Music, much like religion or politics, is amazing in its ability to bring people together. But unlike religion or politics, people don't fight wars over music. They just get together and jam out.
We've been Phish fans for several years. Last weekend marks my 10th, 11th and 12th shows. Mr. Go has been to even more. Some friends of ours introduced us to it and we go with them a couple times a year.
|The Sea of People at Magnaball 2015|
Phish hosts a festival every couple years. This year it was called Magnaball. So we drove to New York state, camped for 4 nights and saw them play 3 shows.
It was absolute insanity. There were 30,000 people packed in and camping around this race track. You had a couple feet between your tent and the next, if that. We were parked next to our friends in a line with space in between the cars for the tents.
It was like its own little town with separate camping villages. There were vendors in each campground selling food and crafts, and a ton more in the main area where the stage was set up. They had cool interactive art exhibits set up, a ferris wheel, a post office, a farmer's market, a club and a drive-in movie theater. The sheer magnitude of it was phenomenal.
|Mr. Go and I on the ferris wheel|
|Slightly inebriated Mr. Go enjoying the art exhibits|
For me it's always been less about the music (though that's awesome too) and more about the experience. The community of Phish Fans is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Maybe it's all the marijuana smoke floating around. But I like to think it's like-minded people just getting together and having a good time. Honestly, most of the people are so kind and generous it makes me a little emotional.
Mr. Go and I were walking around the campgrounds looking for somebody with a cooler selling beer and we asked a guy walking toward us if he knew of anyone and he said, "You want a beer? Here I'll give you one." Then he walked over to his campsite, grabbed a beer and just gave it to us. We let our neighbors borrow a hammer and he returned it with a beer. I was standing in line for the shower and a woman gave me a Phish themed slap bracelet. I could go on. They're just good people.
(Of course there are bad apples in every bunch, like our one neighbor who brought a huge speaker and blared music in the middle of the night.)
On Saturday the band played in the afternoon and again in the evening. Apparently they usually do some kind of fun surprise for the fans, too, like a couple years ago they played on the bed of a truck and drove around the campground. This year they set up behind the movie screen and played at 1a.m on Sunday morning. It wasn't really secret, though. One of the food vendors told us and somehow everyone found out. So after their evening set on Saturday everyone migrated over to the movie screen and stood there, drunk and high, waiting. The band played this crazy set that wasn't really any songs, just one long song of amazing noise while cool fluid screen-saver-esque images played on the screen, interspersed with distorted images of the band as they played.
The combination of the music, light show and the energy from the crowd makes every show and experience a little different, and it can be very powerful. It's moved me to joyous tears several times and I look forward to the next experience.