Meet Meatstick Girl – An Exclusive Q&A with the Latest Webcast Legend


On the last night of the Dick’s Run and the end of the epic 2017 summer tour, Phish graciously offered us a free webcast so everyone that desired could share in the groove. During Meatstick, I was taking a couple of screenshots, as I sometimes do to create silly content down the line (weird but true). While I was intently focused on catching Trey in the midst of the glory that is the Meatstick Dance, another bright soul popped upon the screen like sunshine after stormy weather. I caught the above photo of this Phan, and quickly worked up a meme in her honor. Since then, she has been collectively dubbed #MeatstickGirl by Phans across Phish nation, as she added a bit of extra glitter to an otherwise energetic rendition of the tune. She has been honored far and wide across the interweb these past days, and deserves every bit of recognition.

Meatstick Girl was the highlight of couch tour for many that evening – Dazzling us with her spot-on execution of the dance, and her euphoric arm pump and freestyle moves, as Trey ripped into a stupendous solo after the choreographed caper was over. She reminded us that at a show we’re all players in the band, as the music plays us. Yet this is far from the first time an enraptured entity from the crowd has gained notoriety through a Phish webcast. As the term “webcast famous” is entering the lexicon of more and more Phans, Meatstick Girl will no doubt go down in the upper echelon of the webcast hall of fame. From the tuned in Nicholas Peter Orr, dubbed #Hoodboy, to the ethereal Nathan Tobey, knighted #StashGuy, and lest not forget the happiest man at The Baker’s Dozen (don’t have a name for this delighted dude), christened #CaspianGuy. All these folks are falling prey to the whims of the webcast gods, and their lives as Phans have been irrevocably altered, certainly in some ways, after their dance with simulcast serendipity.

Is this a good thing, bad thing, or does it fall somewhere in between? Luckily for us, Meatstick Girl has arisen out of the woodwork, and affably accepted a Stand For Jam invitation to participate in a good old-fashioned Question & Answer session. Initially I provided her with ten questions, certainly covering her newfound notoriety, but also encouraging her to dive deep on other issues concerning all things Phish. Then I came up with one last question, turning this epic Q&A all the way up to eleven.

 The full complete Meatstick Girl - Fast forward to 2:26 for the part that made her webcast famous! Thanks to Joel Mazur & Mike Gregory for helping to curate this video!

Introducing (drum roll)………….Heather Craig! Heather wanted to take her time with these questions, felt empowered by the platform, and simply did not want to phone it in. Upon receiving her answers, she commented that “these questions struck many chords with [her] and [her] internal relationship with this magnificent music” – The spirit with which she attacked these queries and her articulately animated answers m̶e̶a̶t̶ mete that out…

Stand For Jam (SFJ): How does if feel to be webcast famous? Did you have any sense the camera was trained on you at that moment?

Heather Craig (HC): I had no idea the camera was on me, but when you’re down there, you always know there’s a possibility of being seen. I think that’s one of the great things Phish gives us all – the ability to be truly ourselves even when presented with the possibility of being observed by hundreds of thousands, whether it’s on the webcast or in the thick of the crowd. What we’re talking about is one of the most terrifying feelings – putting your freest self out into the world without any sort of reassurance of being accepted, but I feel that as long as you’re accepting of yourself, you’re open for whatever the moment asks of you. There’s this internal rhetorical question constantly being asked when I’m at shows: Can you let go of everything that’s holding you back and simply be with us right here for this small moment in time?

SFJ: With Hoodboy, Stash Guy, Caspian Guy, and now you, Meatstick Girl, how do you feel about Phans picking up on these webcast moments, making memes and making folks Phish famous? Is this an invasion of privacy? Where do you think the line should be drawn or if there should be a line at all?

HC: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”

I feel if happiness comes from making these memes, I’m all about it! Once the moment was over, it became etched in time and unchangeable. It’s no longer who I am – it’s who I was, a past moment. I personally don’t feel that it is an invasion of privacy. If I were a more reserved person who still wanted to be close to the source within the first 5 rows of the stage, I feel actions could be taken to ensure you don’t end up on the screen. One way could be to walk up before the show starts and introduce yourself to the staff and ask them nicely to not record you, or you could always wear a hat or get silly and rock a handmade mask to cover your face. If you don’t mind being further from the stage, then usually you can have a more private experience.

