Friday, June 05, 2009

Standing in the Rain on Thursday Night: Phish at Jones Beach

By Pauly
Long Island, NY

Photo by phishfromtheroad

I missed Fenway and the first night at Jones Beach. Thursday at Jones Beach (aka JB Night 2)was my first show on this summer's tour. What a better way to kick off my return to Phish tour with a show where I stood in the rain? Not so much a rain, but a light drizzle and mist for the majority of the first set. Phish is one of the few acts that I'd actually get drenched to see. It's happened before and it will happen again I'm sure. Probably as soon as Friday.

Getting to the show was a pain in the ass. 2.5 hour ride from Midtown Manhattan to Jones Beach. Ouch. On the way I made a business call while Javier and I talked baseball and Phish the rest of the ride. Javier and I have seen dozens of shows together. He was at the last night in Hampton and was pumped for something closer to home. His brother, Senor, scored us the tickets and we also went with our friend Zig. I'd say Zig is a casual Phish fan. His last show might have been pre-hiatus. It was good to catch up with an old friend that I had not seen in years. I was especially excited to hang out with Senor. We saw Phish in Japan together and he was one of my first tour buddies. He couldn't find a ticket to Hampton so Jones Beach officially marked our Phish reunion.

The magic about these shows is that every night, you're hanging out with someone who is either seeing Phish for the first time or seeing them for the first time sine they broke up. In Zig's situation, it was his first show in almost ten years.

We arrived early and checked out a vibrant Shakedown. Javier and I gravitated towards a vendor offered grilled cheese... 2 for $3. A couple ran the stand and had three of their small kids on tour with them. One tour kid with shaggy blonde hair was about six or seven. He asked me if I wanted water for $1. I gave him a $1 and he dug through a cooler and fished out an icy cold water.

"Mommy, I sold five waters today. I made $5," he said.

"Way to start 'em young," I told the heady momma. "This kid will have a master's degree in lot economics by the time you reach Alpine Valley."

We walked a few feet and found grilled cheese for $1. Ooooops. We could have saved 50 cents. I also spotted someone cooking high end grilled cheese for $2. Their hand-drawn sign boasted "with garlic and rosemary."

Sign of the economic times. Grilled cheese used to be $1 in the lot. The prices have fluctuated to $1.50 or $2. An increase of 50% to 100% depending on which end of Shakedown you're looking to purchase food.

Plenty of t-shirts, glass pipes, and other random food stuffs were hawked by folks with make-shift stands while others had elaborate and intricate vending booths. I found two used book sellers on tour, which made me happy to see people sharing the written word. I always wanted to open up a mobile bookstore on tour, but transporting the books from show to show would be tough.

Since Javier and Senor are in the financial sector, I joked that they should have opened up a financial services booth. "Heady nugs from portfolio advice HERE."

The best thing I saw on Shakedown? A yard sale with the most random items for sale like home cookware. They also included two items than dirty Phisheads usually don't use.... razors and laundry detergent. Odd to see those on sale, but then again, times are tough. Everything but the kitchen sink was being hawked on Shakedown.

I didn't even step on the street for one second before I was offered a cornucopia of substances. The hottest drug dealer I had ever laid eyes on offered to sell me acid. She reminded me a Katie Holmes cira Dawsons Creek. I politely declined her offer. Hot chicks slinging doses? Man, I missed Phish tour.

And the shadiness attracted the federales. They were out in full force. Jones Beach is a state park so their were State Park Police busting stuff up. You have to expect a certain amount of illegal activity going on in the parking lot of a Phish show. The local law enforcement are cool to an extent. If you keep things on the down low, they leave you alone. But if you act like a total idiot and flaunt your alternative means of income, whether it's selling crystals, t-shirts, beers, or narcotics, then they are gonna bust you. There's only so much of your freak flag that you can high before you end up in jail and have your mugshot posted on The Smoking Gun.

The undercovers were out in full force and tipped off the uniformed officers. I watched in amusement as a spun-out wookie got busted by the state park police. They made him empty out all of his baggies on the the ground. A small pile of bright green buds were scattered in front of an old VW bus. A crowd gathered and jeered.

"That's a lot of pot," said one guy who shook his head. I couldn't tell if he was pissed at the cops or pissed at the wookie for getting busted.

Javier thought that the lot was a hot zone. Cops were all over the place. He ever got harassed by one. We were standing up against our car when a cop car stopped in front of us and rolled down his window. I knew that was not a good thing.

"What are you drinking?" he asked.

Javier turned around his slender can of Red Bull to show the officer.

"That's not cocaine in that?"

"No sir," said Javier. "I don't do cocaine."

The cop gave us a look over and drove away. Javier didn't tell him he had vodka in the can and of course, I would never reveal what was in my pockets.

