As if my seat in a corporate sponsored suite didn’t set me apart enough from the Phans convulsing at field level, the “White Zombie In Concert” t-shirt I wore added another mile of distance between our two perceived worlds. This is not to say they’re not my people though, I’ve just kept a low profile as of late.
It had been 12+ years since I last saw Phish perform together.
When I was a nineteen year-old freshman in college I skipped my first math test in order to drive to Chicago to try out for SLAMBALL and catch a show on the band’s first tour since their hiatus in the early 2000’s. While I didn’t make a SLAMBALL roster that day and I ended up having to drop that math course and re-take it the following semester, it remains to be one of the more prudent decisions I’ve made for myself.
In the interim I’d seen Jon Fishman play with Pork Tornado, caught Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio’s sets and marveled at two nights of Page McConnell playing with the Meter Men in New Orleans. Phish never hooked me but I certainly appreciate the force with which they command their legions to boogie.
A few wrong turns, a police detour and several near collisions with spaced-out prancers finally found our arrival at the VIP parking lot with plenty of time to wade into the velvet sea of patchouli and LSD. The drug culture that pervades the Phish community could make any Silk Road user blush. Upon our arrival, my host and I were greeted by some 45-year-old party enthusiasts conspicuously key bumping to the sounds of the live Phish recording playing out of their Subaru hatchback. The looks on their cocaine residue covered faces when we plugged a dab rig into the cigarette lighter and proceeded to take face-melters was memorable; it became priceless once they were gifted with free joints courtesy of Whaxy!
While you enjoy yourself at a Phish show, all manner of Schedule One drugs are offered for sale, trade and trial; Schedule Two and Three are available but less readily so. Security provided in and around the venue is lax enough to ensure that no attendee is without sufficient party favors once the show begins. Dr. Mescalito was nowhere to be found or my partially kempt appearance precluded me from gaining the trust of parking lot pushers.
In my previous sojourn to Shakedown Street over a decade ago a “ganja goo-ball” is what I sought out and found without problem or confidence in product. Depicting the prime example of how legalization has positively impacted the safety of cannabis consumption, on the first of Phish’s 3-night Colorado run in a suite hosted by Whaxy and Dixie Elixirs, we sampled luxury chocolate bars infused with cannabis.
The sun went down and hands went up. Glow sticks started being launched shortly after the first note of the first song struck Wook ear. At that moment the contrast between my two Phish experiences started becoming more discernible.
Last go round’ Mexican Brown and KC Bunk were rolled into a few crooked pinners and slipped in an interior pocket of a Midwestern winter coat for relief from the hot and stuffy Rosemont Horizon. On this evening blunts filled with eighths and mixed with grams of hash were passed with glee in open air and circulated amongst our suite neighbors.
The police officer tasked with roaming our level respectfully visited us on multiple occasions. Most notably one stopover he commended us on our good behavior; a striking endorsement seeing as all the guests we’re cannabis industry professionals. In my professional opinion he appeared to have caught a “contact-buzz”, which may explain the number of visits.
During the set break one of my favorites Phans appeared with an adorably delicate rig and offered dabs and tales from some of her previous 89 shows. When the second set began and she was still visiting with us upstairs, her anxiety manifested into dancing and motivated her to bounce around the room to say her good-byes.
“I wish I could stay up here and dab for the rest of the show…. I’ve got to get back to my people!” her words, not mine.
Everyone’s got to have a code; I admire her dedication to the tribe. So much so that I accepted an invitation to venture to field level and view the show from a different vantage point.
It’s very easy to lose sight of the party you are following once you arrive at ground zero. Dance is the prescribed method of transportation between the masses of stationary revelers. If you’re not shaking it, you’re not making it! Meeting up with your posse is far easier now compared to my last Phishing trip and within only a few minutes and texts a group of excited merrymakers greeted my introduction to their circle with geniality.
An aforementioned blunt had made its way down from the upstairs party and quickly lit up the new crew with all the hashie goodness one could expect from a demon pearled with so much care, skill and concentrates. While the Pre ‘98 Bubba Kush slowly burned with the shatter for the length of a song or two or three, I looked at all the happy people, busting moves unaccompanied by fear of judgments and I thought about the traffic jam potential on the way out.
We beat the traffic but not the law. We had to take another detour that added at least 10 minutes to our trip time. I imagine Phish will still be getting into heavy things another twelve years from now, but I’ll always be on the lookout for a miracle until then.