SFJ: How many Meatsticks have you experienced live? When was your first Meatstick? What does it take to master the Meatstick, as you have done? What’s your secret?

HC: I’ve experienced Meatstick live 9 times (9 times? 9 times.) *Bueller, Bueller* 😛 My first one was at Dick’s 8/31/12, when they spelled Fuck Your Face, an unbelievable show to recall! Whew! Anyway, I was shown the dance by a friend but never practiced it before going to the show. I remember standing in the crowd, around Page Side soundboard area, and I was singing along and a guy next to me says, “Nice! You know the Japanese lyrics, but do you know the dance?!” I think he then tried to teach me, but suffice to say, we both needed practice. Fast forward through a few years of taking out the Meatstick to Grand Prairie 10/25/16 where I followed Mike’s choreography, and from that moment the Meatstick dance became a movement my body would know how to recreate. I’m a student who has a great teacher. The secret to many things is silliness, and surrender truly is the trick. Phish has given me that insight, and I try to hold on (but never too tight) to that intention every time I walk away from one of their shows. So lighten up, and bury the Meatstick! 🙂

SFJ: In that moment, what were you thinking, if anything at all? Phish obviously brings you immense joy – What is it about this band and community that takes you to that point of euphoria?

HC: What I’m concentrating on at Phish shows is connectivity – less of a single thought and more of an emptying of mind, expectation, restraint, and turning my attention to everything I can soak up out of every little moment. Becoming a sponge or empty vessel – I let the music course through me, allowing it to undo any tensions I have mentally, physically, or emotionally. They’re my connection to source, a connection to my Self. Each passing year we all undergo trauma to the mind, body, and soul – kinks that need to be worked out through our own preferred method, and Phish is my way of release. The community of Phans is, of course, a beautiful support system as well that feeds my flame. I’ve gone to many shows alone and have felt completely at home, safe, and loved in a crowd of strangers. To then dance with them for 3 hours forms a bond that is hard to match elsewhere. Then to have all these people you’ve met and befriended across the nation, it’s like starting a fire from tinder pieces.

Alpine 2015, Night Two, Lot. The Harry Ladies (They really wanted a Harry Hood that night, and in their excited state kept saying "Haaaaarryyyy, Haaaarrrryyy!" in Heather's ear)

SFJ: When, where, and how did your love affair with Phish start?

HC: A friend gave me a copy of Island Tour ’98 and said with a smile, “To get you hooked.” Not thinking much of it, I gave it a listen on my way to work. 4/2/98 Stash 13:22 made my eyes water and ears fall in love. The contrast of the chaos to the bliss was too easy for me to relate to. I didn’t want to leave my car. I didn’t want to go in to work, and I like my job! I wanted to sit there and listen to them for another moment…and another…and another… I was enchanted. After that, I listened to everything I could get my hands on – live and recorded – and started attending shows as often as possible. “Was it for this my life I sought?” 💓

SFJ: As a community, I’d say we’re nine parts love & light, and one-part stuff that’s troubling. Whether from the nitrous scene, to tarpers, GA etiquette, or the rising awareness of female Phan harassment, as a Phan yourself, is there any particular trend that concerns you in the Phishaverse today? Any ideas on how to rectify the issue(s), if there’s any issue(s) at all?

HC: This is an unfolding view of what happens when people are set free. It’s difficult to find the balance when people have different moral codes within that freedom. Without paying close attention, greed, overindulgence, and disrespect of all kinds seeps its way in through unseen cracks and decides to stick around for a while beleaguering equilibrium. What each of us can do to rectify these happenings is to observe the choices we each make and ask our freest selves within us if this is the environment we are truly wanting to foster. In regards to sexual harassment at shows, when it involves another person’s safety and comfort, being courageous and speaking up when we see disrespectful behavior around us is a huge step we can take and a responsibility we all have. We can’t force a change, all we can do is lead by example towards a more healthy, loving, and wholesome community.

SFJ: What’s your favorite thing about Phish?

