“They will take care of you,” I said after I kissed my girlfriend as she was heading into her first Phish show. It was Saturday. We had flown in from California and set up a tent in my friend’s backyard outside of Boulder. My friend and her husband had just gotten to know my girlfriend that morning but the bond was strong and the vibes were good. She would be in good hands.
We flew to Colorado without tickets to the shows. We planned on going Saturday and Sunday and we would buy tickets on the lot. This was strange for my girlfriend who consistently and methodically planned all of our adventures down to the last detail. Me? I’m part wook.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get tickets on the lot!”
I’ve never been shut out of a show. I’m not going to flex my number (okay fine, probably more than 60 less than 100 dating back to 1995), but suffice it to say, I’ve scored tickets in myriad ways. I won’t go into detail. Also, I’d never been to Dick’s and this was Dick’s 2015, a few years after it became “DICK’S!!!! “ so I really didn’t know what to expect.
We arrived on the lot early Saturday afternoon and set up our tailgate (this was pre-plague). We had a good spot right across from what I called “frisbee field” and there was a convenient high traffic walkway in front of our setup.
“This is going to be easy,” the lot veteran in me said. From our spot, we could hear the soundcheck perfectly. If you’ve never been to Dick’s, they don’t hold back on the volume. It’s easily the loudest outdoor venue I’ve been to. I nudged my girlfriend, “That’s Phish! That’s Phish! That’s what you’re about to see for the first time!”
“But we don’t have tickets” she properly noted.
“Oh yeah that, we should do something about that” the wook in me replied.
We had been there for an hour and hadn’t even tried. I should say that my girlfriend at the time was an experienced Dead Head. She was no stranger to the scene, she was just brand new to Phish. So of course after an hour or so of sitting around behind our truck, drinking and doing whatever and not looking for tickets, she kicked it into high gear and said “Let’s go look for tickets on Shakedown.” Our relationship was relatively new at the time, and even though we are no longer a couple, that sentence might have been where I fell in love. But I digress.
We dove into Shakedown and immediately the last thing on our minds were tickets. I could see her doing the calculus in her head of the differences between the Dead lot and the Phish lot. There wasn’t a booth we didn’t stop at and check out nearly every item for sale. We bought a few things along the way. Some patchouli I’m sure of, everything else is hazy.
After another hour of not buying tickets, we decided to get serious. We had come armed with cash. “Bring Cash” was my one suggestion when we were planning this out. “I know,” she said. Remember I told you this wasn't her first lot rodeo? She stuck her finger in the air and shouted “who’s got an extra? Cash for your extra!” My heart was beating fast. So hot.
It took longer than expected. Usually “cash for your extra” brings about all types, but it was strange. No one was selling. We decided to head back to the home base and regroup. As we got back to our vehicle where our friends were waiting (they already had their tickets), they were waving their arms in the air and yelling “this guy’s got a ticket!”
A ticket. One.
I believe he sold it to us for $120. One ticket. Two of us. Her first show. Time was running out. Showtime was in about 30 minutes. Now it was my turn to do the calculus.
“You need to go in. They will take care of you. I’ll find a ticket and meet you inside. If I don’t see you, have a good show.”
They gave me the keys to the vehicle and headed in. I started my hunt. I had $200 cash in my pocket and I told myself, “I am not going to spend more than $120 on this ticket” and that was my final offer. After all, it was Saturday and even though I know Phish has played some epic Saturday shows at Dick’s, I instinctively knew I was there for Sunday. Also, in my head, I remembered that we had heard Phish’s soundcheck perfectly from our setup so the worst-case scenario is I sit by the truck and boogie to the show outside.
I wandered around the lot for a while. I didn’t find any tickets that matched my price ceiling and I wasn’t going to budge. Eventually, something came over me. I thought to myself “You’ve never experienced a Phish show from the lot. Seems like a good night to try it out.”
So I did.
I gave up my ticket hunt and set up shop with a lawn chair and a cooler full of some heady Colorado beers. With every passing song, my heart got warm with feelings of “awww.... she’s getting her first (insert song here). That’s awesome!” Periodically I would get texts from inside the venue from her. “This is amazing!” “Meet us at the gate at set break we will try to stub you in!” The usual wookery.
I did meet them at the gate. They tried to give me a ticket stub but I knew better. Technology had evolved to that point where that wasn’t going to pass at what was now an empty entrance gate. “I’m good. Are you having fun? Are they taking care of you?”
“Yes! They are awesome. This is cool. Wish you could make it inside!”
“We’ll both get in tomorrow,” I said. “Don’t worry. Keep having a good show.” After the first song of the 2nd set started I got a text from my friend, “We’re taking her down to the front row.” Sure enough, as I would find out later, they somehow wound their way down front with my Phish-noob girlfriend and I was beaming!
The second set I bounced around the lot, listening to the show from the outside with a huge smile on my face. I was seeing Phish from a whole other side I had never seen before. The people on the outside, most of which were perfectly content to be there. Many of them were there strictly for vending and didn’t care if they went into the show or not and were just doing what I was doing, enjoying the show from the outside. There was of course the hustlers and the nitrous mafia and all that going on, but to me, that night, it was kind of beautiful.
After the show, we drove back to my friend’s house. My girlfriend, who didn’t smoke pot demanded that we stop at McDonald’s, so we did.
The next day we repeated this routine except we scored two Sunday tickets within 10 minutes of getting on the lot, in virtually the same parking spot, with less money. That night of course would be 10/6/15, the THANK YOU show.
I got to boogie down with my girlfriend at her second Dick’s show while this was my first. When the encore hit with Tweeprise, I remember mansplaining to her “This is how they end shows with Tweezer in them.” I was never happier to be wrong.
Tweezer Reprise, Harpua > After Midnight > NO2 > Keyboard Army > Your Pet Cat> Once in a Lifetime > United We Stand