It was twenty years ago today...
The HORDE tour presented by Canada Dry & Maxell.
Col. Bruce Hampton (ret.) and the Aquarium Rescue Unit ->
It was not my first rock show (Rush in 1991)... but it was my first "jamband" show. Of course, nobody used the term "jamband" back then.
I was a huge Blues Traveler fan. I remember when their second album was released ("Travelers and Thieves") I went to Record Town at the Short Hills Mall and bought it that very day. Prominently displayed next to it was "A Picture of Nectar" which I did not buy on that day... soon...
Of course, Spin Doctors were just starting to blow up at this time, too. They had a single (Two Princes) climbing the charts... but in Jersey, we were already very familiar with those guys. We knew they were buddies with Blues Traveler, but I never really thought they were as good. For the record, I still love John Popper. Guy has tremendous talent as a song writer, singer, harp player, guitarist, and is a great guy ta-boot.
So, we head down to Garden State Arts Center on this fateful day 20 years ago... ARU is on stage first. I'm admittedly a little lost... trying to get my bearings around this hippie crowd. People are smoking weed... men are hugging other men... cute girls in flowing dresses are already spinning in circles...
Anyway, ARU is playing and slowly, one by one, these other musicians are joining them onstage. Then slowly, one by one, the members of ARU are leaving the stage. Before I know it, we are hearing Widespread Panic. Now, people on this board know I'm not the biggest WSP fan, but I gotta admit, this transition was cool. It really set the stage for the rest of the day. This was no normal rock and roll show.
Once WSP finishes their set, there is a brief break in the music. I say brief because it was. This HORDE tour had a huge rotating stage. So, while WSP was playing, the roadies were setting up for Spin Dr.s behind them. So, it took about 10 minutes to rotate the stage and they were ready to go!
The Spin Doctors set was cool. I remember it really well. Their front man is a freak and chicks in the crowd were loving it. I remember looking around at the really hippie-looking folks in the crowd and seeing a lot of standing around with hands in pockets just sort of grooving in one spot.
Next up was Phish. I had heard some Phish tapes at a few basement parties over the previous few years, but I never really listened too closely. I was definitely unfamiliar and unprepared for this. I will say, the energy in the crowd went up a few notches once Phish hit the stage. Those hippie dudes no longer had their hands in their pockets - they were dancing.
Set 1: The Landlady, Runaway Jim, Foam, Sparkle, Stash, The Squirming Coil, Cavern > Vacuum Solo > Cavern, You Enjoy Myself, Suzy Greenberg
*Several “official” H.O.R.D.E. dancers took the stage during The Landlady to dance with Trey and Mike. During the tramps segment of YEM, an extra tramp and microphone were brought out for John Popper. On his first jump, though, Popper jumped right through the trampoline. Embarrassed, he left the stage.
What I remember:
Seeing Trey and Mike looking like they were headbanging from the lawn. I mean, you'd have thought they were playing "Master of Puppets" by looking at them, but the music pouring out was Latin jazz.
I also remember my attitude towards front-man antics changed a lot that day once I saw a band where all 4 guys were serious musicians. It just made Chris Barron look like an idiot by comparison. It's funny, because I sing and I love to sing... and I had a few opportunities to sing with bands both in high school and my freshman year of college - but by the time I was in college I really felt like an idiot out front singing... I'm definitely not a "musician" so why would I be in a band.
I remember Runaway Jim... I remember Stash just because I loved the way it sounded from the very beginning. It was my first favorite Phish song.
I remember Cavern and the vacuum solo. I remember the trampolines and the whole John Popper prank. I was pretty geeked out to think that Popper was going to jam with Phish and a little bummed when he didn't, but the prank was hilarious.
I remember the vocal jam out of YEM and thinking "this must be for the people on acid... I bet this sounds great on acid."
I sort of remember Suzy... then it was over.
By the time Blues Traveler hit the stage, the sun had set and the crowd energy had come down quite a bit. I enjoyed their set, which included Warren Haynes (then of the Allman Brothers) sitting in on Mountain Cry. But it was a let-down after Phish. Needless to say, I've seen Blues Traveler a couple dozen times since and enjoyed every show, but never have been blown away. I still love John Popper and always will.
Since that day I have seen Phish a total of 120 times including this past Sunday in Saratoga Springs, NY. I celebrated my 20 year Phishiversary on Sunday and the boys made it special for me. I caught my first La Grange. They encored with a monster YEM. I spent the weekend with Wendel and his brother (and a bunch of other great folks). Over half of my 120 shows (66 to be exact) I have seen with Wendel. It's just what we do whenever we can. I wouldn't have it any other way... Can't wait to do it again.