HC: My favorite thing about Phish is how they bring hundreds of thousands of people together for a live experience and how they concentrate our attention for extended periods of time. For many of us, they are a form of meditation to guide us to our individual interpretation of freedom and happiness, so we can take that freedom and happiness and spread it around when we leave the shows. We take them and their lessons with us, that is an absolutely incredible accomplishment! It’s how minds are opened, it’s how change becomes workable.

SFJ: If you could ask one band member one question, who and what would it be?

HC: Trey, may I live in your pocket?

Seriously though, the band has been answering many of my unspoken questions since I began to pay attention – most of the questions came in forms I wouldn’t know how to pose succinctly or verbally, but I feel there’s already a healthy conversation that happens between artist and audience/audience member.

Heather at Dick's '16 - Swingin' Dick's - rocking super appropriate head gear! - Photo Credit: Michael Howard

SFJ: Request time: Name a song you’ve been chasing, but have never gotten?

HC: Bye Bye Foot or Shafty. There are so many I haven’t caught yet that I would love to hear live, but I know each one comes in its own time and place and if you go around expecting and wishing, you may miss many magical moments being gifted to you right then.

SFJ: If you could sum up this whole Meatstick Girl experience in three words and/or a phrase, what would they be?

HC:

Three words: “Shocks my brain!”

Phrase: After Meatstick, you chop wood and carry water.

SFJ: Any causes or charities close to your heart that you’d like to give a shout out?

HC:

🐠

So other than the happenstance of being caught on camera, what makes Meatstick Girl and her webcast cohorts so unique? I believe we see ourselves in these isolated moments, and in turn make these folks Phish famous to celebrate US! For those that get it, we have all been enraptured in the frenzied excitement of a Meatstick Girl moment, or worn the face of stupefied awe while a song was peaking, just like Hood Boy. Heather framed it best when she quoted The Beatles verse above – “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” Trey told us “The Walrus was Jimmy,” yet perhaps he was really saying the Walrus is us all!

Before she was Meatstick Girl - Heather in all her glory soaking in the beauty that is TAB at Red Rocks - 5/31/17 - Photo Credit: Miles Chrisinger

Thank you to Heather Craig, aka Meatstick Girl, for wholeheartedly throwing yourself into this Q&A! You’ve not only awed us with your dancing, but now your prose.

Answers by Heather Craig, 
Questions & Paragraphs by Russell S. Glowatz

 

Copyright © 2017 Stand For Jam™️

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Wilson, We Have A Problem: Ruminations on the Rumble at Dick’s – It’s Only a Symptom

by Russell S. Glowatz

Last night Phish made their long-awaited return to Dick’s Sporting Goods park for their 7th annual showcase in the storied Rocky Mountain venue, and while the scene was generally vibrant, some bad juju was simmering just below the surface. During set break, and in clear view of all those watching the LivePhish webcast, a fairly ferocious fight broke out at the front of the floor. While the details are hairy, one thing is abundantly clear; this type of behavior has no place at a Phish show and simply serves to threaten the good-natured, good-vibed,  general goodness that our scene regularly manifests.

Speculation is rampant on the interweb, yet no one but those directly involved, and in the immediate periphery, truly knows what went down. Did a dude hit too hard on someone else’s girl? Was an accidental spill of a beer on someone’s heady threads the impetus for this knock down? The consensus says no, and that this tussle had everything to do with someone getting in another’s claimed space. 

Straight up, at a general admission show, no one has claimed space. That’s simply the nature of general admission. Sure, you can lock down a spot, perhaps hold it down with a small towel or blanket, for a friend or two, while waiting for the festivities to begin. Happily, Phish management has quashed the tarping fiasco prevalent at the outset of summer tour by banning tarps altogether (Tarps are banned at Dick’s, right?!). Yet still, up front at these shows, a general essence of anxiety and entitlement remains when it comes to space.

The words “entitlement” and “Phish” should never be used in the same sentence. Ever. But here we are. There is a growing sense of privilege in placement in general admission environments, and the smell of douchebaggery is wafting widely over the whole scene. If you enter early into a show to lock down one of those coveted upfront spots, all the power to ya! Yet if you walk away for a piss break, a beer run, or whatever else, there’s no guarantee that spot will be waiting upon return. Usually in such circumstances, folks in the area (maybe your friends!) will remember you, and make way to welcome you back into the fold. Yet if that’s not possible, use your words, not your fists to rectify the problem. And the option always exists to find another spot too; sometimes a change in view, mid-show, is just what the doctor ordered.

