The start of the Phish tour has reaffirmed a couple of things for me.
- My affinity for the band, for starters. Watching a couple streams from the first two nights, I found it so easy to let myself become one with the set, while sitting on my couch, as cliche as that sounds. And, really, that can sound as generic as it wants to, because it's true. All the easy answers and rhetorical conversations really take a back seat once those house lights drop, and Phish takes the stage.
- I have a difficult time pretending I'm not super jealous of the people I see digging the show while I watch the live stream. That old 'Phish Knowledge Factor' starts rearing its head, and next thing you know, I'm missing the whole set because I'm talking about Gamehendge the entire time. It's a whole "shoots self in foot" deal.
- I love this band. And I always will. When I was younger, I used to purposely try to get into arguments with people who wanted to tell me that Phish was no good. I wanted to show them the way, not really understanding that there were different strokes for different folks. Some of my closest friends in life refuse to talk about music with me, to this day, because of blowouts we've had over Phish. That's not ok.
Once at the 10k Lakes fest, I walked past a group of fellas while wearing a Trey shirt. As I walked past the crowd, several of the guys had something they wanted to say to me about Trey, It was my birthday, so... I hung back and let myself settle into the bowl of Phish and Trey haters, as they continued to hurl their obscenities at my direction. I smiled at them. And I had one question.
"What did Trey ever do to you?" I asked.
"Trey's a sellout and he ruined Phish and...." the replies came flying in.
"Yes, but, what did Trey ever do to you?" I retorted.
No response other than the monotonous drones of...
"Whatever, dude, you look like a custie anyway,"
"Ah, yes," I said, "but what did Trey do to you?"
No legitimate answer ever came. I stood in a funnel of folks that had their minds made up. They had their position and that's the way it was going to be. Yet, as I stood there, spinning around, absorbing every anti-Phish/Trey sentiment you could think of, I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. I knew that these kids were not my people. I know that the only difference between being with who you're with and being with who you want to be with is time. Time and pressure, to quote The Shawshank Redemption. I knew that soon enough, I'd find myself on Trey tour, or on a Phish run, and I wouldn't have to explain myself to any god damned person. We would all be there together.
And that's the feeling I always get when Phish tour starts. I'm totally excited, I'm a little annoyed, I'm a bit freaked out (I'm just a little freaked out). But most of all, I'm comforted by the fact that dozens of strangers will soon become my friends. And it's not a bullshit deal, either. We're all there for Phish, and we all love the fact that we all love the fact that... It's real. And I can't wait to see it again.