Gods of Time and Place
" Oh the streets of Rome, are filled with rubble, ancient footprints are
everywhere. You can almost think that you’re seeing double…." Bob Dylan
I remember when it hit me really hard for the first time that there were Gods of time and place associated with venues, and that they didn’t necessarily have to do with just music. I did Celtic studies when I was an undergraduate and learned about Irish paganism and how people believed that that there were lesser Gods associated with rivers, mountains, trees, glades and valleys.
And of course there are ancient ruins and haunted houses and ghost towns….are we creating in some small way, over time, ghost-energies in the arenas, rock ballrooms and stadiums where we see shows?
Last winter I was watching Team Canada play the U.S. for the Olympic Gold. The game was at the E Center in Salt Lake City and the energy was unbelievable. Our team had secretly sunk a loonie [$1 dollar Canadian coin] at center ice and we won, we won the game and it was at the "E" Center, and I also have a recording of a certain Phish show where they played that special show and covered The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd in its entirety.
Even last night, the superb showing of the Vancouver Canucks against St. Louis happened at GM Place. I couldn’t help as I scanned the fans in the stands, I couldn’t help but think of the 9/9/99 Phish show, I was there with my best friend from high school, I remember it so well…as I reflected on that I heard the unmistakeable sounds of Llama playing…the venue was playing Phish…and then Vancouver scored and tied the game…
So for me it’s hockey and Phish, but for others it might be the Dead and the Superbowl, or String Cheese and the WWE....the excitement and joy, pure happiness and adrenaline that we feel gathered together in these rooms with people who are our chosen proxies, to observe those who we trust to perform and dazzle us, against all odds, musicians, athletes, wrestlers, Disney on Ice.
So I asked around, I put out a request for stories and essays about rooms where we gather to spectate and dance and worship whatever our secular gods are, and I got some wonderful responses from other music fans. My favorites are here assembled and edited for you. I hope they in some way touch off a chord and set off an association of your own.
Great Western Forum, Los Angeles – Ryan Sheridan
"I saw the February Tour opener at the Great Western Forum in LA this year. Being inside of that ugly old gem, I thought back to watching the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals barnburners on television as a young child in the 1980’s. It was amazing to see Phish in that venue. Seeing Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s retired jerseys, the championship banners…..it felt great to be in an old venue like that again….one where the seats and walls just seem to scream history."
Greensboro Coliseum Tucker Martin
"For southerners the Greensboro Coliseum is Mecca, Jerusalem, and Rome rolled into one. It has played host to the ACC Tournament 17 times and was the site of the 1974 NC State-Maryland game considered one of the best games in basketball history. Michael Jordan, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, and on and on and on have all played on that court — and now Trey Anastasio and the rest of Phish can say the same thing.Nice place to see an event you will never forget – be it 2003 Phish, or 1974 basketball history."
The Philly Spectrum Ryan Sheridan
"The Spectrum thing works for me too. I’ve seen Phish there and with all of those
insane Philly sports fans screaming "Lets go Flyers" etc. at set-break, you can imagine how nuts it must have gotten in there for big Flyers and Sixers games…"
FleetCenter, Boston – Ryan Sheridan
"Phish played two energy-packed shows to close out 1996 in the legendary Boston Garden’s replacement. The Fleet is generally a pretty standard, sterile modern arena that is comfortable & spacious, but lacks all of the intangible qualities the Boston Garden and other old arenas provided. Since the Bruins and Celtics have generally been pretty poor since the Fleet
opened, the arena’s most energetic nights came from rock shows, number retirement ceremonies and the arrival of a visting star player or marquee team. The Fleet FINALLY really exploded for one of the local teams during the Celtics rousing 4th quarter comeback from 35+ down to the Nets in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The place went bananas. The noise was earth-shattering. It was beautiful."
Madison Square Garden
"And of course there is the glorious Madison Square Garden, where I’ve seen Phish eight times and the energy has never NOT been through the roof. ..there have been countless incredible moments there obviously. I’ve watched Michael Jordan torch the Knicks there about a million times, including the time he dropped 55 on them at MSG just under a week after he returned from his first retirement. Then there was the incredible 1994 Eastern Conference Final between the Devils and Rangers. Also, MSG was the sight of that incredibly emotional ‘Concert For New York’ about a month after the 9/11/01 attacks on the World Trade Center. Enough said there."
Hartford Civic Center – Andrew from Connecticut
"The first time I was inside the Hartford Civic Center, it was to see the circus. I was seven years old and Barnum and Bailey had come to town. I was so excited to see all the things that go along with the circus; the animals, the lights and sounds, the food and drink you can find nowhere else. It was quite a day, as I recall. I’ve gone back to the circus since to give my
daughter the same experience. It was just as I remembered, as wonderous for her as it was for me back then. Hartford always had that feeling for me, the circus and the rickety old venue went hand-in-hand.
"Then a new circus came to town. My phirst show was 11/26/97. I had resisted this band for years thinking they were, as I’d been told, a Dead cover band. I figured that the original was good enough for me, although Jerry had since past. Where would I go now, after being a Dead fan for my first years? Eventually, I gave in. I spent $25 and stepped into a brave new world that night. I recently just attended my 25th show in Worcester this winter, and I’ve followed them from the tip of Maine to The Swamp. But the first show always holds a place in your heart. To further connect Phish to the circus, to bring that youthful excitement out of me
every time I see them, they have written songs with that theme. Music they play at times reminds everyone in the venue, no matter where they come from, about their first circus. It’s the nature of Phish’s music. Full of wonder and exhuberance. Maybe it’s the sound of Page’s keys in the intro to ‘Esther’. Maybe it’s John serenading us with the opening lines ‘Roggae’, out
of the darkness of a deep jam. Maybe it’s Trey warbling over the touching
melodies in ‘When the Circus Comes’.
"It all brings me back to the circus. It all puts a smile on our faces, ALL of our faces! Olfactory hallucinations of being younger without a care in the world. It must be so fun for these four to play that for us, to make that come alive! As I look back on the setlist from my phirst show, it makes even more sense. I’ve always felt that the environment in which you see Phish for the first time will shape how you see them from them on. For some they are a ‘summer band’. For others, just the opposite. And it all goes back to your first venue. Thank Icculus it was Hartford for me. It combined forever one of my favorite memories from youth and my passion in ‘adulthood’. The circus and The ‘Circus’."
Boston Garden – Ryan Sheridan
"Ahh! Can’t believe I forgot the Boston Garden itself. The home of the 1994 NYE show and the home of countless incredible(both good & bad) moments in sports and elsewhere…Like the time Keith Moon passed out onstage and The Who had a fan in the audience finish the show on drums, or the time the Rolling Stones got arrested in Rhode Island after an emergency landing and the Mayor of Boston had to personally bail them out and Stevie Wonder had to play a 3 hour opening set and the Stones didn’t hit the stage until 2AM, or the riot at a Led Zeppelin show, or the legendary Grateful Dead runs. R.I.P. Garden!"