There’s so much to say about tonight’s momentous occasion, perhaps too much. Streams of fans from all over the country have been trekking to Virginia for the weekend of shows (I got to see one of my best friends who was in town from San Francisco for the big event), and the excitement is basically beyond containment.
“For Phish fans, this is the Super Bowl,” says my friend and music blogger Seth Wolfman, who is down in Hampton, Virginia. “This is it.”
(Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Stephen Chernin.)
As a show of appreciation, Phish will release free recordings of all three shows via LivePhish.com. The downloads will be available the mornings after the shows, but only for a limited time, so be sure to get ’em while you can.
“We really wanted to show our gratitude to all the Phish fans for their support and the overwhelming response they’ve had to these shows,” says Trey Anastasio, on the site. “It’s going to be an amazing celebration and we only wish everybody could be there.”
Down in Virginia, I’m told it’s pretty obvious the circus has come to town. Hotels surrounding the Hampton Coliseum have been booked solid for months. The local Starr Hill Brewery has made up special bar advertisements welcoming Phish fans. And even the local little league team is getting in on the merchandising.
Has Phish done more in the way of a stimulus package than the federal government? I’m waiting for a call back from the local mayor for a comment on that one, but my guess is that the money flowing into Hampton right now can’t hurt.
On the music front, of course the big question is what the band will open the show with tonight. And really, it’s anyone’s guess.
“One thing about Phish has always been their unpredictability,” Wolfman says. “Even the front runners have little chance of actually being successful.”
In conversations with friends and fans over the past few months, the thinking has been that Phish will open with a classic original. Songs tossed out there have been “Chalkdust Torture,” “Down With Disease,” “Punch You In The Eye,” and “Golgi Apparatus.”
“The perfect song would be ‘Down With Disease,'” Wolfman says. “It’s the clear favorite.”
His argument for this prediction rests in the way the song builds. It they start with an ambient introduction, it would give the band time to find their groove and the crowd time to yell and shout. Then when Mike Gordon lays down the song’s driving bass line, the place would go nuts. Even the lyrics seem to fit the mood — “Waiting for the time when I can finally say. That this has all been wonderful but now I’m on my way. But when I think its time to leave it all behind. I try to find a way but there’s nothing I can say to make it stop.”
“The way the song is built, it’s built for this moment,” Wolfman says. “It’s an absolute Phish classic.”
I think it pretty much goes without saying that this weekend is going to be epic. In an interview with the New York Times, it seems the band is in a great place, musically, and is ready to deliver what fans have been craving. I guess we’ll see after tonight…
Check out melophobe for reviews of each show written by none other than Mr. Wolfman, one of the most animated and insightful writers I know. Also, follow phishhampton on twitter for updates allll weekend long, basically minute by minute.