Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation
Florida Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
...By now, some members of our crew had dispersed...off to expell bodily fluids, aquire food, take refuge in the nearby backstage campgrounds, and otherwise reassemble their internal psychic elements. Eventually it started feeling less like Phish was perfoming a musical concert for our benefit, and more like we were all subsumed together into a giant, pulsing, organic mass, propelled by the sounds and lights coming from onstage. People were living, breathing, sleeping, just *existing*... as the spectacle continued on, like some musical sun that pulled us all along through its gravitational pull and kept our pulses going.
I periodically checked my watch, and Raras and I joked about how fun it was just "whiling away the fours" and then "whiling away the fives" and then.
During Fish's intro to Love You, 80,000 of us seemed to experience a brief mental *drift*.. finally punctuated by Fishman's remark, "Oh, are we at a rock concert?". It was a perfect comment, and summed up my feelings precisely. Was this a f$#%&*g rock concert? What was it? At this moment Sting is probably waking up for his yoga and a morning jog, and Phish is *still* onstage playing their New Year's Eve show.
Roses Are Free seemed to glide up out of the silence slowly, as the band eased back into gear after the Henrietta break.
During Roses, the sky began to lighten. By the end of Bug it was already daylight, and I started wondering if and when they were ever going to stop playing. I also noticed the enormous screens, literally for the first time in several hours. There was an extreme closeup of Page's face, with red light streaking through his hair..I quipped, "I am Page...I am the Sun God!". It was pretty strange, honestly. It was sometime around here that a member of our group suddenly produced a still-cold bottle of champagne. The process of handing it around and gulping from it seemed so absurd that it was hilarious, and we started chanting "Happy new year!' in a kind of hybrid of seriousness, sarcasm, humor, and joy that I cannot describe accurately.
Then Hood started, and somone said, "Again? Ok." It was simply an exhausted mistake made by the band, and adds yet more flavor and character to the set. I think Dan Seidman had dozed off briefly, but he staggered to his feet when 2001 sent yet another surge of electricity through the crowd. Ok, this is absurd. Beautifully, triumphantly absurd. The glory of nature had subsumed much of Kuroda's artistic space, but orange, red, and white lights pumped as the band lit into a particularly fiery version of this musical orgasm. Suddenly, everyone was dancing again.
I chose this time to mill around the tarp a little more, taking a few pictures, basking in the improbable triumph of it all. Near the end, the band apparently experienced another stream of conciousness moment as they briefly wandered into a reggea flavor, as if to revist a parallel version of Hood that they had accidentally started earlier.
It didn't occur to me that this was the preliminary finale of the set, it just seemed like yet another song. I was absolutely shocked that they next went for Wading, one of my least favorite Phish originals. This is the only version I ever bother to listen to on tape or Cd, out of respect for the coherence of that last hour of the set, but it made our group mutter and scratch our heads.
The resumption of Meatstick caused a general wave of joy and release, as we realized that things were wrapping up. To this day, whenever I hear the beginning of a Meatstick it immediately conjures up that feeling of communal triumph, accomplishment, and shared joy that connected us all on that millenial morning in Florida. Trey said a few nice things, and then the band actually slipped into another spacey jam.
It wasn't until the first George Harrison vocals of Here Comes the Sun that everyone realized it was a record playing, and that the event was over. At this point we broke into an enormous ovation, cleebrating everything we had heard, lived, learned, and gone through in Big Cypress. Our group gathered our belongings and took a hurried picture, after which Brian said, "Ok, we're crazy", and headed for bed.
I set off alone, with my backpack and blanket. I made my way into the woods, and proceeded to lounge out in the grass in one of the most beautiful physical environments I have ever seen.
I watched a few people walk by with drums and set up in an open space in my field of vision. The drum circle slowly grew, people gathered and danced, the rhythmic tones heightened in intensity...and then slowly dissipated, as people wandered off, and finally the last members of the circle said their goodbyes and ambled away, perhaps to start another one somewhere else. And the space was open again.
I had to have been the only person who watched and listened to the entire cycle.
By the time I wandered back to some friends' campsite, they were waking up. (Along the way I had left a note on Bertolet's camper: "Hi. Jeremy Goodwin, 1/1/00"). I stretched out on the grass, and gazed at the clouds doing their little dance in the sky. We contemplated what we had experienced the night before. I said it felt like we had seen the band naked... we had all bound up together and then simultaneously unravelled. It was almost like the band had put their sanity and pysches on display, for us to marvel as they dissipated.
"I don't know what I could possibly ever need or want this band to do for me again."
They had just jumped through hoops for us for eight hours, and I felt 100% satiated. I never needed to see this band play again. What more could I possibly expect them to do for me? I felt like the entire Phish ouevre had been made complete in a way. Of course, I loved the band, and knew I'd want to see many shows in the future...but I was positive that in all honestly I didn't really *need* any more.
And thus, as I lay on the ground lazily chatting and watching the clouds, I felt an unexpected twinge of the bittersweet, realizing that we were gliding atop a plateau, a high point, from which all future Phish happenings would look back and feel the shadow.
Update/*Edit*.. And then there was Rothbury. Diferent festival and tale for another time: http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/37318