August 17, 1997 – “The Went Gin”

The first time I made it way up north to Limestone, Maine was with “Black Saab” and “DanO.”  We had attended the previous show together in Darien, NY and it was the first Phish show for both of my brothers.  That night we camped together outside of the Amusement Park in the shadows of the venue and the rollercoasters.  I have no idea how or why we got separated from them before the long drive and the weekend ahead.  But, that’s the whole point of this – maybe “Fat Strawberry” and “Rod B” can help me remember what happened with that.  I don’t remember seeing my brothers at all the entire weekend in Maine.

Two things that I remember vividly from that weekend both occured during the second day of music.  The first was about a minute into the opening song “The Wedge.” 

I’m building you a pyramid
With limestone blocks so large
I drag them from the mountain top
You’ll need a two car garage

I looked over at “Black Saab” and he had that look in his eyes that things were just not OK with being in a field surrounded by 50,000 other people.  The wave of people seemed to be sweeping over him and he leaned over and said something like.  “Dude, I’m freaking out.  I need to get out of here.”  I calmly assured him that everything was going to be alright.  We sat down together for a minute or two in the same spot where we were standing and the tide slowly went back out to sea.  We stood back up and smiled at each other and were able to enjoy the rest of the set.

The second thing that stands out in my mind from this weekend is the performance of “Bathtub Gin.” 

Phish had previously toured with Carlos Santana, and he described the band as a “Hose.”    Trey paraphrases Carlos’ statement here –  “(The Hose) is where the music is like water rushing through you and as a musician your function is really like that of a hose. And, and well his thing is that the audience is like a sea of flowers, you know, and you’re watering the audience. But the concept of music going through you, that you’re not actually creating it, that what you’re doing is — the best thing that you can do is get out of the way.”

 The best way to describe this section of the song is “Pure Hose.”  The music and energy flowing from the stage into the crowd was drowning us in sound.  I find it hard to believe that someone was able to hold a camera during this:

Yeah, The Went Gin has a special place in Phish lore.