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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2009/04/06
by Annabel Lukins

The Pheeling I Forgot

Oh boy, man, god SHIT, here we go again.

In 2002, when Phish came off hiatus at MSG, the energy was overwhelming. All of us felt like our lives depended on the moment that the lights went down, the screams of the crowd, the sensation of our stomachs dropping to the ground, the joyous pain of our smiles, the simple anxiety that the band can muster in us in an instant.

Preparing for Hampton, my emotions were completely out of whack. For one, I wasn’t even supposed to be going, I was supposed to be at Langerado. So my anticipation only began 3 weeks before the shows. It started before I left Boulder while I was at the jeweler getting my rusted Phish pendant shined up. “This is weird, never thought I’d be polishing this baby again.” Numerous phone conversations with my crew entailing questions like, “Can you believe?”breaking into the old desk drawers filled with items like my setlist book, phamily tattoos and ticket stubsI even started scanning old tour photos and sending them to phriends.

All of that eagerness was before I even stepped foot in front of the Mothership.

Once I did, the disbelief REALLY set in. Seeing the gang back together while we all waited in line to bum rush the gates, the chatter was rampant, “Um, we’re at Phish?” Don’t get me wrong, the excitement was ridiculous, but there was definitely a feeling of slight confusion. I mean, they TOLD us they were done. It was over. But don’t let me fool you; I couldn’t WAIT to get inside.

Once doors opened and we all ran like marathoners to claim our seats, we had about two hours before the lights went down. Once we got settled, I took full advantage of being inside. I ran around the coliseum just to see who was there. Every time I turned around, I found someone else to hug. It was exhilarating. I started catching myself skip in the rotunda, talking about reverting back FAST.

But wait, all my friends have grey hair. And look at all those pregnant girls!!! Loved telling people I was married, I didn’t even KNOW peter for the pharewell tour. The best stickers created were “Hello since Coventry, I..” People got SO creative since truly, I bet the majority of the crowd was there. This community is old skool, the real deal, the phans who have been there from the beginning. Talk about a reunion!

OK, time to get ready.powerful cheering in the crowdgetting louder by the minute, mixed emotions, is this really about to happen all over againlights go down. The band takes the stage, phans freak, will they bust out with what I think they will?????

Fluffhead was the ONLY song that they could have opened with in my opinion. By playing this mythical song that hadn't been played since before the hiatus, they would prove to the phans that they have been paying attention to us all this time. So when those oh so familiar notes started, it kicked us right in the ass and said “we’re back and we listened to you screaming Fluff all those years.” It was on, and we all knew it.

Every night, they played it clean, crisp and with serious intention. For one, each set was over an hour and a half! The individual musical improvements of each member were incredible: Jon was playing double time drums as smooth as butter. Page’s confidence and outrageous enthusiasm dropped my jaw more than once. Mike was fierce and tight. And Trey, sweet Trey. Our boy has come so far. You couldn’t paint a more perfect smile on his face. His playing was pure and polished. Obviously there were flubs, I never expected there not to be, but I could tell we were dealing with an entirely new musician, a man who had been to hell and back and preferred to be where he is today. And together, they played like it was 1994.

Halfway through the first set, it hit me. I was pheeling the pheeling I forgot. Literally, I forgot how it felt to be swept away by Phish so strongly that it became an out of body experience. Yes, I forgot. But from that moment on, it was like I had never left.

Here’s a photo recap of my experience at Hampton. Photos and words can’t even describe how special it was, but I tried. Let’s all cheer to have the boys back.because trulyTHEY ARE BACK.

I went right up to Tom Marshall and said, “Hold still, the mother ship just landed in your glasses. It’s on, it’s sooo on.”

Hope she got in considering they opened with Fluff! There were TONS of kids outside with their fingers in the air but they are all cute and fun, I didn’t really see lots of “lot kids.” But then, I stayed away from Shakedown.

Wore it at the last show of Coventry, had to wear it first show backso much fun to walk around and have people say, “I love tour too!” And even if I don’t have any interest in physically touring anymore, it then becomes a state of mind.I’m always on tour in my heart and soul. So much so that I let someone slap a sticker on my butt!

Fishy busted OUT with the vacuum in the very first set during I Didn’t Know. Boy, that sure reminded us that they were back and keen on kickin it old skool. Plus, I had prime “Fishman side” seats all weekend long.

This one’s a winner.I couldn’t have captured this moment any better. My buddy Drew sure was pheeling it.

Night twomy friend Danielle has a way with an iron and quickly conjured up 5 BOTT tanks that day. We were all together for the show in the front balcony of section R. And WHAT DID THEY OPEN WITH????????? Back on the Train Kidsnow that’s a show call.

Night three got in there early enough to lay caution tape down with my friend Joyce (who is pregnant and got CRUSHED night one while doors were opening and everyone was pushing to get inside). Mr. Marshall agreed to help us save a few seats. It was really his idea to stick the tape in our mouths for the photoSilly Tom.

We’ve some heavy hitters in this photo, Pholks. Not only have all 4 of us been seeing Phish since the early 90’s, but the three beautiful girls around me are all brides-to-be. If you don’t know who they are already: Molly, Dee and Rachel would be glad to step up and talk about their pride for Phish any day.SO MUCH SO that they changed their bachelorette party from Lollapalooza to RED ROCKS. Gotta love the girls.

Kuroda killed us with the rainbow lights all weekend long. All of us (as I hope you are too) are just MADLY in love with Chris Kuroda and since he really is the 5th member of the band, we salute all the creative improv he pulls off. It’s funny, you show someone this photo and there is no question at all that it’s from a Phish show.

CONTACT how hilarious is this, look for ONE person in the crowd not participatingbetcha can’t find one, I couldn’t (oh yeah, except those taking photos like me).

After the lights went down at the end, before the house lights came up, there was a brilliant blue luminosity that enveloped the stage, glowing with brilliance right on Trey’s Languedoc, It sat there, proud and tired

I was going to have Trey’s guitar photo be the last, as it was a powerful moment for me. But my energy level got taken up a huge notch after the show. I was brought outside and placed into the arms of my dear old friends from college. These boys and I saw Phish at Lehigh in 1994. It was amazing to connect with them 14 years laterwhat a crazy and incredible life it is to be a Phishhead. You agree, right?

Thanks Phish, you provided the light that guided me through life for so many years. Now, I carry that light everywhere I go. I’m definitely back on the train.a little older, a little wiser, a lot less likely to see every show, but couldn’t be happier that you have reunited.

You’re my band, you’re OUR band.and we love you.

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