Everything I Know in Life I Learned From a Phish Show
Throughout our existence, we’re bombarded with cheesy cliches and phrases meant to guide us through the often unnavigable terrain we call life. From adolescent drama at the school dance to adult annoyances in the work place, you’ll find that these “Golden Rules” apply to even the strangest of situations- like a Phish show.
Read on to find out why sharing your Tonka truck on the playground is just as important as sharing a joint with the stranger standing next to you.
1. Sharing is caring
Unless you’re an only child, I bet since the moment you were old enough to formulate the words “mama” and “dada” your parents have stressed to you the importance of sharing. Sharing toys, sharing food, sharing toothbrushes- wait, am I the only person not opposed to toothbrush sharing? Either way, the art of sharing is one that will serve you throughout your entire life. It also comes in especially handy at a Phish show, where sharing truly is caring. Have weed but no pipe? Have a pipe but no light? Turn to your neighbor and help each other out. Happen to have an extra bottle of water? I’m sure the guy in the sweat-soaked t-shirt next to you would love a sip, and maybe he’ll even let you take a dip of whatever mysterious substance is in that tiny plastic bag he keeps taking out of his pocket. Remember half the fun of a Phish show is the awesome vibe in the crowd, and that vibe is facilitated by the whole “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” attitude.
2. Dance like nobody is watching
Throughout my teenage years I was always too self conscious to dance. At school functions and cheesy under 21 night clubs, I was the friend who stood on the sidelines watching as everybody else awkwardly grinded to that song “Pony” and did the electric slide. I thought that I was just born with two left feet, destined for a life of chicken-dance envy. It took a few years to realize that I actually could dance, the music I was listening to just sucked. But the beauty of Phish is that you can dance however you want to, judgement free. Sway to the left, sway to the right, throw your hands in the air, twirl around, do a spinning-star kick. Whatever floats your boat, man. Don’t feel like dancing? That’s alright, too, nobody is going to grab your hand and try to pull you up onto the dance floor which everybody hates. OK, that might happen during “Boogie On Reggae Woman” but you can’t blame a guy for trying.
3. It’s OK to cry
I like to bury my emotions just as much as the next middle child, but if there’s one thing Phish has taught me is that sometimes it’s OK to let your feelings out. Even if they aren’t so pretty. There’s something very spiritual about a Phish show, and that spirituality coupled with whatever bath-salt-laced hallucinogenic you might be partaking in equals a lot of emoting. The first time I saw Phish at Fenway Park and they opened with “The Star Spangled Banner” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, and who doesn’t get choked up during a good rendition of “Prince Caspian?” As much as we all pretend to hate “Joy,” when Trey starts in on the first few verses it’s Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel. But I think the most memorable boohoo fest I’ve witnessed happened a few summers ago at a Darien Lake, NY show. As the band plucked the opening notes of “Fluffhead,” I turned to find my friend with tears streaming down his reddened face. Before his silent cries turned into loud, guttural weeps, he ran deep into the crowd to avoid being mocked by his buddies. In all fairness, he was on a lot of acid at the time.
4. Sometimes you have to shut the f*ck up
Speaking of Fluffhead, the only Phish show I’ve been to where I remember being actively pissed at the people around me happened on the lawn at SPAC in Saratoga, NY. It was crowded, the air thick not with bud- but cigarette- smoke, and even thicker with the conversation between the two obnoxious upstate New Yorkers next to me. Of course people at a concert want to be social, but this was beyond friendly banter. It was as if they were walking and talking and just stumbled upon a Phish show, completely unaware that there was live music happening in front of them. I don’t even remember what they were talking about- hunting, drinking, banging bitches- all I know is that they were loudest during the most epic part of the Fluffhead jam, right before it goes back to the refrain. And just like the friend who walks in at the climax of a movie and starts asking about the plot, sometimes you just want to scream SHUT THE F*CK UP, and sometimes you’re the person who needs to do the shutting up.
5. Miracles do exist
As a young, angst-filled teen, I spent many-a-day depressed in my room listening to The Descendents and painting my fingernails black. In an effort to get me out of my oversized Vans hoodie and into the sunshine, my mom would often try to lift my spirits with quotes she nabbed from her Zen-A-Day calendar. I still remember one in particular, “The more often you have a good attitude, the more often you have a good day.” Cheesy as it may be, it’s definitely true. Positive thinking does lead to positive things. For instance, if you desperately need that coveted Phish ticket and are a bit low on the cash flow, a big smile, good attitude and resilient finger in the air will often bring you what you need. Every phan knows If you believe you’ll get the ticket, you WILL get the ticket. And if you and your two friends need New Year’s Eve Madison Square Garden tickets at face value- no matter how high the odds are stacked against you- if you really believe you’ll get them, you may just find yourself on a bus to Philly meeting up with a friend who came down with food poisoning and now has three tickets to spare. Oh yes, that happened.