To start off my blog post about Phish Super Ball IX, I have to say one thing: I have never been to a Phish show before. I know, I know. However, I think having my first experience be at a Phish Festival was definitely the way to go. I got a glimpse into the Phish community the best way possible with tons of excited folks coming from all over to share with each other their love of one of the best bands out there.
A couple of the HeadCount volunteers this weekend were enormous Phish fans and I believe that really added to the experience. We played Phish on our amp at the booth (with a little Zeppelin thrown in there) and were located right in the action near the stage. So I got a whole lot of Phish at once this weekend.
On our way to Watkins Glen, we hit the most ridiculous Fourth of July holiday traffic EVER. It took us 3 hours to get out of NYC and impossibly long to get to where we needed to be. Once we FINALLY got to the festival and we were rushing to beat the clock, we decided to take the advice of our wonderful boss Andy Bernstein and “go around” the traffic because we had a deadline and we were “Staff”. This didn’t quite work out as we hoped, because 5 seconds after we started to go around the line of cars what do we hear? You guessed it, a police siren. The fabulous HeadCount intern Jane Henderson politely talked to the sheriff and we did not (thankfully) get a ticket. Crisis averted! However, we didn’t end up arriving at the festival until approximately 12:03 AM—3 minutes after the credential box office closed, stranding us outside the venue for the night.
Fortunately, we had all our camping gear and were able to just camp right there in the grassy parking area along with other concert goers who were blocked from the grounds. The adventure had already started and we weren’t even on the inside.
The crowd’s energy at the festival the entire weekend was infectious. People were very gracious at the HeadCount table and participated in our “Fan DNA Project” poll and “Signs of the Times” contest with enthusiasm (the free Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream scoop voucher waiting for them at the end might have helped…) and we talked to some great people about a mutual love of music.
Many people we met had been to hundreds of shows and have truly grown up with Phish. It felt like a family reunion, complete with long embraces, inside jokes and group activities. Whether it was the Runaway Jim 10K race, the Wiffle ball tournament, or the Jim Pollock art exhibit at the Waterwheel tent, the entertainment never stopped. And that’s before Phish even hit the stage.
When the music was on, this amazing festival site instantly transformed into the most rockin’ party I’ve ever seen. The American flags. The glowsticks. The BALLS. Everywhere. Dancing to the music above the crowd.
To sum it up, I had a great time at my first Phish festival. They are extraordinary musicians and I can definitely respect their ability to bring so many people together. As a South Dakota girl, a personal highlight was that one of the campgrounds was named “South Dakota” because it is one of the few states Phish has never played. So when people were asked “Where are you camping?” and their response was “South Dakota” it made me smile every time. Though I missed my counterpart Chris Mocharla (he was at Electric Forest in Michigan), we’ll be reuniteing for Camp Bisco this weekend in New York. Hope to see you there!!