe it was just me, or maybe these 5 can help me remember more about this night.

Pictured left to right: BlackSaab, Suzy Greenberg, Brown So Sloppy, Jannifer Kawaka and “Keith”

Our seats were on the lawn this night, but the rain had us doing a lot of wandering around.  During Macy Gray’s set, Brown So Sloppy and Jannifer Kawaka found themselves in a VIP tent and acquired a few VIP passes and a bag full of swag.   I don’t remember how it all went down, but at some point during Santana’s set – I had one of the VIP passes hanging around my neck.  For the first time in my life, my Concert Instincts kicked in.  With Suzy Greenberg in tow, we walked ourselves into the pavilion.  Just like that scene from Wayne’s World when Wayne and Garth win backstage passes to Alice Cooper, I waved that VIP pass at every person that I saw.  Every yellow shirted usher just waved us passed them – never asking to see the Lawn tickets that were in our pockets.  We suddenly found ourselves in the center of the pavilion.  We slipped into a section of empty Box Seats and within 30 seconds someone approached us.  I thought we were done for.  Instead of asking to see our tickets, a girl in a white shirt asked us if we wanted to order anything.

We had great seats, were dry from the rain and now I had someone bringing me a beer.  Life was good this night.  Sometimes the music gets completely overshadowed by the experience.

SANTANA
MEADOWS MUSIC THEATRE
HARTFORD,CT 8/6/00

MILES INTRO
1.     SPIRITUAL/ YALEO
2.     LOVE OF MY LIFE
3.     PUT YOUR LIGHTS ON
4.     AFRICA BAMBA
5.     DAY OF CELEBRATION
6.     VICTORY IS WON
7.     RENE INTRO/ MARIA MARIA
8.     CORAZON ESPINADO
9.     *SUPERNATURAL THING
10.   EVERYBODY'S EVERYTHING
11.   SAVOR (KARL & RAUL SOLO)
12.   RIGHT ON/ GET ON
13.   BLACK MAGIC WOMAN/ GYPSY QUEEN 
14.   OYE COMO VA
        -ENCORES-
15.   APACHE/ SMOOTH/ DAME TU AMOR
16.   JINGO

*WITH MACY GRAY

The Day We Drove for 2 Days

The drive from New Jersey to Limestone, Maine was supposed to take about 11 hours.  We left the morning of Friday August 1st, 2003 and got to the line of traffic leading into the venue right after sunset.  We parked our car as the sun was rising on Saturday August 2nd.  We were attending Phish’s 6th Festival – titled simply, “IT.”

On the morning of August 2nd – I learned that Leighmo had never pulled an all-nighter before.  A shocking revelation.  She was behind the wheel when we finally pulled into the retired Air Force base.  She had been up for a long time and had that look in her eyes.  You know the look that women get when lasers are shooting out of their eyes ready to cut you in half?  Yeah – this look.

That was the look she gave me as we were being directed towards our campsite.  At one point she pulled the car out of traffic and made a beeline towards the tent village that was already setup.  A Maine State Trooper had to point her back in the right direction.  Back to the same line of cars were were sitting in traffic with for the past 8 hours. We setup our tent in silence and were finally able to crash for a few hours comfortably.  But the damage had been done.  We never fully recovered from the long drive.  The tone for the entire weekend was set.

The highlight of the weekend was grilling the individually wrapped lamb chops that we had brought with us.  The smell of the delicious tender lamb turned a few heads on some Vegan Hippies, but Leighmo and I savored every mouthful that we had.   In fact, knowing that the mere smell of  it was offending some of our neighbors, made it that much better.

I compare this weekend to one wedding that Leighmo and I went to together.  I won’t say whose wedding it was to protect all parties involved, but there was ONE wedding that we attended together that we did not have fun at.  It was still a wedding and the drinks were flowing, there was a party atmosphere and good friends were everywhere – but something just wasn’t right.  Everything was forced.  From the ridiculous amount of pictures taken by the seemingly omnipresent photographer to the the overly loud band with way too many instruments, it was hard to step outside the psycho-bride’s preplanned comfort zone.   And that was how the weekend at “It” felt.  I had two of my favorite things collide that weekend,  Phish and Leighmo.  But they didn’t mesh.  “It” was the last Phish concert we would go to together.

Luckily Phish stopped touring the next Summer.  So I did exactly what I needed to do.  Got engaged on December 7th of 2004, married on October 8th of 2005 , and bought a house in December of 2005.

This weekend in Maine – I learned what not to do with the woman I would spend the rest of my life with.

A Calm Night in Camden? – Phish – 7/31/2003 – Camden, NJ

Back to back nights of Phish during the week in the Summer is one of my favorite ways to use my Vacation Time.  I work a half day the day of the first show – leaving my office at 1:00.  That gives plenty of time to prepare for the 2 nights ahead.  The day of the second show, I take off completely.  Such was the case for these 2 nights in Camden.  Since DanO and I drove back home after the Wednesday night show – we both were able to sleep late on this Thursday morning.

