110611 Furthur, Amherst, MA

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On November 6th, 2011 I had the great pleasure of seeing Phil Lesh and Bob Weir play Grateful Dead music along with one of their more popular conglomerations, a musical collection called Furthur (which included fakejerry John Kadlecik, Jeff Chimenti on keys, and a drum/percussion duo made up of Joe Russo and Jay Lane, respectively).  

The show was at the Mullins Center, a medium-sized hockey rink on the campus of UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts, smack-dab in the middle of the state.  My good friend JP and I had driven in from Easton, Pennsylvania where we’d seen Chuck Berry the night before and after a stop at Five Guys (on my absolute insistence; the chain had yet to arrive in Canada) we checked into a cheap motel on the outskirts of nearby the venue and in no time at all we set off for the show.

This was JP’s first and only Dead-ish show and though I had also accompanied him to his only Phish concert (in Lake Placid) that had been way back in 1995 when the lot scene was so small as to be nonexistent, plus that Phish show was in mid-December so this would stand as JP’s first chance at experiencing a proper lot.  Somehow we got down there with only a half-hour or so to spare before showtime but it was enough to get it all in.  Two rows of ramshackle booths were packed with a quagmire of the patchouli-drenched and the great unwashed, everyone all smiles and beaming with wide-eyed curiosity.  

I bought a small piece of glass from which to bless the occasion and enough wares to keep the blessings hearty.  Someone called out over my shoulder, “Who wants a free beer?” and I turned and told him that I did, and I did.  Crowds walked around with their fingers in the air and hope in their eyes.  Somehow we ate something.  JP’s eyes were gaping and both our brains were swirling when we decided it was time to go inside.

Our tickets were pretty good, on the floor and at the front of the section taboot.  We entered behind the soundboard and started walking up and up the left aisle.  When we arrived at our section I saw nothing stopping us from walking even further up the aisle so I kept going without even slowing down.  JP stuck right behind me and just like that we found ourselves in the second row of the front-most section, dead centre.  No sooner had we arrived when the lights went down and the band started into Foolish Heart.  And in that moment everything came together all at once and we were both rocked to our very cores.  

It was a “wow” moment that stretched and elasticated to cover the entire rest of the evening, which was all fabulous.  The band played lots of great music, security was non-existent (always a good thing at concerts that aren’t country music), our vantage point gave us plenty to look at, and our seat-neighbours we just as excited and happy to be there as we were.  High fives and the sharing of sacraments were de rigour.  We stayed up there for the whole show and not only did nobody ever approach us about being in their seats, it actually remained pretty roomy up there throughout the whole evening.

The virtually-nonstop second set opened with Golden Slumbers which was pretty cool for JP, Beatles nutbar that he is (he’s lucky that way; the one time we saw Phish together they played A Day in the Life) and went on to include Scarlet Begonias, Terrapin, and tons of gold before encoring with Samson and Delilah.  Gosh it was so much fun.

I even bought a poster.  It has fish on it.  

It’s funny how clearly I remember the two of us getting back to the hotel room and scrounging for some sort of food or snacks to go with our nightcaps.  We hummed and hawed about ordering a pizza but instead discovered a bunch of leftover fries in our Five Guys refuse (you know how they always scoop a bunch of fries on top of your order…).  We further discovered that microwaved leftover Five Guys fries are actually not half bad.  We ate them up like they were pizza.  Good pizza.

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