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Best of 2002

Published: 2003/01/23
by Debbi English

Phish, Madison Square Garden, NYC, 12/31

I’m a Phish Phan. I like other bands, other styles of music, but if Phish is playing I’ll drop everything in order to see them. I’m not apologetic on this point, merely honest. When they announced the end of hiatus, oh what a joyful day it was for me. Not that I was miserable during hiatus – life goes on and joy is all around – but my happy life was made even happier by the reformation of my four favorite musicians.
I mail ordered, of course. In fact, knowing that the New Years ticket would be the hardest ticket to get, ever, on the face of the earth, I, my boyfriend, my mother and my best friend all ordered so that I and my boyfriend may go. God was smiling on me, Phish loves me, whatever: my order and my mother’s order were both successful. I had two tickets and two of my many shut-out friends had my extra pair, all great seats.
Come New Years Eve, I’m in New York City for the first time in my life. Times Square was a real life Willy Wonka experience for me that day, has anyone else seen the glory of the Chocolate City peeking out a side street on the walk up Seventh Avenue? Amazing.
My boyfriend and I take in the sights as quickly as possible. In New York City, time flies fast; before we know it, we’re standing in line with some friends from Poughkeepsie waiting for the guards to let us in.
As the anticipation builds, the periodic whoops and hollers from this motley reunion echo around the block. Manhattan belongs to the Phish heads and Dick Clark is probably cowering in his trailer. The guards let us in.
Our seats are dead-on, 100 section, great view.
I’ll skip the musical review – we all know the show was exactly what we needed. The fact that they started with my second favorite Phish song and played 4 of 5 of my top favorites is only what I would expect from a night so magical. Phish was back; I was there.
"Seven Below" and the snow and snow elves and countdown was amazing. I had barely paid attention to the song when listening to the album but from here-on-out, it will be a favorite. After the countdown, while the band started to play "Auld Lang Syne", my boyfriend handed me the setlist he’d been recording all night. On the third line down after "Seven Below" were the words: "I love you, Deb, will you marry me? (Look left)"
He was standing to my left holding a beautiful white gold-sapphire ring that perfectly matched the necklace he’d given me for Christmas a week earlier. I said yes.
We met because of Phish (at a bar in Chicago where local Phish heads were hanging out at the time), experienced many shows and partial tours together, flew across the country for the last 2 shows and plan to continue seeing shows together forever. Our engagement, at the first show back, couldn’t have been more apropos, more sentimental or make me more happy. Music may not be our lives but it is such an integral part of who we are. For me, that’s what Phish is all about and even though the New Years show wasn’t an entirely 2002 show, I still think it’s the best music I’ve heard all year!

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