I heard Phish for the first time in October of 92 when this chick who I was kind of friends with, but not really, accidentally left a cassette of Picture of Nectar in my car. (Which, incidentally, clearly happened to be a life changing experience) Over the next four to six months my addiction to the band took hold. Suddenly, I was "coincidentally" finding friends in high school (including a new girlfriend) who were also into Phish. By the time Spring of '93 rolled around and I was preparing to graduate from highschool I was stoked to find out that I would finally be able to actually go and see one of these shows that I had been listening to on a regular basis for the past six months via bootleg cassettes that I would trade with other cool people who 'got it'. Unfortunately, I missed the sales for the legendary 5/3/93 show at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and the boys weren't playing in my neck of the woods again after that until July. So, with a credit card account that I had opened through a telemarketer from 'Concerned Women of America' using my step dads credit history (and of course his credit, since I had none) I ordered the maximum amount of tickets allowed to the general admission show on July 25th 1993 at Waterloo Village, NJ.
To tighten this posting up, I'll put it this way.... it was a gorgeous summer day and I had turned 18 twenty one days earlier. There was a pre-party at a friend’s house that started around 10:30am and turned into a super carpool to the show. Actually getting to the show was an adventure in itself that I'm pretty sure I wish I could fully remember. Alcohol, Marijuana, and Mescaline, may, or may not have been involved.
When we finally arrived, the lot scene was basically in a large field, for a show, that was also basically in a large field. At one point during my first Phish lot experience I decided to take a walk and see who I could meet. I'll never forget the feeling I had as I came across a parked car with two guys sitting out front. These guys both seemed to be roughly my age, maybe a little bit older and had a boom box sitting next to them playing a unique, obviously live version of 'If I only had a Brain' from 'The Wizard of Oz', while they drank canned beer from their lawn chairs. Enjoying my day, as well as what I was hearing, I figured that perhaps it was possible that, just as I had only discovered Phish less than a year before, this fun sounding, audience engaging recording was another new band that my musical path in life was about to expose to me.
So, being relaxed and social, I asked the guys: "Hey! This is awesome... Who is it?!"
They both casually glanced at each other through their 1993 appropriate sunglasses, like, 'Ugh, can you believe this kid is here and he doesn't even know that this is the bootleg from the 6-23-92 show at Philipshalle in Düsseldorf, Germany??!'
Then they both seemed to turn their glances to me simultaneously with disdain. One of them just said "Phish" in a way that led me to understand that they really didn't want anymore interaction with me.
I felt pretty shitty for a moment or two as I walked on past them with an attempted smile, in an 'oh... ok, yeah, of course' kind of a way. But shortly after I was filled with anger towards these two strangers with internal thoughts of embarrassment, such as 'Sorry' and 'How was I supposed to know?'
But, the truth is, I wasn't supposed to know and I didn't deserve those feelings. Thank goodness, my disappointment in myself was only temporary and I went on to literally have one of the most influential and inspirational evenings of my entire life.
But since that moment, I've been keenly aware of how people who are new to a certain experience are often treated by others who have been around a scene a little longer and I've come up with this: You can tell an awful lot about a person by the way they treat others who are new to an environment in which that initial person already feels they've mastered.
This may seem like an obvious truth in life, but nobody can choose when or where they are born and therefore when they end up discovering a certain band on their musical educational journey of life. No one can possibly know what they don't yet know, and/or understand a specific historical experience/significance that of which they haven't yet had the privilege of experiencing for themselves.
We're all on the same team gosh darn it! And it only makes sense that we treat each other that way! If you treat everyone in the same fashion that you'd like to be treated, I promise it'll be worth your while.
To paraphrase Ghandi, Be the light that you want to see on tour.