It’s been ten years since my best friend and I drove through twelve hours of torrential downpour to get to Phish‘s “final” show in Coventry, Vermont. It may not have been the best concert ever, but damn was it unforgettable. I remember the weekend as dark, depressing and generally unpleasant. My musical life-line was self-destructing, and all us fans had gathered to witness the band’s dismantling in the grossest of conditions. It had all the emotional trappings of a funeral, just with better music. But now, with Phish reunited and playing better than ever and Trey’s demons healed, I feel grateful to have been there. It was a cathartic and emotional – a fandom hitting rock bottom en masse. Below I revisit five moments from Phish’s “final” show that I’ll never be able to shake.
1. The Letter
I can still remember the nausea that swept through my body reading the break-up announcement email from Trey while stuck in my beige cubicle at work. It was worse than if every boyfriend I’d ever loved had gotten together to end things with me in unison. The “we’re done” part is what finally sent me to the bathroom to cry in a stall. As anyone who loves Phish knows: it’s not just a band, it’s a way of life. We’d already survived the band’s hiatus, but a break-up felt still too terrifying to imagine. And yet, there we were: dumped.
2. The Mud
The week leading up to Phish’s final show was filled with torrential rain, leaving the Vermont concert fields a slick, muddy mess. But describing it does it no real justice; the mud was truly a f*cking disaster. It was heavy and thick, coming way up over your ankles. Everything was covered in it, no matter what you did to avoid it. Cars, people, everything was slow-moving or stuck, lodged in the earth. Not to mention it was unbearably hot and humid, and the combination of elements was the most disgusting I’d seen at any Phish festival (and I’d survived the port-o-potties at the Clifford Ball). It turned what was already a somber weekend into a dark, apocalyptic mess, grating on everyone’s ultra-sensitive nerves.