When Phish announced that they would be playing a couple of back-to-back dates at Mohegan Sun on their 2019 summer tour I’ll admit I had to sit down for a little info session with Mister Google. Turned out that Mohegan Sun was the name of a casino somewhere called Uncasville, Connecticut (a town name which required more chatting with Mr. G.) and these would mark Phish’s first (and second) show(s) there.
Of course by the time I finished my research the price of the rooms at the actual casino on the dates in question had shot up a million per cent to the point of unaffordability, which was disappointing as there were no other hotels anywhere even close to Mohegan Sun. In the end m’lady and I shared a room at a Holiday Inn-ish sort of place about twenty miles away with our bestest Boston buddies Joe and Dee, which turned out being just fine. We saved even more money by shunning taxis and/or ubers; if I’m not mistaken I drove on night one and Dee drove on night two. You’d think such a division would make it easy for me to distinguish the memories of one night from the other but nope…both nights are a swath of memories that blur into one another like cream and sugar in black coffee.
I must say they did a pretty darn good job with the casino. It was clean and classy but shunned glitz and glimmer in favour of emblems of the native land that sat beneath the spiralling carpets and tiled swimming pools. There were feathers and dreamcatchers and stuffed wolves and bisons and teepees and rock formations all over the place. And of course gambling tables and slot machines and esoteric restaurants and upscale bars and shopping concourses. Curiously, I noticed lots and lots of children, many of them proudly strutting through the casino hallways carrying trophies. I discovered later that in addition to hosting Phish and their following the Mohegan Sun was simultaneously hosting a youth gymnastics competition and man, did the parents have at the Phish fans online, chastising them (us) for engaging in every manner of party-like transgressions in front of their innocent children, to which I replied (in my head): it’s a casino! Why would anyone hold a children’s event at a casino? Casinos are by definition dens of sin and excess so don’t bring your six year-old to one.
July 10th, 2019 was the final of the two nights and the show was super-great. The band was clearly having a great time and playing well, they played a bunch of my favourites and the second set ended with what m’lady and I had jokingly (but seriously) decided was now “our” song, a new one called Drift While You’re Sleeping, the lyrics of which would kick off our wedding ceremony three months down the road. And just to prove that everyone was having a swell time the encore stretched into a long continuous musical stream that proceeded thusly: Bouncing>Saw It Again>Kung>Saw It Again>Slave to the Traffic Light.
Sometime late in the second set I finally remembered to take off my glasses, an optical trick I had stumbled upon a year or two previously but one that had not ingrained itself enough to yet become habit. The globular fuzziness produced by my significant visual impairment does amazing things to Chris Kuroda’s already exceptional light show and I was giddy to experience his astounding visuals through my own unique filters. Gosh, I’m so glad I haven’t had corrective surgery.
Much like the extended encore our aftershow experience stretched on into a stream of events that saw us visit several burgeoning hotel rooms, a handful of pools, and at least one highly unattractive dance bar until the evening finally ended with my first-ever visit to a Krispy Kreme outlet (one of four locations of the iconic shop in the one, single casino), a culinary experience that was not nearly as satisfying as I expected it to be.
Even at 5am.