Thursday, December 3, 2009

Phish at The Garden

Let me get the Pimp/Whore business out of the way first...
Use Computer Associates for all your Information Technology needs.
(believe me, I'm not the Pimp in this scenario)

Now some of you know that I've sworn off Arena Rock and Stadium Shows this year. I made an exception for Paul McCartney at CitiField, and I don't regret it for a minute. I did, however, opt out of AC/DC as well as Metalica at The Garden... not an easy choice. But Phish is back together after something like a 10 year hiatus, and Dan K called me up out of the blue and said he had access to a Skybox... all on CA's dime. OK, I'm not made of stone. I'm in.

So I'm heading toward The Garden, and I'm getting just a little perturbed at the general rukus. Who the hell are all these johnny-come-lately hippies, who couldn't even find San Francisco on a map or wouldn't know Grace Slick if they bumped into her at a White House dinner. I'm noticing a lot of empty pint liquor bottles strewn around the street too. OK, I'm OLD. I know it.

Then as I push my way in towards The Garden's main entrance, I cut to the far left, as I've had the privilege to do only a few times before. I enter a glass doorway that most people see but don't realize is there. Suddenly the roar of the crowd is silenced. I hear some mellow music in the background. With uncertainty in my heart, and all the hope I can muster, I say to the worker at the desk "Ticket for Kevin Wilkinson?"... she checks and say's "Yes, here you go sir... enjoy the show. Take the escalator here, then the elevator to level 10."

OK, I've done this before... I breath a sigh of relief and I KNOW I'm in !!! The elevator has only two buttons... 3 (where I am) and 10 (the Mecca). A few seconds later I'm at 10.

Dan meets me at the elevator and we head over to CA's skybox. They have their logo bolted to the wall. Apparently they do a hell of a lot of business in New York. I meet the crew... best described as a bunch of stuffed shirts. OK, they're mostly nice guys just happy to be out of the house for the night, but for a Phish show these guys obviously just came from work and were lucky to lose the jacket and tie. Two guys were the head honchos... clearly in "Sales".

Now we've been busting Dan's balls for years now, ever since he first acknowledged himself as "Assistant Vice President of a Major New York Bank". But in this circle, that carries some juice. The CA sales guys were all "There's Dan K***"... "look, there's Dan, and he brought a friend..." I guess that major New York Bank paid for a good portion of that box.

So in comes hot trays of burgers, chicken fingers, pigs in a blanket, waffle fries, a couple of metal buckets full of beer on ice... and a bottle of Kettle One, some lemons, and a few liters of club soda. Yeah, I could get used to this. The actual seats of the Skybox were stage left (audience right), all the way up at the roof, but close enough along the edge that you could see the band very clearly... they weren't just ants. The sound was just PERFECT.

(Oh, and eventually the bottle of Kettle One was replaced by a second bottle when the first one was polished off.)

Sooooo... on with the show. I don't know Phish all that well. I saw them at Nassau Colosseum back in the 90s, I have their live double CD box set, listened to it a bunch one summer... I dig their free-form jam sound. Mostly high energy songs, each of the four players has their own groove going, and it all adds up to a cool amalgamated sound. They are definitely pigeon-holed into the Grateful Dead scene, and rightfully so... but they have their own sound. Tight, fun, interesting, unpredictable... somewhere between The Dead and The Allman Brothers, if you ask me. Metal heads, hip hoppers, stay away. This ain't for you. It's all rooted in the South Western and Southern Rock sound filtered through San Francisco Psychedelia with a bit of Jazz Fusion thrown in for flavor.

So as I posted on Facebook, they broke out into "Peaches en Regalia". It's an obscure Zappa tune that pops up in some of the most bizarre venues. The crowd seemed to pick up on it right away. The fist set went an hour-twenty, then a half hour intermission, followed by almost two hour second set, then an encore. The encore started with a ROCKING version of... get this... A Day in the Life. Wow... just wow.

Dan K had to run out to catch his train just before the end of the show. Me, I stuck around to enjoy a few Kettle One's w/ soda while the band played on. I thanked my gracious hosts from CA, but remember thinking to myself "Thanks for the good time... people I don't know and will never see again."

Big thanks to Dan K for the invite !!! Beats the hell out of whatever I was gonna do last night !!!