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Columns > David Steinberg - Some Are Mathematicians

Published: 2006/08/19
by David Steinberg

I Must Inquire Internet…

Marymoor Park is located in Redmond, Washington, a few miles away from Microsoft’s main campus. They throw some concerts there every year – I saw the Cowboy Junkies there a few years ago – but this year, they dipped their toes into the jambands water.
Don’t get me wrong; I love The Gorge. It’s my favorite outdoor place to see music in the entire world, just slightly surpassing Red Rocks. There’s only one problem with it – it doesn’t work well as a local venue. I love that it’s close enough that I can go there regularly, but there’s something about having a band actually play your city (or at least a close suburb) and being able to sleep in your own bed after a show.
There’s always a question as to how a new venue will treat us. Marymoor Park decided that they were just going to let us freak freely. I suspect part of that is the fact that you can’t really prejudge in Redmond; the guy with the long hair and the beard might be exceedingly important at Microsoft. Once you factor in the camping lot, the decent view of the Cascades, the early showtimes [1], and the fact that their rules let you bring in coolers as long as there’s no alcohol present, it’s not too surprising that this venue is now my favorite place to see music in King County [2].
It didn’t hurt either that the Widespread Panic run there was exceedingly impressive, especially when compared to last year’s Gorge run. The music was good, the venue was laid back, and there was plenty of room to wander around. That itself would have been good enough, but my friends decided to do something different.
To commemorate Padget’s birthday, a group of women dressed up as Widespread Panic cheerleaders. Each one had a different song title on the back, some being the name of their persona (e.g. "Arlene," "Lil’ Lily") some being one of their traits (e.g. "Flat Foot Flewzy," "Trouble," "Red Hot Mama," and the less promiscuous "Chilly"). It was clever and original, the sort of thing that I wish would happen more frequently at concerts.

I used my new (well, newish) camera to take some videos of them. If I wasn’t going to be creative, at least I could document those who had the idea. Unfortunately, even short, low quality videos take up a lot of space. I needed somewhere to host it so my friends could see it. Lacking any other plan, I slapped it up at YouTube and sent my friends the URL.
Normally, that would be the end of the story, but this time I was behind the technological curve. I didn’t catch on just how popular YouTube is these days. You can’t just put up a video and expect it to go undiscovered. By the time I woke up the next morning, I found that there were dozens of comments. That itself wouldn’t be a bad thing, but they were almost all mean spirited attacks [3].
It’s not like this mentality is alien to anyone who spends any time on Phantasy Phish, but it still is incomprehensible to me. Why do people act like there’s only one way to behave at a show? I can understand being frustrated by someone bumping into you or screaming in your ear or blocking your view or telling you to sit down when you want to dance or something, but there’s a growing trend of active discouraging and mocking anyone who ventures outside the definition of an ever expanding set of rules of behavior.
One of the great things about the jambands scene has always been the lack of judgment. As long as you’re not hurting anyone or affecting their ability to enjoy the show, what does it matter how they are dressed or what they’re doing. One of my favorite tour activities was always to take someone to their first show and have them see a gathering of people who were trying to have as much fun as possible.

Go on. Dress up in weird clothes. Find a spot with no people around and perform cool hula hoop tricks. Create little skits to perform in the parking lot or during the set break. Throw confetti at appropriately timed spots. While the main focus will always be on the music, a creative crowd can help turn a mediocre show into a great time and a great show into a life changing experience. If someone else has a problem with that, that’s their issue. If they mess with you, they’ll have to answer to me!
[1] Probably due to being in a residential neighborhood, Marymoor has a strict 10 PM curfew. As a morning person, I really appreciate that.
[2] The Paramount is beautiful, but their rule against having beverages in the seating area counts against them. Sometimes you need water to cool down.
[3] This would be a really good time to be able to say, "Hey, if you pick on my friends, you’ll have to answer to me!" but I don’t think many people take threats from aging, out of shape pacifists very seriously.
David Steinberg got his Masters Degree in mathematics from New Mexico State University in 1994. He first discovered the power of live music at the Capitol Centre in 1988 and never has been the same. His Phish stats website is at http://www.ihoz.com/PhishStats.html.
He is the stats section editor for The Phish Companion and is on the board of directors for the Netspace Foundation. You can read more of his thoughts at http://www.livejournal.com/users/thezzyzx.

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