A minuet later two cops sprinted towards us. They were young and looked fresh off a tour in Iraq. They demanded to search an RV next to us because they claimed one of their drug dogs singled out that car. Heck, every single car was a probable cause vehicle. The kids insisted they were clean and they made a mistake. John Q. Law searched and found nothing. They mistook a bag of almonds for pills. The cop confiscated the bag and when he realized that they were indeed almonds, he angrily threw the bag over the fence.

Yeah, the lot was a hot zone and we decided to go into the show. Javier got busted by security during the pat down entering the venue. He was about to confiscate a bottle of Absolut Peach. He gave Javier two choices.... chug the rest of the vodka or throw it in the trash. Javier opted for choice A. He was already plastered when we decided to wander inside, and that last surge of vodka put him over the top. Before Phish even played a note, Javier was rip-roaring drunk.
Phish Jones Beach, 6/4/2009 Night 2

Set 1: Grind, Divided Sky, Ocelot, Coil, Punch You In the Eye, Dirt, NICU, Ghost > Antelope

Set 2: Water in the Sky, Birds Of A Feather, Drowned > Meatstick, Time Turns Elastic, Waste, YEM

E: Rock and Roll
Initial thoughts? Sick first set and the second set was inconsistent with lots of peaks and valleys. They hit some amazing heights in the second set (Drowned, YEM, Rock and Roll), but there were several lulls when I was honestly slightly bored. Overall, a solid show but I'm gonna need to see a few more shows before I can start comparing.

The boys stepped to the front of the stage for an acapella version of Grind. Nice way to warm up, but by no means, mind-blowing. That moment was saved for the first few kicks of Divided Sky, which Senor insisted was the highlight of the show for him. I caught it in Hampton, but I loved the fact they played it in the rain.

A fat sweating guido barreled through and told Zig to get out of his seat. Zig calmly told him that we were in the right seats. He wouldn't move and shouted, "Show me your ticket!" That's when I stepped in. "Hey pal. These are our seats, Where's your ticket." He shoved it in my face, as if to prove a failing point. He had the right row and seats, but he was in the wrong section. The fat sweaty guido left in a huff.

Ocelot is my favorite new Phish song. Love the mellow-funk jam out. I got goosebumps during Page's solo at the end of Coil. Then the crowd erupted for PYITE. Yeah, the entire audience went apeshit over PYITE. I was a little out-of-tour shape and I came in a half-a-second too early on "Hey!"

It was in the middle of PYITE when Senor looked at me and screamed, "We're back!" Fitting. Not just Phish, but the two of us hanging out and raging at Phish. It felt wonderful to be back.

Zig pointed out that Drit was a cellphone song where everyone sat down and checked their messages o sent out texts. Senor was constantly checking for a score in the NBA finals. I didn't have any money on the game and I focused on the music instead of degenerate sports betting.

The highlight of the show was the last two songs of the first set... Ghost and Antelope. I lost my mud during Ghost and I was sober too! I volunteered as the designated driver, so I abstained from any hard stuff and not a sip of booze. Ghost felt like a second set jam, but I didn't care about the placement. It was simply kick ass shit and the mind-melting jam out in the rain is why I went to see Phish in the first place. Phish has a habit of whipping the crowd into a frenzy and then ending the set.

By that point, we lost a drunken Javier. He called from the upper deck.

"Thank God he's not arrested," I said. Javier was that far gone that incarceration was something probable if not inevitable.

At set break, Zig was bitching about paying $6.50 for a bottle of water. I busted his balls, "Dude, you rolled up here in a Lexus with tinted windows and you're complaining about a $6.50 water?"

Second set was mediocre compared to the first set. I found myself bored during Birds and Meatstick. The Japanese lyrics saved Meatstick and I honestly thought that for a second they teased both Scarlet Begonias and Fire on the Mountain after the insane jam out of Drowned.

Yeah, the Who cover was epic and Mike stepped up. That was the highlight of the second set, along with YEM. Mike, sporting purple pants, stood out during the jam. Gargantuan bass. I had a legit acid flashback during the trampolines in the middle of YEM. I gotta say, I don't think I ever had a flashback at a Phish concert before. I loved every second of the ephemeral rush.

I had mixed feelings about Time Turns Elastic because the first part is kinda blah but the second part is sensational!

The boys closed out the show with a brief, yet tight version of Rock and Roll. Senor and I first saw Phish cover Velvet Underground back in Las Vegas on Halloween in 1998. In many ways, the Jones Bach show was also a trip down memory lane.

I had a great time because I shared the night with some old friends. I'm looking forward to Friday's show, but know that it's gonna be a wet one, which means Phish will most likely step it up. They play harder when they know their fans are enduring the elements to enjoy the music.

This originally appeared on Coventry.

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