While others were making hasty attempts to prepare for the upcoming school year, I was piling friends into my small car to head up to the three day festival for the band Phish. The show took place in Limestone, Maine, on Loring Air Force Base.
We left around 11 a.m. somewhat prepared for the long haul ahead of us. VW busses and other cars adorned with various Phish stickers whizzed by us. An aura of anticipation hung over the Phishheads as they inched their way down the abandoned roads toward their destination. After arriving and setting up our tents, my friends and I felt the intense need to wander around the heavily occupied base. It was a small city of 65,000 different people. Throngs of hippies clothed in colorful patchworks filled the streets of the base. After wandering for a couple of hours, we climbed into our tents to rest for the long day ahead. I was lulled to sleep by Grateful Dead tunes played on portable radios and the soft pounding of bongos near our site.
The sun creeped up sending its heavy rays to penetrate our tent. I quickly dressed and again began to wander the base, this time alone. I marveled at the sleepy faces bent over campfire stoves cookng breakfast foods to sell to the many other fans. I was greeted with many smiles and offers. Once fully awakened I gathered my friends to head for the show. Lost in a maze of color swirls and dazed concertgoers, we slowly filed down the main drag toward the stage where Phish would be playing starting at 4:00.
Swarms of people lined up to wave their neon wristbands for the looming security guards. After much pushing and shoving we found a spot to relax and enjoy the show. Phish opened up with a jamming “Chalkdust Torture” that got the crowd pumped. They played until 6:00, then took a two-hour break. They hit off the second set with a popular tune, “Cavern.” At the end of long “Bathtub Gin,” the sky was set aflame with sprays of fireworks. After a long day of partying and dancing, the fans once again massed together to head back to their sites.
The second day the weather was less foggy and chilly. Just as Phish opened up with their first set, the clouds parted and the sun emerged, evoking cheers from the crowd. Phish played even better than the day before. Trey talked to the crowd as if they were long lost friends and Fishman gave us his silly grin. With new tunes such as “Ghost” and old ones like “Makasupa Policeman” they kept the crowd grooving until nightfall. With night, the mood changed with a trippy version of “2001” and a crazy “Bathtub Gin.” After the entire crowd had peaked, Phish began to slow it down and Trey spoke to the crowd again. Each day the thousands of fans had taken part in painting and designing various pieces of wood; the wood had then been constructed into a tall tower that loomed over the crowd. While Fishman jammed on the guitar, Trey took a spraypaint bottle to the stage. Taking turns, the members of Phish adorned the stage with intricate designs. Trey then took a large piece of the wood with Phish’s “art” on it and passed it to the crowd. They carefully passed it through the flock of people to the tower of art and with the help of security, it was fastened on to the tower. The art of both the fans and the group had emerged; it was a tribal experience.
Suddenly, out of nowhere emerged a blazing flame. The flame spread to the tower and the crowd watched in sheer amazement as the tower went up in flames. It was a good-bye to the weekend. The party was over and the exhausted fans began to start their trek back to daily life and existence.