If you were on hippie time prior to your arrival on the floor, and the front is already packed to the rafters, you are not entitled to smash your way through the crowd. Getting up in phans faces in order to find a better vantage point is the epitome of disrespect, a disrespect for the time those folks kept their asses planted for sometimes upwards of an hour before show time. There’s so many freewheeling, dance friendly, sound solid, spots towards the back and the wings; find one of those and be grateful you’re on the floor for the greatest show on earth. Since no one is entitled in general admission, you might even find an opportunity to better position yourself for set two.

A message to the rail riders: I watched you closely during The Bakers Dozen, and you kids throw down like Chinatown on Mao Tse Tung’s birthday. I’m super impressed with your exuberance and vigor, yet I’m a little unsure of how that whole process works. Is there some type of bracelet system where you wait online all night to get dibs on first entry? You folks obviously commit a massive amount of time and energy to lock down those golden spots. I respect the dedication. Do you wear diapers to get through that epic wait? Not since Moses hurriedly led the Exodus out of Egypt have folks committed to such a tumultuous trial for a face melting payoff! Is the rail truly the land of milk and honey?! I’ve never had the pleasure myself, and odds are it’ll never happen as the number line keeps ticking forward, but it’d be phantastic to have that opportunity, just once.

However, I digress…Lately, there’s a sourness spreading around about your sub-scene as well. Stories are abound that folks pay squatters to wait in the rail line all day, while the ultimate rail rider goes about other pre-show business. That sounds a bit Machiavellian to me, and the preferred philosopher of mobsters (truth!) really has no place at a Phish show. If your aim is early entry, you damn well sit in the trenches with your fellow Phans, and that way the juice will be that much tastier as you personally took the time to squeeze. The ends should never justify the means at a Phish show. How you go about achieving your goals is as karmically as important as whether Trey is in spitting distance once the show begins.

As a fan base, it seems high time we have a scene wide discussion about general admission etiquette going forward. While the tarper memes and joke cracking is hilarious, I’m beginning to think it’s exacerbating the situation at hand. By and large, Phans do it right. We use our words, tact, common sense, and apply a mutual respect towards each other that usually leaves the scene as harmonious as ever. Yet with Phish playing less shows than they used to, and the fan base simultaneously expanding, a recipe for disaster is formulating, and it might just manifest a gumbo of catastrophe on the horizon. Stoking a respectful and mindful conversation about these issues might very well lead to some steam being released from the pressure valve. And I know the band is peripherally aware of Phan discussions on the net as well, so perhaps they’ll come up with some mindful solutions too.

Generally, it comes down to common sense, a mutual respect with our fellow Phans, communication with words, not just body language, and the golden rule. Do unto others, as you wish them to do unto you…or something like that. You get the gist. That Jesus cat dropped some timeless bombs of wisdom.

So, this frenetic fight caught on LivePhish last night was merely a symptom of a larger problem. A dilemma we can easily deal with as a conscientious community of committed Phans. The question we should all be asking ourselves is, do we want to be like Bassnectar fans? Do we want the reputation of resorting to sheer disrespect and violence to lock down our spot next to the band? Do we want the Phish scene to devolve into the chaos of the latter days of the Grateful Dead? Me thinks not. The Phan community is of equal importance in this guy’s eyes to the band itself. You are who makes this scene so serene, magnificent, and marvelous, while Phish provides the celestial soundtrack. It’s “so stupendous, living in this tube!”

 

© Stand For Jam, 2017.
 
