December 17th, 1995 was the second and final night of my first-ever multi-show run with Phish, as well as being the closing show of the band’s winter tour. I think this might have also been the first time I was staying in my own hotel room for a concert. I was staying at the Howard Johnson’s just a short walk from the venue and it felt great to have a place to call home for the two nights. The days of sleeping in my car after a show or being part of a hotel wookstack were far from over but this at least marked the beginning of the more mature concert traveller I was to become.
I remember this show very, very clearly. My friend JP had come to Lake Placid for the second night (to date his only Phish concert) and he bought a ticket from someone at face value (maybe around $20?) at a pre-party in the hotel. Imagine his disappointment when we found free tickets literally on the ground as we walked to the show. I remember a tree near the front door of the venue that had dozens of unused tickets for the evening’s performance dangling from it’s branches.
The show opened with My Friend, My Friend which made us laugh as my friend (my friend) JP had been singing that very song including any number of twisted lyrics as we walked through the small parking lot before the concert. Then the band played Poor Heart – one of my early favourites – and the whole room got jumpin’.
And then they played A Day In The Life and here I was standing next to JP, the biggest Beatles fan I know. I had no idea that Phish covered the tune but we both recognized it from the first chord and we were both enthralled right through to the last chord. The first set also included Stash, Mango Song, The Lizards and closed where they often opened, with Chalkdust Torture.
Add in Maze, Harry Hood, Sparkle and Tweezer in the second set and you have a prodigious collection of my favourite Phish songs all collected in the same concert. Throw in the unique Phishy quirkiness that was the giant Band vs Audience chess game that ended in a stalemate during the unprecedented multi-move setbreak…all-in-all the whole night was such an incredibly great time. And walking back to my cozy little personal space after the show really helped to cement this new lifestyle that I was starting to embark on with relish.
Come to think of it, I probably had a bit of a wookstack going on in my room after all. There’s no way I could have afforded anything as fancy as a HoJo’s back in the day without splitting it about fourteen ways. Funny how people with dogs never felt like they had to pay extra.