, attached to 1995-12-16

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On December 16th, 1995 I drove from Ottawa to Lake Placid for my first-ever two-night run of Phish concerts. If I’m not mistaken this was the time I got a lift to the shows with a couple from university that I barely knew; some friends of mine were attending the second night and I think I had arranged to get a ride back to Ottawa with them, which left me happy to take any ride I could to get to Lake Placid.

Though I wasn’t happy for long. As we neared the border I started to become a bit nervous about the constitution of my very laid back travelling companions and I piped up from the very messy back seat of the old clunker we were driving in.

“Hey, you guys don’t have any drugs in the car do you?” I asked as we neared the US border.

“No, I don’t think so,” came the response, but when the dude in the passenger seat opened the glovebox “to check” I was horrified to see crumbs of marijuana all over the place.

“Omigod!” I screamed. If we weren’t already on the bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River I think I would have got out right on the side of the highway. As it was the dude up front nonchalantly spent all of twenty seconds doing an entirely inadequate job of sweeping out the glovebox and brushing the illicit crumbs out the window. At the border we were waved through without a search so it was, as they say, all good.

Suffice to say I never travelled to a show (or did anything, really) with those two ever again, and as I say, I already had an alternate ride back to Canada with people I knew and trusted.

This was my first (and only) time visiting Lake Placid and with virtually no mountain-town experience at the time I found the place super-quaint and really fun to walk around. I remember a wacky store called “Where Did You Get That Hat” that had a mystifying no-trying-on-the-hats policy. I never did see any Olympic installations and regret to this day that I didn’t find the luge run, though I suppose I couldn’t have afforded to give it a try at the time anyway. I’ve always wanted to go bobsledding or luging; it’s probably my best shot at making the Olympics. I think I could be the front guy in the bobsled, like, on the world stage. Imagine…I could be professional ballast.

Then there was the concert, of course. This show consisted mostly of songs I didn’t know (whereas the second night would prove to hold most of my early Phish favourites) so it was more of a stand-and-gape-in-wonder kind of concert as opposed to a dance around and rock out type of show. Which was great because I wouldn’t have my crew of Ottawa friends with me until the next evening.

So I stood and gaped at the mind-twisting composed weirdness of Divided Sky, stared in awe at the astounding bass groove in Mike’s Song and Weekapaug, and wondered at the wackiness of Simple while the crowd around me sang along to every random lyric (“sim-bop and bebophone, skyballs and sax-scraper”). Not to mention the rather odd band versus audience chess game that played out on the big screen at setbreak.

I recognized the encore though: Fire by Jimi Hendrix. This was probably my first time (of many) hearing the band play it and while I’m generally a big fan of Phish cover songs I’ve never been crazy about their version of Fire. They play it too fast and to me the song just doesn’t work at the tempo they take it to.

Certainly a small complaint though, and as I would come to find out every Phish fan has a song (or two, or more) that they aren’t crazy about anyway. This was just my third Phish show; I had found one I didn’t like early nice and early.



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