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🤔 fighting at Phish!? I don’t like this.. #phish #phishdicks

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Crosseyed & Painless: Phish 3.1

(Originally published on Grateful Music

 Russell’s Round Room

“One good thing about [Phish], when it hits you feel no pain.” And we’ve all been crosseyed and painless this summer as our favorite band was hitting it nightly. Spectator to unarguably the greatest tour of 3.0, and likely the best run of shows since the 1990’s, I couldn’t be more elated for our community as a whole, especially us youngins in the bunch. No more can that handful of apathetic old heads trample on our good time with the tired old adage that “it just ain’t the same.” While Phish 2015 is far from the band with the same moniker from two decades ago, they are finally reaching the same summits again, and old and new, contemporary fans have laid witness to all their glory. And to understand how I personally feel about this latest peak from our favorite ensemble, lets head back for a moment to the lowliest point in Phishtory.

If Phish was Poster Nutbag, I jumped on the phan bandwagon right before he kicked the bucket. My journey to Phish was a tedious one that began in the summer of 2004 with a decision made by my group of teenage friends to head up to Coventry, Vermont for what was then to be their last music festival. At the time I only had dabbled in some of the band’s more well known tunes, and my only notion of what a Phish festival or show was like came from watching Bittersweet Motel. While the rest of the seasoned Phish community was already mourning the loss of their favorite spiritual/therapeutic/musical outlet, my friends and I set out upon an epic, but arduous journey that marked the very beginning of my true insertion into this wonderful jam band community.

While I now understand how weird, pensive, and not so serene the vibe was at Coventry, at the time I thought I was at a run of the mill Phish festival. I was in heaven. Ankle deep muddy heaven. I even thought the mud was a normal occurrence. It rained! Of course there’s gonna be mud so deep one can’t even take care of his shoes. I was a newb. And as I walked into the venue barefoot, hundreds of phans busted through a fence from their several mile trek to the fest. I met a head that had his chest ripped open after he scaled a waterfall and failed while hiking into the campgrounds. He still got to the show. I knew this wasn’t quite the status quo at the time, but what struck me was the dedication of these phans, making it to their last hurrah hell or high water. When the music started, that dedication was unfounded, as Trey rambled on, and the rest of the band attempted to carry his addled self. And while the weekend was a musical and logistical bust, I did pick up something from Coventry. A need to understand where this fanatical nature came from. So over the course of the next few years, I delved deep into the Phish catalogue, caught the boys solo when I could. One particular Trey Anastasio & 70 Volt Parade show at Jones Beach, on the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing felt like a personal apology for the atomic blast that was Coventry. After that show, fishing further, finding all those gems in the band’s catalogue that veterans so energetically talked about, I held out hope for a Phish reunion. Then my and thousands of others’ prayers were answered with the Mothership shows in March of 2009. While that run left much for wanting, our band was back together, and I was experiencing present day good and genuine Phish performances for the first time in my existence. With both the Dead and Phish setting out for their first full-length tours in five years, 2009 made for a largely legendary year of music.

Fast forward to 2015. Phish has been out on the road again for seven years running. While during the last lucky seven heavy rotations around the sun we’ve witnessed many highs, a few lows, and a lot of middle of the road shows, we are buzzing off a tour that exceeded all of our wildest dreams. Even us relative newbies’ never expected harmonious heights synonymous with the mid-nineties. We never envisaged musical mastery exceeding all of 2.0 and 3.0 combined, yet here we are. A collection of shows that rivals most groupings in the last two decades. Incredible. Speechless. This is why we keep coming back for more. And to cork it off, Sunday night’s THANK YOU encore at Dick’s placed a juicy cherry atop all that’s transpired this summer.

For the first time in this 3.0’ers life, I feel like I’ve experienced all of what Phish has to offer. Upward and onward! 2015 ain’t over yet. Rumor has it we have an MSG New Years run in our future, followed by 2016 shows that our Mexican Cousins will have a chance to jump on. Then the rumored US winter tour. Born again, rejuvenated, whatever you want to call it…the boys are hitting on all cylinders and magic is in the air. Nothing currently suggests that it won’t continue into the winter and New Year. So save your pennies, recharge on this break, for the future is bright, and time’s got nothing on Phish. Mid-life they may be, but they look like a bunch of giddy teenagers on stage, and their enthusiasm is widely reflected in the music they’re producing. And as the music plays the band, the band plays us. Thank you Trey, Page, Mike, Jon, CK5, and the crew that brought it all back home for each and every one of us on this tour. Until next time, united we stand.

Words: Russell S. Glowatz