On July 31st, 2013 I woke up hungry and hungover, having experienced a heck of a first night of Phish at Lake Tahoe that led well into the wee hours.
It was everything I could do to crawl out of bed in time for the full breakfast that comes included with the room. With just ten minutes to get myself downstairs to the restaurant I started clamouring for the room key and simply could. not. find. it. Through blurry eyes I searched and searched, and only my inability to feel anything at all kept me from utterly weeping with frustration.
I finally found the stupid key and booted it downstairs just in time to see them wheel away the final food tray. Now that I was up there was no going back down for the sleep I desperately needed so I went back to the room and made a peanut butter sandwich, puttered around, grabbed a newspaper, tried to type things on the computer and did anything I could to not feel like I should be dead, somewhat unsuccessfully.
M’lady woke up just before noon and decided she was as hungry as I was. It was her birthday so we called down for room service, a first for me. After waiting for an hour I called back and was told that not only had no order been placed, because we had called before noon there was no way someone would have answered the phone and taken our order.
I weakly asked how long it would be if we re-ordered. “We could have your soup and sandwich up there in about an hour, or you could just visit our restaurant.” Little did I know, the person on the other end of the phone was setting a trap.
As we approached the hostess at the restaurant downstairs we ran into some friends, so the five of us waited for a table together. When we were finally seated we waited even longer to be served. I noticed the next table over speaking to the manager. Something about waiting forever for their food. Strange, the place wasn’t that busy.
Then our waiter came out. I can’t help thinking now that perhaps he had never been in a restaurant before. Maybe he was raised by wolves?
“I’ll bring water,” he said. No, he didn’t.
“Oh, let me grab ketchup for you,” and he’s gone forever.
“Friends,” I declared, mustering my last remaining strength, “Our waiter is a pathological liar, and he may be trying to kill us.”
When the food finally came the guy says, “Who ordered the Mexican club sandwich?” Nobody had.
“That’s close enough,” I answered, ecstatic that there was now a plate of food in front of me.
“Oh, did you order the regular club?” he asked, reaching to take the plate away. “I can change that for you,” he lied.
Wild-eyed with hunger I literally threw my body over the plate like a hero jumping on a live hand grenade. “No! No! No!” I screamed. “Go away. You are not taking away anything!”
We still tipped. I so, so don’t understand tipping.
After lunch m’lady and I strolled down to the beach area for a bit of a sit-around. We ran into some friends from San Francisco and stayed as long as I could stand the sun. Then we went back at the hotel where I hit the free-drinks happy hour, but I assure you after the last night’s debacle I didn’t hit it very hard. Dramatically more sober than the previous night we crossed the street for another night of Phish.
The venue was a temporary stage thrown up in the back parking lot of Harvey’s Casino. The asphalt square measured about a hundred and twenty feet wide by maybe seventy five feet deep and was surrounded on three sides with seven rows of temporary, aluminium bleachers. Basically it felt like we were seeing Phish at the mall with a few thousand other people. It’s no iconic venue but I thought it was a great place to see the band.
The first set was great but it’s the second set that will forever stand out in Phish lore. They opened set two with their riff-fiesta Tweezer and just kept at it. The song morphed into it’s standard jam and the standard jam turned into an exploration and the exploration turned into a really-listening-to-each- other game of follow the leader, and still on and on it went. Back in ’95 I saw them do an extended Tweezer jam in Finger Lakes but I haven’t seen much like it since; they were gleefully going out on a limb and it was great.
Locked into a groove and all eyes on each other, at one point the band hit a shot and dropped out for a bar. Somewhere, someone yelled “woo”. Eight bars later another break came up and a few dozen people added their own “woo”. That’s all it took, we were all on board and everyone knew it. The jam now featured four musicians and several thousand vocalists, and it felt good. I suppose there will always be at least three hundred people that will claim to be the person that started it, but that doesn’t matter, we were all in this jam together. It was invigorating, it was exciting, it felt special, and clearly the band was loving it.
So we all woo’d through what turned into the seventh-longest live Phish song ever and with one big final night-ending “WOO” we were all back on the street. At every afterparty all the talk was on the monumental Tweezer. It was a standout moment in the history of the scene and we were all happy to have played our part.
M’lady and I quit the evening around 4am just as a pickup Frisbee tourney was taking shape on the street outside of our friend’s rented house, and when we left the party we were in much better shape than the night before. Our noticeable lack of staggering got us back to our hotel in no time, where crisp sheets and soft beds were be the focus of the next handful of hours.