We got back down to Camden early and were ready to “rage the lot.”  But something was different about this night.  We were parked in the main lot, along a fence with some trees overhanging.  Shade in the Summer can be a rarity in a hot and dusty Phish lot.  Having the fence line and trees nearby also meant that we didn’t have to travel far to pee.  The perfect setup for 2 dudes.  We had all the conveniences that we needed, so we did not stray far from the car.  We tossed a Frisbee around before the lot started to fill up, and sat back down in our camp chairs.   

The excitement for the upcoming “IT” Festival was buzzing all around.  I made one of my few lot purchases this day.  As we were sitting in our camp chairs with our feet up on the cooler, a guy came by selling stickers.  I bought a round blue sticker for a dollar that just said “IT.”  I still have it somewhere since I never stuck it on anything.  Reminder – FIND THAT STICKER. 

The most surprising note from this night was that because we were so comfortable where we had parked, we never found Shakedown.  What is Shakedown you ask?  Shakedown – or Shakedown Street is the place in the lot where everyone gathers to sell  all of their stuff.  “Stuff” can be everything from food, clothing, artwork, beer, liquor and jewelery.  Tables are setup under EZ Up tents and it is a wonderful, if not sketchy place to be because you can also find any type of illegal anything you can possible imagine. 

This night turned out to be an unusually low-key night for the 2 of us.  We had actual seats again for this night so we didn’t have to worry about getting in early to secure a decent spot on the lawn.  We made our way to our seats a few minutes before showtime and did some people watching.  Normally we would have used our ticket stubs from the night before to get back down to the 7th row again.  This night we decided to stay in our actual seats and enjoy the show. 

The show itself was a typical Summer show.  The first set contained a lot of songs that were well played, but nothing really sticks out in my mind other than the Moma Dance.  It featured a dark jam that sounds like the precursor to the “Death March” Moma Dance that they would play a year later in Brooklyn.  If I remember correctly it was raining during the first set – a huge benefit of not being stuck out on the lawn.   The second set brought the jams.  A 22 minute Piper kicked off the 2nd set and again featured some more dark jamming.  The show closed out with a Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Band) encore. 

Everyone was ready for the long drive up to Limestone, Maine for the IT Festival.  In retrospect it was probably the fact that I knew I had this long  journey ahead of me that we decided to have such a calm night in Camden..  

Thursday, 07/31/2003
Tweeter Center at the Waterfront, Camden, NJ

Set 1: Llama, The Moma Dance > Divided Sky, Dirt > Seven Below, The Sloth, Water in the Sky, Wolfman’s Brother > Possum

Set 2: Piper > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove[1] -> Free > Friday > Harry Hood

Encore: Frankenstein

 [1] In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida tease.

Notes: Weekapaug included an In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida tease. The tease may have been homage to Iron Butterfly guitarist Erik Braunn, who passed away two days before.

You Aint Goin Nowhere – July 30th, 2003

9 years ago today DanO and I attended the first of 2 nights in the God-awful depressing place that is Camden, NJ. I was able to score great seats for this show. We were 10th row and were treated to a show for the ages. But what sticks out in my mind more than the 30 minute version of Scents and Subtle Sounds that was played was the debut of Bob Dylan’s “You Aint Goin Nowhere.” It was a big treat for DanO – since he has seen many Bob Dylan concerts with his dad. For me it was a song that I had never heard before. In typical Dylan fashion, the lyrics spoke to me.

Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, oh, are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Hearing these lyrics immediately made me think of my girlfriend at the time. I would be ditching DanO after these 2 nights in Camden, and taking LeighMo on what should have been an 11 hour excursion to Limestone, Maine for Phish Festival – named IT. The lyrics continued..

Genghis Khan
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep
We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we come up to IT.

If I only knew how those lyrics would foreshadow the adventure that we would have.. But that story is for another day. Today, enjoy some Bob Dylan.

—————————————————————————————–

Wednesday, 07/30/2003
Tweeter Center at the Waterfront, Camden, NJ
Set 1: My FriendMy Friend, My Friend, Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Scents and Subtle Sounds, You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere[1], Spock’s Brain > Chalk Dust Torture, On Your Way Down, Fast Enough for You[2] > Taste

Set 2: Twist, Bug, You Enjoy Myself, Walls of the Cave

Encore: Secret Smile

[1] Phish debut.
[2] Bathtub Gin tease from Page.

Notes: Lonesome Cowboy Bill was played for the first time since October 31, 1998 (173 shows). This show marked the Phish debut of You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere. On Your Way Down was played for the first time since October 2, 1999 (108 shows). FEFY included a Bathtub Gin tease from Page